Saturday, September 30, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 39

A "mix and match" Chris King headset from '07 that I still run in one of my bikes here .
Ten years ago on the blog I had no pictures!!! Epic fail since this was the week ten years ago I was at Interbike working for Tim Grahl and Twenty Nine Inches.

You can go back to last week's series and read much of what it was like. I won't rehash my posts from ten years ago as many of the memories were covered here last week. But I will delve a little deeper in to what it was like working Vegas back then.

Grahl had us in the same time share "apartment", for lack of a better term, that we had used the year before. It was very conveniently located about two blocks from the Sands Convention center which was where Interbike was held. Obviously, we could walk wherever we had to go. Every morning it was a trek across a sandy lot, walking by a "station" where immigrants from Mexico were usually found in the evenings hawking escort service cards. The cards would be strewn all across the sidewalk and especially in front of the newspaper dispensers which were lined up at certain intervals along the Strip. These did not hold traditional newspapers, but they dispensed papers with several pages flaunting ads for escort services and pictured scantily clad women with "come hither" looks on their faces.

It was a walk of shame, for everyone, myself included. It was just a rotten, soulless place to wander through. Of course, then you had to negotiate the casino to get to the show floor. Smoking indoors is still allowed in Vegas so you were immediately aware of that stench and the noise, of course, of gambling. It was so surreal to see all these semi-fit, and fit cycling folk walking briskly by haggard folks with yellow tipped fingers blithely pulling one armed bandits and slumping over roulette games. It was just soooo wrong. 

Then we'd bust our butts from 9:00am until 5:00pm, posting as many images as we could, and then hitting up the food court in the nearby "fashion mall" for some slices of pizza before retiring back to the "apartment" and its rather close quarters. If I recall correctly, this was also the year that journalist Brad Quartuccio, then of "Dirt Rag", but soon to split off and be doing his own gig, was working with us. In fact, he may have just left "Dirt Rag" at that point, come to think of it. Anyway....... I recall Brad being very thin and very intense. He was doing some work for Grahl at that time. Just a favor or two.

The week ended with me getting back to Iowa and being very happy about that. Here's a quote I pulled which gives you the basic feeling I had post-I-Bike in the form of a bit of advice to those who had never been to the show:

".....but any self respecting cyclist owes it to themselves at least to stay far away from that black hole of waste called Las Vegas. I still find it ironic that the industry thinks this is a good idea to go there. Wow!"

Obviously, it wasn't the best place and now it won't be happening there in Vegas again. About ten years too late on that one, in my opinion!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday News And Views

Recycling cycling.
Big Dummy-

I figured I'd share a few things about the Big Dummy here. It's been a great addition to the fleet. I usually use it for recycling duties, but I have also done the odd errand and hauled things back from the farmers market and whatnot.

I tried using it for commuting but my route is not "Big Dummy friendly". The thing doesn't like curbs and going over them, or even off them, is a jarringly unpleasant experience. I have to cross five or six curbs, (not sure, but at least that many), on my way to work. Loaded, the Big Dummy really sucks on curbs. That front wheel, due to the bike's geometry, is really pinned to the ground and the back end is waaaaaaaay out there, so getting the bike to rotate back on its haunches is nigh unto impossible. So, subsequently I decided to quit using it for commutes unless it was absolutely necessary.

So, I kind of panned the new Blackborow here a few weeks ago when it was announced, and while some of my criticisms were confirmed by a friend and others by Salsa's own "loading instructions" technical page. , I now have a new perspective on the rig. That was a result of speaking with a very good friend of mine, (aforementioned), who happens to be "on the inside" and was able to ride one of these for an extended period of time and has used it for lots of things and with lots of different loads. The main thing I took away was that it is possible to loft the front end of this bike, and that it could perhaps even be easier to do that depending on how it is loaded.

Therefore; I have taken a new interest in the new Blackborow. It would be something I think would fit in with how I use a bike like this, although Salsa is denying it is a "cargo bike", yet they allow for loads to be carried by bags on the rack. I guess it all depends upon your definition of "cargo".

Pofahl Gets Tubeless......Again!

I was reminiscing about what it took to get a tubeless set up on a 29"er circa 2007. I was curious as to how I could make my 2006 Industry 9 wheel set tubeless with the DT Swiss TK series rims the wheels were spec'ed with. Of course, you had to do it "ghetto-tubeless" because other than the somewhat hard to get your hands on Stan's tape, there wasn't any other options and tires were hard to find that had a tight fit.

It wasn't impossible, but to get these rims to be tubeless with the original set up, with the "not for tubeless use" Vulpines, I had to go to extraordinary lengths. I started with two runs of strapping tape. That was covered by 3M mounting tape which I had to cut to width. Then over that went two runs of black electrical tape. Only then could I get the tires to set up. Of course, it wasn't easy even then. I remember it was quite the struggle. Anyway, things are, thankfully, much different ten years down the road.

After stripping out all the layers I put in ten years ago I added two runs of Velocity "blue" tubeless tape, added two Bontrager road TLR tubeless valve stems, added the "MG's Secret Sauce" (again- don't ask ) tubeless goop, and they aired up with a small compressor I have. Oh......and I used a brand new set of WTB TCS Nano's in the 2.1" size. 

There was one, minor disconcerting fact that I noted while doing this. The tires never made a peep setting up. I did not get that satisfying loud "snap!" of the bead setting in its seat on the rim. That's likely because the TK series of rims that DT Swiss used to make has a pretty aggressive hook bead whereas newer tubeless ready designs do not. The newer, tubeless ready rims generally have a squared off seat which has a slightly larger diameter for the tire bead to "lock" in to. Now, I am not going to be running low pressures or smashing into trail obstacles with this set up, but I have no doubt that if I did the tires would easily burp. So, while I am good to go for gravel, I still want to look into getting "real" tubeless ready rims.

Single Speed Century

So, the next deal I want to get going on is to try out the Pofahl on the planned century ride I have mapped out. I haven't done a century on a single speed in a long time, so I am overdue.

I kind of wanted to do this in September, but, obviously, I am running a bit short on time for this! Well, Saturday is my last chance and I think I am going for it unless I still feel like I am run down.

Yeah......I've been not feeling the best lately. I relapsed in terms of my cold right after the trip I was on last week. Feeling run down, congested, and well........crappy. We'll see how this whole single speed century thing goes.

But, I will give it my best. I have a pretty "single speed friendly" course designed so it isn't anything too radical in terms of elevation gain. I'm hoping that I can get up early on Saturday morning when it is still dark out and get going on that.

Then the next deal will be the second Fat Bike Century. That should happen in October sometime. We actually did that a year ago this weekend, myself and Tony, and Tony wants another go at that as well. So, if I can pull off those two century rides I'll have done five century rides and will need only one more for my own version of a cup o dirt.

