North American Handmade Bicycle Show 2011 Austin, Texas, Feb. 25-27 at the Austin Convention Center on East Cesar Chavez Street.
NAHBS showcases the talents of individuals around the world whose art form is the bicycle. It aims to be a meeting point for both frame builders and consumers looking for handmade custom bicycles, for the sharing of ideas, and the promotion of a special industry with a rich history dating back to 1819. One of the key features of NAHBS is bringing the frame builders together at social events outside show hours. This has been a feature of the show since its first year in 2005. Entering its seventh iteration, NAHBS has grown from a show with 23 exhibitors and 700 attendees in 2005, to 160 exhibitors and 7200 attendees.
Discounts on advance ticket purchase at Handmade Bicycle Show website. The discounts are significant so buy ahead if you plan to go.
Staying and biking in Austin
Downtown Austin, the area around the Convention Center and the University of Texas campus are easily bikeable. Austin’s bike map shows “red” for difficult cycling on many downtown streets, but in reality the traffic is often so congested many urban cyclists won’t have any difficulty at all.
I recommend a hotel near downtown if you plan to walk or bike, but there are excellent riding opportunities throughout the entire region. You can generally expect daytime temperatures in the 60s F (high teens Celsius) and dry roads.
If you use something like Hotwire for your hotel reservations, be careful that it doesn’t put you way out in the boondocks. Round Rock to downtown is about a 20 mile ride on mostly unpleasant roads.
I’m waiting to hear back from NAHBS staff, but right now there’s no information about bike parking during NAHBS, though they do post detailed information about where to park your car. When I’ve attended events at the Austin Convention Center in the past, I’ve locked a bike up to railings without any problems. Bike theft is a problem in Austin, so use good locks and remove bike accessories like lights.
Getting around in Austin
There really isn’t any great bicycle access to and from Bergstrom Airport. From the terminal, you can go out to Bastrop Highway, stay on Texas Highway 71 when it becomes Ben White Boulevard, then turn right on Riverside Drive which you can follow all the way into downtown. On much of Bastrop / Ben White, you’re sharing the road on a state highway with no shoulders and 55 MPH speed limit, and on the other parts you’re dealing with high speed merge lanes from other highways.
Another option is the Airport Flyer bus, which runs about every 45 minutes during the day and is equipped with front bike racks. Fare is $2.75. Cab fare from the airport to downtown runs about $25. Many hotels also have free shuttle services, though you’ll need to keep your bike boxed for that trip.
Bus fare is only a dollar on most of Austin’s public transportation system. Austin’s MetroRail fare is $1 for a single zone, or $2.75 for all zones. MetroRail tickets are purchased from ticket vending machines at the stations. A limited number of bicycles are allowed on MetroRail trains. Austin Capital Metro buses also have front mounted bike racks. The bus service is inexpensive but very slow, though Capital Metro’s commute time express routes are faster.
When I’ve travel to Austin on business, I rent from Austin Bicycle Sport and have been very pleased with their service. It’s super important to call and reserve ahead of time — they usually rent everything out on weekends.
The video below highlights last year’s NAHBS in Viriginia.