Friday, February 20, 2009

Frostbike Weekend

This is the weekend that Quality Bicycle Products holds "Frostbike". That is its annual dealer only show in Bloomington, Minnesota. You can check out my previous Frostbike hijinx here, here, here, and here. It's a weekend of meeting old friends and making new ones that I look forward to every year I get to go up.

I'm not sure the newsy bits will be as flowing on the big wheeled side as in years past, but whatever there is to tell, or that they will let me tell, I will. Look for a recap on Monday.

Till then, I leave you with this story from the 90's when Minneapolis played host to two distributor trade shows on the same day!

Back in the mid 90's, there were two bicycle parts distributors of note out of Minneapolis/Bloomington. They were Quality Bicycle Parts and Island Cycles. They used to hold their dealer shows on the same weekend. Quality was at a much smaller warehouse then than they have today. Still, by that days standards they were cutting edge. I remember the tour guide was particularly proud of the moving aisles, or carousel. It featured a station at the end where an employee would enter a part number and the entire aisle would rotate like a huge conveyor belt till the part bin the number called up was in front of the employee. He/she picked the part, entered the next number, and so on. Pretty cool! Well, then afterwards you could wander around anywhere you wanted. It was called an "Open House" back then, and it wasn't at all like the mini-trade show they put on today.

Well, we were wandering around, running our fingers through bins of Ringle' hubs in various candy colors and "ooing" and "ahhhing" over the latest CNC'ed bits that QBP had on offer. Pretty cool stuff for an avid mountain biker such as myself back in the day.

Well, Island Cycles was a completely different affair. Island was housed in an ancient (for the Mid-West) warehouse building in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. An eight story behemoth of a brick building with creaky wooden floors. You could go absolutely anywhere in the place, totally unsupervised on Open House weekend. I learned pretty quickly that the two best places to hang were at the extremes- the attic and the basement.

The basement of Island Cycles was freaking amazing. I can not begin to paint the picture of this joint. There were tires......I mean tires people! Tires that were waaaay old. Wheels hanging from the ceiling that were brand new. NOS stuff from the late 70's for 26 inch cruisers. BMX vintage stuff, and old tubular road wheels by the dozens. It went on and on like that down there. But that was just the basement.

The attic, and what an attic!- was so flippin cool. You would first notice that it was indeed a place rarely visited. Dust and cobwebs all over. But once you got beyond that, there were odd cycling treasures hidden all over the place up there. Old, old stuff from the 20's and 30's you would never have imagined, all new, all crated up, or in cardboard boxes. And the view from the huge windows looking out over the warehouse district was super cool.

Then when you were finished with that, you hit Islands micro-tiny customer area and drank some Grain Belt Premiums, had an egg salad sandwich, and bugged out for home. Those were some mighty different days from what goes on now. Island is no more, bought out by J&B Importers and the company moved to a more modern warehouse. QBP has moved twice since those days, and they are vastly different with a "mini-trade show" deal instead of an open house.

Anyway, I thought it might be cool to relate a bit of the past in contrast to today's Frostbike adventures. It's all been pretty fun, and I'm sure this year will be no different!

Have a great weekend! Ride a bike!

No comments: