Saturday, February 20, 2021

Remembering Shenanigans

From 2010's Frostbike 'show'- Back when Frostbike was cool.
 From about 2003 until 2015, I attended the annual Frostbike dealer open house, as it used to be called, every year. In the beginning it was merely a day-trip with my former boss to go see what was new for the coming year in components, mostly, from vendors that Quality Bicycle Products distributed. 

These first few trips to Frostbike were mainly boring affairs as my former boss wasn't very socially adept and really shied away from interactions with 'strangers' that weren't interested in giving him the limelight. Now on occasion he would find a willing subject which he would then assail with half-baked tales of 1980's era crit racing. That was always my cue to escape and ferret out new friends, new stuff, and to just generally poke around. 

Then things changed around about 2006 when I started attending Frostbike on my own. I got the shop invite and just drove up myself and did whatever I wanted. Blogging here and my association with Trans Iowa and "Twentynine" gave me access to more people and places. During this time I met Ben Witt, Marty Larson, Jason Boucher, Mike Reimer, and several other QBP people. This was the start of the "Years Of Shenanigans" at Frostbike. And let me tell was insanity! 

Frostbike generally happened mid-February, so last weekend would probably have been about right, except this year that was Valentine's Day, so maybe this weekend would have been the weekend? I don't know, of course, as I haven't been to Frostbike since 2015. I'm sure QBP's legal and PR departments are quite happy that I no longer come up. Especially after that last year I went! 

Mike, of Mike's Bikes in Northfield, Minnesota, checking out my new Singular Gryphon in 2010

Of course, most of my shenanigans weren't at Frostbike at all, honestly. No, they happened in Northfield, Minnesota at a bike shop which no longer exists anymore called Mike's Bikes. Mike, the owner, was a former resident of San Francisco, (or that vicinity) back in the 70's and worked as a bicycle mechanic during the days of the early klunker experiments. He rode with Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly and had a few great stories about them. He even had his own klunker which he grafted old Shimano disc brakes to! (I saw the pictures)

You may have seen that reproductions of these are available now. Well, these are The Originals! Seen at Mike's Bikes in 2009.

Mike's Bikes was the Center of Shenanigans. Ben, Marty, myself, and usually a few others would gather there on the Friday evening or Saturday evening of Frostbike weekend. Greek style pizzas and lots of beers were brought in. Old collectable bikes were brought out, and a 'track' of sorts was set up. We could speed through Mike's from the front, retail area, through the shop, up a ramp, make a hard left into the storage/office/back room, another hard left through a doorway, down a ramp in a hallway, through another door that was propped open, and then down a longer hallway to the final hard left and back into the retail space. Mike's was all concrete flooring, so grip wasn't an issue and carpeting wasn't going to hold us back either. 

Food + beers + bicycles + inebriated riders going waaaaay too fast = mayhem sometimes. You wouldn't believe how fast we'd get going! It was a blast! Between sessions we'd repair to the back room and drink and yak until we'd all had enough and we would wander off to our beds, for far too little sleep and an early morning. This happened several years and was a big part of why I loved Frostbike weekend.

I got to attend the Grand Opening night of the Angry Catfish bicycle shop.

There were extra-curricular activities as well throughout those years. I was honored to attend several functions, like the opening of the Angry Catfish bicycle shop, and a few "Cutter's Ball" events which were held in various venues. One being the Peacock Groove headquarters. The final shindig was a big affair at a motel in downtown Minneapolis. I remember crashing one shindig for QBP's top dealers held upstairs in the QBP facility. I was snuck in and had to 'hide out' in the cubicle farm with some other "Q" folk until the coast was clear. Good times! 

There were late nights at bars in Northfield, walking around at night through snowy streets as we went from place to place attending affairs and parties. There was the infamous night when I illegally parked Jason Boucher's Honda Element across from One on One Bicycle Studio and got it towed, which cost hundreds of dollars to rectify. There was the assault on the parking ramp, where myself and several others were risking life and limb to short-cut a way to somewhere we thought we needed to be. All at the risk of falling several stories in a concrete jungle. There was the one year when Mrs. Guitar Ted and I ended up driving on a closed to traffic I-35 during an all-out blizzard. But the most notorious dumb deed has to be when I attended Frostbike the last time, and this one ended up being my swan song of sorts. 

About halfway back- I started on 7th downtown Minneapolis!

That would have been my infamous "walking tour of Minneapolis" which I undertook during a snow storm at night in 17° weather wearing nothing but a stocking hat and a red Raleigh Tamland hoodie besides my normal street clothes. 

The situation was that I was to meet Ben Welnak, my then new partner in, at the downtown Minneapolis motel where Frostbike was having a big dinner/awards ceremony.  My family came along and we had a motel procured near QBP just off of I-495 in Bloomington, quite a ways South of the 7th and Nicolette area where I was dropped off early in the evening. The family went back to the motel, while the plan for me was to get a ride from Ben after the evening's activities were done.

Well, drinking ensued and Ben had more than enough, and wandered off with a group of folks somewhere when I wasn't looking. I was left with a few acquaintances and figured I better stay put until Ben came back to find me. Well......that never happened. One thing led to another, 'bar time' came and went, people went to their rooms, and I was left alone in a lobby of a strange motel at about 3:00am with no Ben, and no way to get home without incurring the wrath of Mrs. Guitar Ted, who was most likely sleeping by this time. 

So, using my much clouded powers of wisdom, I determined by looking at my dying iPhone with its map app, that I could "easily walk that distance back to the motel!", and so I memorized a basic route, and set off a walkin' South on Nicolette Avenue. Snow, cold, and time to come to my senses eventually shocked me to the reality that I had gotten myself into quite a pickle. My tennis shoe clad feet were getting frozen, my body was in early stages of hypothermia, and the Sun was broaching the Eastern skyline. I was within about a mile or so of my destination by this time though, so I gutted it out and went as far as the infrastructure of interstate roadways would let me. Finally, I had to declare 'no mas!' and I called my wife with my last bit of battery power on the phone. She retrieved me, with a stern scolding,and I got back to the motel by around 8:00am and went directly to sleep. 

I missed the entire first day of Frostbike, since I slept in till about 6:00pm, and I went in on Sunday. People found me and I had several concerned folks giving me what-for and reminding me that I could call for help anytime. Jason Boucher being probably the most adamant in this regard as I remember him poking me in the chest as he admonished me for my previous evening's shenanigans. Word had obviously spread far and wide about "Guitar Ted's Walking Tour of Minneapolis", an approximately 12 mile hike of dubious wisdom overnight in the snow and cold. 

 Yeah, that was a good way to leave it. No more shenanigans at Frostbike for me!

Someday I'll have to do a more thorough retrospective of things I saw at Frostbike. That can wait for another time....


Skidmark said...

...or that year our owner/boss went to Vegas InterBike and didn’t come back. He had to be retrieved.

Zoxe said...

Now I must google Greek style pizza....

Ari said...

Hot tubs and whiskey ginger ales with Fixie Jesus

Tman said...

2007 Was the year we displayed Striders for the first time. That must be the i35 Blizzard you speak of? Crazy amount of cars in the ditch. We were invited to Steve Flaggs house where I got a little carried away and checked him with the power of an NHL goon while playing broomball.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tman - I never knew that storm had a name, but yeah, it could have been called that. It was the year the storm hit the day before Frostbike and that morning on the way up we somehow got on the I-90 at Austin and right on into I-35 at Albert Lea with no idea it was closed to traffic.

There also was a year we had to bolt home Saturday evening to miss a blizzard that socked a lot of Frostbike vendors and dealers in for a couple days. We barely missed that one!