Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interbike 2011 - Indoor Day One

After a late night out - we had dinner after the Lavo party and got back at about 2 AM - I snapped awake at about 6:30 AM. I wanted to get to the show around 8, an hour before the main floor opened (the first floor opened at 8, the second at 9). I showered and dressed quickly, fortunate that I felt no lingering effects of the night before.

Wearing my new shoes for only the second time ever, I set off. Last year I broke in brand new shoes at Interbike too - I highly recommend this method of breaking in shoes, especially if you believe in the "dive into the deep end" method of learning how to swim. Anyway, with my now-molded-to-my-feet shoes slapping the concrete I caught the shuttle to the show. Unbelievably the clouds were emptying out again - it was raining for the third day in a row (?!). After a long drive in the shuttle me and my shoes got to the show in good order.

The first person I recognized, other than Rich, was Nelson Vails. As usual he dressed to the nines, in a suit, tie, and even the matching ruffles sticking out of his jacket pocket.

Conspicuously absent?

A lanyard holding a badge.

Rich asked where he had his badge.

"No badge. I don't need a badge."
"What do you tell security?"
"I don't need a badge. I walk up and when they ask me about my badge, I tell them 'no badge, but check those guys' IDs'. So they let me through and checked all the guys behind me for ID."

Only Nelson could get away with that.

We walked up to the show doors, before the show opened. The security guard let Nelson in and checked our badges.

I felt almost lucky I didn't have to show my ID.

Nelson checked out the Circulus track, a small (50 foot diameter) track built by the pdw folks. The pdw folks were really friendly and really encouraging, inviting us out to check out the track. Nelson asked if he could walk in and poke around.

The badgeless Nelson Vails, 1984 Olympic Gold, 200m sprints, and hotel management lookalike.

Nelson declined. But me?


I have to think about that.


On the way to the media center we walked by the art display. The pieces here were commissioned by Interbike (I think) and the proceeds goes to various bike advocacy things. Something like that.

Once at the media center I realized I forgot the MiFi little card thing and my USB phone charger. Luckily the Nissan display of the Leaf also had a charger station - I used it to keep the phone from going critical. The MiFi was less an issue, although there are so many networks in here that you could probably hold up a fluorescent bulb and see a glow.

(You can try this under high tension power lines... just don't stay there too long.)

I managed to find a copy of the Show Daily, a review of what happened the day before. Lo and behold, what did I find?

Hunter, with white helmet, representing Connecticut and Cheshire Cycle.

I got into my role, scoping out stuff and setting up appointments for David. It's tough trying to coordinate all that, but overall it worked out pretty well. My role this year was more booking and such so after taking care of the day's schedule I got to browse around.

I stood in line for two signed posters (Dave Z and Ryder H), small posters (excellent for transportability), but otherwise checked out only a few things.

Dave Z's shoes say "Z". Sort of.

He seemed ruefully resigned to his autograph duties, but he still did them. I have no idea if these guys remember folks from one signing to another, but I imagine they remember the real oddballs.

Hopefully they don't remember me.

During the day I saw Richard Masoner, aka Cyclicious. He was munching on pistachios. I had to take a picture because the Missus had bought me the exact same kind of pistachios just a week or two ago.

Cyclicious Richard Masoner, with pistachios.

The first indoor day always seems busy. The booth girls are around usually on this day only. Everyone's dying to see what's out there. And every blogger and cycling news site is scrambling to scoop the others.

The Garmin booth was... crowded.

Believe it or not I did little research on anything this year, so although I saw the mobbed booth, I didn't try and take time away from those in there. I felt a bit overwhelmed with the show this year for whatever reason. I had to get used to the floor layout, figure out where the two sets of escalators sat (to get downstairs), and figure out where some of the office rooms sat.

The day rushed by, my legs tired, my feet reasonably okay, the shoes spectacular from a comfort point of view.

