Sunday, March 1, 2009

Double Drive-Train Unicorn of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show

As cyclists it's our mission in life to own every type of bicycle there is. I have a start. Carbon, custom steel, Ti, cyclocross, 29er, 26er, beach/grocery cruiser, vintage Schwinn, full boinger, hardtail, at one time even a footpegged bmx bike graced my garage. Headed into the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Indianapolis, I didn't know what I'd be interested in or, better yet what I'd like to take home if my Jimi wallet was stuffed with my share of cycling industry bailout money.

Like an old lady in the produce department at Kroger when the clerk turns his back, I found myself bouncing from booth to booth, taking a nibble of this and a taste of that. I marveled at the intricate pattern of leaves etched in Ti. I listened to a builder wonder aloud at how his all copper bike would look in coming years as he passed his work of art into the hands of the master of all painters-oxidation. As a sewing machine buzzed through a row of stitches, I stuffed my melon into a freshly custom hand made while-you-wait cycling cap. I saw a 29er dwarfed by a 36er, around the corner a bike with tires wider than those on a Yaris, and in the middle of the hall stood the immortal Chris King in the flesh.

I developed temporary ADD, too much too take in, too much to touch, too many times I said, "oh my god, check this out." Focus. Focus. Focus. I looked for a diversion. Then I saw it. I could vote for the cycling equivalent of the NAHBS's peoples choice award. I snatched up a ballot, and thought of my criteria.

It was simple really. I set out to find a bike that I could call my own AND that no one else had ever seen before. Suddenly I was set free. No need to fondle a another carbon road bike, custom 29er or a sub-16 pound steel cyclocross bike. No offense to the artisans in the house, I set out to please myself, so to speak. I passed the ballyhooed bamboo bikes with ease, gave a nod of praise to legendary Richard Sachs, and whisked by the stationwagonesque utility bikes.

And, there it stood, my double drive-trained unicorn from Broakland Bicycles. Blue. Simple. Unique. I wrote number #246 on my ballot and dropped it in the box.

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