As promised, this year’s Bike Expo was huge. Held again in Magnuson Park, the gloomy Seattle drizzle kept only weenies like me from riding over for a weekend of bike fun. I took advantage of the new two-day pass offered this year and for the bargain price of ten dollars, I showed off my beautiful Cascade bracelet for entry.
The entry to such an exhibition can be a bit overwhelming. Wall-to-wall people, music and televisions with a constant stream, smiley volunteers shoving bags and programs and freebies into your hands and the bling of shiny new bikes calling you by name. Snazzy components, carbon-this and streamline-that, the most beautifully obnoxious new jerseys I’d ever seen (with matching socks, of course). For a moment, I was certain Heaven existed and I was surrounded by it.
Arriving just before noon on Saturday, our clan quickly made way through the crowd and parked the stroller in the standing-room-only crowd gathered near the main stage. Frankie Andreu was getting ready to begin his “Behind the Scenes at the Tour…” and I wasn’t about to miss it. With lunch procured by my better half, we were all quickly captivated by Frankie’s funny commentary and vast experience. As most of our family is glued to Versus for most of July, it was important that our two-year-old begin to appreciate the ins and outs of cycling. Captured by the images of Lance, beautiful bikes and stuffed lions, he was content with his hot dog for nearly an hour. Now that’s saying something.
Milling around the booths, I took care not to drool directly on any of the incredible bikes. For not being in the market for a frame, I spent far too much time investigating all the new “must haves” to hit the market. Mesmerized by the 2007 Orca I found myself explaining to a toddler why some, but not all, bikes are carbon fiber.
I am consistently impressed by how approachable a sport cycling has become. Once dominated by the echelon of professional racers, groups like Cascade and the many different styles of cycling provide enough variety to appeal to almost anyone. The exhibitors included several non-profit groups that do so much to bring now people into the sport each year. The once self-proclaimed couch potato is now welcomed into the sport with a wonderful support system and the tools to succeed. Those that enjoy more risk and less ride prop themselves up on bikes small enough for kids and throw themselves into a back flip off a ramp. New frames and great clothes continue to encourage women to enter the sport of cycling and make it a far more comfortable sport for those of us that have been around a while.
Bike Expo is truly an incredible venue for “everything bikes”. For the novice, it provides fantastic resources on bike fitting, coaching, injury prevention and gear. For the seasoned rider, everything “smaller, lighter, faster” is available at great prices, with new rides and tours making their debut each year.
As in years past, the photo contest provided a great opportunity to reflect on some of year’s best moments. While I always enjoy the comedy photos for a good laugh, it’s often the action and the still life that really bring me back to what I love most about cycling. This is a sport where everyone is in it for a different reason and the photos seem to capture the emotion that we as cyclists share.
While I promised a report on the beer garden, I didn’t have enough cash to pay off the bouncers and sneak in my rug rat. I did, however, eye the pints of Fat Tire longingly and salivate appropriately. The BMX show was more than tolerable while sober and a huge hit with the under-21 crowd gathered just across from the ever-tempting beer garden.
We left on Sunday afternoon with bags and bags of great stuff, free water bottles, samples and lots of information on this season’s rides. Newly re-inspired, I’m ready to hit the road and gear up for another great cycling season in Seattle. Just as soon as this darn rain lets up.