Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tucson GABA Bike Swap Fall 2013 Photos: Arise Picacho Dawn

Pre-dawn light on Picacho Peak on the drive to the swap, stunningly early in the morning

If your main impression of Tucson is from going to several GABA bike swaps like mine is (view the whole glorious string of secondhand gear here), you would come away believing that the city is fit, friendly, and steeped in bicycle culture beyond other cities that I am more familiar with. It's an interesting way to distort my understanding of a city.

Once more excellent coffee from the Peddler on the Path Mobile Cafe

The bike of the Gray Wolf, a highly modified 25th Anniversary Eddy Merckx AXM. Watch the video.

There's just the one shifter, since he moves the front chain by hand

I love it when GABA does their MEGA clearances and sells jerseys and stuff for $20. Get there early, though.

The nicest people at the swap in the Robdogs truck made this "Homewrecker" with jalapenos, chili, and cheese for me

I notice they still make the tricycles from steel and not carbon fiber. Just sayin.

These were not technically up for swappage, but they caught my eye just off the street

Parking Day, too. You know, I was so tired by this point that I couldn't even make a decent tandem joke

The weather was rocking and so was the crowd

I got a bunch of good stuff. Including 25 reflective bike stickers.

I know that Tucson on Bike Swap day is not the whole of the place. In some ways, it's a temporary fiction constructed for the benefit of bicycle aficionados in search of bargains and dreams, put up for the day like an imaginary park in a parking space, then taken down that night, to be replaced by the normal workaday streets teaming with cars and trucks.

But when so many of us turn out for the swap, it not only reinforces my distorted view, but also pushes the warm attractive essence of the fiction few steps, or pedal turns, closer to reality. I'm not saying the real parts of it which do exist--all that bike stuff, the people who know and greet each other, the regulars you see every time, the actual bike knowledge and bike culture which are apparent and deep--are not substantial or significant; quite the opposite. They are intensely real. But concentrated, focused, amplified like this along a few streets on bright, warm morning after I've driven down there from Phoenix, it's overwhelming. You can't help but get carried away with it and think of Tucson as a place where lone gray wolves ride off fast into the desert while the streets are filled with people who love or are attached to bikes for many different reasons. You just have to arrive before the sun comes up to watch it unfold fully, and also to get the best bargains.



  1. So, what did you feel compelled to buy beyond the stickers and food? You buy any jerseys?

    1. I got a vest jersey and a wind vest, some handlebars, some grips, a couple saddles, some assorted small parts, a new chain, some Clif Shot Bloks in chocolate cherry energy flavor, and a few other items. From a pure volume of stuff perspective, I think I prefer the swaps where the weather is colder and/or rainier, since the crowds (and competition) tends to be smaller.

  2. I burnt my tongue just looking at that dog!
    I suppose them swap meets are like the bicycle rides we got here: where did all these bicycle folks come from?
    I guess they're there, we just rarely see them all at the same time.

    1. limom there's bacon hiding under those peppers, which brings balance into the universe.
      Some of us bicycle folks sneaked down there under cover of darkness, trying to blend in, but not quite pulling it off.
      I think I could always go down there on a non-swap day and hang around the Ordinary Bike Shop, or Bicas ( to try to recapture some of the essence of the swap.

  3. The Bike Swaps are some of my favorite fall and spring activities. I love just wandering around looking at all the stuff, I usually walk the whole thing a couple of times because you never know what you might have missed the first time and it's just so hard to leave it behind. I am a native Tucsonan and I agree with you the Bike Swap is a concentration and amplification of Tucson's bike culture/community.

    1. Yes, while the range and types of cyclists is varied, everyone seems to show up to the swap, from tri-athletes to cargo bikes to mountain and road, classics, and us just-riders, and everyone gets along. It's probably the overwhelming distraction of all that bike stuff which captures our attention. There's so much of it to look at, as you mention, it takes a few passes to overcome the knowledge that you overlooked something good the first or second view. Also, for such a large crowd, it seemed both quiet, and self-governing.


Please feel free to comment here, almost anything goes, except for obvious spam or blatantly illegal or objectionable material. Spammers may be subject to public ridicule, scorn, or outright shaming, and the companies represented in spam shall earn disrepute and ire for each occurrence.