Capital City Customs Swap Meet & Bike Show

by on February 15, 2010
in Winter

(See my full album of swap meet photos over on the Biker Chick News Facebook Fan Page!)

Having had at least five inches of snow on the ground since early December, the rallying cry in Iowa right now is “I’M SICK OF WINTER!” The long, snow-covered season has really elevated the importance this year of the annual Capital City Customs Swap Meet and Bike Show.

Held in February, this event is always a sort of mile-marker along the winter highway – a “wake-up” call that Spring is coming, and it’s always as much an opportunity to just meander among “like minds” as much as it is a chance to shop for parts and leather and look at a few bikes.

The swap meet is an interesting mixture of new stuff (rude/ sassy t-shirts, patches, leather gear of every type, bike dealers represented including Harley, Yamaha, Victory and others), used stuff (tubs and tubs, rows and rows of parts), miscellany and even art. (I’ve got a post coming up introducing you to a local gal who makes beautiful hand-tooled leather seats.)

We’ve been there at times when there was plenty of room to move around, and also when you couldn’t even really stop to look because the crowd kept moving you along. This year our experience on Saturday was the latter – apparently the entire riding population of central Iowa was ready to shop!

Got a chuckle out of a sign at the entrance – “Free H1N1 in the Annex”… noticed good bargains on used windshields, unused Sturgis t-shirts from past years, leather gloves, and several other items. Stopped as often as we could to look and consider purchases, but ultimately we didn’t buy anything except our entrance fee. (Which, by the way, was up by two bucks this year – worth it!)

The bike show portion of the event is always interesting, too. These are not usually the concept bikes and high-dollar customs you’ll see at Rat’s Hole – although I have no doubt they were each a major investment for their owners. Rather, they are highly personalized bikes by people who just love to build and ride. Sometimes a bike seems like it’s been entered just to show off a paint scheme. Other times you can tell the whole machine has been built from some kind of visionary scratch.

In every case, the bikes in the show are earnestly built by folks who just want to show you what they’ve done to their machines. I especially liked the memorial bike built to honor those killed in action (KIA) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the pair of bikes by Jason Crooks featuring his signature “jelly bean tank.” (Okay, Jason probably doesn’t call it a jelly bean tank – that’s just me. And I admit I’m biased here – Jason’s been a family friend for almost 20 years.)

SO – bottom line, it’s been a hell of a winter around here. And the swap meet was one big, fat “WE MADE IT!” – a finger-flipping, you could say, offered collectively by the winter-weary bikers of central Iowa.

And now that it’s past, even as the snow continues to fall, it feels like we’re finally on the downhill slide to Spring.

Were you there? What’d you like? Who’d you see? What’d you buy?