Have a great weekend and I hope that you have a good bicycling time!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


The Fall season is about when I start feeling "the weight". Not the song by The Band, but the weight of responsibility. Responsibility for Trans Iowa being a good event. It takes a lot of planning and thought far ahead of the event. So, I have to be "on the ball" when it comes to getting that event up and running. Of course, there is the route, which changes every year, but that isn't all.

Registration is what most potential Trans Iowans probably have on their minds foremost concerning the event now. That usually takes place in October. You know, that's coming up real soon! I need to get the details out sooner than later. Then on top of that, I have to get the course recon going too. That doesn't leave a lot of time for "other stuff". Then, you know, I have a paying job, a wife and children, and more that are going on that are really important too. 

I'm not complaining. It isn't like it has taken me 13 Trans Iowas to suddenly now figure it out, because I know this will happen every Fall. But it is where my head is at this time of the year and I find it very difficult to think about anything else clearly. That may be why Fall is less fun for me than it was 14 years ago.

But, be that as it may, I have work to get to. I have a couple questions begging for answers that only a 5 hour round trip drive will cure. I have to sit down and go over my registration process again and make sure it is 100% dialed before I announce it. Then I have to continue route planning and sometime in October I am going to actually drive the course. It's going to be a very busy month.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ride For Randy

Special Announcement: Cyclists are a vulnerable user group and with drivers being more inattentive and impaired than ever before, we sometimes have tragedies occur like that of the death of Wade Franck, which hit the Iowa cycling community hard in 2015. 

Unfortunately my friends in the Lincoln, Nebraska cycling community are going through similar emotions after the tragic death of Randy Gibson, an accomplished, well known, and well liked cyclist from Lincoln, Nebraska. Besides being a cyclist many may not know that Randy was also heavily involved in Gravel Worlds and was responsible for the artwork used for this year's edition of the event, as well as helping to produce the event itself.

A memorial ride in Randy Gibson's honor will happen on October the 1st in Lincoln, Nebraska. I encourage anyone that can to attend in support of Randy Gibson's family, friends, and in support of the Lincoln cycling community and cyclists everywhere.

Following is a press release for the event:

Cyclists Organize Ride to Celebrate Life of Randy Gibson

Lincoln’s Hub Café to host the ride and remembrance October 1 at 10:00 a.m.

LINCOLN, Neb. (September 27, 2017) – Friends and family of Randy Gibson are planning a ride to celebrate the life of the Lincoln cyclist killed Saturday, Sept. 23, by a suspected drunk driver. The ride will take place Sunday, Oct. 1, from the Hub Café, 250 N. 21st St in Lincoln.

According to Gibson’s friend and ride co-host, Corey Godfrey, the ride will give friends and family an opportunity to reminisce and share stories.

“Let’s get together and remember Randy by doing one of the things he loved most – ride bicycles. We will meet at the Hub Café and roll out at 10:00 a.m. The plan is to ride around Lincoln and end up back at the Hub Café around noon for lunch,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey said the route would primarily utilize Lincoln bike paths, with a total distance of just under fifteen miles. 

Following lunch, the group will gather at the Jayne Snyder Trail Center, adjacent to the Hub Café, for a brief memorial, and to share stories and write well wishes to Gibson’s family. Participants are encouraged to bring along pictures, videos and other memories of Gibson to share with the group.

The Hub Café kitchen will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Learn more about the ride and memorial at the Ride for Randy event page.

A Resounding Thud

When Bike Radar is posting this kind of stuff on social media regarding Interbike, you know it had to be good!
I really tried to find something interesting to talk about regarding the Interbike goings on in Vegas last week. I tried to find something cool to show, some news of a future product that will be awesome, or some shred of anything trendy. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, nothing of the sort happened at Interbike this past week.

Even the ubiquitous, oft regurgitated "Bike Rumor" press release posts were few and far between. You just know it was a super-awesome Interbike. Especially when "Bike Radar", the typically good source for news on a bike trade show these days, only had a few sundry posts on some ho-hum components and a small gallery on e-bikes. Stuff usually relegated to the posts we used to call "Weird Stuff From Interbike", or similar.

Why wouldn't the last Interbike in Vegas be something other than a resounding thud? I wrote this post last Sunday to show what I feel are the reasons why that is. We don't need a "show" in a fixed place because the "show" goes on all year on social media and it has usurped the "excitement of the new" and it has replaced the person-to-person relationships which were the mainstays of bicycle trade shows before the smart phone/social media era. Why go somewhere that is unsavory, makes you spend a lot of money to get there and back, and doesn't cater to the cycling lifestyle beyond its walls?

 It all can be done on-line nowadays. Companies can have the spotlight anytime they want. They can launch something whenever they are ready via their own dealer events and consumer demos. They pump up demand via their own social media planned marketing schemes using "athletes", adventurers, and canned stories. You live vicariously through them. This influences and makes one want to emulate their rigs and accessories. Then you go online and buy the stuff way below MSRP. Trade shows? Pfffft!

Who needs 'em? 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Riding Through Storm Clouds

Waiting out a shower under the canopy of the old Falls Avenue Drug store.
"Welcome back to the real world". That is what I was thinking Saturday evening as I looked through social media after being off of it for a week. I just cannot fathom some of the things that have happened.

Of course, we have all the political hoopla about what folks do at the beginning of sporting events and hardly anyone is aching over what has happened in Puerto Rico, Nashville, or in Lincoln Nebraska

You see, I found out someone was cycling there and got pretty busted up in a crash with a car, then later on I read about Randy Gibson, an accomplished cyclist and a pillar of the Lincoln cycling community, who was run down and killed by a person who was found to have a blood alcohol level well in excess of the legal limit. I must say that I do not personally know the two individuals who were involved in these crashes, but I do know many in Lincoln and beyond quite well who are really devastated by what has happened. I empathize with them and I grieve with them over this terrible turn of events.

So, I have to ride to work. Yes......I have to for myself. Not because I am a "loser" or because I cannot drive a car. I just choose not to, and I am the better for it. I have done this for 15 years now. I wouldn't have it any other way. But on days like yesterday, as I rolled out in to the city streets, I was a bit more cautious. I was more vigilant, and I was a bit afraid, yes I was. Why? Because inattentive drivers, impaired drivers, and just plain old mean spirited folk can injure or kill me so easily with a car that I have to wonder if I am not certifiably insane to be doing this commuting by bicycle thing. I mean, even I have been struck by a drunk driver. 

But then I remember that I absolutely hate it when I have to drive to work, because I get sucked into that hole of other drivers who don't care, are overly aggressive, inattentive, or worse. Just because I could drive, it doesn't mean it is better in those regards, just a tiny bit safer is all. That and I know how to be as safe as I can be when I ride my bicycle. I cannot just give up in the face of these swirling storms that threaten to take away my freedom and my sane place on my bicycle. I am also confident that those people that died and those that were injured on their bicycles wouldn't want me to stop either. 

