This morning on the weather channel it was confirmed yet again that Louisville is due for another round of wintery weather sometime this weekend. My disappointment is even obvious to the cat at this point. He mocks me by using my bike as a rubbing post for his back (Damn you kitty). It is so nice to know that my perfectly sized road bike doubles as a cat toy. They never mentioned that in the marketing packet! Accepting that Louisville may never have green grass or visible asphalt has caused me to fantasize longingly for next weekend. In fact, it is the only thing that keeps me going right now.
This time next week, I should be loading up the car for a get-a-way weekend to the North American Handbuilt Bike Show (NAHBS) hosted in Richmond, Virginia (Virginia is for lovers…bike lovers, that is). Only six hours separates me from a Mecca of bicycles, dealers, and craftsmen who have spent years if not a great portion of their lives crafting handmade bicycles. This is not a flea market where mismatched Huffy’s are sold along side discontinued Beanie Babies. No, this is a tradeshow with thousands of people hovering over hundreds of bikes each artistically made by hand. You will not see Huffy, Diamonback, or even Trek booths. What you will see instead are a slew of small shops from all over the country displaying some of their finest works.
Because of my lust for something so finely crafted, not only am I attending the show, but I will be the personal assistant to the director of the show. I admit, I was incredibly excited to learn about this. What better way to quench your lust for such beautiful bicycles than to put yourself in the middle of the action. The parents did not raise a shy kid—so I will be all over the showroom and God knows I will talk to anyone about a bike. Although it is painfully obvious that this show is attended mostly by male cycling enthusiasts, I have no qualms being one of the notably insane chicks that will be pouring over brazing techniques, color swatches, while inspecting various tubing choices. I will drool over finely crafted leather saddles, ergonomic handlebar grips, and the tiny details that make these bikes truly works of art. It is more than color schemes and paint chips…it is about the craftsmanship that goes into it.
There is a saying about champagne taste on a beer budget. I actually prefer beer to champagne but when you are fortunate enough to own a custom bike, it is hard to ever look at anything stock again. Truth be told, I do not even have the budget for beer which is why attending this show is so important. It is about imagining the cycling world without limits and what you would do if someone handed you thousands of dollars that you HAD to spend on a bike. Any fanatic can spew off exactly how they would spec out their dream bike in seconds if you ask them.
Somehow I also like to imagine that if I spend two days pouring and ogling bikes, it will be the equivalent as if I had actually put myself on a bike. Yeah, I know that is not true but it is just easier if I lie to my thighs right now.