Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Frostbike 2013: Part 3

No- You can not buy one like this from Surly.
With Friday behind us, Ben and I woke up early and hit "The Tavern" in downtown Northfield for some eggs and bacon. Then it was on to "Goodbye Blue Mondays" for our cuppa joe to go, and off we went to QBP's massive warehouse for the Frostbike show.

When I got there I headed over to Salsa's booth and saw the prototype tandem 29"er, which was pretty awesome. Then after a bit of chatting with the Salsa folk, I moved onward to check out the other booths. It quickly became apparent that besides fat bike stuff, gravel road talk was high on several folks minds.

I spent a long time talking with Clement's Donn Kellogg. The gravel scene is really drawing manufacturers in, and I also learned from sources at the show that major players are taking notice. It will be interesting to see how the genre' is interpreted by more corporate entities. 

These new bags for the Big Dummy are super-rad.
I talked so much to so many folks on Saturday, in fact, that I missed lunch altogether. The afternoon wore on and it ended up with me hanging around the Salsa area with Ben and Curtis. A small crowd was gathering near by for SRAM's XX-1 giveaway. I noticed Hurl Everstone of One On One Studio and Cars Are Coffins fame talking with Greg Herbold, former downhill champ and current SRAM spokesperson. H-Ball was holding a koozie with a Keystone beer in it. He was telling a great story about a taxi ride with two foreign drivers in the same taxi. (You had to be there.)

Before long H-Ball was getting into "show mode" to give away the XX-1 group. Ben said he was going to run over to see who might win it, while Curtis and I stayed clear and chatted with some other folks.

Suddenly Ben was shouting Curtis' name and I realized Curtis won. Curtis' face was in disbelief as he walked over and received the voucher for a complete XX-1 group. A bit later, he almost traded it to Salsa's Kid Riemer for a Buick, but that didn't quite happen.

Then there was this shindig going on upstairs, but only for certain dealers. I was wearing my media tag. An old friend of mine that works at Q whisked me right in though, and the next thing ya know, I am up in the Salsa Cycles cubicle area quaffing beers and gabbing with the fellas. Here is where I started to figure out that I needed re-fueling. It had been since early morning that I had eaten, and I was getting kind of weird feeling in the head. No wonder! About this time, a bag of cheese curds appeared and saved me from utter collapse.

The deal was that there would be a dinner provided by QBP at 7pm and all I had to do was hang on a bit longer.

Nickle, (facing), and Ben on our way to the Cutter's Ball
Well, finally the word came that it was time, so we all filtered down to the cafeteria and grabbed a plate. Once we got through the line, we found that the room was filled and not many open seats were available. So we had a former QBP employee in the group who knew the building well. He directed us to a nearby conference room where we squatted and ate our meals without further adieu.

Once the grub had been grubbed, we made way to the show floor where there was karaoke and folks milling about. I somehow had gotten separated from Ben and Curtis during this time, so I wandered over to the shadow box displays where the QBP brands each display a bicycle or product. I stopped at the All City booth, where there was a Nature Boy or some model of theirs surrounded by Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. I noticed the pull tabs were still in the cans, but I figured the cans must have been drained. I casually kicked at one nearest to me and it was full! 

With one less can in the display, I walked down back to the crowd and found Ben and Curtis with a few others. We hung around a bit longer before Ben made the announcement that we were leaving for the Cutter's Ball. This is an event that has been taking place for the last four years. I'm not sure it is a benefit, but the event features some facet or entity in the Twin Cities bicycle culture, and this time it was all the way downtown.

Chad Ament, (L) and Tobie Depauw of NC Cyclery @ One On One
Well, this Cutter's Ball was all about Handsome Cycles moving in next door to One On One Bicycle Studio. So we had to ply the busy streets of downtown Minneapolis. Ben was driving, and while he has several amazing talents, being calm in the face of urban driving madness is not one of them. In a bit of frustration, he whipped the car into some random parking garage and parked the car. We had a passenger, Nickle, (yes- his real name), and we went in search of One On One Bicycle Studio.

We wandered in the general direction and eventually found the place after going about 8 blocks or so. Not bad, actually, and the "people watching" opportunities were vast and varied. The area is known for its clubs and younginz all dressed up were walking up and down the streets trying to search for that certain "sumpthin-sumpthin" that younginz often are in search of.

Once inside Ben and Curtis walked off with Nickle into the party. Me? I never got more than 20 feet inside the front door because there were so many folks that wanted to chat with me. Interesting conversations were had, and time was not on my mind. In fact, I have no clear idea what time it was during most of what I am writing about here. I was not at all worried about time. It was rather pleasant, actually.

Urban Adventurers
Well, we had to go home at some point, and once again, it was Ben who made the motion to head out. We picked up three more guys who needed rides back to their hotel. The crew, now six of us, took off in the general direction of the mystery parking garage that, by now, none of us had any clear idea about its specific location or the street it was on for sure. Ben proffered his ticket, taken upon our entrance, and GPS'ed the address and we were on a bead for the location until I misguided us about a block too far South.

Along our route, there were perhaps even more revelers than before when we came the other way. Dance club music filtered out of double doors guarded by twin security men up and down the streets. Lights flickered in the cold, somewhat foggy air. Girls with over the knee boots and mini skirts were everywhere. All this prompted me to declare Minneapolis as the "Las Vegas Of The North".

Eventually we found the ramp, but the door we came out of was locked. We could not see another door nearby to use, so we simply walked up the off ramp cars used to exit the ramp. When we discovered the level we needed to be on was over a barricade, down about ten feet across a gulf leading down another story, we decided to jump over and down. All six of us safely by this obstacle, we walked by three ladies with impossibly long legs and found our car. 

Bright Lights- Twin Cities
Now Ben's car is a mid-90's era Toyota Camry. Not the largest of vehicles, mind you. The car is outfitted with front bucket seats and a rear bench seat. Four adults can shoehorn themselves into this vehicle and be "okay". Now we had two above that number.

I sat in front next to Ben who drove. Age does have its benefits! The other younger men crammed into the back, and I could see one of them was partially on anothers lap. Oh well! Off we went, and it wasn't long before the tired old Camry's springs left us to scrape bottom over the uneven parking garage pavement.

Once out on the road, we found smooth sailing. Ben was chuckling as he could see Tobie from North Central Cyclery snoozing behind me as he was wedged against the right rear door. The others were chatting away and Ben and I were navigating our way out of the downtown area successfully to deposit these fellows at their designated motel just off I-494. Then Ben and I, too tired to chat or do much of anything but drive, made our way back to Northfield under a bright, nearly full moon surrounded by stars and all that above a fresh coat of white on the rural scenery. It was beautiful, peaceful, and in direct contrast to what we had experienced over the last several hours.

Off to bed, then one more short day of Frostbike to go........


Doug M. said...

Open cans full of beer? Sounds like a shrine to Santa Muerte!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the precious time to write it up ..well done...
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