By Alexandra W. Jones
One month out from the Philly Bike Expo, Bina Bilenky still has a lot of work to do.
Bilenky, the event’s organizer, is fielding calls from vendors and cementing exhibition logistics for the weekend-long event. On October 27 and 28, she hopes the Pennsylvania Convention Center will be even more packed than it was last year—with 4,600 attendees and 160 vendors.
“Last year we had a record year, but that’s sort of been the case every year,” Bilenky says, remembering how the event started much smaller at the 23rd St. Armory, drawing around 1,000 guests.
Now in its ninth year, the expo has become a destination for cycling enthusiasts across the country. It features a vast array of exhibits by cycling companies, displaying the latest products designed for commuters, recreational cyclists and people who race competitively.
“Some people are just going because they want to mingle with cyclists and cycling celebrities,” Bilenky says. “But most people are going to shop for new products.”
According to Bilenky, the expo’s demonstrations and seminars can be an equally valuable tool for cyclists to learn more about technical aspects of the bicycle and the culture that surrounds it. Attendees can watch custom frame builders at work, listen to advice about staying safe on the road, or learn about the newest tech for two-wheelers.
This year, the expo is bringing in the founder of one of New England’s first mountain bike building businesses, Chris Chance of Fat Chance Bicycles, to tell his company’s story. Other notable presenters include: two bicycle advocates, Brenda Hernandez-Torres and (Grid contributor) Randy LoBasso from the Bicycle Coalition and Isaac Denham, owner of the Wayne-based Befitting Bicycles, who will explain how proper pelvic support, or lack thereof, can make or break a ride.
This event is a family affair—in fact, kids under 12 years old get free admission. The next generation of cyclists will be invited to try out bikes on an indoor test track. They can also bring their own bikes, helmets, or biking accessories to get a little extra adornment from Eric Barr, who will be demonstrating how to paint pinstripes.
More than anything, the expo is designed to bring people and organizations together over their love of the sport. Something Bilenky thinks it does well.
“One of my favorite things is hearing how much fun people have,” she says. “There really is something for anyone.”