Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Fixed Gear Symposium that Wasn't....Sort Of

On June 27th, Vuggy and I both got this ominous email from Dennis Bean-Larson (Admin from the FixedGearGallery):


Only eight have registered.

I need to hit sponsors heavy next week but I'm worried about the low registration.

Should I consider pulling the plug right now? Roscoe can't make it, with gas prices and the economy faltering is 2008 maybe 1 year too late?

What think?"

Vuggy and I both responded immediately with suggestions to ramp up the registration, but with tacit support to pull the plug if it came to that……well of course, it did. A few days later the forum was alive with disbelief. Reality check for all of us is that Dennis puts himself at risk to throw this little party for 100 or so people. He has insurance payments to make, vendors to pay, venues to reserve, etc. And if he doesn’t have a clear indication that enough people are committed to it at least six weeks in advance, it’s just too big a risk. I’ll also say, even when it does all come together, it means Dennis won’t be sleeping well for about two weeks straight. He tends to work pretty hard on this stuff. During last year's symposium the few hours he slept were done on Katy's massage table upstairs.

One of the suggestions from Vuggy and I was that anyone who still wanted to show up should, and that we’d just have the four best days of riding ever. No fees, no prizes, no vendors, no worries.

The result was that about 20 or so of the hard cores showed up. Some for a whole week. The Heikes from Oklahoma, Cheesy, FixedWeasel, N8Bone, Eric, Ben all from Chicago. Big Matt and JimmyFixed from Ann Arbor, the M189 gang….baby and all! A whole crew from Kentucky – Dave and Alison and Brian and Jeff, Fenderman from California, Tracey from Denver, and a smattering of others including a crew from Traverse City. What a great few days we had! As usual Dennis made some sacrifice to the Gods for good weather and we got it. 65- 85 degrees every day and Sun mostly.

We rode like crazy. Thursday we did a combined century and metric century with a crew of five of us going the longer route. Vuggy and Weasel kicked our butts up the hills. Dennis took a bigger group out into the rolling hills and villages of Leelanau County. What a picture-perfect day. On Friday, I took a crew to the Old Mission Lighthouse with stops at the General Store and Chateau Chantal Winery. While seven of us enjoyed spectacular views of the Mission Penninsula Vuggy and Admin took a crew into the woods for a fixed single-track ride on the VASA trail. They had a blast and were in the woods for hours. Karl rode his pretty little antique Schwinn LeTour the whole time.

A lot of my photos show Fenderman from behind as he was itching to burn up the road on our trip out to the lighthouse. Many of my photos of him show him ridng no-hands, like he was reading a book, just taking it all in. And let's just say I have a good photo of a "southern view of north-facing Cheesy" with all his panniers in plain view.

Sarah Heike rode a borrowed Ritchey take-down bike with platform pedals and sandals! Ken Heike rode Admin's Madison running 80-some gear inches wondering why he was "doing trackstands on the hills."There was a lot of good beer drunk, (Thanks to Roscoe for buying the shot of Tequila!) Pizza eaten by the boxload, muscles abused, bikes ogled over and bits fixed or exchanged. (Thanks Weasel for the BB shims.) Nate's bikes all rocked! What a great design-sense he's got.

JimmyFixed showed up in time for the Friday night festivities downtown where we played bike polo, (his two-man team with big Matt - Team Awesome - took the title over six teams.) We also did exhibitions of Shark (foot-down,) where my favorite gal-pal Forest beat all the boys while wearing an apron! It was her birthday and she'd raced over to play with us fresh from baking cakes for her birthday party. In another heat a local pro-level trials rider Jonathon won out on his geared bike. We did Backward 360's, (a local kid Colin made it look easy doing two revolutions),

Trackstands (Ben took high honors again in a duel with Chris Eliot from McLain Cycles. After two minutes of no hands I had them remove one foot - they were both cleated in to the pedals), and a great impromptu session of slolom skids where riders had to lock up a skid and then steer through an obstacle course of traffic cones at speed. This was a crowd pleaser with hundreds of onlookers watching as riders crashed and burned at full speed. (Weasel crashed at least six times with metal grinding on asphalt and feet in the air.)

After all that was done, Admin and Cheesy presented Ken Heike with a gorgeous Sturmey Archer (Sears) two-speed fixed conversion for all his work with raising money for histiocytosis research. (ArlDavey sponsored that prize for Ken.)

So that’s it. No more. We missed you all, sorry you couldn't make it this year. So, just look at the photos (Click Here or use the Picasa Gadget on the top of the page.) and when Dennis posts the dates for the 2009 Symposium place your finger on the “register” button. When the time comes… no waiting… just do it.