Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interbike 2011 - Indoor Day Two

Day Two dawned bright and sunny. I probably groaned a bit when I got up, but I had some time to work with as it was 6 AM. I remembered that I hadn't texted the first appointment (9:30 AM) to David and Kameraman Kevin, an appointment I set up yesterday. I wrote the text but decided not to send the text out just yet - it'd be better to send it out an hour or two later. I heard that someone broadcast emailed welcoming folks to Interbike the day before - everyone's smart phones beeped bright and early when that email arrived - at about 6 AM local time.

So, for me, no texting too early. I'd wait to send it.

I had to run an errand in the morning, before the show, so I set out bright and early. I walked over to the Venetian's garage.

Early. Sunny. Vegas.

I stopped to take some tourist pictures.

There's a Blue Man Group self portrait thing.

I'm standing in the lower right corner of the screen. The left hand of the left guy is holding what looks suspiciously like a painted ContourHD, just bigger.

At the garage I got into a big boxy SUV, my errand runner for this trip. As much as I like riding, I also like driving. I even like driving boxy vehicles - when my friends moved using a U-Haul truck (a smaller one), I offered to drive it for them. As a kid my mom drew a "city" on the back of a table cloth, setting up lanes and parking lots. I'd "drive" my Matchbox cars all over it, carefully staying in the lanes. My favorite cars had squared off edges, for precise lane positioning, and springy suspension, for replicating cornering forces. I liked driving without "spilling" over the road lines, the same term I used when I filled in my coloring books.

I'm driving a wide boxy vehicle and trying to stay inside the lane.

After some severe navigational challenges (I'm surprised I didn't end up in Arizona), I got back to the show, a second person with me now (someone else's Missus, and, yes, he knew about me picking her up because I was driving his car).

My tasks today would be to set up the schedule for the rest of the day for David, talking with vendors and such. I'd also note any interesting new things for David to cover. I also promised some folks I'd try out their display, which I'll get to in a moment.

I headed over to the media booth leisurely, setting up shop, checking emails, stuff like that. I saw David, wondered why he wasn't already on his way to his first interview, and asked him when he was heading down to start the interviews.

"You headed downstairs?"
"Why, what time is the first one?"
"Um, it's after 9:30"

Then I realized the forgotten, not-sent-yet text.

Luckily Kamera Kevin was there so the two of them split to start their morning. My heartrate appropriately jump-started, I headed out to make the afternoon appointments.

Normally I'd walk up to a booth, wait for someone to notice me, and then go from there. Sometimes I'd end up talking with a junior person, sometimes the boss. Since technically I can wait, I choose to wait instead of cutting into a potential customer's time.

One big booth had a lot of busy people, with the only free staff person sitting at a table. Posters and brochures covered the white surface, and the girl sitting there looked up as I approached. Normally I'd just ask who to speak to but in this case I paused.

Something wasn't quite right.

I realized I was looking at various versions of the same face - one on the poster, one huge one on a larger-than-life standup thing, and the one on the girl.

"Are you... her?" I asked, pointing at the poster.

She laughed.

Ends up Angela Naeth is a pro triathlete, a sport of which I know appallingly little (in relation to rules, anything-other-than-bikes, and personalities). It was her first time in Vegas, first time in such a big trade show, the first time signing stuff.

I asked my new favorite pro triathlete for a signature, and later, a picture for the blog.

She admitted that she hadn't expected such a big poster of her.

I also, in the midst of this, managed to set up an appointment with her sponsor (she ended up interviewed for InterbikeTV by David).

By lunchtime I'd completed my main tasks, booking the entire afternoon for David. I set out to do some stuff that I wanted to get done -main on my list were visiting some booths in particular, check out the Levi signing, and listen to Greg Lemond at the Look booth.

Although I checked out this one booth in detail, even doing a ride in it, I don't want to give up too much. I'll cover it more on Day Three, when I returned to the booth with a vengeance.

Hint: the booth is about 150 feet wide, 5 feet tall, and is made of wood.

I made a point of checking out Action Wipes. They saved me after the rainy Lake Mead ride, enabling me to wipe down even though I didn't have towels and such. Martha Van (as everyone refers to her) owns the company, and she's a great person.

Pickles? At Interbike? Martha Van here prepping cramp relieving pickles.

She was setting up a "Pickle On A Stick" giveaway. Hey, it makes sense, right? Tests have shown pickle juice to be as effective as electrolyte drinks in relieving cramps. You know, there may be something to that craving so ubiquitously credited to pregnant women, that of peanut butter and pickles, or something like that.

Rachel, a racer on a team that Action Wipes helps sponsor, relieving any potential cramps.

In the meantime I'd gotten a signature from Levi, at the USPro Cycling Challenge (aka Tour of Colorado) booth. With my friend Julie still in line I struck up a conversation with Rachel. Since the Action Wipe and Levi (USPro Cycling Challenge) booths were next to each other, we watched the long line of fans, Levi's polite and cheerful signing, and basically people watched.

At some point Rachel wondered out loud if the blonde to Levi's right, at the table, was his wife. I pointed at the woman standing right in front of us, like two feet away, doing the same thing we were doing.

"That's his wife, Odessa Gunn. She's an ex-pro, photographer, had a column in CyclingNews... she's really something. In fact I think she was better known than Levi back in the day. Usually she's in cowboy boots and hat, at least that's what it seems like from pictures I've seen of her. Strong rider."


Rachel promptly introduced herself to Odessa, and then me to her too.

Levi, signing posters for... Odessa?
She explained to us afterward that she was getting signatures for friends.

