Maurice (Dirt Rag’s publisher and mastermind) and I drove into Philly with a few bikes in tow, plus some old copies of Dirt Rag to hand out, socks, pint glasses, hats, t-shirts, frame bags and tool pouches, and of course stickers and life-sized Jenga. Not wanting to miss a good day of riding, we set up our booth as quickly as possible and then met up with our friend and local ride ambassador Greg Whitney to explore the surprisingly flowy newer trails of the Belmont before the promised rain kicked in. We squeezed a solid serpentine lollipop course in and made it home just as it was officially dark, and before the “wall of death” rains that were promised hit the city.
The beauty of having an incredible event like the PBE hosted in a sister city like Philadelphia is the opportunity to catch up with old friends and favorite shops. We stayed with two close friends of mine, Meghan Dinneen, with whom I rode the Great Divide, and Chris Hensel, who builds Hensel Cycles out of the Transport Cycles space. They live in an old church they are renovating, so there was plenty of room for Moe and me, plus framebuilders Doug of Breismeister Bicycles and Johnny Coast of Coast Cycles. It is an honor to listen to framebuilders and other bicycle craftspeople discuss their trade, challenges, and inspirations. On the tradeshow floor, these artists answer questions and have so many smart answers for potential customers and curious perusers, so it was fascinating to listen to the questions they ask each other.
By the time the show started, it had been raining all night, and the bike trail to the expo was wet, muddy, and very fun. Moe and I took the long ways there and back, always appreciating some time on a bike enjoying the scenery while we can squeeze that playtime in. At the show itself, everyone was in great spirits, thanks in large part to the organization and positive attitude of the Bilenky family. Many people stopped by the table to renew their subscriptions, buy swag, and play some Jenga with us. The booth was genuinely hopping for both days of the event, but I did get a chance to stop by and see what other brands were there on display.
I was very excited to see so many companies from the East Coast represented, as well as around the country or world. Dill Pickle Gear from Somerville, MA was a new company I was excited to learn about, and it was great to catch up with old friends Swift from Seattle and see the great new products they’ve developed. This spring, Dirt Rag took a trip down to Philadelphia to check out Engin Cycles, and it was so cool to see all the yokes and other innovations he makes so clearly on display. Sinewave, from Cambridge, MA, has some gorgeous generator-powered products; meanwhile, Hawk Racing from Indiana had the smoothest bottom bracket I’ve felt in a long time, if not ever. And from our own hometown of Pittsburgh, Apothecary Muse makes vegan, all natural skincare products for the adventurous body.
There is still so much to say besides these shoutouts. The great bikes we saw on display, the friends we made, the Jenga we played all deserve some space and reflection, so keep an eye out throughout the week for more PBE content.