So today, and tomorrow, and on into the future, as long as I am able, I will ride my bicycle through these swirling clouds and keep searching for the Sun.  


Monday, September 25, 2017

Now For The Next Thing

Yeah.......Iowa is flat. Image by Carol Bassett
Last week I ran the series on Interbike and one of the reasons why I did that was because I was gone last week to a retreat my church sent me on. Yes, it was also very convenient that Interbike was happening at the time. So, that worked out rather well. While I was gone, I got to see a huge chunk of the country I've never seen before. I've been to Louisville, Kentucky once about 37 years ago, but that was only a tiny bit of Kentucky. This time I saw a huge part of that state along with Ohio, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

I have seen the Rockies, and they have their own majesty, but the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains are no joke. Go there if you've never been there. I am super glad that I did.

One more thing- I've never seen so much tobacco product on display as I did in the Southeast. One place had a ten foot long by five foot high selection of cigarettes, (not behind any counter), and that same place probably had thirty varieties of chewing tobacco, (which was behind the counter), on display as well. Here in the Mid-West cigarette usage hasn't gone away by any stretch, but it is rarer than ever.

Then there was the selection of craft brewed beers that you could get at any convenience store. Weird. Here I have to go to a specific liquor store to get "the good stuff" as the chain convenience stores here barely touch what I would consider even basic craft beer selections. Man! I saw about a half a dozen beers I would have liked to have tried. Wrong timing though. We were always on the move when I saw the stuff and short on cash.

Anyway, it was an amazing trip and I am really glad and thankful to have gotten the opportunity to do it. I wouldn't change a thing about it. However; I wasn't on the bike for a week. That kind of presents a problem looking ahead.........

You see,I have an event in less than two weeks coming up that is 200 miles in length and includes the hills, (and more like them), that you see imaged here by Carol Bassett. Yes........those exact hills are on the course. They come just before the halfway mark of the event.

The last bike ride I had a week ago was the first long one in a while.
 So....... Well, the thing is, I was sick for two weeks prior with a nasty cold which required lots of rest. No big rides. I felt good enough just over a week ago on Saturday to get out and do about 45 miles on my single speed Pofahl rig, but other than this, I haven't really done any long rides in three weeks time. That's probably not a good training plan coming into the Spotted Horse Ultra.

The good news is that the forced rest I got over the past week has made me get better in terms of the cold symptoms, but they aren't 100% gone yet. I'd say I'm at 90% in that recovery, but obviously, my legs and lungs haven't been tuned up the way that they should have been. This has led me to take stock in my goal for the Spotted Horse and I have had to make a tough decision.

That decision being, I don't care anymore about goals for this event. While that sounds odd, I am sure, it is something that takes the pressure off my mind to expect anything other than a nice long bicycle ride in some beautiful territory on October the 7th. There is no reasonable way to approach this event as anything else for me at this point. I have the cards dealt to me and they are what they are. It is not what I wanted. But it is what I have to work with.

The weather is cooling off soon, and I am happy about that. I always look forward to Fall riding, so this will be a good time of the year to get out there and enjoy some Iowa countryside. Heck, I may even just take the single speed. I'll decide after I get a ride in this coming Wednesday on it. There is something I need to try first on it though.

It's not like the Spotted Horse has the only tough hills in Iowa though. Image by Celeste Mathias
See, I double flatted five miles from the house on my last ride. Had to have Mrs. Guitar Ted bail me out since I was only packing one tube. I didn't have time to investigate the reason for the flats, but I have had a history of flatting with those wheels. I am going to swap over to my other single speed specific Industry Nine wheels and those have Bontrager Duster rims laced to them so I can go tubeless. That should be a better deal. As for the original wheels, I may still be able to get those re-laced with real tubeless rims at some point. I'll have to see if I can get I-9 to do that, or see just how that might be accomplished otherwise.

But at any rate, I have those other single speed specific I-9 wheels and I will try those set up with some WTB Nanoraptor tires I have. I'll have to go re-up on my latex mold builder so I can make my "MG's Special Sauce" tubeless solution though. (Don't ask me about it.) I've run out of the home brew tubeless goop at this point. I need to remedy that in this household which has so many bikes set up tubeless it is ridiculous.

But if that doesn't work, it isn't like I do not have other bicycles to use. (<====HA!) So, short of the Pofahl working out, I'll likely take the good ol' standby Fargo Gen I or my Tamland. Either one I am quite confident will be a good rig for the Spotted Horse.

So, the "next thing" is coming up and I have to try to do what I can to get ready to go. After the Spotted Horse I may do another Geezer Ride, so stay tuned for anything on that coming up soon.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: Epilogue

Impressive, but faked culture. Another bad part about Las Vegas.
As I wrote the series about my Interbike escapades, the coming to, and the going away from Vegas, I couldn't help but be reminded of how irrelevant not only Interbike had become, but how trade shows in general had become less of a force for the cycling business.

The Internet, and to be more specific, smart phones and tablets, have made it so that trade shows are no longer seen as necessary by the end users. The experience of the trade show wasn't enough to carry the day either. In fact, there were so many facets of the experience that were soul-sucking, non-cycling related things, that you could hardly say the experience of attending Interbike was a benefit at all. So, without any real news, new things to show, or without the big brands, Interbike had nothing else to offer the attendees. Business? Please, no one was writing any significant business at Interbike. That was all done at dealer only shows or by brand reps visiting dealers, and more increasingly, online. Why travel to Sin City to do what you could do in the confines of your own office?

Interbike made two fatal mistakes, and moving the show to Reno won't fix this. One- Interbike needed to reinvent itself as a "Sea Otter" type event, only in the Fall. To do this, it needed to be moved to a venue where cycling could be done and where vendors would go willingly to showcase products to dealers and consumers. Much like Sea Otter has done for years. However; Interbike couldn't figure it out, and they stayed married to being in Vegas for about five years too long.

Secondly, Interbike was located far too long in a place that didn't cater to the cycling lifestyle. It didn't offer interesting, wholesome alternatives to the cycling lifestyle either. Vegas is great if you suffer from addictions like sex, gambling, or drunkenness. Singles, college students, and divorcees flock to this place. There is a reason it is called "Sin City", after all. Why on Earth would something like Interbike think it could flourish there, I have no idea.

In my estimation, the industry, the cycling industry, that is, is undergoing a radical change. The entire scene will be quite different looking going forward. It is my opinion that anything resembling a traditional trade show is not going to work anymore. Reno, Denver, or wherever else that you might move this event will not fix what ails it. Interbike needs to radically reinvent itself, or it will remain irrelevant going forward.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 38

One product over all and in the bottle or can to bind them!
Ten years ago on the blog I was mostly blathering on about Interbike. I was still excited about going back then and this would be probably the best show from the standpoint of a trade show atmosphere and news worthiness that I would ever go to since that time. After 2007, it was a slow decline into the abyss for Interbike.

