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


FarleyBob said...

I'm really enjoying your Interbike series! So how long did WTB wait to officially introduce this mystery tire after Interbike? and what tire was it?

Skidmark said...

Would you have any more info on the bike pictured above the "Bikes, bikes, and more bikes" caption? Bruce Gordon RockandRoad style?

Ride Alongside said...

What WTB tire model did that end up becoming?

Guitar Ted said...

@Robert Hintgen, @Nick Jansen- That was the WTB Kodak, I believe. That tire kind of became exclusive to Niner Bikes probably about six months later Interestingly enough, most testers of the Kodak did not like it and the design was going to be discarded for what became the WTB Dissent, a much better tread design. I happen to have examples of both of those.

Guitar Ted said...

@Skidmark- That's a Velo Orange Campuer.

Guitar Ted said...

In my comment to Robert and Nick, that should read "Kodiak".