We had a short break to coordinate travel and such, then jumped in a minivan for a short drive. Tonight the after hours stuff was pretty tame, at least compared to last night. I stuck with drinking soda and water when we went to...


Sorry. It's just that it's one of those things you can't say quietly.

Subaru bell.
I chose that side for this picture in honor of the Rent's team's sponsor, New England Subaru.

I figured this was a great way to end a 10 hour day spent on my feet - stand another few hours on uneven ground. By the end of the racing all sorts of weird muscles in my legs were cramping up.

Now, mind you, you really haven't seen much 'cross here. There are a few reasons for this.
1. I don't race 'cross.
2. I've never raced 'cross.
3. Even if I wanted to try it, I don't have a 'cross bike.

Although properly impressed with the athleticism out there, within a few minutes of watching the next race up (Elite Women's), I realized 'cross is really not for me.

For a moment I had some hope, a flickering. The field looked bunched up, like a crit field on a really narrow grass course, blasting by at speed, just after the start.

Then, within a few minutes, the group first strung out, started splitting, and then blew up into a million pieces.

I looked at how hard the women worked just to maintain speed on the tire-sucking grass and dirt. I thought about how it'd be to be there, to try and power through a hundred yards of muck, turn, do another hundred yards, all while never being able to coast or really draft or anything to ease the pain.

I thought of me doing such a thing.

"No way."

Then the Pro men went off. Holy smokes! Barrier to barrier at the start, they practically took the spectators' hands, heads, and cameras off.

Although it took a couple laps for the group to thin down, it still followed the same pattern. Mad rush at start. Racers blowing up as they hit the wall while trying to maintain what would essentially be about the same power (i.e. to power through dirt you need to pedal pretty hard - there's no coasting there).

As a given racer's fuse expired, he'd blow up and drop off. His position in the field at that moment depended on his skill at moving up, his cornering skills, technical skills in the run up, etc. The exploding racer would then typically leave a gap.

Others would go around, try and close it, redlining yet another racer or three.

More gaps.

More going around.

And even more gaps.

Interestingly enough I saw riders way up front blowing up early - it seems that they either went way too hard to get position or they had better technique but less fitness than those behind. I suspect the latter because 'cross is like running - if you can't hold a certain pace you get shelled, period.

No clever riding, no saving grace through technique and such. If you can't go fast, you lose.

Then, after thinking about the implications of the different types of terrain offered through the course, I thought of my ideal 'cross race. If such a creature popped up I'd think about trying it. So, if you want to get me on a 'cross bike, this is the course you need to make.

- Lots of corners, mainly on downhills
- As much pavement as possible
- Run ups as necessary
- Not a lot of flat stuff.

If you read into the requirements you'll realize that such a course would emphasize technique more than fitness. Corners, fast stuff (where you can draft if with someone), run ups, those all favor a crit-type rider. It avoids the flat power stuff, the stuff that requires super hard efforts, where wattage becomes king.

I had fun watching, my right ear hurt from someone ringing a bell right next to it, and I grinned a lot. After the races we packed up and headed out.

I wasn't sure how to summarize the whole 'cross race but then this car rolled by.

Piled into the car.
There's someone in the trunk too, maybe two of them.

It's what 'cross is.


Anonymous said...

you don't do cross?
Ahhh, but you did promote a Cross race in 1991. And i have the scar to prove it.

Aki said...

Haha. I didn't promote it, although I helped out. I have to defer to Mike H as the promoter, the same guy who promoted the first year of the Bethel Spring Series (which was the following year, if I recall correctly).

Chuong Doan said...

Dude one of the best parts about cx for you would be more bikes, more wheels, more tires. The gear selection aspect would be right up your alley. I dunno about the 1hour of shear pain part...

Aki said...

I hear you on the whole equipment thing. When I raced mountain bikes I modded my mtb more than my road bike. But equipment doesn't matter if I can't go fast enough, and cross doesn't really let me take advantage of the draft.