One odd thing I noted back then was the seemingly inexplicable desire by bike riders to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I never have quite figured out why that was, It isn't such a big deal anymore, what with all the craft brewing non-sense we have in every nook and cranny in the Nation now, but back then craft brewing was basically New Belgium Brewing and Sam Adams. That was pretty much it. Anyway, here is a quote I pulled back ten years ago from "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" which posted a "Quote Of The Day" about this phenomenon.

"These are harsh times and it calls for a harsh beer. Pabst Blue Ribbon is just the thing. It is not shoved down your throat with multi-million dollar mass marketing, it is simply a decent cheap beer. This beer is America whether you like it or not. It is real for what that is worth anymore." -Published last year in the Oakland Tribune"

So, since, I believe, 2007 is probably seen, in retrospect, as being a lot less tough than now, can we expect a resurgence of PBR drinking cyclists? I wouldn't bet on that.

But who knows?  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike:The Long Road Home

My last Interbike trip was capped off by meeting Steve Hed and seeing his gravel bike
 Editor's Note: This is Part 6 and final post of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Making my way home from Interbike was always a big deal for me. I wanted to get back in the worst way, but first, I generally would be spending an evening at the airport. Why? There were a couple of reasons.

First, it was a free night in Vegas for me. I didn't have to spend money for a motel room I would only be in for a few hours. This was because of....

Two- I usually took either the redeye, or the last flight out of Vegas for the night, which generally took off at midnight, or the first flight out in the morning, which was generally around 6:00am. Seeing as how I had to show up early enough to get baggage checked in and get through security, that meant little sleep anyway.

Third- I had to generally opt for the earliest morning flight due to scheduling through the airlines. Plus, while waiting I could use the free WiFi in McCarren to write stories about Interbike so I would have time to sleep and be with my family when I got back instead of having to work immediately upon arrival.

I suppose there was a fourth reason, if I am honest with myself. That would be that I like to stay up all night sometimes if I feel like I am doing something crazy and it makes me feel like a hoodlum kid again. Hanging out in an abandoned airport fit that bill.

Spending all night in an deserted airport meant I had lots of time to write about bikes.
But first I had to get there. Like I wrote in yesterday's post, Grannygear would sometimes drop me off. Those were some bittersweet goodbyes. I would only see him once a year, but we were in contact via phone and email all the time back then. I always felt like we should hang out more than we have. Saying goodbye at the airport underscored that feeling. Then there were the times when Grannygear bugged out early. It was a good thing for him, since he'd get home at nightfall instead of 3:00am in the morning, or whenever he got home at night. But I think he was a bit reluctant to leave me without a ride to the airport.

It was okay though, because one year I walked. Yes. I walked from the Sands all the way out to McCarren International Airport. By the way, I like ultra-long walks in urban areas. This was also interesting since I found that there was a pedestrian way all the way up to the doors of the airport. It was obviously planned, and I was amazed that the city of Vegas accommodated pedestrians in such a car-centric atmosphere.

The year I walked out was one of the last times I got a redeye flight out of McCarren. Those were weird flights. It also did not afford me much time to write, as I was on board the plane by 11:30pm or so. I remember that flight as I saw DJ Birtch in the hallway as I made my way to the terminal. He is such a character! I'm pretty sure that is the last time I've seen him as well.

An desolate hallway in DFW from one of my trips back from Interbike
I recall that redeye went through Dallas/Ft. Worth. When we got there, the airport was still officially closed, and an airline employee was directing us to which way to go since there weren't any other employees there. She was saying a terse, "Good Morning! Where is your destination?" to all in front of me, so I dug out my ticket to circumvent the pleasantries and when I got to her I blurted out, "I'm going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa." She stopped, looked at me with that "mom look" you get when you do something wrong, and said, "No. That is not how it works. Hello! How are you?"  I answered and then we went through the conversation like she was having with everyone else. THEN she pointed me on my way. Oh, and I was the only one headed to the left.

That put me in a deserted hallway, then to an area strewn with sleeping bodies on the floor and benches of the terminal area. Weird! Janitors and restaurant prep folks gingerly stepped around as their morning of work got underway.

The last few years were the all-nighters in McCarren though. The airport baggage check in area was where I usually hung out. It was pre-security, so if I had to get some fresh air, I could step outdoors. I never did that, but it was nice to know I could. I would find a nook and park where an outlet was, spread out my stuff, and start writing. Occasionally an airport worker would come by, or a janitor vacuuming would go around, but I did not see many people there until about 3:30am or so.

Sunset over Vegas from the Sands parking garage. This year is the last year for I-Bike in Vegas
It was then that you'd start seeing airport and airline employees coming to work, which for them started at 4:00am. People with early morning flights would start showing up as well. By 5:00am there was a fair amount of hustle and bustle. I usually had to fend off the sleepies from 2:00am until all this activity would start, but once it did, I would get a second wind.

Then it was time to get through security. I did go through Vegas once earlier in the evening and security was a madhouse. TSA agents were screaming and yelling at people and it was tense. I felt like a cow getting herded off to slaughter. I vowed that I would never again subject myself to that treatment. So, I opted for these flights out in the morning whenever I could.

Generally I could walk right up and security scanning was a breeze. The TSA wasn't amped up yet, so treatment was okay, if not a bit cold shouldered. At least I wasn't being berated for some stupid move the TSA didn't like.

Then the flights home. I went through a few different airports to make connections, and usually those were Denver, (which I HATED flying in to because of the turbulence they have), or the O'Hare International near Chicago. I had quite a scare once coming through O'Hare one year. It was a year that I had left Vegas earlier in the evening. I got to O'Hare around 10:00pm. It was foggy and cool. I was supposed to be back in Cedar Rapids by around 11:30pm. My small connection flight took off and was curiously not gaining altitude. That's when the Captain came on the intercom and said we had a stuck landing gear and we needed to return to O'Hare.

Somewhere out there it lurks! The best thing in Las Vegas. Great Buns Bakery!
There was a collective gasp and the guy across the aisle from me started praying fervently with his two young daughters. When we got above O'Hare you could see all the emergency vehicles with the lights blazing lining both sides of our runway. It was weird and surreal, and scary all at once.

Of course, we made it. Otherwise I would be dead! Ha! But the weirdness wasn't over with. We had to transfer to another plane which took quite a while. Once we had boarded that plane we were told we couldn't use it because the airmen had discovered a problem with that plane. We were told to go back and board our original flight! This caused all sorts of consternation with the passengers.

