Two-wheelers rule

The Philly Bike Expo celebrates everything about cycling.

Posted: October 28, 2011

Fact: Philadelphia has the most bicycle commuters per capita of the nation's 10 most populated cities.

Fact: Philadelphia has more than 200 miles of bike lanes, with more miles planned.

Fact: Philly Bike Expo, running Saturday and Sunday at the 23d Street Armory, is very cool.

A celebration of all things bike, of this city's bike culture, and also a bit of a trade show, Philly Bike Expo - now in its second year - brings together frame builders, clothiers, bike advocates, bike shop proprietors, and bike snobs (notably Eben Weiss, the smarty-pants blogger turned best-selling author whose Bike Snob rants at http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com are a must read).

And, of course, the expo, subtitled "Artisans Activists Alternatives," will bring hundreds of cyclists - recreational riders, messengers, vintage bike collectors, amateur and pro racers, off-road enthusiasts, citizen cyclists, and plain old fans of the two-wheeled, self-propelled machine.

This year's expo, once again organized by Bilenky Cycle Works in North Philly - artisan fabricators whose tandems and touring bikes, city and road bikes are objects to die for - also features group rides, seminars, a fashion show, a Sunday appearance by La Colombe Torrefaction (serving coffee and espresso from the roastery's restored Citroen H Van) and a cargo bike load of other events, exhibits, and whatnot. There's a "Philly's Fastest Mechanic" contest. And the expo's keynote speaker is Gary Fisher, founder of Trek Bicycles and a father of mountain biking. (Mountain biking is this year's theme.)

Here are a few other highlights:

Where to Bike: Philadelphia. One of the first in a new U.S. series of "Where to Bike" books from the Australian imprint BA Press, Where to Bike: Philadelphia represents 18 months of dogged research, dogged riding, and dogged photo-taking by Julie Lorch.

The book is a must-have for serious cyclists, for recreational riders, and visiting tourists: 71 rides are mapped out and described in a breezy, informative style. A couple of examples: The "Pie Ride a la Mode," a 51.4-mile, flat-terrain cruise from Medford to Hammonton in South Jersey, ending at the Red Barn farm market and pie shop ("the best pie in South Jersey!" Lorch exclaims). And "Julie's Sunday Morning Ride," a 9.5-mile tour that hits the Art Museum, the Italian Market, Northern Liberties, and Center City east and west.

There are rides recommended for kids and families, rides for those who want the challenge of hills, a couple of "Cheesesteak Rides" (ending up at John's Roast Pork and Dalessandro's) and rides in Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester Counties, points farther west and all around South Jersey.

Lorch will be selling her book, signing copies, and, yes, recommending rides.

Philly Expo Bike Swap. Organized by the New York Bike Jumble folks, this Sunday affair (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) affords those with way too many bikes and bike parts the opportunity to unload some stuff, and gives those who want to acquire more bikes and bike stuff the chance to do so. Deals abound, rare components can be had, vintage Raleighs and Schwinns should be ripe for the pickin'.

Bike Expo Fashion Show. Produced by Philadelphia University's fashion merchandising department, the Saturday evening event offers a real runway show, with models sporting the latest cycling couture from Road Holland, Hold Fast, Sock Guy, Laek House, Nutcase, Osloh, Urban Outfitters, and more. There's a raffle drawing, with the winners getting to sashay off with shoes and helmets, jeans and jerseys, T-shirts and natty reflective rainwear, maybe?

Rapha Gentlemen's Ride. Speaking of cycling couture, Rapha - the British clothier with a retro-chic sensibility and a pricey line of coats, bags, jeans, jerseys, and totally necessary merino boxers, sponsors a 35-mile Sunday morning "Gentlemen's Ride" departing from, and returning to, the Armory. One doesn't need to be a gentleman (ladies are welcome, too), nor sport the latest Rapha scarf, to participate, although an RSVP e-mail is recommended to rsvp@rapha.cc.


Philly Bike Expo, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the 23d Street Armory,

22 S. 23d St. For schedule and ticket information, call 215-740-7068 or go to www.phillybikeexpo.com.


Contact staff writer Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. See his movie stars on bikes blog, "Rides a Bike," at http://ridesabike.tumblr.com

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