Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interbike 2010 - Part 3

Thursday was the big push day.

Whenever a trade show spans three days, the second half of the last day is the beginning of the end. Vendors start packing up, so much so that you're lucky to catch folks at their booths.

Therefore, for Interbike, a show spanning Wednesday through Friday, Thursday was the last full day.

The day started full tilt and didn't stop from there. First thing was meeting my new cameraman Javier. A Marine-reserve, young, not intimidated by much of anything, he lent a different air to our two man team. He was a bit more free with filming random shots, and, critically, he insisted on modding his camera to make it easier to handle.

I liked that last bit. Modding things to improve performance... that's good.

My prior night's glasses of wine (and that's all I had, honestly) hadn't really lifted yet by 8 AM, so the first bit of the morning felt a bit hazy. I quickly got back up to speed and the rest of the day flew by.

I actually redid an Outdoor Demo interview, one that I felt wasn't as good as it could have been, especially considering the environment. Also, with my Carpe Diem attitude towards interviewing, I'd feel out broad topics before rolling the film, stop the person from telling the story, then capturing the interviewee's first time answering my specific questions. These interviews felt more smooth, more spontaneous, and more genuine, simply because they were.

I started getting ideas for other shots, other topics, but with just 30 minutes per booth, I had little time to shoot any random things.

Note to self: save those thoughts for next year.

Since I was a seasoned pro by now, Kevin assigned me to some tougher interview spots, talking with (gasp) famous people. I missed one (although I didn't know the person would be there) and I made the other.

The one I made?

Tony Kanaan.

Indycar racer.

And cyclist.

Yep, Tony rides. He focuses on triathlons, and based on what he looks like (Vin Diesel, from this post), he's one tough competitor. Compact and powerful, he exudes an aura of strength and power.

And I got to talk to him.

Polished, cool, he worked the interview for me. He's the one that made things flow, he's the one that put me at ease. For him it was old hat.

And that brings me to a thought I had after dealing with a few "stars".

I noticed over the course of the day that the "stars" are really good at making you feel important. I'm sure that there are stars that almost dismiss the peons around them, but the ones I spoke with all have a similar way of dealing with other people. Since I don't know how they became stars, it's interesting that all the stars I spoke with share this trait. Correlation, I know, not causal, but still, there may be something there. I wonder if part of becoming a star is making others feel more important than you while still remaining the star.

Food for thought.

The nicest thing about Tony?

He signed a publicity card thing for me. I asked if he could put "Happy Birthday" on it. Of course he asked if it was my birthday. It was. And he made me feel important yet again, with everyone saying happy birthday and such.

Tony Kanaan wrote here.
I know, Izod is such a weird name to see on a racer.

As far as Tony Kanaan goes, I felt like he not only made me feel important, he actually helped me out. To go back to the Cat 5 analogy, I figure that I was maybe an advanced Cat 5 by then, but he was definitely a ProTour rider being nice to the Cat 5.

For that I thank him.

And for the star I missed?

Eddy Merckx.

Yeah, I know. What a bummer.

I did get to talk to the guy who works as his composite engineer, Dave (he's European and worked in the aerospace industry). Dave patiently worked with us through two battery changes and a lot of unfortunate background noise. Luckily this was the last interview of the day as we ended up here for something like an hour and change.

After the interview, with the show literally closing down for the night and nothing on my agenda, Dave and I traded stories until the lights shut down. He not only designs the frames, he tests them too. For example he's already won a (Cat 3 level) race on his (and Eddy's) latest pride and joy, the top of the line frame for 2011, the EMX-7.

I told him about my foray into Belgium. He cracked up over and over - I mean, seriously, you really can't expect another reaction. All my misconceptions, underestimations, and my rookie errors, they all added up to "what did he think he was doing?!"

One thing that I appreciate about the Merckx bikes. They actually get test ridden by the master himself. And one of the initial frames Dave made... well, let's put it this way. The master came back and told him to throw the frame away.


So. Moral of the story? If you ride a Merckx, you're riding a bike that Merckx would ride. And, indirectly, actually has ridden.

Wednesday evening we headed out for a screening of "The Ride", a flick about Phil Keoghan's ride across the US. It made for awesome viewing.

The ticket for the show.

I went in not knowing a thing about it - it was like going to watch Predator when it first came out, knowing only that Arnold played a Special Forces soldier. I literally did not know about the alien, thinking instead that the infrared vision guy was a double-crossing CIA agent.

Not being a TV kind of person, I'd heard about Amazing Race but I didn't know much about it.

Apparently this Phil character is the host of the show.

A guy introduced the film, he helped make it. I liked his description of the film - it would either be a good movie or a really expensive home video. His wife apparently did a lot of the editing, and having edited very simple 10 minute helmet cam clips from an hour of raw footage, I can't imagine trying to condense 45 days of footage into an hour or two.

As the film progressed, I thought of the ride, a ride that averages about a century a day for over a month. I started looking at the guy in the movie a bit closer.

There's a guy that lives nearby. His name is Paul, but he also did a cross-country, century-a-day ride. I thought, waitaminute, is Paul really Phil? They're both about the same height, they both ride the same bike, and they both did a century-a-day cross-country ride. Maybe Paul had this other job and just pretended to be retired. A "star" would do that to be modest.

In the end I realized that Paul is Paul and Phil is Phil. They were not the same person. Just similar. I could tell you definitively that Paul returned from his cross-country trip incredibly strong.

Since "Phil" wasn't real to me, it took me most of the movie to realize that the feet that sat directly behind my head (stadium seating in a theater rocks!) belonged to the Phil himself. The tip off came when he got up, walked to the front of the theater, and addressed everyone through a mic.


Yep, it was Phil at the beginning, introducing the movie.

I'm glad that I didn't make any snarky comments during the movie. The ones like "Oh my God, look at this guy. He can barely ride his bike! How the heck is he gonna get across the country?!"

After it ended we had one of those deals like at a wedding where everyone kind of lined up and said hi and thanks and great movie to Phil. I waited patiently (I had to - I was last in line) but some folks that know him better cornered him, and I to wait a bit more.

When he finally broke free and looked over at me, I realized I had a question for him too. He had set off riding an incredibly aggressive schedule across the US. He knew watts and power and even rode with an SRM. He didn't start off by saying "I never rode a bike in my life until I decided to ride across the US". Instead, he proclaimed that he'd been riding since he could barely reach the pedals.

A cyclist in other words.

I've always wondered how a body would react to the incredible strain of riding 4 to 8 or more hours a day, every day, for over a month. That's what the old time pros did, tons of long steady distance. And they were pros. So I was thinking, man, after a couple days rest at the end of the trip, he must have been flying.

So I asked.

To my disappointment, he told me that his power went down. His TT times increased significantly. His FTP didn't go up. He just got steadier and slower. He prefers the hour to two hour rides, and the four or five or six hour rides weren't his cup of tea.

He spoke in a very engaging manner, looking directly at me, making me feel very important in his world, at that moment.

Sound familiar?

At any rate I felt pretty impressed with his ride. If someone could capture that on screen, he'd be famous.

Oh, wait. Someone did.

My question answered, I asked him if it'd be okay to take a picture with him. He graciously agreed, for the umpteenth time that night.

Phil Keoghan and myself after a screening of "The Ride".
He's got to be exhausted but he rallied for every photo request.

The two brushes with famousness was enough for me. We got back, had some dinner somewhere (the Grand Lux Cafe in the Palazzo? The Missus's favorite joint for Interbike Vegas) and called it a night.

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