There is one reason and one reason only why we do what we do. Love. Love of the actual bike. Love of riding the bike. Love of building the bike. Love of building the community of bikes. Without love its meaningless. Its beer league softball or lawn darts. Or sportsball. The bike community is unlike any other community. Maybe surfing or fishing. There are some real similarities between cycling and surfing and fishing. We will get back to that later. For now we are going to talk about bike love and how its been rekindled in my blackened heart. My love of bikes goes way back. To my childhood. Most people can (hopefully) trace their love of the bike to when they were a kid. But then predictably at about 13 it becomes "uncool" most teenagers focus turns to team sports of the ball variety. Then cars come into the picture and bikes become even less cool. Little did I know moving 3,000 miles away from where I fell in love with the bike would result in a love affair that would span the last two decades. That love affair became my career, it formed the basis for all my friendships, it broke my body but fed my soul, it kept me young, it drove my creativity and drove my significant other crazy. Moving back to where it all started also started a new chapter in my love for the bike. It really became less about the bike sometimes and using the bike to bring people together and build something.
We (the industry and racers) tend to focus on the "sport" of cycling. I guess the theory is it makes cycling a more valid pursuit. Racing is serious business. Riding a bike for fun/health or transport is somehow far less sexy than winning bike races. And maybe racing helps "sell" bikes. Certainly one could argue racing helps to sell high end bikes. I race. Have for a long time but recently my interest in "racing" has waned. Why is that? To me its about what you value. What is important. I personally would rather see someone ride there bike to school or to work than win a bike race. Racers are a selfish bunch. On any level. They have to be to be successful. Some certainly give back more than others. Or use their "fame" to do more than secure their next sponsorship. Racing to me also brings out some negative behavior in those who I would call "good" people. I am not talking about doping I am talking more about the heckling and negative speak that goes on incessantly among bike racers. I guess I hold cyclists to a higher standard. Not knocking racing or racers. To me its about a shift. A friend recently challenged us to ask ourselves what we are for. I interpreted that as what do we love about cycling. The last couple of years I have fallen in love with riding again. Just riding. Get on the bike and see where it takes you.
The types of rides and riding we have been doing has been more of what I would call soul riding. Surfers talk about this all the time. I have found it this past year or two. And I owe my friends for showing me a better path. Honey Bikes was formed along these ideals. Build simple bikes. Build a community. Ride. Smile. Rinse and repeat often. When we heard about the Philly Bike Expo we got really excited. The Bilenky's have built a really nice expo in Philly. We didn't really know what to expect. I personally have never been to Philly. Boston, shocking but true, can be kind of insular. I have been really enjoying seeing and learning about different bike cultures. Its really refreshing to see how different regions build their community and identify themselves as cyclist. Nick and I drove down Friday night and set up our booth in the PA Convention Center. It became really apparent that we weren't in Kansas anymore as Dorothy would say. People were nice. Like really nice. This often times makes people from Boston nervous. You start doubting yourself and asking yourself what is this feeling I am feeling when people smile at me and are nice to me? Is it happiness? Weird.
It became the theme for the whole weekend. All the people who would come to talk with us in our booth were just so nice and so into bikes. And it began to have a real effect on me. And I started to see things from their perspective. The biggest takeaway from the Expo was that all our efforts shouldn't go into bike racers. I think I talked to maybe 2 people I would consider "bike racers" Everyone else was an enthusiast. Still lovers of bikes. Bike racers to be honest don't love bikes. A bike to a bike racer is a tool. A bike to a 60 year old man from Upstate NY is much, much more than a tool. People would see our bikes and just gush. They loved our bikes and the hard work we put into them. But a lot of what we talked about was rides they had been on. Or rides they wanted to go on. It was really one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. It was a true expo in that it wasn't just bike builders it was advocacy groups, artisans of all types, clubs and retailers. We will definitely be back to the Expo next year. I won't lie I ended up really loving Philly. Philly the City and the whole Philly bike community. The two seem so tied together. It is a really walkable (and bikeable) city. Certainly compared to Boston or SF. The restaurants and public art were off the charts. I wish I had time to actually get on a bike and do some of the rides that had been organized. But I was able to see all the bike fanatics out there loving their bikes and the rides they were heading on. It was a great mash up of riders. I saw a group of what looked like Hells Angels but on wild lowrider bicycles. Tons of bike commuters and advocacy types. Philly clearly has a cool mtn bike scene as I talked with a bunch of riders about nearby trails. And they certainly get how to make racing fun. Even racing can be fun if you have the right mindset. Certainly down in Philly it seems to be.
We got a good feel for what SSCX Worlds in Philly are going to be all about. Its going to be rad why mince words. They have some really cool things planned. Is Boston ready for SSCX Worlds '14? At least we know where to put the apostrophe I will say that. I'm not sure though. I had some high level psy ops discussions over scrapple and Philly Cheesesteaks discussing if Boston (and by extension the #NECX) can loosen up enough to actually have fun. SSCX Worlds is all about fun. If you take it seriously you really are missing the whole point. I may have been texting a certain someone who will not be named to see if he might want to go down this rabbit hole with me. To do it we will need all of the #NECX to get on this crazy train. Its the only way it will work. 3 days of SSCX mayhem in Boston? I think it would be amazing. This years qualifier is pretty simple. Its basically a popularity contest. Each person who puts in a bid will need to stump for "chips" Poker chips if you will. Racers and others will give that person the poker chips over the course of the 3-days that Philly SSCX Worlds will take place. I think I got this. If I have to buy the chips with beer, donuts, dollar bills, or by other nefarious means I am up for it. If we do bring it to Boston it has to be rad. Thank god its not some maple syrup chugging contest. No way I could handle that.
Purple is the new black. True story. We brought 3 Honeys down to the Expo. An All Roads that we built specifically for D2R2 and that is hands down our most popular bike. More than one person came up to me and said the All Roads was the type of bike they have been looking for for years. We also brought our Cross Race bike. People were super stoked on that bike. We answered so many questions about cross and the bike. Its probably my favorite topic so it was fun seeing so many people respond so well to the bike we have been racing on for the past two seasons. The bike that really blew me away was the 29er mtn bike we painted special for the show. We are very lucky. Our painters are some of the most creative people I have ever met. I really didn't know what the new paint scheme would be like. When I saw it in person it blew me away. Purple, with black and silver panels. It has a gold metallic clear coat. Its straight up gorgeous. I didn't know what people would think. They loved it.
We also got to meet a lot of other industry friends and plot and scheme for 2014. If half of the cool projects and rides happen 2014 is going to be a pretty amazing year I will say that. Not that '13 hasn't been one the best. We have had so much fun this year. Thank you so much to the Philly Bike Expo for doing such a great job. We had a blast and came away from it with so many great ideas. We will be back in Philly in a few short weeks. To say I am #EXCITE is an understatement. Philly I love you. We will be bringing a bunch of #NECX love down to Philly SSCX Worlds. Not sure if people in Philly hug. But I am going to give Dave Pryor a huge hug next time I see him for all he has done to make SSCX Worlds happen on the East Coast. Huge thanks have to go to my wingman pictured below. Without Nick this trip never would have happened. He is one of the most solid guys I know. Cracked the whip. Kept me on task. And even when Siri had us doing circles on the drive home he kept it together. Sure Newark was almost the death of us. But all real adventures have to have some threat of death to be a true adventure right? In all seriousness thank you to all who made the Philly Bike Expo possible. We will be back next year.