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Beggars Would Ride

All The Smiling Faces

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“So, seen anything cool?”

Some variation of this question has haunted me ever since the Sea Otter evolved out of a bike race into an expo that also features a ton of bike racing. By my reckoning, then, I’ve been hearing and sometimes asking this very question for about 26 years. The first five years of the Sea Otter I was busy either drooling on my own stem somewhere on the XC course, sharpening my elbows at the short track race, or getting beaten up by roving gangs of empty beer bottles at the campsite; often all three of these acts seemed to happen in very close order to each other. As such, I didn’t pay the expo much mind during the first few years.

Then it sort of became my job to be in the belly of the beast for the duration of the event. I think that entrenchment solidified somewhere around 2002. However, if it was my job to competently answer that question – “So, seen anything cool?” – I have made a career out of abjectly failing to come up with any credible response. Hopefully Cam and Pete didn’t hire me to fulfill this role. By my count, the pay-to-play “journalists” over at GMBN had somewhere around 100 people at the event in charge of cataloguing and broadcasting every inch of the midway, indicating that there are plenty of potential hires if that is the direction this site needs to go…

Nevertheless, this IS the Sea Otter, and so THAT question is going to come up. And after a couple years of pandemic turning every single one of us into socially feral semi-hermits, arriving beneath the beating sun on Thursday into a venue vibrating with an almost tangible celebratory buzz, for the first time in decades, I had an answer to that question.

“Seen anything cool?”

“You!”

All of you. Okay, maybe not YOU who are reading this, but the collective “you,” or maybe more appropriately, the collective “we”, the “us” of cycling.

Holy shit, it was good to see so many faces again!

ottercrowd.jpeg

So. Many. People!

I mean, yeah, Continental have some interesting new big heavy tires, and Lazer have helmets with inbuilt crumple zones instead of MIPS, and Magura have a pretty awesome looking brake that’ll retail for $99 a wheel and you get to choose whether you want 4-piston or 2-piston calipers, but you probably already knew about that, and there were all those rad old Haros in the Haro booth, and there was a whole galaxy of rad other new shit that I completely failed to take notice of. Because I was busy.

I was busy hugging, and fist bumping, and shaking hands, and high-fiving, and laughing, and talking, and drinking out of other people’s flasks, and it felt like a four day conversation that started about when I crossed the tire bridge on the way in and didn’t slow down or let up until I climbed back across the tire bridge and got back in my van to come home. The general gist of that conversation follows a similar train of interrogation:

“God Damn! So good to see you.”

“Where’d you get that coffee?”

“What a weird couple years! How are you holding up?”

“How about that supply chain SNAFU?” (general consensus seems to be that things should mellow out by, ohhhh, sometime in 2024)

“Did you hear about …….? Yeah, Covid/cancer/massive heart attack. How are YOU doing?”

“We’re worried about the independent bike shops.”

“Where’d you get that beer?”

“Can I swoop some of that sunscreen?”

“So, seen anything cool?”

seaotterbeer.jpeg

There was even a special Sea Otter Kolsch beer by Sierra Nevada. Sure, it cost $12 a pint, but even that couldn't harsh my buzz.

I have talked a whole lot of shit about the Sea Otter over the years. And I have similarly painted a pretty grim picture of trade shows and expos during that long arc of time. Sea Otter 2022 was such a powerful reminder that all my jaded Eldest Oyster grim pessimism really needs to get put in check more often. This was an epic gathering of the entire cycling community. Athletes, consumers, retailers, manufacturers, engineers, marketing wonks, dreamers, superstars, nerds, old, young, every size, every shape, every gender, every color. A 70,000-ingredient stew of humanity, the only absolutely for sure common thread between them all being a love of bikes.

Seen anything cool? Yep. You. Us. All of us. It was majestic.

I had some kind of “Soylent Green is people!” riff lined up when I started writing this, as a way of alluding to both my fear of crowds as well as my deep abiding love for dystopian movies featuring Charlton Heston, but I couldn’t really tie the room together with it. But that might help explain the lead photo. Well, that and the fact that I didn’t take any photos. As it turns out, I maybe shoulda gone with an Andromeda Strain theme instead of Soylent Green. Yesterday the text messages began rolling in from Covid positive friends post-Otter. I refuse to let that tarnish the glow. Concerns? Yes. Regrets? None.

