Though after what I estimated at being over two decades of attending Interbike, I might be in the latter camp.
Upon my first moments of the first day of entering the expo area, my head began to spin. I was lost immediately (again, and for the first of what would be dozens of times), and having gone from a quiet morning with a friend, and enjoying a nice breakfast, I was suddenly neck-deep in the “hey, how ya doing(s)?“, “are you having a good show(s)?” while desperately trying to remember who the hell it was I was speaking with at the time.
I look at it as a social transition, and for whatever reason, this year I was wholly unable to make it. So there I was after having hustled from my room to registration (the distance between the two being approximately twenty-five miles), standing alone, sweating my balls off, wondering where the hell I was, why the hell I was there to begin with, when and old friend and current Giro Cycling employee named Scott appeared and we began chatting. I let him know almost immediately and in no uncertain terms that I really didn’t want to be there, and that I was having what, for all intents and purposes, was a total melt down.
So we sat down, and he kinda walked me through it with a simple conversation. I asked him about his new(ish) baby girl, and told me about how she arrived on the scene two months early. He described her as being the size of the biggest burrito you could buy, and how she spent all of her initial time on earth in an incubator. We discussed how she was doing now, (she’s real good, and much bigger than a burrito), as well as other actual, real life stuff. At the conclusion of a fifteen to twenty minute exchange, I was good, and realized all I needed to get my footing, and transition into the swirling chaos of bright lights, high fives, and banal chitchat was at least one real conversation.
I thanked him for saving my life, took a photo of his mug, and got started with my day;
Now, for those who have not attended the show in its new venue at the Mandalay Bay before, let me describe it to you thusly- It’s as if every half hour, every time you blink, the room is rearranged. Every time you leave one exit, and enter somewhere else, the room is rearranged. Finally, every time you step into a bathroom to take a leak, and reemerge into the hall, the room is rearranged.
I don’t know if it’s me, or if everyone feels this way, but I am absolutely confounded every time I try to make my way around the confines of the show, resulting in me finding one corner on which to desperately cling, and hope eventually someone will come by with a can of beer. It’s not the most ideal plan, but it’s all I’ve got working for me so far.
As I’ve said the last number of years, for me personally, the show has also become increasingly less about what is actually on display, than it is crossing paths with those who I rarely get to. Likewise, as has occurred in the past, I wind up with a photo dump consisting of 80% smiling faces, and then maybe 20% of shiny bits, most of which will eventually be proudly presented in the midst of a group ride, or conversely, stolen, and divvied out in a back alley chop shop or splayed across the floor in a tweaker’s living room.
Upon glancing across the selection, it also occurs to me that in years past, there has always been the booth to which the proverbial marbles always generally gravitated to. For years and years it was the Swobo booth. Then it was the Surly booth. Then it was the Paul Component booth. But since none of those companies were present in that capacity, the aforementioned marbles had nowhere to roll.
In light of this, I spent a fair amount of time tucked into a corner behind Giro, so if it seems as though a number of photos were either shot there or at least nearby, it’s because they were.
So in no particular order, what follows is a brief menagerie of what I saw upon my first day at the big show;
The people manning this booth asked me if I’d like to give it a try, and I said no, but thank you. And that I already look like enough of an asshole;
Here is that Fall Guy inspired bike Sally and I schemed together on just before his departure from Raleigh;
Seeing that, and not having one in my basement will forever be bittersweet.
Traveling on I saw these and them;
Never ones to let the opportunity to dress up as historically significant partners pass them by, The Banjo Brothers pulled out all the stops and came correct with a full blown tribute to two of cinema’s greats.
Moving on, I moved on move-oningly;
After a time spent both lurking and lounging, because I felt a hankering for a snack, I went by to see the folks at Gu Energy. It was there I sat down with another individual I rarely see who goes by the name Dave Wiens.
I didn’t take a photo of him, but found one on the internet from his modeling portfolio;
We talked about bikes, first jobs, people we have in common, growing up in Colorado, and eventually I came to find out that he ran the skateboard department of a ski shop in Denver back in the mid 80s called Sports International. As chance would have it, when I was in 9th grade, we had a program called ‘job for a day’ in which the students go and spend a day immersed in some vocation or another. After a bit of discussion on the matter, it turns out (if memory serves), I actually spent the day hanging out in the shop with none other than Dave himself.
We parted ways with a handshake and a hug, and then went off to handle whatever business was next on deck.
I had a 4:00 appointment to go spin a selection of prized 7″ records from my collection at the HiFi Components booth, and with only about an hour to spare I reckoned I needed to get cooking so as to allow at least forty-five minutes to get hopelessly lost. As I headed in what I guessed to be the right direction, I passed by the SE Racing booth and saw on a chalkboard that there was a 1:00 autograph signing scheduled with Stu Thompsen and Mike Buff.
I stood and stared at the sign, in complete disbelief that I’d missed it, when I looked around the corner and saw who can only be described as two of my three all time greatest childhood heroes;
(The third of course being Lee ‘Colt Seavers’ Majors);
I walked up to them and stammered by way through an introduction, gushing like a goddamned tween;
Very kindly they, along with SE impressario Todd Lyons signed a set of hero cards for me, thereby making 2016 the best Interbike on my books;
With sunshine under my feet, I floated over to the HiFi booth;
-And got cracking with the bringing of the noise;
With two hours to burn, we stood around, chatted with friends, drank beer, and listened to music while waiting for the curtain to fall.
Day one was in the books, and though I entered the show like a loser, upon my exit I proudly wore the smile of a winner.
Come back through on Wednesday for the conclusion of the show report, and see if the streak maintained, or if I ultimately boarded my flight home with nothing but the clothes on my back, and the fear and loathing in my heart.