My plane home from Interbike and Vegas Thursday afternoon was delayed an hour, so I stuck around the ISM bike saddle booth an extra bit, chatting with ISM owner Steve Toll and his wife Laura, who live in the Lutz area outside Tampa.
Next to Steve's booth was an exhibit showing gorgeous bicycle pannier travel bags, which caught my eye because I biked across the country solo twice back in the 1980s and know the value of a reliable pannier bag that can hold a lot of gear and clothes.
The salesman in front of the panniers was a friendly dude with a beard and a blue shirt and as soon as I strolled over to check out the bags, we immediately swapped stories about bike travels and panniers.
His company is Arkel based in Oregon.
I told him I represented 12 Tampa Bay bicycle stores who pay me to advance bicycling in our market and he was intrigued because first, he would love those shops to sell his panniers.
And second, he's a Plant High grad and from Tampa Bay. He's also a USF alum.
His name his Joe Kurmaskie, known as the "Metal Cowboy" for his long-distance bike travel books he has written.
They're wonderful books, packed with funny tales of bicycling long distances and meeting wacky folks. I enjoyed Joe's books because they reminded me of my cross-country bike rides and the bike adventure stories I wrote for the Syracuse Herald-Journal and the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record.
In fact, I love reading most bicycle travel books and have a nice collection of the genre, which includes two of Joe's books -- Metal Cowboy and Riding Outside The Lines.
Joe immediately pulled out his latest book, called You Might Be A Cyclist If . . . It's full of funny quips that finish the title of the book. Joe signed it and gave it to me. It was fun reading on the journey home to Tampa.
Naturally, we hit it off and I told Joe that he HAS to come to the Bicycle Bash to show his Arkel panniers (Joe said he's a partner in the company) and meet his fellow Tampa Bay bicyclists.
Joe lives in Oregon, so it's a haul.
But Joe is a kindred spirit, so we promised to try and make this happen -- a Metal Cowboy appearance at the Bicycle Bash.