2023 MADE Show – The Chris King Party

This was the MET Gala of the framebuilding world. I’ve been to a lot of parties at these shows, this was something else and the best yet. Everyone was there. The place was PACKED and HYPED!

A few weeks before the show, the MADE organizers let us know about a couple of industry parties that were planned for the event. Chris King Precision Components for Thursday evening and Breadwinner on Friday. This was nice as there was no guess work. Planning rocks.

I was looking forward to this. I’ve never been to the CKPC headquarters and was hoping to get an eyeful. I did, and more. I’ll get to all that.

There was a mixed terrain bike ride that was organized for after the doors of the MADE show closed for the day. That would conclude at CKPC and there would be food and beer. I would have liked to get a spin in to loosen up but I was managing the wife, only had clean show mountain bikes, and some other things. We’d drive over. Still, most folks on the ride said that they had a good time. They showed up with dark dirt on their faces so we can all imaging that there was an ‘easy pace’ up at the front.

Windy and I arrived before the crowds. Enough time to ease our way into the venue. This was a much larger building than I thought that it would be. At the entry, we made some name tags and chatted up the CKPC staff that were hosting us.

There were going to be facility tours. In time, they’d be starting that up. Still, I needed to poke around a bit. I’m not new to this game and I’m a bit of a scoundrel. Soon, I found myself behind the green door. An open gate and lack of monitors left me all alone among the production machines. I took a bunch of photos and thought about what lay before me. I’d never seen anything like many of the tools on the floor. There were some strange setups for sure.

After a bit, I worked my way back to a safe area where I didn’t run the risk of getting kicked out for my transgressions. By then, a lot more folk had shown up and the actual tours were starting. Philip Nemeth was leading the tour that I got on. He’s the engineering manager and knows the facility as good as anyone other than Chris. Philip gave us a good tour that laid out the general idea of the place. Wow. There was a lot of things going on!

When we got back from that tour, things had started to really wind up. People had been and were flooding in. Everyone seemed to be showing up. Old bros, new bros, folks that you were hoping to see. The cool kids were on site. DJs were rocking, beer was flowing, and shit was talking.

I lost track of Windy at some point and went around to find her. I thought that it was busy on the ground floor but I go upstairs to the cafeteria area where food was at and the place was nuts. Holy crap. This was going off. The line for food seemed to wrap around the whole room and never seemed to die down. Every seat in the place was full and a wall of sound roared over it all. Everywhere I looked was someone that I would have loved to sit and talk with.

I go down the back stairs and that’s when all the folks from the ride start flooding into an area to park bike. It was already crowded up and down stairs, now all the ride nerds were making this scene into a freeking mess. This  was sick! I was loving it.

I found Windy hiding out in the van. It was all too much for her and I was getting pulled away from her in every direction. Canuks in this room, NorCal over there, ‘Hey check this out’ every 4th second. It was LOUD AF everywhere! I went back in. Windy stayed where it was safe.

What us real nerds were waiting on was what they call ‘the long tour’. That’s the one that Chris King leads. This was stuff of legend. Hours long they said. People say that I like to talk and go on about nerd crap. No. I am nothing. Chris is on a whole different level and he seemed to really like an audience.

It seemed to take forever for this to start and chaos was in play. I really didn’t know what was going on for a while, then, I realized that the CK tour had started and I grabbed my seat in the front row.

Knowledge is a special kind of currency. Anyone can gather facts and information together but real knowledge is hard earned and takes time to build. Knowledge has real value. This guy had 40 years of knowledge and he was clocking it all over our heads. Boom.

I just tried to stay engaged and soak it in. Heat treating, machining strategies, anodizing, statistical quality control, grease formulations. It all just went so deep and specific. This guy had done everything and knew exactly why it worked or didn’t. I was super impressed. I just wanted to learn it all.

We were about 3 hours into this tour. Everybody was gone by now. Just the 10-15 left on the tour in a dimly lit manufacturing plant on a Thursday night in North Portland talking about BOMs and grease supplier issues when Windy comes to the gate of where we were. She was upset and crying. She said that they had looked for us over an hour ago and thought that the tour was over. The building was otherwise empty and locked up. We must have been back in the polishing area or something way back at the time. Anyway, she had no idea where I was for the last hour or so and was freaking out. She ended up banging on the doors to get let in and found us there. It was just the nuttiest ending for me and I broke off from the tour to chill with the wife. It was almost 11pm by then.

We got in the van and went to bed right there, parked in front of CKPC. It was a long day and a long night. This won’t be forgotten soon.

I didn’t get any photos of the party. It was just too crazy. Still, I did get production photos that really say something. Take a good close look at these.