That is when the Captain came out and spoke directly with us. He said he had a family and wanted to get back to see them again in the worst way, so he would never fly a plane that he didn't believe in. Whew! Instant air clearing speech! I was impressed and I got home late, but safe.

My last Interbike trip ended like many others. Mrs. Guitar Ted picked me up at the airport and we went home and I felt the relief of another Interbike trip, and plane flights, over with, this time for a long, long time. I had seen no reason to attend another show where news was non-existent and that seemed to be a huge waste of time. 29"ers were mainstream now so the endemic cycling media had jumped in to cover the now standard wheel size.

Companies no longer saw the value in "Twenty Nine Inches" coverage so we were largely ignored when it came to press releases, invitations to new model releases, and for review items. I got it. Our time was over. So, I planned not to go to Interbike in 2014 and I was right. It didn't matter. Then at the end of 2014 I left TNI for good. Earlier this year, Grannygear shut the site down and it doesn't exist on the web anymore.

Of course, I am doing these days, but again- going to a trade show is an antiquated idea anymore. With the instant news these days, dealer shows, private invitations to the entrenched, privileged media few, and social media, a trade show that gathers people and wastes everybody's time in terms of business is not efficient. Besides, business itself is changing and no one is quite sure how that will look anymore. Suffice it to say that it will likely be more automated and digital with less people involved in the transaction stream. Again, trade shows in the traditional sense are antiquities of a past that no longer exists. I don't see myself going to Vegas, or anywhere, for a cycling based trade show ever again.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The People

Just a couple of doodes hangin' out. Jeff Kerkove and I, Image by Sonya Looney
 Editor's Note: This is Part 5 of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The people of Interbike were the best part of the week outside of the riding of bikes with the people of Interbike. Bikes and good folks are always the best combo! That even happened a time or two outside of the Outdoor Demo. I'll be getting to that today.

There were a few outside of the show meetings which were memorable. The first was my first year with TNI. Back then, I was working for Tim Grahl and his then partner in "Blue Collar Mountain Biking", and his name was Mike something or another, I do not recall now what his surname was. Anyway, they were total noobs to mountain biking, and we went to an after the show party where there was beer served. It was a Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame induction ceremony.

I was super stoked because all the Kings and Queens of mtb were gathered there that night to induct a few of the new folks into the Hall. I was totally geeking out. Grahl and Mike were nonplussed since they had no idea who anyone was! I found myself explaining everyone and the terms they were using in their speeches as though I was some UN translator at a high level meeting between the Soviets and the US delegations. It was hilarious. I recall I stood next to Maurice Tierney of "Dirt Rag" fame and that he had on a pair of cracking green trousers. Awesome!

There was another meeting where we met up with the heads of Jenson USA and they were top notch guys. We also had a few breakfasts with the Salsa Cycles crew over the years. One year Grannygear and I met up with the rep for Alpinstars in a motel on a high floor and we were catered to like we were some hotshots. But the best one was the night Grannygear and I went to Trump Tower and met with the BMC gang in a suite high above Las Vegas just off the Strip.

Free gourmet meal, wine, and Swiss chocolates? Oh yeah! By the way, what'd he say? Ha!
BMC pulled out all the stops on this one. There was a table in the hallway loaded with huge bars of Swiss chocolate. Not the garbage we get here called Swiss chocolate, this was imported from Switzerland. You could take as much as you wanted. Mrs. Guitar Ted was very pleased with my haul, I must say!

We had a gourmet meal, Swiss wine, and heard from the head of BMC himself. It was an odd night, but I had a lot of fun being wined and dined. I'm still not sure how we got on the guest list, but...... Hey! We were and I went.

Then there was the criterium they had a few times down at the Mandalay. One time, a "Bikehugger" social was going to take to the Strip on bicycles, ride down to the Mandalay, hang out, and then ride back to the convention center. I got invited so I was set up with a 24" wheeled Dahon folding bike. It was quite the scene! There was a DJ with a Big Dummy converted into a party rig with full on stereo power. Rocking tunes with a peloton of biking weirdos on The Strip has to rank as one of the more unusual things I've gotten to do in my life!

The other time I went to that criterium I rode this bus, and I was supposed to ride it back. However; I couldn't find the proper shuttle, so I got frustrated and just walked all the way back to the mid-Strip on my own, much to the consternation of my fellow Interbikers!

From my bike ride down The Strip. We were stopped at a red light. Note the lack of helmets!
Then there was the CrossVegas gig we got invited to by then Raleigh honch, Brian Fornes. We got free passes to the event and a ticket to the Raleigh Hospitality corner. Free food and beer was there, but being right down in the action of CrossVegas was amazing.

Back indoors we had a lot of friends to track down. I always made sure I saw Jeff Kerkove, so Ergon's booth was always a must see. I would also always stop by the Surly booth to see who I knew there. The Twin Six booth was a perennial visitation where I might stay for an hour or so. Obviously, the Salsa Cycles booth was a big visiting spot and that is how I met Grannygear.

I still remember overhearing Jason Boucher say, "Guitar Ted? Well there he is right over there!" I looked up and saw Grannygear, only I had never met him before. That started a long distance relationship that continues on to this day.

Namrita, Team Dicky, and Sonya, left to right.
One of the more hilarious meetings was when I first met Sonya Looney. She was just breaking into the scene back then and was Jeff Kerkove's friend at the time. Jeff said she wanted to meet me since Jeff had spouted off about me. So, I tracked her down in a women's clothing company's booth where she was holding down the fort while the others that were working the show were off doing something else. The minute I got there she hurriedly asked if I could stick around and watch things, and before I could say "yes", she was running away to the booth next door, grabbing a waste can, and barfing in it while she headed off to the restrooms.

Well, fortunately no one was interested in women's riding clothing for the next several minutes, and a red faced Sonya Looney came back apologizing for being down with the "bottle flu" from the evening before. That was probably the most interesting introduction I've ever experienced with anyone in my lifetime so far. I doubt that one will get topped!

Once I was supposed to appear on "Interbike TV", this ongoing "show" which most folks ignored. There was a "live taping" going on at all hours of the Indoor Show and when I was getting wired up to go on I was with "Singletrack Magazine" writer "Chipps" Chippendale. He was cracking these dry UK comments and I was jumping right in with some witty comebacks of my own. We were asked to keep it down more than once! That was fun.

29"er and mtb pioneer, Wes Williams and me with "The Pontificator" Image by Bob Poor.
A couple of years I didn't even stick around for Thursday's show. One day indoors was enough! But by 2011 I was back to doing two days of the indoor show and bailing out on Friday night or super early on Friday morning. But when I did stick around on a Thursday, I usually was winding things down by mid-afternoon and a few years I was found at the usual Ergon party which was generally the last thing going on on a Thursday.

