Monday, October 21, 2013

Denver's VeloSwap

For years we've talked about checking out the Denver VeloSwap and it just hasn't happened. This year, we decided to finally stop in and see what the excitement is all about. Frankly, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it almost immediately took on the feel of a trip to a large-scale flea market and the Las Vegas strip all at the same time - except that it revolved around bicycles instead of mass amounts of drinking and gambling. We've heard lots of good and bad stories about this event, so it really could have gone either way.

If I were a better blogger (which we know I'm not), when I attend such things I would be smart enough to remember my camera, but that just doesn't seem to happen. Someday, I hope to just have a camera embedded in my forehead and then I won't have to remember anything (unless of course our heads become removable, in which case, what my father used to tell me - that I "would forget my head if it wasn't permanently attached" - will become all too real). I did snap a few camera phone pictures, but they aren't of the quality nor number that can accurately convey what this event is, so I will share a few of those, but also direct you to the album on VeloSwap's Facebook page to get a better sense of what it's all about.
When first entering the swap, the giant, green bike above welcomes everyone to the event. It was rather amusing to watch people stop to take photos with it, and I have to admit, we did the exact same thing. Part of me really wanted to climb up on it and sit on the saddle, but somehow I don't think I would've made it very far before being thrown out of the building. I do try to behave in public, but sometimes things like this just call to me and it's very difficult to restrain myself. However, we moved on quickly before I acted on my childish desires.

The front part of the complex consisted mostly of newer items or products that consumers could try out. There were also a few bicycle-related art booths in this area, as well as bicycles and other parts being sold, but perhaps one of my favorite stops for the day was Green Guru. The company's products are made here in Boulder, Colorado, but to see them working at a live event was truly fascinating.
The sign above informed visitors that they could make their own upcycled wallet, and there were definitely people trying this out. The person would pick out the materials to be used and then hop on a stationary bicycle and start pedaling. The pedaling then powered the battery being used to operate the sewing machine that brought together the wallet for the individual.
I chatted briefly with this young woman who was (as you can see) really excited about this process. The company uses old tubes, wetsuits, banners, and PET recycled plastic bottles to create products that can be used for outdoor activities such as messenger bags, panniers, pant leg/ankle straps and saddlebags. They also make accessories like the wallets being made during the event, drink can cozies, zipper pulls and laptop sleeves.  I love that they even have places throughout the U.S. where people can donate items to be upcycled into their products.
Their table and booth were full of items to check out. While the items aren't necessarily the most colorful because of the materials being used, its such a great way to use something that would otherwise likely end up in a landfill.

Moving through the event, we quickly realized just how many people were present and how difficult it would be to maneuver through the crowd. It's always challenging for me in these types of situations because I find that people are so focused on what they are looking to find that they will trample anyone in his/her way. This became less of an issue as the day wore on and people filtered out, but as I would learn later, it seems that arriving early is really the way to go if one is looking for specific items. By the time we arrived (about an hour and a half into the event), many of the items I would've been interested in purchasing were long gone. I was later informed that there were also boxes of new pedals, as well as strap-on LED lights from Knog and Bookman priced extremely well that had all vanished by the time we were in the building.
The crowd was thinning at this point as we neared mid-afternoon
The day was not a waste, however. There were a plethora of bike parts to be found for those looking to start a project or missing that last item to complete a build. Prices seemed to vary from booth to booth, but the bargains were there to be found. Bicycles and frames were abundant... although finding the "right" one could be more challenging depending on what a person was seeking. It also didn't appear to be a great place to find many parts for those in search of classic bike paraphernalia. There were a few exceptions, but as a whole, the event seemed to cater to those looking for complete bikes, frames and parts from the more modern era, and specifically geared for road and mountain bikes. For example, I was attempting to find a 700c wheelset with an internally geared hub for a build project that's been sitting about for a long time, and it was likely not going to happen at this event. Regardless, there was plenty to be discovered and lots of things to muse about while milling around the complex. Toward the rear of the building we discovered some fun, older bicycles as well (where I may or may not have purchased a 70's Schwinn, and may or may not have drooled on some beautifully restored 40's- and 50's-era cruisers), so there was a bit for every taste and desire, even if the percentages swung to one side of the fence over the other.

All in all, it was an interesting experience and we purchased a couple of odds and ends to have in the spare bike parts drawer. If you happen to live in an area that hosts a VeloSwap, I think it's worth the small entrance fee, if for no other reason than the experience and spectacle of it all. If you attended, I'd love to hear your experience and/or what you thought of the event as a whole.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed a lot of things about the veloswap (in short doses). Good deals on bikes you might have aquired.... many of the deals there can be had on craigslist, but you get a unique opportunity to see and smell all of it at once. My only regret, not being mor financially prepared to collect more stuff I "might" need!


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