Friday, February 26, 2010

NABHS 2010: I wish I was where?

I guess this started today, and I have to guess because the 2010 coverage of the North America Handmade Bike show has been quiet. If I light my pipe, pop in my monocle and put on my thinking cap, this minimal coverage might be because NAHBS is going on during in the midst of the Winter Olympics. But lack of news might also be due to the show being in Richmond, VA which means absolutely nothing to me in terms of bike culture (hey, I'm from Portland so you know the snob-factor is high). 

Even though NAHBS ticket sales on track to beat PDX's 2008 show, I have to wonder if the show and the industry in general have reached their zenith. Most of this wondering is due to the fact that I blew up my brain reading Niall Ferguson's piece in the latest Foreign Affairs (I get it just for the cartoons) on the cyclical nature of empire. The US might have sold more bikes than cars in 2009, but overall sales were still down. What does that mean for an industry that emphasizes handmade and craft, which usually translate into higher costs? If we want more people to own and ride bikes which type of bikes should the industry be growing? But maybe our economy needs to re-emphasize jobs that produce tangible goods, like these beautiful bikes. I don't know any big economics words to discuss this topic further so I'll end with my last conundrum of the day: since I'm not in Richmond, I won't get to purchase this wonderfully unnecessary espresso tamper from Chris King. So I'll have to figure which Chris King part (the bottom bracket, a hub or headset) I can substitute so I can comfortably drink my Stumptown espresso in a really tiny cup while wearing really tight jeans and then ride my fixie that has a really hard gear ratio.

Riding around Reykavik

What better way to start off a blog than one of those "look-at-what-cool-thing-I-just-did?" Well, hell. I did do something cool and since I've only had one cup of coffee today, I don't have the creativity to think of something else.

I should have probably known better than to try cycling in a country that recommends fur parkas (like the ones this stylish Icelandic company make) over lycra for its preferred riding clothing. But taking a bike tour seemed like a great way to see Reykavik. Our guide's outfit was a hint about what the weather would be like.

Though we were told Iceland was in the midst of a "warm spell," the Arctic translation of "warm spell" was still bitter cold but with rain instead of snow. My inner Viking was not meant for biking. But we still held out for two hours we rode some cushy Trek Navigators around the city stopping at the requisite touristy places (churches, parliament) and then going to some off-the-beaten-path stops, like the University of Iceland and Bjork's small, black house.

And what do you do after you're done riding around Europe's most northern capital city? You can either go native and enjoy some grilled puffin or whale sushi, or keep your remember your home land with some junk food. We kept true to our roots.