Before I tell the rest of the story on chains, we have a brief interlude also known as one of two craziest bike-related days of the year…the Cascade Bicycle Clubs Annual Bike Swap! Now this year is unlike any other in that we actually had two swaps this year, as the first happened to fall on a day, that we in Seattle were simultaneously hit with some snow (February 9th). This extra swap was sort of a bonus, but also an wild-card as the energy around the sport is definitely different in February (beginning of the season) that it is in late September (end of the season). It is for this reason, among others that I decided to scope it out as a buyer before dedicating to being a seller.
I believe that these bike swaps merit mention, as biking can be a surprisingly expensive sport and any opportunity to keep costs down (those spandex bike shorts everyone likes to make fun of ain’t cheap!) is worth consideration. It is a mixture of bike shops getting rid of excess inventory, bike teams going in for members to sell stuff, and people like me, who on occasion, accumulate way too much stuff and need a way to get rid of as much as possible and fast! Its also sort of a who’s who of bike shop owners, employees, and incredibly colorful people that you see once a year (without fail).
Now, I have played the role of both buyer and seller at these events. This is the first time in a few years that was strictly a consumer and was looking forward to it. I wan’t going in with any items that I absolutely have to buy, I could just let the sale and the deals come to me. Jenica, still eager to try and commute to school, had a nice list of stuff we were looking for: some panniers, a carrier, fenders, gloves, and a headlight. We arrived down at the Seattle Center Exhibition Center promptly at 8:50 (doors open at 9:00), and were immediately greeted by this: Not too bad all in all, but maybe a shock to the uninitiated. Upon descending into the depths of the Exhibition Center it rapidly turns into sensory overload. Bikes, parts, clothes, samples, bike art, bike consignment-its all packed in there. From 9:00 until 12:00 we made our way all over a maze of anything and everything bike and bike-related. Watching people buy a bike for the first time is fun. Engaging in the negotiation with sellers (its common practice) can be a thrill as well. After the first hour and a half, Jenica had spent her limit but was through the roof with excitement on all the stuff she was able to find (headlight not pictured). I had a few bicycles catch my eye, but was content picking up a few spare parts and helping my father secure a few things. Here is a photo of my haul (trust me, by far the smallest and well-managed it has ever been). There are a few items that I would like to bring particular attention to. Both came from Portland and both came from extremely nice people that absolutely deserve to have their work supported. The first is the wonderful glass window pendant made by Brian Echerer of Vela Gioielli. Brian was super nice and friendly and was even kind enough to pose for a photo (photo credit Jenica)! The second are these super cool shirts that both Jenica and I got from Microcosm Publishing. We both are super excited!
After about three hours, we were both pretty exhausted. It is a pretty intense atmosphere and only slightly less so if you are buying and not selling. There are deals to be had and they are pretty impressive. Who knows, you may find that mint 1960’s french threaded one-off that you will never be able to find ever again. If you are looking for something fun to do early on a Sunday morning in February, I highly recommend stopping in. Double that if you are in the market for a new bike. Even if you leave empty-handed, at the very least the people watching is top-notch (take my word for it).