A few times we actually stayed through until Friday, but that was generally such a waste of time it wasn't even funny. Vendors would be putting things away by noon and no one wanted to sit down and talk at all by this point. All eyes and efforts were directed toward getting outta Vegas, and fast. A couple of those years Grannygear bugged out early on Thursday and I would be left to my own devices for half a day or so. Generally speaking, all I was doing was visiting people I likely wouldn't see again, ever, or not until the following year at Interbike. I typically always had mixed feelings about these last hours of my time in the show. I get sentimental, and I often would be depressed about it all at that point. Honestly, the whole Vegas ordeal was so emotionally and physically draining that I probably wasn't thinking straight by Thursday afternoon.

So, the long road back home sometimes started right there at the show. Sometimes Grannygear would drop me off at the airport. But however it went, there was one more thing I often did that I found strangely satifying and fun to do. Staying up all night in McCarren Internbational Airport.

Next: The Long Road Home

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: Rushing In

Pounding out the text during my third Interbike with TNI -Image by Richard Masoner
 Editor's Note: This is Part 4 of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wednesday always marked the first big day of the indoor show. As an internet based blogger/writer/news person, it was my task to get images, a story line, and push out content as fast as I could and preferably before the West Coast had a lunch break.

The waiting at the door before the hordes were unleashed at the Sands Convention Center, where the show was held most of the years I was there, was always a pain in the butt. You had to get there early enough to get a spot near the front and you had to have a "battle plan" in place to gather information as quickly as possible.

One year we were let in early by way of Tim Grahl's weaseling us by security. That lasted about thirty minutes before we were ejected, but he got out a post before the show started that caused a bit of a stir. The next year we actually got invited in early. I don't recall it being that big of a deal then. I also recall being there by one of the doors before the show opened up when Gary Fisher came strolling by. It was awesome as he ranted about Las Vegas in an "R" rated tirade which had me in stitches the rest of the day.

Then there was the big WTB snafu with Niner Bikes one year there. I had heard about a new rig Niner was going to show inside on Wednesday when I was speaking with the Niner guys at Outdoor Demo. I heard that there might be a few "surprises" on that bike to note. Okay, I was definitely going to the Niner Bikes booth first.

Niner Bikes typically gave the best shwag of anyone in the industry. Image by Richard Masoner.
 Meanwhile, at the Demo, Mike Curiak let me ride his bike and strictly told me, "No images of the tires!". All he would tell me was that they were prototypes WTB had sent him to test. These tires were unmarked, so I had no idea what they were. I had to have Mike pre-approve my images of the bike before I could post them so he knew no one could decipher what tires were on the bike. It was a big deal to keep the secret because WTB had invested a lot into this project and didn't want any info leaking out to competitors. I felt pretty privileged, to say the least, and promised not to spill the beans about this new tread design and casing.

Okay, so now back to the Indoor show. I scram to Niner's booth, meet Steve Domahidy, who points out the bike. I see the WTB tires on it, with the hot patches which were pre-production samples, and I fire off several images. I then run off to post my images of this long travel Niner Bikes' rig with these heretofore unheard of WTB tires. About a half an hour later, all hell breaks loose on my cell phone. Curiak is furious, he wanted to know who let me take images of the secret tire? I said that Niner had them proudly displayed in their booth, so......????!!! Then I run back to the Niner Booth to see what the heck is up. Meanwhile, a WTB rep beat me there and is having a big to-do with Domahidy on the show floor about the tires not being public yet.

I felt really bad. While it wasn't my fault, I was caught up in a controversial situation that potentially could have gone really badly. In the end, it all turned out fine, but at that moment, it was a pretty intense situation. It turned out that WTB sent the tires over for Niner to test, not to slap on their show bike, but that's what happened and the cat was outta the bag.

Bikes, bikes, and more bikes!
I remember running around getting images and heading back to the "Media Center", which was a curtained off area on the show floor which was catered and had coffee, pastries, and if you were there at noon, food to eat. It was all gratis too. Which, in the grand scheme of things, was kind of weird. Everyone else in the joint was stuck paying exorbitant prices for bland cafeteria style food. It was almost as if I was in some higher social class than everyone else, and it was an uncomfortable feeling. Later years saw Grannygear and I eschewing the media center and its freebies. Granted, by this time the media had their own room off the show floor, but I still felt uncomfortable taking advantage of that. I always felt more like a blessed shop rat than some high falutin' media wonk, and I think the high falutin' media wonks would agree with that assessment!

Typically I was running around doing social visits between snapping off images, meeting with vendors for appointments, and chasing down my co-workers or in later years, Grannygear. We would meet up on the show floor, assess what was up and where we wanted to go next, and the depart and do whatever we were doing that day. At the end of it all, we would meet up, plan a dinner, and then head back to our room and pound out some posts until about midnight or 1:00am and then hit the hay. I wish I would have had a FitBit back in those days. I bet I'd smash some badges out with the amount of walking I did back then, all carrying a heavy laptop and a bunch of junk in a messenger bag. Interbike really screwed with my posture, I'll tell ya that much!

We were never much for the after party scene. I think I hit a blogger meeting one year, and I maybe went out a couple of other times, but those were super rare. Even back in the Grahl years, it was all business, no play. We often had early morning appointments before the next day's show, and those often were nice meetings with great industry folks. There were lots of other people I used to see there once a year too. Tomorrow, I'll delve into that.

Next: The People Of Interbike

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The Bikes And The People

Crowds gather and ready themselves for Day Two of Outdoor Demo
Editor's Note: This is Part 3 of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

 Day Two of Outdoor Demo was usually the day that the roadies did a big loop out of the Demo area to nearby Lake Mead and Hoover Dam and then back again. The ride started early, so sometimes we had the opportunity to beat the crowds and the heat if a demo vendor was going to be there anyway supporting the road riders.

I remember one time we did this in the early years of my Vegas Era when we got to saddle up on some Raleighs, or maybe it was Diamondbacks...... Both the same parent company, so I cannot recall now, but we were there so early on the trails that you couldn't see in the crevices and ravines because the Sun wasn't high enough in the sky yet!

'07 and '08 were probably the busiest Day Two Outdoor Demo experiences that I can recall. The hordes of dealers and shop rats would be there by noon and the trail would literally be like bumper to bumper traffic. I recall trying out the then new Gates Carbon Drive belt on a Spot Brand single speed one of those years and that I had to stop several times due to folks not having the skill, muscle, or both to ride the trail. Meanwhile, the hot shoes were railing by you one after another. It was insanity!

I didn't like Day Two all that much back then and typically I was done after about 1:00pm or so with riding due to the competition to get the bike I wanted and even if you did, the read you got on any bike was colored by having to jockey with all the yahoos out trying to get around the demo loop.

