Las Vegas, October 3, 2006
Greetings cyclingnews.com readers,
It is that time of year again when the manufacturers of all that is bicycle converge on Las Vegas to entice the retail world to buy plenty of the latest toys, so that you will have those vital pieces of bike lust under glass in your local shop. It seems that a majority of the attendees of the show are either in the buying or selling category, but for me and a handful of others, the show represents the best opportunity all year to get some face time with the people that keep the racing world afloat. Here is how it went for me:
Living only an hour plane ride from Las Vegas I opted to fly in Wednesday morning attend the indoor show for two days and fly home on Thursday night. I can't say that I missed the outdoor show, as in 2003 and 2004 I worked the outdoor show prepping bikes for demo rides. Two days in a row of eight hours each, plenty of dust and non-stop work. By the time I got to the indoor part of the show I was wasted. This year I hit the floor fresh on Wednesday morning with what looked to be the largest crowd of show goers yet at Interbike to see the new toys. First up for me was thanking those sponsors who I worked with at Ford Cycling this year. It was much nicer to speak to people to just say 'thanks' rather than asking for more stuff. I have been fortunate this year to have a great set of people to work with at various companies that have made my life easier, answered my last minute requests, shipped stuff overnight to hotels, etc.. It was particularly nice to spend some time with Dan Weatherford at Squadra (our 2006 clothing supplier), Matt McClendon of Kenda (our tire sponsor) and Duncan Benning (our inflation sponsor) of Genuine Innovations just talking about the highs and lows of the season from my end.
Wednesday was really busy all over the place inside the show and I wasn't surprised to see the free beer flowing at some of the booths by 3:00pm. I walked by the Gita booth at one point and Dan Schmatz and Pete Lopinto of KodakGallery.com/Sierra Nevada team were sitting next to Eddy Merckx at a table signing posters and autographs. There was a line that stretched around the booth; the problem was 99% of the line was there to get Eddy's signature and the KGSN boys were looking lonely with their stack of team posters. All hail the King.
Before departing the show on Wednesday, it was very important that I secure a pass to the Sinclair party that night. This annual event staged by Sinclair Imports (US distributors of Ridley, Carnac, etc) is the highlight of parties at the show. The invitation-only party was to be held at the VooDoo club in the Rio hotel this year and it did not disappoint. The VooDoo was a two-storey, outdoor bar on top of the hotel with amazing views of the Vegas skyline. Throw in some alcohol, dancing girls, bumping techno music, Mario Cipollini and Magnus Backstedt, and just the right temperatures to make outdoor partying a go and you have the marquee event of the trade show. For the record, I voted for 'Miss FSA'.
After a short night of sleep, I hit the Shimano Tech seminar at 8:00am on Thursday. Day two of the show was much less hectic than day one. I had more time to look around at new parts and such. Given my general survey of the new bits on offer, here are my top three picks for new toys:
Shimano road and mountain shoes: the new top end models of shoes from Shimano feature a new carbon sole, custom fitting inners that are heat moldable, and new graphics. The shoes looked killer and the new changes to the soles and inners should make them fit even better. And they are lighter than last year's models. These were really cool; top marks.
Bruce Gordon cantilever brakes: over in one corner, mixed in with King Cage was Bruce Gordon with a new cantilever brake that comes in aluminum or Ti. Now, I know that canti brakes have been around for longer than I have, but these low profile brakes were the most beautiful rendition of canti brakes that I have ever seen. Fully adjustable spring tension, graceful lines and flawless function made me lust for a couple of pairs for my cross bike.
Time VXRS Pro Team bike: Time was showing a new white with blue and red VXRS 'Pro Team' version of their all-carbon bike. This featherweight, with integrated seatmast, was the best looking frame that I have seen from Time. It is hard to beat the winning pedigree of this company, as it supplies bikes to the 2005 and 2006 world champions, but this new paint scheme on the VXRS really stood out.
So, 40 hours in Vegas, about 18 miles of walking at the show and another year of 'thank yous' spread around. For me the 'face time' I got with sponsors in Vegas was invaluable; I was able to thank people and discuss this past year as well as lay the foundation for next year. The new stuff that I saw should be trickling into your local shop for the rest of the fall and winter. As for me, I am still waiting to nail down the specifics for 2007 as we go further into the fall. The time I spent in Vegas should go a long way clearing the path for 2007. The next month should hold the answers and the decisions should fall, I will keep you updated.