I headed upstairs to try and catch the Look presentation of Greg Lemond's Tour win's 25th anniversary. He used carbon fiber Look frames, racing with La Vie Claire. He did a Q&A session first, answering questions about his Tour and racing career.

Very interestingly the poster in the booth showed him and Hampsten climbing together side by side, a picture I'd never seen before. Conspicuously absent was Bernard Hinault. It was taken the day Lemond counter-attacked Hinault's big attack the day before, taking back a huge amount of time and closing up the race between the two teammates.

Lemond explained Hampsten's attack during the Q&A session. From reading the race reports and listening to the commentary, Hampsten's attack seemed like a dig at either Lemond or Hinault, as he went so fast at the beginning he'd have taken the yellow if he'd continued the pace. Ends up that Lemond told him to attack to keep Hinault back (he'd come off a bit earlier) and so even if Hinault bridged he wouldn't be able to go (chasing a teammate etc). Then, when Hampsten had a gap, Lemond went, decisively, bridging quickly to Hampsten, letting him make pace, then going again when he'd recovered. Lemond would solo to the line and he'd go on to win the Tour.

If I had a poster I'd put a picture of it here but I don't so I won't. I'm satisfied with my picture from last year,

Then some of the Look booth staff came over to our table. Apparently we were leaning on the "signing table". I looked to the right at the long line of people waiting for Lemond and his Sharpie. As we "cut" when we leaned on it, we weren't "in line", and we had to move off.

Lemond. He has a strong and loyal following, including yours truly.

By the time we got out of the Look booth the end of the day approached rapidly. There were a few events planned for the evening. For some it'd be the Mobile Social, a ride from Interbike to Fremont street. Apparently 150 or so riders went, mostly on eclectic bikes.

Three of the riders met up. In front of us.

David, Carlton Reid, and Josh.

David is the guy doing the InterbikeTV interviews. He also does the Fredcast, and, along with Carlton and others, does the Spokesmen. Carlton has his own thing, BikeBiz.

What's funny is that Mrs SOC commented that she loves David but really loves Carlton. Of course I told both of them, and, being the good friends and such that they are, they both cracked up about it.

I have to admit that Carlton did ask for a screenshot of the comment. All in good nature of course.

They are all riding Tern Bicycles (by choice - they all seeked out the Terns themselves, although Josh has an alterior motive - he's the guy behind Tern), a sweet folding bike that is about as rigid as a bike can get. I rode one at Outdoor Demo and it was incredible. The small wheels took a bit of getting used to but the bike responded so crisply I overgeared myself all the time, thinking "I just accelerated way too easily, I need to shift up".

For me and Kevin it'd be a dinner with Psimet and his crew, shop owners out from Chicago-land. We had dinner at a pretty chic place, a bit more than I expected anyway. Great conversation, a bike geek's dream. I sipped my water (maybe I had a Coke too?), had some pasta (thinking I'd be riding tomorrow morning), and had a great time.

Kevin wanted to check out the Sinclair party so he and Psimet and crew left. Someone else, a jaded Sinclair party veteran, described the thing as 8000 guys and 6 showgirls. Based on his somewhat negative view I decided to pass, even though everyone else wanted to go.

Plus, as I'd mentioned, I thought that maybe I'd be riding early in the morning.

I was on the way back to the room when Julie started texting me, asking me to come over to the party. Then Kevin piped up. So, okay, I turned around and walked to XS at the Encore for the Sinclair party.

Kevin met me at the door with a wristband, allowing me to bypass the line (and, for those without a VIP pass, the $50 cover) and making the whole scene a little more unreal.

Because, as I've come to realize, Interbike is totally unreal.

As a Sinclair party virgin I took in the sights and sounds. The first thing I noticed (honestly) were two totally incongruent things in a night club - a time trial bike and a road bike, each spotlit so they stood out in the dark room. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details but I want to say one was a Argon, the other a Stevens? That would only make sense because Sinclair distributes them.

The next thing I noticed were not wearing Sinclair distributed products, not unless Campy makes sequin minidresses and Carnac makes high heel shoes.

Yep, the show girls. Really they were more like dancing girls. I saw such creatures eons ago at an old club sponsor 7 Willow Street in Portchester, NY, in the early-mid 90s, but since then, I don't remember any club dancers.

A rough picture illustrating that, yes, there is a bike here.

And, contrary to the jaded observer's description, there were a number of women there, not just the showgirls, but he accurately described that the overwhelming majority would be male.

I had a few drinks, ordering vodka mixes now that I'm a pro at ordering them. Well, I don't know if it's a "vodka-cranberry" or a "cranberry-vodka". I guess it's like mixing up the 11T and the 23T, a cog's a cog, right? Whatever I said, the bartenders (split evenly skimpily dressed girls and button up shirt with muted color tie guys) got it right. At the "Strip casino" drink prices they knew how to figure these things out.

Although Kevin headed out a bit early, the rest of us closed the party - at precisely 1 AM the lights blinked on, the music stopped, and the place resembled a post-concert venue. We hung out a bit as the place slowly emptied out, then headed our own ways.

As the only one headed to our building I walked back in a solo Vegas/Interbike haze. The vodka helped, I admit, but so did the warm and dry weather (at home I'd be either shivering or sweating while batting at mosquitoes), the lit up night (so it was like daytime at night), the cleanliness (NYC might be busy at 1 AM too but it's a lot messier), and the empty expanses.

No threatening criminal types.

No soliciting.

Just a pleasant walk home.

Tomorrow would be the last day of the show. I already skipped the morning ride, but I hoped to accomplish some final surreal things before heading back home.

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