Kevin and his buddy Dana took a trip up to Philadelphia a few weeks back to check out the largest bike show on the east coast – The Philly Bike Expo. Kevin went a few years ago and enjoyed it so much he vowed to return. Below is a quick write up of the trip.
Dana and I checked out this show a few years back and I had a great time. I got to meet the infamous @Bicycle_Nomad – Erick Cedeno for the first time and was hoping to snag a quick interview with him this year, but unfortunately he couldn’t make the expo this year due to hosting the Bicycle Nomad PhotoRide that weekend. There was another Instagram celebrity there this year (@ultraromance – Benedict Wheeler), but he put on a great seminar where I managed to get a few questions answered and thought that was cool enough. Read on to hear what he had to say.
We arrived in Philly around 10:30 and decided to follow the same technique as we did last time, which involved parking by the art museum a few miles away from the Philadelphia Convention Center and then hopping on our bikes for a quick ride over to the Expo. What’s awesome is they have a free bike valet at the event so it promotes cycling to the event and also makes parking easier for us. What was even cooler is that the awesome crew at Surly Bikes sponsored the valet on Sunday and anyone who parked a Surly rig at the valet received free entry to the expo that day along with a cool little bag of Surly stuff hung from your handlebar (by the Krampus perhaps?) upon returning. Seriously though – the Surly branded Field Notes notebook is sweet – Thanks Surly!
The Philly Bike Expo has something for everyone – custom bike builders, some larger bike brand names, all kinds of cool bicycle gear and gadgets, seminars, and new this year (well new to me since the last time I was there) an e-bike demo area. My favorite thing to check out at these shows is the custom bike builders.
There’s definitely a custom mountain bike build in my future so I’m always “window shopping” for the right builder. One that has caught my eye both this year and at the expo two years ago was @Weavercycleworks out of Collingswood, NJ. They had a sexy gloss black 29er with a klunker vibe to it that was scratching me right where I itch. As you probably know by now I am a purist in the sense that I don’t care for suspension or aluminum, so this steel rigid frame had me drooling and thinking of where I’d ride it and what I might ask this builder to modify to be exactly what I want ::cough::cough:: 29+ clearance ::cough::
Weaver Cycle Works’ beautiful klunker style 29er
After walking the entire expo on Saturday I was ready to hit some trails. I did some research using the MTB Project app and read about the Wissahickon Loop (https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/7009980/wissahickon-loop) and knew we had to check it out. It’s conveniently located just outside of downtown Philly. There are some other options we didn’t have time to check out (specifically Philadelphia Belmont: https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/7011181/philadelphia-belmont), but let’s talk about our experience at
Wissahickon. It’s a nice 10.5 mile loop (according to MTB Project) that is mostly beginner level riding with some slightly challenging climbs here and there. Given the time of year we had some great scenery with the leaves changing colors. There were some logs to hop here and there with a few other obstacles along the way to test your skills on. Overall this is a great “backyard” trail for those who live in the area, but also worthy of a ride if you are passing through the city of brotherly love. Unfortunately our ride was cut short due to a flat tire then Dana’s chain getting CF’d in his back wheel. Mix that in with a late start on an early fall day and you run out of sunlight quickly. Last time Dana and I went to this expo we rolled with our track bikes. I’m
not really into that kind of city riding anymore and was glad I could convince Dana to bring his Salsa Fargo dirt bike this time. Based on his reactions to some of the down hill sections of this trail I think it’s safe to say he is glad too. I could tell by the smiles that he was enjoying himself. Bottom line – check out Wissahickon Loop if you are ever in Philadelphia.
Given we were up at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday to drive up and then stayed out late at the after party over at the Philadelphia Brewing Company, we both felt the urge to sleep in a little and took our time getting going. We scored a breakfast voucher from the hotel we stayed at due to my phone app not being able to open our room as it was supposed to. Anyway – since I already saw everything I wanted to see on day one, I only had one item on my agenda for day two and that was the seminar hosted by @ultraromance – Benedict Wheeler. For those who don’t know him – just check him out on Instagram. He’s got a cool back story and is a very humble down to earth kinda guy who can talk all day about cycling and camping and hair products he uses.
I mentioned earlier that I had the chance to ask him a few questions during the Q/A session:
Q1: If there was one route that you’ve done that you’d say every cyclist needs to do before they die, what would it be?
A1: Greate Divide Mountain Bike Route (http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/great-divide-mountain-bike-route-gdmbr/). He mentioned specifically the leg from Banff, Alberta Canada to Missoula, Montana. He also suggested the San Juan Hut System from Teluride to Moab (https://sanjuanhuts.com/mtb/telluride-moab) and his trip to the Swiss Alpine as life changing.
Q2: Have you had a chance to ride the new Oregon Timber Trail on the west coast?
A2: Not yet, but not in a rush to do so as it does not appear to be the type of riding he prefers to do. He has heard that it is a tough route, but that eventually he will check it out.
Overall – it was great to see and hear from this dude who is out there living the adventure cyclists’ dream. You can check out the whole seminar on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttihgwDmg6s.
So let’s talk about my beer experience while up there… Through some research and rumors I found out that good old Pliny the Elder can be had in the Philly city limits. So I
used the trusty Untappd app to locate some recent check-ins near me. I found one that had a check-in from just the day before so I figured “they must still have it” – I was wrong. At first I thought I did hit the pay dirt because I asked the waitress if they had any and she said yes. She brought me a glass of “it” and at first taste I was a little skeptical of it actually being Pliny. Then a minute later the waitress came by to break the news to me that it was in fact not Pliny I was drinking, but something else that had the Pliny tap handle still on the tap. I was so disappointed that I forgot to check-in whatever it was that I was now drinking. It was still a tasty DIPA, but not PLINYYYYYY……grrrrr. My other hoppy highlight of the weekend would be the not so hoppy Philadephia Brewing Company’s Joe Coffee Porter. They were blowing this brew out at $5 for a six pack! What the….? I was skeptical about the pricing, but thought “a whole six pack for less than the price of a single pour at any bar? what the hell!”. I am happy to report that it is a solid coffee porter and am now mad that I didn’t buy the whole case like the drunk guy at the bar was encouraging me to do.
If you are still reading this blog post – thank you and I am sorry. This got long quick. These are the highlights and I’m sure some of it will be covered in an upcoming podcast, but thought I’d share some photos of the trip.
Ride Fast….Drink Philly