Friday, September 25, 2009

Interbike Ramblings

I left So Cal at 17:00 and pointed the Grannygear family truckster toward Nevada and sin city. It was gonna be hot and I only needed to be at the Vegas airport by 22:30 or so to meet the Most Interesting Man in the World, Midwest version, Guitar Ted.

I wanted to avoid running the air on the Suburban to do as well as I could fuel wise, so windows lowered a bit and tunes cranked up was the rule for the night. Watching the temps drop toward the low 90s was bliss until I rolled though the night toward Baker, CA, home of the world's tallest thermometer. kidding. Just at the edge of town the temp had crept up to 99* at 20:00. Ouch! What will Vegas be like mid day at the outdoor demo? However, the climb up to Nevada gave me low 80s temps and hope for the next day.

At the airport I scanned the arriving flights board for GT's flight number. Nada...zilch. Uuummm. OK. Thinking to myself, "there is only one airport in Vegas, yes?", I wondered what the deal was. Turns out that Delta and Northwest Air had partnered up or something and the flight number had changed. Ah. Soon enough I had GT tucked into my version of the 'dirty blue (bigger) box' and off we went to our VIP digs at Circus Circus, complete with a turbo-charged AC unit and a view of the parking lot. Oh well. No chocolates on the pillow here. If they had been there, GT would have inhaled them mid-snore. That Iowan can saw logs, I tell ya. God bless the man that invented ear plugs. I love you and your foamy, snore silencing devices.

The next day we hit the local Mickey D's for breakfast and drove out to Boulder City, but not before we had to stop at the Sands Convention Center and get our badges and wristbands. That was when I nearly got in a fight with an entire family from who-knows where that was staking out a parking spot with their bodies. Luckily the man of the family (loose term here) was all show and no go or the week would have been a demo of a Vegas jail cell most likely. Sigh. Later I ran into the family in the halls of the registration area where I went up and apologized for my part of it. They were marvelously ungracious. Oh well. I tried.

The Demo Days were a marvelous combo of crowds, lines, gambling on what bike would be available to ride, sun, dust, wind, more sun dust and wind, and rocks of all shapes and sizes. There were more than a few boo-boos seen on display as many riders found the limits of the equipment or the skills and gravity tossed them into the unforgiving soil of Bootleg Canyon. One vendor was overheard saying, "Well the good news is there have been no Lifeflights yet today. That is a first." Oh goodie. Mental note to self: Skin and bones intact good...Lifeflight bad. Check!

I rode lots of fun bikes but not all I wanted to, was disappointed by some, thrilled by others. What would I have taken home from the dance? Well, the Santa Cruz Tall Boy and the Specy Epic Marathon 29er would be 2 to pick from...tough choice there.

I also loved riding the Specy Stumpy Carbon S-works Wunderbike. Wow. Soooo fast.

There was a big difference between the level of care and attention some bike makers put into the set-up of each test bike. Getting high marks was the Specialized booth. JT, shown here working on a bike for me, was like having a personal attendant and I saw that for all riders in line. Contrary to that was the indifferent approach of the GT tent where I was handed the new and relatively unknown Sensor 29er with a "here ya' go!" No questions, no set-up. OK then. Fun bike in spite of the dumb approach to handing it out.

JT is a star!

Speaking of being ignored, This Tomac 29er SS was at the booth. GT and I stood there and looked at it, snapped pics, etc while JT himself and several booth workers said nothing to us. Odd. Don't ya' want folks talking about your bikes in an intelligent manner?

EBB on the Tomac bike...well, I think that is an EBB...they would not talk to me about it.

Along the way are some highlights:

Mountain Unicycles, possibly the largest herd ever captured on film.

Fat Tire Bikes are soooo cool, these are Fatback frames

Want to be a marketing guy for a bike company? Then you need to master the right hand gestures, demonstrated here by The Jamis and Banshee guys in the above pics. Well done, boys. Just like Vanna, only much more masculine.

Joe Meiser's personal Fargo. He camped out in the hills of Bootleg before the Demo.

How does he do it? Devin, the man behind all the Lenzsport goodies and the PBJ bike.

FRS gets the taste test winner from me. Dave and Sonya agree.

BBQ cooked personally by Chris King (yes, that Chris King) and his loyal minions. Tasty.

The last day and the last bike I rode was the Salsa Selma SS. After pedaling all the boingy, squishy, shifty stuff around the hills, it was awesome to get back on an SS again. I spent most of the loop passing other riders on FS bikes with 40 or 50 gear choices (or whatever it is now). SS bikes are amazing, really, even on the hardscrabble up and down of the XC stuff there.

At the show, we just did one day indoors. A lot of that was business stuff and the rest is a blur, but a few things:

The food is ridiculously expensive in the show venue at the convention center. I made do with a bagel and cream cheese, smuggled in trail mix, and some killer samples of this stuff:

Clif Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bar. Ooohhh. That was good.

I had been wanting to check out the new tubeless ready wheels from American Classic and here they were. I am bummed that they decided to go with red hubs only for pre-built wheels. Hmmm. Still I am looking at these with interest.

I had a great conversation with Lynette from White Industries about how SSing and the whole urban fixie thing has kept companies like White, Phil Wood and Pauls, etc, not only in business, but vibrant and thriving. Huh. I figured years ago they would all go away or just go very niche, but nope. Isn't that too cool, though?

I leave you with this final image, which, after days of sensory input, sums up my thoughts about Interbike rather well, I think. Asian marketing guy, I salute you:


Guitar Ted said...

Wow! That Taiwanese gibberish is awesome!

T-shirts anyone?

Thanks for that chuckle. I missed that one.

p.s. Sorry about the snoring!

Scottay said...

Good write up!