Before were get into anything, I offer the following;
Not that jumping on someone else’s train is necessarily applicable to the bike industry as a whole, unless you see where it might be, in which case I’ll let you make that judgement.
From my perspective, it operates in a vacuum. It generates annually roughly the same dollar amount year after year, and based on this, seems to be run in a very formulaic fashion. Were the attendance numbers greater this year, or are more people buying bikes today than they were five days ago? I have no answers, but I get the idea that because it has plodded along as it has for so long, the idea of making any drastic changes is a risky one as best, and a potentially damaging one at worst. So as it is, it maintains the course, never varying too much, and maintaining the same one that it always has.
Whatever the case, I returned to the debacle in the desert to see what’s new, what’s old, and to document some of it with one eye closed.
Just like last year, as I trudged around in sorta-circles through the vastness of the show hall, my brain-meat recognized that while there were certainly some neat things to look at and lust over, above nearly everything else, the thing that matters most to me about the bike world are the people who are invested in it. So besides attempting to take photos of whatever new bell and whistle was premiered, (which the world has already seen on Bike Rumor anyway), I opted to simply document of some of what I came across that made a specific impression, regardless of the reason.
Wednesday we arrived to the show only to see a number of people who already looked like a war had been waged on their persons. My golden rule for trade shows has always to never go too big too soon, and have imparted that wisdom on anyone who would hear it. Unfortunately for a fair number of folks, that advice wasn’t heeded, and they were paying the price. So with everyone already engaging in the thousand yard stare, I headed into the show, only to get cut off at the pass by these three;
It’s not even 1:00 and the wheels have begun to come off.
Undaunted, and with a full belly, I continued my hunt for stuff, while actively avoiding eye contact with all who passed. However one person I didn’t purposefully avoid eye contact with, but only did due to vast differences in our respective heights was this guy. You know…. ‘Cause he’s tall and stuff;
Once inside the hall, which I’m convinced morphs like the Disneyland Haunted House making doors appear where before there were none and vice versa, always leaving me in a confounded state of being lost, I’m pretty sure I saw this;
I was pretty excited to go by the Twin Six booth to see what was cracking. There have been random teases happening with some frequency on the internets that they had some cool, metal things premiering at the show, and cool, metal things they indeed had in abundance;
Why, I do believe that those boys have launched themselves their own bike company.
From there, I continued on, and found this guy;
And saw first hand the new hotness that’s he’s been working endless hours to complete;
He may have made mention of what retail on these numbers are, but I must have forgotten, because the only digits that immediately jump out at me are 674-4677, which was my phone number when I was small.
Leaving Paul’s company, I found more people, and more stuff;
I like this image below here. This is Damon, and along with his collection of exotic snakes, he and I used to live together about ten or eleven years ago in a big storefront I’d renovated in Oakland. Technically I suppose we could have called his part of the flat ‘Zone D’.
Around this time, the day’s events were wrapping up and everyone was all a titter about Cross Vegas, which I’m still boycotting because of this. So my plan was to enjoy Cross Vegas, but from across Vegas. Can you dig it? It turns out a bunch of dicks showed up, threw beer on people, were then defended by some other dicks because ‘that’s how cross is in America‘ and ‘it’s a sign of respect‘, and now everybody is mad at everybody.
Let me be perfectly clear- I learned from some of the finest hecklers in this region’s history, and have been doing it for far longer than some of the aforementioned dicks have been riding bikes. Rule number one is to never, under any circumstances interfere with the race. You wanna throw beer on somebody? Throw beer on your friends at your local event. Or save it for a guy in an orange jumpsuit. Beyond that, if you don’t know the difference between a creative and funny heckle and a bald faced insult, keep for stupid mouth shut. It’s so painfully simple, yet clearly piles of people don’t get it.
And I should note… Screw anybody’s “well, I wouldn’t mind if someone threw a beer in my face” response. Say for example that someone who is racing is a recovering alcoholic. Say for example that they hate the smell. Say for example, that they just simply don’t want anything thrown on them. That’s all there is to it. In this regard, the whole ‘Keep Cross Weird‘ defense is total bullshit and a concept that was come up with people who just learned of its existence a couple of years ago.
As I said elsewhere- Heckling used to be sweet. Now it’s just amateur hour. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day or New Year’s Eve revelers have taken over an aspect of spectating that used to be solely populated by drunks who actually cared about racing. And that is the god’s honest fact.
I was interviewed by The Bicycle Story some years ago, and clarified the act in such a way I had hoped it might in some way assist in seeing the end of sideline nonsense, but clearly that’s not the case.
And for those who click on the The Bicycle Story piece and see this image, but don’t read any of the fine print, this is Brad;
He is one of the founders of the dfL, someone who we’ve been friends with for decades, someone we’ve raced bikes along side, someone we’ve stood by as he was pronounced dead of a brain aneurism, someone we’ve seen recover, have a kid, get married, and continue to live as a unique and amazing compatriot.
Rookies have taken over the heckle zone, and as one who has committed many, many years to the craft, I’m pretty tired of it.
Just one more reason to stay the hell away. When given the chance, people will always do their best to ruin everything cool.
So wrapping up day one, I met with an assortment of peeps, and headed off to a ridiculously fantastic meal, where I celebrated somebody’s 49th birthday, though it was most certainly not mine;
From there I wound up finding at least four hours of sleep somewhere, and one entirely ‘nother day of bikes, people, and of course Underbike, which we’ll detail in detail on Wednesday.