"Demo Ken" Derrico of Trek- He was always a smiling face and a helpful guy at the Outdoor Demo. 
Even though things could be literally out of control at times at the Demo, many of the people manning the stations were the finest folks you could ask for. The Trek tent usually had "Demo Ken" and one of my predecessors at Europa Cycle & Ski, Vance McCaw. Familiar faces in a land far away. But there were others I never knew the names of.

Never got his name, but this guy was super helpful and kind to me at the Outdoor Demo.
I recall a guy that worked the BMC booth who painstakingly set up the dual suspension rig I was going to demo despite the utter chaos of the crowd all around us. His patience was that of a saint and he was so calm. Amazing!

Then there was this guy I have pictured who was at the Specialized trailer. He was another one that was so kind and patient that I felt compelled to take his picture when he wasn't looking so I could remember him!

Brian Fornes was another who never made me feel anything but wanted and important when I visited him at the Raleigh tent. Gary Mendenhall went out of his way at the J&B Importers/Origin 8 tent to be friendly and show me all their latest wares. Of course, Jason Boucher and Kid Reimer of Salsa Cycles, along with their varying crews, were always welcoming and we were often seen hanging around their tent at the Demo. Devin Lenz of Lenz Sport Bikes was another super kind soul at the Demo. Then there was Mike Curiak, who basically sneaked in himself and his bike to the Demo for me to try it out, who cannot be left off this list. There are others I am sure I am missing, but you get the picture. It was like a family in many ways. The people part of going to Interbike was always one of the best, if not the very best parts.

From my ride with Sonya Looney. She took the picture too!
At the last Outdoor Demo I attended, athlete/social media queen/super rep Sonya Looney insisted that we needed to go for a ride at the Demo. I kind of poo-pooed the idea as her being overly kind and making statements to make me feel good, not really intending to ride with a slow, fat old man like me. By this time she was a well known, race winning athlete and spokesperson for several brands. She had better things to do, I was certain of it.

Then on Day Two of the demo she kind of got tweaked at me for not tracking her down the day before and pretty much told me to go find a bike ASAP and meet her for the ride we were to do. Well, it was one of the most gracious gestures ever made to me at Interbike. She clearly was lollygagging along while I was nigh unto exploding into a sweaty mess, but she really, honestly was enjoying my company, nothing more, nothing less. What a great way to leave Outdoor Demo behind, and something I'll never forget.

Biffed on the hard rocks of Bootleg Canyon! Image by Tim Krueger, then of Salsa Cycles.
The bikes I rode at the Demo I mentioned a bit about yesterday, but I recall some others that were significant rides. The Raleigh XXIX Pro which I flatted on one year. It rode soooo nice! I recall that the demo guy at the tent and Brian Fornes were floored when I apologized for being so long with the bike, but I had to repair the flat I suffered. I guess no one did that usually. Most of the time folks just returned the bike with a flat. I could never do that! I always carried a spare tube, pump, and tool kit at the Outdoor Demo.

Not all the bikes I rode were winners either. I recall perhaps the worst dual suspension bike I ever tried at Outdoor Demo, which was early on in my Vegas Era. A GT of some sort. It rode so awful that I never got out of the demo area with it before I realized it was a poorly designed pig of a bike. The rig I rode with Sonya Looney was another weird dually. It felt like it was about to fold in half on every G-out. It was a Devinci, as I recall. I was not impressed too much with that one.

Later years saw the crowds drop off and it became sort of a joke to read Interbike's press releases saying how crowds were big and that there were more vendors, etc. It was painfully obvious that quality vendors, brands like Trek and Specialized, Cannondale, and more, weren't there anymore. The crowds that once caused bumper to bumper trail riding conditions were gone. You could have the trails all to yourself there by 2012. That is, if you could get a bike. Many vendors who stayed on were facing increased pressure for demo bikes at the Demo due to the brands that had left and obviously those bikes that would have been there were no longer available.

I met Krampus at the Outdoor Demo, and it was a good meeting.
Talk about a niche sector of cycling.......
My time at the Outdoor Demo went from 29"ers being the odd duck to those wheels being the dominant choice. 26"ers were everywhere, then they weren't. 650B started in fits and lurches, but by 2012 every new design was a long travel trail bike with B wheels. Were 29"ers on the ropes? Then it was fat bikes, 29+, and when I quit going the beginnings of B+ was happening. What a ride!

Rocks and dust. Heat, and sometimes sitting in a car waiting out a rain shower. Wind! Oh my, that blast furnace wind! How could anyone survive in that environment? I barely made it out whole a few times out there myself, and we had copious amounts of water. I recall those folks from Park Tools handing out water bottles when you rolled up from the Demo area with a dusty test bike. The Gu and Powerbar tents set up near the trail head. Couldn't have survived without those handups.

But survive it we did. Then it was time to dust ourselves off, take a shower, dig out the casual clothes and messenger bags, make sure you had the laptop ready to roll, a camera or three, and your TNI business cards because the Indoor show started the next day. Ooof! Now the real drudgery was looming in the headlights. No more fun riding bikes.

Next: Rushing In

Monday, September 18, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The Furnace

Tim Grahl, then owner of TNI, with a desert tortoise at Bootleg Canyon.
Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a series on Interbike experiences. Interbike is happening this week for the last time in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

 When I went to Interbike the best part of the whole week, (other than leaving Las Vegas at the end), was riding bicycles at Bootleg Canyon. That was the venue for the Outdoor Demo. It was primarily mountain bike oriented, but no one seemed to mind.

In the early years of my Vegas Era, Bootleg Canyon during Outdoor Demo was far, far busier than it was toward the end of my time at Interbike. That said, Monday was a slow day, in relative terms, for the demo. It seemed that a lot of folks used Monday as a travel day and didn't get out to Bootleg Canyon at all, or showed up well into the afternoon hours. So, we being the news hounds that we were, got the heck out there ASAP and rode as many bikes on Monday as we possibly could get our hands on.

But first you had to get on 'The Bus" to Bootleg Canyon. Standing in that line was something that brought meaning to "hurry up and wait". I recall one year that someone noted that we had media credentials and we were whisked out of the long line of folks waiting to sign waivers and were put at the front of the line. Whoa! I felt odd and embarrassed that we were made to be special right in front of the dealers and shop rats waiting patiently for such a long time. But, it wasn't of my doing, so......

In later years the check in was more discreet for the media folk and we ran out to Bootleg Canyon in Grannygear's rig on our own. Free to do whatever we wanted, instead of riding a bus, we ended up finding a really cool place that became a ritual of sorts for our Bootleg Canyon trips.

Great Buns Bakery: I spent a lot of time staring at the pastries there!
Grannygear got the hankering for some of this swamp water stuff that is in the health aisles of some grocery stores. We went down Tropicana Boulevard looking for a grocery store as it was on the way to the road out of town through Henderson and then to Bootleg Canyon. We found his swamp water and then, I cannot recall how, we found Great Buns Bakery.

