Well, I've been meaning to head over and check out Velo Orange, a small bicycling specialities business in Annapolis, MD, about an hour or so from me, and today, I finally made it there. A friend of mine wanted to check out a Brooks saddle and some leather bar wrap to go with it, and I wanted to see their assortment of aluminum and stainless steel fenders, among other things.
Velo Orange seems to do most of their business via the web and telephone, but they do have a small showroom that's worth visiting if you're into the style of cycling gear they carry. Most of what they carry is aimed at the cyclo-tourist or randonneur (a cycling event that isn't really a race, but more like an automobile road rally, where you travel a specific route with checkpoints and time requirements... I haven't tried it, but do think about it now and then), so it's designed for comfort over the long haul as well as practicality. Now, in the US, when we throw around terms like "comfort" and "practicality" in the cycling world, folks tend to think "heavy" and "slow" go along with that. Not at all. One can ride long distances at high speeds in comfort and not worry about fragile gear if your equipment is designed for it. And the good news is there seems to be a groundswell of interest in such bikes over the last few years. I'm happy, because it matches my intersests pretty well.
Anyway, it was fun to visit the showroom... I wish I had had the foresight to bring my camera and take pictures, but really, you can see their products on their website (http://www.velo-orange.com/). It is better to see it all in person, especially when you can see them mounted on bikes, instead of just sitting on a shelf. In particular, I was really glad to have the opportunity to see the fenders. I'm considering using some sort of metal fender on my chrome Schwinn Paramount (http://spokesofawheel.blogspot.com/2007/08/my-new-bike.html), and I have a much better idea now what might look best on it. I'm leaning toward these: http://www.velo-orange.com/ho43smflfe.html, which look REALLY sharp in person... and having a friend there who has seen the bike gave me a second opinion, which helps. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts if you'd like, dear reader. Of course, the practical side of me says I should just use the black plastic Bluemels "Club Special" (http://www.flickr.com/photos/stronglight/sets/72157607772637804/ - a flickr album I just found devoted to "vintage plastic fenders") fenders I have already, but....
Anyway, I walked away without buying anything... today... but I suspect I'll either stop back in or order through the web when I'm clear of the holidays. My friend did get the Brooks and some bar wrap that looks like it will be a very good match, so we accomplished that. Look for that bike in an upcoming "Making Your Bike YOURS" post soon!