We loaded up the Barn Door Cycling traveling circus and drove to Collinsville IL. for this years Midwest Bike Expo and Swap Meet. I’d never been to this, and really didn’t know what to expect but when some friends told me there was exceptional deals there I was hooked.
The Event was part classic bike show, part bicycle flea market. Shops, organizations, and individuals set up booths and hawked their wares. I walked in and my eyes bulged at the number of people and number of booths, it was seriously crowded. As I was walking around wide-eyed and dazed from all the people and parts I bumped into a friendly face. It was none other than John Rezabek, a reader of this blog and fellow owner of a Nashbar Touring Bike. It was great to talk to someone in the crowd of unfamiliar faces and get to know someone one who enjoys the blog. Thanks John.
As I browsed around I came across a size 46 pair of Bontrager Road shoes with Carbon soles and high-tech buckles that probably cost 200 bucks or more. Very few things were priced meaning you had to ask what people wanted for their stuff, which seemed to be almost random. The guy said 60 bucks. I walked off thinking, wow, what a joke I’m not going to take anything home. In the next booth I found the exact same pair of shoes and asked the guy how me he wanted, he thought about it a second and said, “15 I guess.” I handed him the money without even thinking about it.
The shoes were decked out with Speedplay cleats. Speedplay is a pedal system I’ve never tried before and now since I had the cleats I went looking for the pedals, as I searched I soon began to figure out a few things. The value of something is very relative, I found brand new carbon titanium saddles for 5 bucks because they were last years model, yet beat to hell 30 year old Selle San Marco Regals selling for 40 bucks. I also noticed the longer your hair and the more tattoos and piercings you have, generally the better selection and lower prices you have.
I found a set of Speedplay pedals for 10 bucks, one was blue and the other red and he explained to me that in a race one of his pedals melted down and the Speedplay rep was there so he gave him a spare pedal that just happened to be red. Awesome! I got so excited I was literally jittery digging through boxes of amazing bike crap at prices so low you could buy whatever you wanted, as long as you kept track of your wallet. I lost mine while trying on shoes. Luckily a very nice lady picked it up off the ground and took it up front. Thank you very much lady in the tie dyed shirt!
I was there for over 3 hours and really I could have stayed for 3 more. I noticed that prices kept getting lower the closer it came to 3PM or closing time. Many people were saying they didn’t want take this crap home, I could have probably filled my trunk full if I’d hung around a bit longer.
This is ironic because just the other night I was in the basement cussing because I have way to much bike crap.
Besides the flea market bike stuff there were informational booths that I never really got a chance to look at, there were bike shop booths with new items that I didnt’ look at, there were used bikes for sale that I never looked at, and there was a classic bike show where the bikes either looked like they had been hand polished or just recently been pulled from the bottom of a lake.
I know one thing, next year the last Sunday of January I’m going to the Swap Meet. I estimate that at new prices I got about 1000 dollars worth of stuff for about 140 bucks. At ebay prices probably 500 dollars worth. I’m kind of sad but also relieved I only took 100 bucks, I would have spent every dollar I had, it was that good.