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We now return to our regularly scheduled dystopian nightmare...

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Comments

Sethsg
+4 kcy4130 Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman Geof Harries

Covid test kits for some reason always remind me of those snack packs that have the little can of tuna, a package of crackers, a little trowel-like thing for spreading the tuna, and either napkins or a wet wipe. Sorry if that was rather random.

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kcy4130
+7 Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman PowellRiviera Timer Karl Fitzpatrick Geof Harries Lacy Kemp

Perhaps all covid tests should include a snack pack in them, so if it's positive then you can console yourself with a snack. Or if negative you can celebrate with a snack.

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denomerdano
+2 Mike Ferrentino kcy4130

There is a certain part of my body I named the Charlton Heston...and no its not that...

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mikeferrentino
0

your lantern jaw?

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denomerdano
0

Cluster of mole hairs...

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velocipedestrian
0

Cold dead hands?

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taprider
0

This comment has been removed.

velocipedestrian
+2 Dave Smith Pete Roggeman

I'm loving the casual sprinkling of references (tie the room together) with total disregard to whether the audience will be picking them up or not.

But The Eldest Oyster winked his eye, and NEVER A WORD HE SAID... That old bivalve was certainly a retrogrouch, but I'm not sure staying shtum is your shtick?

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Niels van Kampenhout

Damnit, Mike, I drank plenty of free beer at Sea Otter that was cold, delicious, and enjoyed in good company. But somehow I feel like I missed out by not having a $12 Sierra Nevada Sea Otter Kolsch.

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mikeferrentino
+1 Pete Roggeman

I cannot vouch for the taste, since $12 beer is a sign of end times and therefore best avoided. But it was there, and people were buying it (and therefore hastening the coming apocalypse. Way to go, people).

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Mike Ferrentino

All hail our new, non-frugal overlords.

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Vikb
+2 Mike Ferrentino Sandy James Oates

Buying all those $10K+ machines makes a dentist thirsty so I don't begrudge them a cold Kolsch.

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DaveSmith
+1 Pete Roggeman

Never apologize for any 70s Charleton Heston reference.  

Side note: John Solie's poster art always reminds me of wandering through aisles of VHS (and the occasional Beta max) tapes and looking for the movies with the best box covers.

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slimchances57
+1 Pete Roggeman

Thanks for highlighting the truth of it all: Stuff is just stuff, it's the people that make a place or an event, and a bike is the best way to experience them both.

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pete@nsmb.com
0

It just felt even more true than usual, this time around.

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martin
0

I can't help but think about this since this morning : which new 99$ 4-piston Magura brake are you talking about? I was looking to get some MT5s or MT30s but woulnd't mind an even cheaper option!

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mikeferrentino
+1 Martin

MT Sport, US $89 per wheel, your choice of 2 or 4 piston, monobloc calipers, resin levers. Apparently Andrew has been min-maxing with them since 2019...

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martin
0

Thanks, that's good to know! I might give them a try. I just replaced my leaky SLX M7000 levers for Deore M6100 but I have a weird feeling about the calipers now... I've heard great things about the 4 piston Maguras and my last ones were the Julies in 2001, it might be time to give Magura another try.

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Timer
0

Just be aware that Magura master cylinders are not terribly sturdy. Wouldn't recommend them for bikes that crash on a regular basis.

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slimchances57
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Maybe just buy the calipers Mike?

Echoing others, Magura brake levers are a bit on the fragile side compared to Shimano's....however, the Magura brake calipers are astoundingly great! Having sooner or later chipped or cracked at least one piston on every damn Shimano caliper I've owned over the years [Who's brilliant idea was it to use pottery in disc brake caliper?], may I suggest you join those of us who've embraced skullduggery/blasphemy: Shimano levers married to Magura Calipers. The combination is durable, light, and has that combination of power and modulation we all look , [and pray?] for at the bleeding edge of traction.

Be like Tom ; )

https://youtu.be/l7yuTR8r6QM

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