This Is Your Life
It is Sunday. The last day of NAHBS and we are tired. All the beautiful bike bits are starting to mix together into an incomprehensible menagerie of steel, chrome and rubber. In our delirious state, someone walks up to us and says, “I don’t think you’ll remember me, but at the very beginning of your trip…you guys got off the train and someone was on their bike and started talking to you. That was me.” The funny thing is that we did remember that exact moment.
Almost two years ago, we got off Amtrak in Portland to start our strange and amazing adventure. Not even an hour after we had first gotten off the train in Portland, we were bicycling to our first homestay when someone recognized us from a post about our trip on BikePortland. We chatted a bit while we were riding. He and his wife had taken off on a similar tour. After a short while, he wished us luck and sped off to work.
That moment, however brief, stuck with us. We have recalled it many times on our trip. It seemed to foreshadow the amazing luck we would have with meeting readers along the way. We could never remember his name, but now we know it. We met him again at NAHBS and his name is Brian and he works at Chris King. We’re hoping to get some coffee with him when we get back to Portland.
NAHBS was a surreal and amazing weekend. And I’m not even referring to the bicycles at this point.
While we expected to meet some readers, we weren’t quite expecting the number of readers that were there! There were folks from different parts of Texas, Portland, California, Arizona, Boston, Tennessee, North Carolina. The closest thing I could relate it to was the old television show “This is Your Life.”
It was as if all these wonderful people that we met on our trip were pulled out of the ether to remind us that our trip and our experiences were real. It is shockingly easy for those details to dull and fade away, to become nothing more than a half-remembered dream. That is the strange predicament of long-term travel. You give up everything to experience the world for a period of time and at the end of it all, you have very few physical things to show from it.
It’s hard to describe emotionally what we were going through at NAHBS. People with whom we spent long hours philosophizing with, or crashed in their guest room, or connected with virtually, or shared a beer from across the country were there. We’d see a face, that flash of recognition and we’d try to place them somewhere in all the vastness we’ve been. Then for that instant we would be gloriously transported away from the din of the trade show floor to somewhere else like Bisbee, Greensboro, Durham, Denton, Luckenbach, Boston, Shreeveport, etc., Usually, that sort of reverie is a solo pursuit and the people you are trying to recall are half a world away. This weekend, however, those people were in Austin and we got to share a little bit of that magic together.
We’ll do a post soon about the bikes, but for today, I want to do a post about our small reunion of sorts.
Ken, from the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel. It was from his house that I saw falling snow for the first time.
The amazing Howard Draper from BikeDenton. Bike advocate, musician and just about one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
Bill, owner of Earth, Wind and Rider. Not only does his company make great jerseys, but he is an up-front business man with a lot of integrity.
The Bilenky crew. Bob (glasses) is an amazing cast-iron cook and one of the sweetest people we know.
Sharp one of the most fun loving and gregarious people we’ve ever met who lives in East Nashville.
AJ from The Peddler bike shop. Their mechanics helped fine tune our bikes after all the crud from the desert.
Erin and Rick Houston, readers and new friends that we met in Austin for the first time. They were in town representing EcoVelo. We’ve had hours of great fun hanging out with them this weekend.
Elliot, from AustinonTwoWheels and Violet Crown Bicycles.
Andre, who joined us for our Austin S24O.
Steve, from Austin, who helped us navigate into town from Lockhart AND helped us find a place to stay during the madness of SXSW (no small feat!).
Trevor and his wife and Philip, long time readers.
An Austin S24O reunion: (R-L) Brian, Laura and Sean who had just gotten his Surly LHT the day before and joined us to the bike camping trip to McKinney Falls.
Jeremey from Gallus Cycles, who we met in Fort Worth.
Lianna and Eric, a couple of the warmest people we’ve met on our trip.
Steve, who we met in Shreveport, LA. He escaped Katrina by riding his bike from New Orleans to Baton Rogue.
Bicycle bloggers and readers Jonathan Maus from BikePortland and Jon from TwoToneATL.
Sean, who came into Austin the same time we did last year. He was riding a 700lb pedicab with his dog Cooper. Jimmy, a long time reader and all around great guy. He was out on this social ride after being laid up for a few months without riding. Piper, a reader and blogger in Baltimore.
A very blurry photo of Keith, the man who helps organize the Austin Social Rides and can be found everywhere at once.
Lane February 28, 2011 at 11:14 am
Ace post, Russ!
Jimmy February 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm
great to see yall again & visit, great to ride with yall!
Austin on Two Wheels tweets summary for the week ending March 4, 2011 | Austin On Two Wheels March 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm
[…] Austin #NAHBS post from @pathlesspedaled http://bit.ly/fv594x Always great to hang out with Russ & Laura. Safe […]
David Irvine March 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm
Hi Russ & Laura, That photo captioned “AJ from The Peddler bike shop”, what make is that lime green bike AJ is on, and where can I get more info about it? It looks like it may be a good bike for 3rd World needs and conditions if it’s not too expensive, thanks!
Russ March 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm
David, I believe it was a Torker.
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Your trip is inspiring! As I prepare for my own life-changing voyage, I hope to have a fraction of the experiences you had!