Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wined and Dined

A few weeks ago was a media event in the high mtns above Salt Lake City, Utah.  Specialized bikes was rolling out some of the 2013 models for media and dealers from around the globe and I had an engraved invitation.  I did the engraving part, but don't tell anyone.

I flew from the heat of Beautiful Downtown Burbank (remember that line?) to the heat of Salt Lake. least the surrounding mtns are bigger here and I hope I am heading up into them.  But first we made a bus stop at the western distribution warehouse for Specialized where we fed a bit and then took the three hour tour.  Stepping into the main warehouse, it was mind blowing.  You know the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where they stash the Ark in the endless govt warehouse?  Yeah.  This is here...pretty sure.  I never saw it, but it has to be here somewhere.  The pic does not do it justice, but your could race rally cars in this place.  I did not know that many bikes were sold ANYWHERE combined!  Amazing.  Another standout thing was the general demeanor of the place.  Banners everywhere like the one in the pic.  If you believe the inner web, the Big S has hot coals and pincers right next to the bubbling cauldrons the evil minions stir to cause grief and subjugation to the masses.  I did not see that anywhere.  I did catch a whiff of sulphur though.  Must has been the legal dept offices.

See that bargain S-Works frame on eBay?  Might be a fake-works.  This was a frame that looks pretty legit, but is a bad copy and not even close to the real thing in strength or reliability.  Scary. Well, when you get that 'great deal', at least the money you saved can be used to pay your orthopedic surgeon.

At the main event at Snowbird Resort in a high canyon above Salt Lake, we settled in and...oh  What a surprise!  Crackers and water, obviously.

The vision was shared by Mike Sinyard, big kahuna of the Big S clan.  He looks fit.  Say what you like, but he sure has gotten a lot of folks on good bikes across the world.  Quite a captain of that ship.  I wonder what will happen when he passes on the compass?

There was nothing too earth shattering, just refinements, but this new carbon rim is pretty interesting.  1600g for $1200.00 bucks.  Roval wheel with a DT Swiss 350 series hub.  But looky ma, no bead hook.  Really?

I love chairlifts at 10K feet.  Really I do.  The trails at the resort for the demo rides were not really very good, but it was OK to get a quick impression of an XC/Trail bike.  I rode a couple of FS scoots and a couple of hard tails.  Two of those were S Works bikes.  Man...light, expensive bikes are so fun to ride.  Yeah, they cost big bucks, but they perform.  Oh...see that fuzzy pic of the old dude climbing where I am chair lifting?  Ned 'the lung' Overend.  Yep...Deadly Nedly.  My hero.

The best part of this kind of gig is not the high zoot bikes and the dessert trays.  Well, the desserts are pretty good.  But the people are the best.  I got to hang a bit and talk to Ned.  What a decent, ordinary grand-pa type.  You know the grand-pa that will rip your legs off you on the trail climb and then you thank him for riding with you cuz he is a legend?  Freaking fast old dude, man.  There was a cyclocross race that he was in one evening.  The players were a mix of journalists and racers and Ned was mid pack at the start.  By the end he was in third.  Who won?  Todd Wells.  Duh.  But man, I think Ned would have been second if he had two more laps to stretch his legs.  Meanwhile, the chicks raged too.  Here, tiny person Amy gets center podium flanked by  Rebecca Rusch and another fast lady rider.  Amy is so short that she rides with her tires flat all the time to get more stand over.  I swear it's true.

Speaking of Rebecca Rusch, she was there of course (on the right in the pic below), doing the 'support the sponsor thing', I suppose, but she sure does a great job in that roll.  Always personable and classy, always ready to help other lady riders...a class act.  I vote to make her a Specialized Ambassador when she 'retires' from the full on race schedule.  You heard it here first.

The last day we were shipped by van up to a nearby canyon where we piled out on our hand picked test bikes for what promised to be a great day on trail.  A 1000' climb at altitude (Puke Hill) and then a 3000' single track descent.  Well, that was fun.  I grabbed a new Epic 29er and that was a great choice, although I would not have minded a heavier trail bike for the biggie, but it would have been more of a 'wheee!!!' moment on a bigger bike.  Still, the Epic is IMO the best package in the entire Specialized 29er FS lineup.  Very broad application and very dialed.  One of the all time greats and it just keeps getting refined.

If I could have taken one bike home with me it would have been the new Epic Marathon.  Just under S WOrks spec, but still high end and I love the understated look of it.  This is the choice of serious riders with means but no pretenses IMO.

So, I will leave you with two artsy fartsy shots of trees and wine bottles as I slip back into a reality with no dessert tables or air conditioned shuttles and chair lifts.  Sigh.  Still, better to have wined and dined for a short time then never at all and I still have the two pounds I gained to remember it by.

Ah, memories.  Hey...that rhymes with calories!