This place is the single most redeeming factor I can think of for Las Vegas' existence. If you ever go to Vegas, go there! Grannygear and I were never ever let down by the goodness found on the shelves there. In fact, it was so good we had to share it with others. We would buy a flat of random pastries and take them to the boys out at the Salsa Cycles demo tent.

Anyway, getting to Bootleg Canyon was not tough, but usually it was crazy hot. And windy to boot. That in combination would wilt the average Mid-Westerner. Well, it even roasted Grannygear, who was somewhat used to dry and hot. Bootleg Canyon was a tough, rocky, gritty place to ride anyway. Add in the hot weather and well....... It was nuts.

Sometimes folks stuck doing the demo would have special goings on after Monday's opening round. One such vendor was Chris King. One year they had Chris King himself, the Chris King, barbecuing beef for anyone that stuck around after the Monday demo. We decided to stay, and this was one of the years we rode the bus, to check it out. We had no idea if we'd get back to our hotel room or not, but the prospects of a free barbecued beef brisket meal outweighed being stranded. As we stood in the long line we wondered how late the last bus left the demo area.

Chris King himself tending the grill in the blazing hot Sun over Bootleg Canyon.
We got some crazy tasty brisket and we still made it back to the motel on a bus. That was a pretty memorable evening. There were other times when Grannygear and I would eat at a fast food restaurant in Bootleg Canyon and we almost never left the demo without a trip to the local DQ for a chocolate malt.

I don't recall doing anything spectacular in the early years of my time out there after the Demo. Usually, it was high tail it back to the time share we rented, or the one year we rented a house, and then bang out as many words and images as we could.  Grahl. the original owner/creator of TNI,  was all about flooding the web with as many images as we could. It wasn't unheard of for us to upload 500 images or more in our Interbike Gallery. So, no fun, no partying, just lots and lots of uploading and writing of text.

Of course, riding the bicycles was the highlight. I got to ride so many great sleds and see more that were so cool. I really could not pick out a single bike, but if I had to pick one that most influenced me, it would be the Salsa Cycles Fargo I got to ride at the demo in 2008. But there were several other super rad bikes I got to ride. Mike Curiak's personal rig is one. It was just like being the kid in the candy store, like you would think it would be. So many bikes, so little time!

Next: The Bikes And The People

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Looking Back At I-Bike: The Vegas Era

A view of Vegas from Circus-Circus 2009
The end of an era is happening this week in the cycling industry. It probably will not affect you, and it certainly doesn't matter to most riders, but Interbike is finally leaving Las Vegas, Nevada after this week's show.

I was blessed to have attended nine Interbike shows in Las Vegas and one in Anaheim, California during my stints as a shop rat and media/blogger/wonk. I went there more times than I wanted to, but many of you out there have never been to a cycling industry trade show, so you may think that I am/was the luckiest guy in the world. may have pity on me, or you may think I am less than worthy of consideration. (In which case, I doubt that you read this blog) Anyway......

I figured that on the occasion of the last show in Las Vegas for Interbike that I would recount my memories of going there in a way that might bring a bit of the experience to you out there. This will be a series that will last the entire week, so either plan on a different story to appear every day till Saturday about Interbike or just plan on not looking here till this coming Saturday!

I'm going to break it down in to five parts which will reflect each day's experience. This is the intro post, but it is also going to serve as the "Getting There" episode. So, here is a bit of remembrances about getting to Interbike from my perspective........

My first trip to Vegas was the first Vegas Interbike in 1996. It was Schwinn's 100th anniversary, and they had a parade of 100 Elvis impersonators led by Father Guido Sarducci. It was pretty crazy. But first, I had to get there. It was only my second ever trip involving air travel, and I wasn't digging it. This comes from my reminisces about the trip which I wrote down here several years ago. 

"Grand Canyon.....Lake Mead.......30,000 plus feet......Las Vegas!  We're going down real soon real fast!! And just as that thought crossed my mind, the plane nose dived and went careening towards McCarren International Airfield. Yikes! The whole plane suddenly shuddered with a great vibration. I saw out the window that the pilot had applied the air brakes to break his free fall. I about came unglued! And it happened twice more before the pilot slammed the landing gear so hard onto McCarren's runway that I thought the wheels would surely break off. You know, the sheer terror of that flight put me off from flying for several years afterwards". 

The hustle and bustle of The Strip
 My love of air travel didn't get a whole lot better over the years. In fact, I hate it. It was the single worst thing I experienced every year when coming or going to Interbike. To this day, I rue the thought of ever flying anywhere again. But that has nothing to do with Interbike, in particular. I say that just to point out that every year I knew I had to go to Vegas, a dread was on me until the trip was over.

Vegas itself, and more specifically, The Strip, was another dread of mine. "Soul sucking" is what I can best put down as the reason why. It just felt slimy and bad. Again- just me, but it was another downer for me. I didn't need more depressing circumstances, especially in 2009-2011. That era was absolutely awful in regard to "Twenty Nine Inches" and what we had to go through to keep that site going. But anyway, this is why I was not excited to go to Vegas with the exception of the first two years with TNI.

Air travel..... It was crazy post 9-11. The first Vegas trip was nothing, as far as the getting there. (Well, other than the exciting descent and hard landing!) But post 9-11 the security at McCarren was so brazenly bad tempered and mean it was down right despicable. I once saw an airline attendant berating foreigners because they couldn't understand the self check in procedure at the kiosk in front of baggage check in. They were South Americans that didn't speak English. It was just another example of the dehumanizing effects of Vegas and getting there. There was a lot more than that I could tell you....

In the latter years I always looked forward to seeing Grannygear at the airport. He would drive over from the LA area where he lived and meet me there. We had some issues with finding his car in the car garage a couple of times! But usually it went smoothly and we would get checked in, maybe grab a quick bite to eat, and hit the hay to get ready for the big Outdoor Demo ride on Monday.

Next: The Furnace

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 37

A sneak peek of a Rawland for and frame from ten years ago.
Ten years ago on the blog I was yakking about my impending trip to Interbike and all the leaked information ahead of the show. Of course, I was going to attend again and this time as an "official" person with "Twenty Nine Inches". This was still during the Tim Grahl era and I was going to be spending my time in the time share we used the year before for this trip.

The other thing that I also was talking about was the spectacular win by Jesse LaLonde on a single speed 29"er geared 36 X 17 in the Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 event. It caused quite a stir, not only due to the nature of his wheels, but because he did it with one gear. Jesse still rocks a single speed most times these days and still crushes out wins and top placings.

I guess one gear is really all you need!

There was one bittersweet bit of news I announced back then as well. It was this week ten years ago when Jeff Kerkove made it official that he was moving to Colorado. Of course, he was basically gone already, but this was a chapter closed with a bit of finality now. He moved permanently, and he wasn't going to come back. He has never left that state since then either.