Paul Camp is a magical week where Paul Component Engineering invites journalists from all over the US to check out their day to day operations through a series of hands-on workshops. Each journalist is assigned a CNC machine, or workstation and is taught the skills needed to machine brakes, stems, and other components. From there, they camp out on the property, eat sandwhiches and run the machines 24 hours a day, in shifts. This gives the employees of Paul a chance to ride during the week. Everybody wins!
Just kidding. In reality, Paul gives the journalists a tour of the shop, where he walks them through the process of fabricating everything in the Paul Component Engineering catalog. From there, they are able to select a bike from one of eleven builders and go on a ride in the hills of Chico. Swimming usually ensues, along with a Sierra Nevada Brewery tour, some dinner and then everyone goes home. It’s a rad time, or at least I’ve heard it is, because each year, for one reason or another, I cannot attend this Bicycle Journalist Spring Break.
Feeling like I owe Mr. Paul something, not only because we’re friends, but because he had these eleven bikes just hanging out, waiting for a proper photoshoot, I planned on heading up to Chico once I got back from my European travels. Last week, I loaded up the truck and drove straight up California for 10 hours until I reached Chico, Paul and these bikes.
This year’s builders were: Falconer, McGovern, Hunter, Oddity, Sklar, Blue Collar, Sycip, Steve Rex, Caletti, Speedvagen, and Retrotec. Each builder was given two options for a frame: monster cross or mountain bike. The reason being, Chico’s roads are ok, but the trails and fire roads are incredible. They also happen to be really rocky, so the bigger the tires, the better. Paul would supply the same components for each bike, along with White Industries, Velocity, X Fusion, WTB and SRAM. Any astute observer would note that there was an overall color theme for this year’s bikes: red, white and blue.
The frames arrived and Paul’s team assembled them with the help of Cameron Falconer. While red bikes aren’t necessarily my thing, I will say that as a group, this looks phenomenal. As a photographer and a cyclists, I really appreciate conceptual projects like this. Each builder took the color palette and applied their design intuition, resulting in an essential piece to the Paul puzzle. The only bikes I was able to ride were the Retrotec and the Hunter, two builders that know a thing or two about shreddyness.
Which bike would you prefer to ride and why? There’s something for everyone in here…
Thanks to Paul for showing me around town and to the rest of the Paul Component Engineering staff for kicking so much ass. High fives!