Tuesday, March 07, 2006

NAHBS Report

What a weekend! Thanks to Don and his family and volunteers for doing a great job. Most of the people I spoke with were as impressed as I was with the turn out. It was pretty well packed all three days.

I wish I had more time to walk around the show, but I got to see quite a bit of stuff and met loads of people that I'd wanted to. Everyone I met was incredibly friendly--I guess that's what happens when you get a group of people together that are following their passions.

Andy Newlands provided the car and we set off for San Jose on Wednesday morning at 6 am. I have a client in Napa who we were picking up a bike from, so we planned to spend the night there before the final push to SJ on Thursday. Andy is a wine enthusiast and gave me a terrific tour of Napa and Sonoma as we made our way south. We turned a 2 hour drive into a 7 hour field trip. After a great lunch at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg (lamb burger with caramelized onions and goat cheese, topped off with a dry creek Zin) we toured around and stopped at a winery for some tasting. The sun was shining for nearly the entire day in spite of a forecast that called for lots of rain--we concluded that the definition of rain is a little different in Cali than up here in Portland. At this time of year the wine country is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. For instance: http://www.pereiracycles.com/images/healdsburg.jpg

Anyway, that was just getting to the show. The actual show was great. Having so many finely crafted bicycles under one roof was a real treat. I had no idea what to expect attendance-wise, but when the doors opened on Friday it was the beginning of a very steady flow of people who piled on the praise for my bicycles. By the time Sunday rolled around my head had swelled up with pride--as I told quite a few people over the weekend, my ego is completely off the charts! When you work alone and mail your work off to clients you don't get to see their reaction. As a new builder it was really cool to have people admire all the details that I put into my work. On that note, I was impressed by the knowledge of the attendees. So often I show my work to non-bicycle people and they have no idea what they are looking at. At the show people picked up on the touches that make each frame unique. Some of the most rewarding moments for me were when builders who I have admired for years told me how good my work was. Peter Weigle, whose work I've been very inspired by, came over and said "Everyone keeps telling me I have to see your touring bike. Nice work." Keith Anderson had a look and commented on the flawlessness of my fillets (Keith has been building sweet fillet bikes for years). Doug Fattic visited over and over and was very encouraging as well. (Thanks Doug!) I was walking on air the whole time. I forgot to eat lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Adrenaline really can get you by.

Enough about me and my ego. The other bikes at the show were fantastic. Hats off to Sacha and his minions for the work they did on that tricycle. If you haven't seen pictures of this yet, you've got to find some. I think clockwork had a few. The details and the craftsmanship on it were off the charts. Honestly, I didn't have time to vote, but that was best of show in my book as well--even if it wasn't a bicycle. Mike Flanigan had a bunch of bikes inspired by the 1890's era that were off the hook. Wood "tubes" and copper plated components! Yee haw! His eye for detail and mix of modified new parts is really cool. His Iver-Johnson replica with it's truss frame, red rims and drum brake was spot-on. Bruce Gordon had something like 10 bikes there that each had unique details. Nice job on those ti canti brakes. Richard Sachs's lug prototypes were interesting to see. I would have liked to chat with him some more, but his booth was really busy every time I went by. Brian Baylis's Rando bike had tons of details, both ornamental and functional. His accessory attachment system, using tiny wedge bolts, was very interesting. BTW, Baylis and Sadoff rocked the house on Friday night. You guys were impressive. Paul completely shreds on the guitar and Brian is a great drummer.

I could go on and on. The show exceeded my expectations on every level. Thanks to everyone for making it so much fun. Thanks to Andy for providing the car and traveling with me. I may have learned more about wine than I did about bikes.