I would say that Vegas is a joke as soon as you land, but this year it began before I even departed ATL. I watched a TSA security officer place one of my bike pedals up to his eye as though he intended to use it as a miniature spyglass on the deck of a sailing ship.
“Any lubricants on this thing that I need to know about?” he asked. What does this gentleman think I am doing with my bike pedals?
The joy of air travel continued in the air thanks to Delta’s casual attitude toward adding value. Our 757 was not equipped with the air vents known in airline parlance as “gaspers.” Those little nozzles you expect to see above your seat that you can use to direct air at your slightly tacky and reddened face? Gaspers. And we had none.
I turned the bezel on the lights pictured below, hoping that they might somehow produce a stream of air in addition to light. Nope.
Delta have removed everything that used to be included with air travel and are cranking up the prices on the shriveled simulacrum. It’s like selling a slice of beef so thin you couldn’t even use it as sunglasses and calling it a pastrami on rye.
On the Ground
We were obliged to take a cab even though the Mandalay Bay convention center is directly across the street from the airport. Las Vegas knows its customer America, and there’s nothing America wants to do less than walk somewhere, except, possibly, for “learn something.”
As the cab driver zoomed onto the Interstate, he mumbled “Miniva tay ginnerstate?” to which my traveling companion and publisher Jeff responded, “Huh?” and then, “Uh, yeah whatever.” Looking at a map now, I realize the cab driver did this because it’s over twice as far as taking the surface streets: 6.7 miles via interstate versus 2.5 for the streets.
Ah, fabulous Las Vegas. But at least there would be bicycles.
I love Interbike
Interbike is just the best. So much of our lives, as cyclists, is spent being maligned or marginalized, it’s good to be around our own peculiar kind. And the show floor is massive, cavernous, gargantuan. Everything that anyone could possibly consider to be bicycle related is there.
For me, the fun started at Outdoor Demo. I rode a bunch of bikes in the desert. Links go to Singletracks.com under whose aegis I Interbiked:
- The Great Wizardry of the Fuji Auric One.1
- Turning Lead into Gold on the Alchemy Oros
- Honk honk it’s the Reeb Donkadonk
- The Pivot Mach 429 trail (not yet published as of this writing)
In the media tent, a gentleman handed me a blue flag to affix to my show credentials. Though the show pass identified me as “Working Media,” the blue flag said “MEDIA” even louder. And it was pale robin egg blue. I put it on the bottom of my pass and felt quite distinguished.
When my colleagues from Singletracks, Publisher Jeff, Editor Greg, and Aaron Aaron, laid eyes on my credentials festooned with pale robin egg blue “MEDIA” flag, they became wild with jealousy, and rightly so. They demanded to know where I’d gotten mine. Reluctantly, I shared information with them on how to get a “MEDIA” flag: ask the older gentleman yonder.
But I had the last laugh on the “MEDIA” flag score, damn their hides.
Whatcha know bout these three media flags and two lanyards, fools? Not one iota, that’s what.
The Show Proper
On the show floor I saw many wonders. This is Bradley Wiggins’s hour record track bike — also known as “Wiggo’s Rig-o” — which he rode to Jens Voigt’s house, shouting obscene taunts and making rude gestures all the while.
I also wore a pair of rechargeable electric sunglasses that change how dark they are with the push of a button. They reminded me of the “Peril Sensitive Sunglasses” from Douglas Adams’s Restaurant at the End of the Universe:
The Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. They work by turning completely dark at the first sign of danger, thus preventing you from seeing anything that might alarm you.
I mentioned the reference above to the gentleman who demonstrated the glasses for me and he said “Mm!”
The Restaurant at the Middle of the Show Floor
I have been logging all the food I eat as a health management initiative. I also remind myself daily that gravy is not a beverage. Along these lines, I made a personal vow not to hover around the Clif Bar booth gobbling up the free food.
But then I got behind, and only had a few minutes for lunch, so I ended up there anyway. The booth employees were nice about it. One gentleman agreed to pretend I was only just coming by for the first time.
Sadly, though, there were also heartbreaks at Interbike. I have been tracking the movements of the LOOK bicycling company from France and their mountainous offerings in hopes of getting to ride one of their bikes. But they don’t seem to make bikes in Large and I cannot possibly ride a Medium with these long graceful stems of mine.
I guess it was not meant to be, LOOK 927. Je t’aime!
There were also many peculiarities, like this bike’s handlebars, which appear to be reacting in fright to something they’ve just witnessed in the front tire area of the bike to which they’re affixed. There is no need to be upset, handlebars.
And then there was this saddle, which I presume is being stress tested for the volume of butt sweat a full sized human such as myself can produce. They need to crank it up a bit if they want to get on my level, though. A fire hose should do it.
All in all, I loved Interbike. Las Vegas I can take or leave, but as long as they’ve got a massive indoor area packed pedal-to-chainstay with bikes, I’m willing to overlook its eccentricities. After all, I have a few of my own.