Vegas Baby. And Interbike. When I first started working at Dirt Rag back in June, the whispering of the plans for Interbike 2007 was just beginning. I had naively assumed that the new girl would stay behind and mind the store. As it turns out, everyone goes to Interbike. I admit that I was feeling nervous about the whole experience. In my career as a graphic artist, I had often prepared materials and merchandise for office personnel going to conferences, but I had never been a representative at one. Rumors about Vegas alone are enough to make a person twitchy.
Looking back at the first two days Iâ€™d have to say I didnâ€™t try nearly enough bikes out at the Outdoor Demo. One of the ones I did get an opportunity to hop on was a Spot singlespeed featuring the new belt drive. You can read plenty of technical information concerning the pros and cons of this system, but I find that most of the cons are related to it being new technology and that as itâ€™s further developed, these issues will fall by the wayside. I hope thatâ€™s the case, because I was really surprised by the efficiency of this system. I admit to being skeptical about hopping on a singlespeed to work my way up the grade to the trailhead, but I have to say that I did as well as on my geared bike (which surprised me to no end).
We really lucked out with the weather this year. The sun and sky were incredibly clear and crisp, but an unlooked-for breeze kept temperatures in the tolerable level for both days of Outdoor Demo. This is also my first trip to the desert. (I was born in Flagstaff, AZ, but we moved to Denver when I was two.) I would have dearly loved to spend more time there just looking around. Vegetation was sparse and even bugs seemed in modest quantities, but I think this emptiness and bareness of red rock and chalky tan boulders against the empty sky is beautiful. The vastness even seemed to muffle the frantic pace of Dirt Demo (or maybe that was the excessive dust).
Returning to Vegas proper was a decent from the ruggedness and bleak beauty of the desert that mountain bikers love to the urban sprawl that has chewed up and converted the desert into green lawns, astro turf and palms. What a strange little town Vegas is. The streets are so clean itâ€™s disturbing. The gross underbelly lurks in the porn stands and casinos.
As for Vegas, I can make two observations: Each morning I walked down the strip to the Sands Expo and marveled at all the gaudy fakeness that oozed from the institutions. They reminded me of cleverly disguised traps luring the passersby in. More than once I found myself humming the refrain to Hotel California. I do have to admit that a secret part of me thought it was all kind of fun. The trappings and the make believe can really be a great escape. But I am also obligated to point out the one bleak part of this whole trip. On this same street, that in the day was fun and games, in the evening I saw a pretty young woman staggering down the street, hardly able to stay upright. Her state of mind was in total contrast with her lovely white dress and dolled-up makeup and hair. As our van drove by I noticed nobody acknowledged her presence. I canâ€™t imagine the ending was good. I think that this image lingered with me even as I got down to business and the fun of Interbike.
My mission for the rest of the week was simple: walk every inch of the Sands Expo and look at as many bikes as possible. Since coming on board Dirt Rag, Iâ€™ve started contemplating my next bike purchase which, as it turns out, will also be and my first mountain bike. (Currently, I borrow what happens to be lying around here at the office.) With so many options to choose from, after awhile I feel my eyes glazing over. Of some options Iâ€™d seen online doing research, a number were on display at InterBike. Konaâ€™s Lanaâ€™i? Raleighâ€™s Mojave 4.5? Fisher Tarpon? Or a Specialized Rockhopper to match my husbandâ€™s? Or one of those cool Mykas in spanky red finish, engineered specifically for women riders?
Another great part of these final days of the week was the steady stream of new faces and people I met. So many readers stopped by the booth to say hello it certainly made me feel proud of this company Iâ€™m a part of. As my gang of well-entrenched Dirt Rag colleagues introduced me to friends and contacts, I was struck by the richness of this industry. Coming from a tense frantic ugly corporate world, it was refreshing and invigorating to meet such honest and real people including Robert Studdiford (part of the TWOFISH clan) and Bruce Gordon from Bruce Gordon Cycles. Bruce graciously and without complaint crawled/squished into the back of the Dirt Rag van and accompanied us to a sushi dinner Friday evening.
Before dinner on Friday, Thanita introduced me to folks at the Outdoor Industries Womenâ€™s Collation at their 2007 Pioneering Woman and First Ascent Award ceremony in the lower room of the Sands. Itâ€™s somewhat overwhelming to see so many avenues and opportunities to express and grow. Itâ€™s exciting too and I canâ€™t wait to see how things progress in the coming year.