Saturday, September 25, 2010

Interbike 2010 - Part 1

I'm sitting in the Media Center, a little rectangular oasis in the middle of the Interbike indoor trade show. It's Friday, September 24th, about 4 PM, and I'm just sitting here and trying to go over what happened over the last few days.

And, to be honest, I can't even think about where to start. So many things happened, so quickly, and, in a lot of instances, unexpectedly. So... where to start? Well, I sort of have an idea. It makes sense to start... when it started.

And when did it start?

It started with two phone calls in rapid succession, a little while ago, let's call it August or thereabouts.

The first call came from Kevin and had to do with a still-yet-unnamed-in-public (meaning we have a name for it privately) project, one that has to do with cycling (of course). We were missing a critical element though, and I wasn't sure how or where we'd get that element. Until we could work on that critical element, the still-yet-unnamed-in-public project would die before it could sprout.

The critical element?

Maybe it's my state of mind, but I have to admit that, actually, at the time, I couldn't even define the critical element. I just knew we were missing something.

Cue that second call.

The second followed shortly thereafter, literally within a minute of the first call, and that had to do with doing some work at Interbike. I think I hinted at this in various emails and Facebook posts. It seemed so unreal that I didn't and really couldn't share it with anyone, even very close friends.

I'm really sorry about that, for all those friends that might have felt slighted or "not in the loop". Pretty much everyone was out of the loop. The Missus wasn't though, and I think she got an idea of the stress I felt before this second at-the-time-unnamed project.

But, obviously, since I've mentioned it, the second project finally came together. It had to do with working with the media part of Interbike, interviewing folks for

Their goal?

Use my enthusiasm for the sport in a motion and sound sense while talking to vendors at Interbike.

The kicker is that I got asked if Kevin, on that first (and still) unnamed project, could help with my InterbikeTV project (which I've named now). His role would actually really assist us with our unnamed project, so it worked perfectly for us.

We arrived Monday night, with our first Interbike day set to be Tuesday, specifically the second day of Outdoor Demo. If you want to be precise, we were aiming for the 8 AM Lake Mead ride.

Once that was done, and I picked up our badges, we were really official.

Then the InterbikeTV work began.

Now, to be honest, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. I mean, yeah, I really like bikes, I really have the enthusiasm, but it can sometimes come across as a bit crazed. You know, like one of those guys hawking products on late night TV.



Crazy late night TV product hawker?

Not so good.

Plus I didn't know specifics. I like knowing specifics. It's kind of like bike racing. I like going to a race and knowing the course, what to expect. Where you can find the bathrooms. Where they set up registration. The slick ways in and out of the closed off roads.

When you go to your first race you make those rookie mistakes because you don't know the specifics. You get lost on the way to the race. You realize you have to stop for gas on the way. You forget your shoes.

You try and enter the Masters Cat 1-2-3 race as a Masters Cat 5.

And this is all before you actually get on the bike.

Once you get the hang of racing, you feel more comfortable. You know how to get to the races, you bring all your equipment, and although you might forget a shoe or something every now and then, in general you show up at the venues ready to race.

My foray into InterbikeTV felt like the Cat 5 described above.

I wasn't sure how to carry myself, how to introduce myself, stuff like that. But once the conversation got going things felt smooth and relaxed. And although I screwed up all over the place, I got the gist of things down okay.

So, by the end of the day, we could call me an advanced Cat 5 interviewer.

I say that because I definitely forgot some basic stuff, like getting to the race and not having my shoes, or maybe my wheels, or even my license.

Kevin was the production guy, producer if you will. He scheduled appointments, got on my case if I dwaddled somewhere, and generally filled 2.5 days worth of interviews.

Within hours of the end of the Lake Mead ride, I'd gotten my badges ("creds"). For those of new to Interbike, the badges are ultra important, especially those that control access in the off hours. For example, certain badges allow early access (like an exhibitor) for things like set up and break down. A dealer can't get in early though.

My "creds", as succinctly put by a friend.
Many business cards indicates picture taken nearer to end of show.

We also met up with our colleagues for the next few days. David (aka Fredcast), David's cameraman Gabe, my cameraman-for-two-days Philip, and a few other people involved with the organization of the whole thing. We held a powwow in the VIP tent, the wind blowing at the sides, the hot sun unable to shine its way into the tent.

Left to right, Rich, David, and above, Philip. The latter would be filming with me for two days.
We're inside the tent at Outdoor Demo.

Since Kevin didn't need to be there, we released him to patrol the Interbike floor indoors a day early. He'd work on setting up interviews for the first indoor day, the next day, Wednesday September 22.

Meanwhile Philip and I set off to do a few interviews, with Rich tagging along to see how things went. I spoke to the few companies, let a bunch of opportunities go by (the Cat 5 - ness of my media skills showing through).

The gusty winds made it difficult to hold some of the interviews. I read a post somewhere that pointed out that 40 mph winds made it difficult to ride. Well, that's true, but it also made it difficult to talk into a mike. Or hold a conversation on camera. Or hold up a super lightweight gizmo while trying to explain what makes it cool.

After a dusty, windy, and exhausting few hours, as the show drew to a close, Philip and I called it a day. Philip headed off with the rest of the production crew (Steve, AnotherSteve, and Gabe) while I hitched a ride back to the Strip.

At some point here I picked up the InterbikeTV shirts, talked about a bunch of stuff including a bit about the upcoming show. Eventually we met up with Kevin, had some food, and headed out to the TweetUp.

On the trip over I'd tried to explain the TweetUp to some folks and I realized that in some sense, even I didn't know. I just knew that the ActionWipes lady MarthaVan organizes it, and they raise money for charity by raffling off schwag.

We went there to drop off some schwag (anonymously - the schwag wasn't listed), then headed out to do some work. This took hours, with all sorts of interruptions and delays. By the time we'd returned, it was too late to buy any raffle tickets.

(Note to self: buy raffle tickets ASAP next time, and hand them to a trusty person who doesn't have to do work at that moment and therefore will be there for the drawing.)

We got in time to see some nice prizes go out, the best ones auctioned off for real cash dollar bills (that's a reference to a particular announcer who likes to ring the bell for "cash dollar primes"). I actually wanted to bid on something just because it'd help the cause, but I managed to restrain myself.

Beat, tired, we returned to our room. I barely managed to write a post about the Lake Mead ride, put it up, and that was it. Kevin wanted to work on a bunch of stuff, but I was wiped out.

I called it a night.

Wednesday, the first day indoors, would be a doozy.

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