BSNYC Field Trip: The New Amsterdam Bicycle Show

(Feelin' Patriotic.)

Well, it's officially Bike Month here in New York City, and despite--or perhaps because of--the ongoing NYPD "crackdown" on cyclists the festivities kicked off this past weekend with extra "flambullience." Not only did the city see the running of the Five Boro Bike Tour (which is the world's largest assembly of Freds in the Western hemisphere), but it also played host to the New Amsterdam Bike Show. Sadly, I was unable to take part in the Five Boro Bike Tour since my helmet mirror is still in the shop, but I am pleased to report I was able to pay a brief visit to the bike show. While I was there, I occasionally pointed my aging camera in the direction of stuff and then pressed the button with the grace and savoir faire of a "Bike and Roll" tourist snapping shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, and since I'm something of an amateur bicycle blog enthusiast I will endeavor to share the sorry results with you herewith.

Firstly, I should say that riding to the bike show was a bittersweet experience. It was sweet because the weather was lovely and my smugness caravan and I were able to travel almost the entire way on bike lanes, but it was bitter because here's what we encountered in those lanes:

--Illegally parked Hummers with New York State Association of Chiefs of Police badges on the bumper;
--Fish delivery trucks;
--Pickup trucks "corking" intersections for outlaw motorcycle clubs;
--Occasionally, cyclists.

The "corking" pickup truck was especially astounding since it was using the bike lane to roar from intersection to intersection at something like 50mph and had to have been running something like 20 red lights a minute. However, the police didn't seem to mind, and in fact the group also had something of a de facto NYPD Cushman escort. I guess this is because, while the driver or the motorcyclists could have easily killed somebody, none of them were doing anything really dangerous to the general public such as riding a bicycle with a tote bag on the handlebars.

Also, I did have the pleasure of riding along a brand-new, freshly painted bike lane:

Note that, even though it was only hours old, it already had a U-Haul in it in strict compliance with New York City bike lane policy.

Anyway, when we finally arrived at the bike show I knew it was going to be a good one since I immediately spotted actor and bicycle enthusiast Matthew Modine. In New York City, when David Byrne (who does not own a car) is either unable or unwilling to attend a cycling-related event, Matthew Modine (whose car ownership status is unknown) is there to fill the resultant smugness vacuum. Here's Modine outside the show, apparently attempting to "schluff" on two bikes at once:

Say what you will about Modine's performance in "Pacific Heights" alongside Michael Keaton at his diabolical best, but at least he' s not afraid to get his hands dirty. I'd like to see David Byrne (who doesn't have a car) try that.

Next, I ran the Gauntlet of Bikes (or G.O.B.) you'll find outside of any cycling-themed event, which serves as sort of a portal into the Realm of Bike Dorkdom:

There were low-locked bikes and there were high-locked bikes. In fact, there was even a high-locked Softride:

Softrides are to Y-Foils as Matthew Modine is to David Byrne.

For my part, I was having none of this "locking" nonsense, mostly because my smugness caravan was "palping" something like 300lbs of bicycle, and had I attempted to high-lock my Big Dummy I would have wound up pinned underneath it like a wrestling extra in the 1985 Matthew Modine film "Vision Quest." Trust me, the last thing I want is to be found laid out on the sidewalk flatter than Modine's performance in "Married to the Mob." Therefore, I went to valet our bikes--only to be told that the valet parking was "full:"

Yeah, right. Maybe if we had a Dutch bike or a "bake feets" or some other ├╝ber-smug conveyance like all the highfalutin New York City bike advocacy set rides they'd have found us some room:

Clearly though my caravan didn't make the grade, so we had to make like the rest of the "proles" and use the poles.

Speaking of making like the proles, after I tethered our caravan to a street lamp I took my place at the end of the ticket line:

I knew I was in for a long wait, since the guy in front of me was yawning.

Eventually, though, we did make it in, and I ascended the narrow, vertiginous staircase:

As something of a "woosie" when it comes to heights, I found the staircase mildly disconcerting, and you can bet a true professional bike show organizer like NAHBS potentate Don Walker wouldn't force people to climb a set of stairs like this--or, if he did, he wouldn't allow them to use any other stairs within a 20-mile radius.

Nevertheless, I did manage to conquer my fears and ascend the hated staircase, and when I finally made it into the show itself I saw something that made me rejoice--it was another line!

Apparently coffee tastes better when it's served out of a vintage truck, but I was in no mood to wait on another line, so instead I joined the mobs of people wandering around and looking at stuff:

I also ambled over to this panel discussion:

There were some empty seats, though I bet if the panel were sitting in a vintage truck they'd have to drive the crowd away with a fire hose.

Next I sauntered over an area that was sort of sectioned off by "DisposaCones," and I took this as a warning that I was about to enter an Extreme Smugness Zone:

If you're a part of the "cone culture" like I am, you'll want a closer look at the DisposaCones, so here you go. I also made sure to include a pair of disembodied mandals according to "cone culture" photo guidelines:

As it turns out though, it wasn't an Extreme Smugness Zone. Rather, it was a bike demo area. Here's someone trying to figure out how to ride one of those "fixie" bikes you're always hearing about:

Clearly he was trying to figure out the hipster leg-over-bar mounting technique, and I'd have showed him myself if I wasn't reasonably certain I'd pull a groin muscle.

Of course, like a pervert in rose-colored MC Hammer pants, if an event is even remotely bike-themed you can be sure that Specialized is going to come along and pitch a big red tent:

Notice how the Specialized representative proffers the frame bottom bracket shell first to emphasize it's "beefiness."

There was also the requisite "Bamboo Ghetto:"

As well as local vendors like Hold Fast:

Who doubtless spent much of the day answering the question: "And these are different from PowerGrips how exactly?" (Answer: They're three times as expensive, use Velcro, and are available in "collabo" versions.)

Meanwhile, Bike Works NYC displayed some kind of clock that tells hipster time:

Even Craigslist fixture Spaceship had space at the show:

Spaceship are so Craigslist they just displayed one of their "For Sale" posts instead of an actual bike:

Speaking of spaceships, it was time for me to ascend to the next level, which meant more stairs:

This floor had a decidedly different flavor, and it was dominated by a Terrordome of Fixies:

I assumed that at some point in the day two hipsters would enter it and fight to the death, which would look like this:

There was also an extensive smugness section:

As well as a cursed soul doomed to furl and unfurl folding bikes in front of mildly curious onlookers for all eternity:

Eventually though, it was time for me to leave, which meant more freaking stairs:

And back on the street, I found a crowd had assembled to gawk at the considerable smugness of my Big Dummy:

In Portland, I'm sure it wouldn't rate a second look, but this is New York City, so they probably couldn't believe I managed to ride a bicycle this big without getting arrested:

Here's one of the gentlemen going in for a closer look, clearly impressed by the Sportster 883 V-twin I've got hidden behind the Xtracycle Freeloader bags. In fact, he was so taken with it I thought he might try to make off with it, and so I reached inside my diaper bag and prepared to brain him with a sippy-cup if necessary:

Eventually though he simply stood up and then asked us to explain how our u-lock worked, so I just hurled the sippy-cup at a passing unicyclist instead:

I wonder if it's possible to "schluff" on a unicycle.

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