Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Handmade For Your Feet

This past weekend was the annual N.A.H.B.S. North American Handmade Bicycle Show at the Portland Convention Center. My friend Steve was in town from Michigan to assist our friend Aaron Hayes with his booth at the show.

Aaron is an industrial designer. He’s got a keen eye for form and craft. A combination of sculptor and innovator. This past summer he founded Courage Bicycle Manufacturing Company and has been designing, fabricating, welding, re-designing and poring over the tiniest details of his bikes ever since.

And it paid off.

Aaron Hayes was named Best New Builder at the show.

Pretty amazing praise for someone who a year ago was riding bikes not building them. I was pleased to have been there when the award was announced and fortunate to see the amazed elation on Aaron’s face.

Now, I’m not the best guy to blog about bicycles. Sure, I had a yellow Schwinn with a big sparkly banana seat as a kid and I loved riding, but as an adult I lost interest. But, as someone who enjoys the mechanics of everything from a pepper grinder to my favorite Rickenbacker guitar, I LOVED this show. But it wasn’t just the mechanics of it, it was the art involved. The colors used in painting. The chrome. Wood slats on baskets. Leathers on seats. Metal, metal, metal. Even a hollow hardwood frame. It was like being in a forest of functional sculpture.

The show moves on to Indianapolis next year. I may just go for the weekend and really try to soak it all in. Maybe even help out if Courage is on display again.

Last night Aaron hosted some of us for dinner and a final chance to spend time with Steve before he returned to Michigan. Taped all over the walls of his house were pages of designs, ideas, schematics and plans for bike after bike, part after part.

It’s inspiring to see someone make a dream a reality and then be recognized for it.


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