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NAHBS 2011 Part 2: NAHBS in Austin, or As Laid-back as Busy Gets…

Friday, Feb 25
Friday morning= Showtime. I woke late, arrived on-time and hungry. Had time to eat a sandwich before the population came meandering back to the new builder section at the far end of the hall. Aaron’s custom tourer was very well received. The crowd was casual and steady, which gave me a chance to talk to almost everyone who came by and stuck around for a better look. (photo by Aaron Kaffen.)

"Yes, it's hand painted. If you zoom in you'll see four different colors in there,"

It was fun watching passersby as they made their way closer and closer, noticing the time-consuming details that I’d assumed would be mostly overlooked. Still, probably the most revered feature of the bike was the integrated U-lock holder, a pretty simple bracket added underneath a carefully dimensioned support rail. I think more pictures were taken of it than anything else on the bike. (Photo courtesy of Commute by Bike.)

Littleford's answer to an old and practical question; "Where do I PUT this?"

Once the doors closed I took a few minutes to clean off the bike; it felt good to clean and polish the frame and fenders, which were pretty well covered in fingerprinted compliments. I met Aaron and I pushed Liz’s old garage sale Schwinn as we walked the two miles or so back to her place. The plan was to borrow an additional bike from the porch and check out the VIP party happening at Mellow Johnny’s later that night.

It was about an hour’s walk through mostly residential East Austin back to the house. The gang was laughing around a sizable crowd of empty cans. Liz grinned past a ridiculously placed eye patch as her friend Hannas, pumped a BB gun and aimed intently at a saw blade lodged in the tree about 30 feet away. PING! Since everyone was still having fun, I assumed (wrongly) that the gun and Liz’z eye patch were unrelated. (Photo by Justin Brown.)

It turns out that Liz is wearing the eye patch to improve her aim, since she can't close one eye without the other.

Always eager to fire anything at anything in a tree, I asked to have a try and Hannas gladly showed me the ropes. As I continued to try and ring a tiny bell dangling from one of the branches, I asked him if he had enough BB’s for me to keep missing. He tipped up his beer and replied in a German accent, “When the ammo runs out probably we are too drunk for the gun anyway.” (Photo by Aaron Kaffen.)

Jon aims, and aims, and aims for the bell...and misses.

We never did make it to the VIP party… but then maybe we did. (Photo by Aaron Kaffen.)

Saturday, Feb 26

I was told to expect a busy day so I was prepared for it, but I didn’t expect it to happen so early. A half an hour after the doors open it was crowd city. Honestly, the day was kind of a whirlwind. I had great conversations with attendees and press alike, had the bike photographed by NAHBS and Dirt Rag, and generally had a really exciting day. Toward the afternoon I started to get a little hoarse, and flinched at the thought of losing my voice with a full day to go. Thankfully, though my questions grew sparser and my answers grew shorter as closing time approached, I was still talking at closing time. (Photo by Aaron Kaffen.)

Fellow Jonathan and fellow Portlander Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org snaps a photo as an attendee grabs a card.

Sunday, Feb 27

A much mellower day. There was an easy feeling all around. Several of the folks that I’d talked to the day before returned with some more specific questions about both the bike I was displaying and what other styles I do- which I took as a very good sign. It was quiet enough that I had the opportunity to take a walk around the floor and admire some of the handiwork of my fellow builders. There were many gorgeous and exotic rides, though my favorite was a quirky yet utilitarian fire engine red bike that my friend Wade, of Vulture Cycles, had made for his girlfriend. I took my time packing the bikes back into the Subaru and headed for Liz’s for an early night. Even though the day had been an easy one, I was ready for an early night, and an early start on the road back to Portland.