Las Vegas is, as everyone knows, very full of sex, strippers, casinos, and buffets.
And for one week in late September, bicycles.
I want to analogize Interbike to sex or strippers, really, I do. But entering into the Sands Convention Center and finding yourself surrounded by fellow bike nerds in t-shirts, shorts, and Tevas is actually not that sexy. The harsh fluorescent light - unlike the dimly lit casinos that seem to whisper and hint at lucky fortunes to be made - kills any sense of mystique. Interbike is not really sexy or enigmatic.
But it is kind of like a Las Vegas buffet.
The spread of booths sprawled under glowing lights, offering a different little something to the people that pass by, is, at first, incredibly overwhelming. And like that initial pause when presented with a plate and 30 different kinds of food, I had no idea where to start. So for the first five minutes I was there, I did the equivalent of gripping my plate to my chest and standing there. And gaping.
Just holding the multi-page map booklet was a little much. I probably would have been paralyzed by confusion if not for the realization that I had to keep pace with Interbike-veteran friends or risk losing them for the rest of the day. It took about 10 minutes for me to dig out my camera and finally start taking pictures. I had no idea what I was doing there.
But I dove in anyway, sampling this and that, peeking and peering into booths and even going so far as to touch an unaffordable bicycle or two. Self-consciousness slowly slipped away and energy boosted by some Clif Shot Roks [the peanut butter ones are incredibly yummy], I was feeling shameless enough to squeal and coo excitedly over Phil Wood's display of cogs, hubs, and bottom brackets. Days later, I'm still trying to digest how incredibly cute their 12T cog is [half of me is attempting to convince the other half that a 46/12 gearing is perfectly reasonable].
And then there were the bicycles. Single-speed Pinarellos, jaw-dropping Pegorettis, latte-like Bianchis, and candy-apple red De Rosas. Colnagos of every shape and size. Monochromatic Kuotas [Floyd Landis included!]. And an eye-popping Geekhouse 'cross bike.
Mixed in between gluttonous inhalations of everything bike, friends were also sought out. Tracking down Jason at the Shimano booth, we managed to bump into James who emptied the contents of his pockets into my eager hands [more on that later] before winding our way to where Marty was hanging out. And as far as I could tell, we were all shamelessly indulging in everything Interbike had to offer.
But like the curse of buffets, Interbike can really only be fully appreciated in hindsight. Even with two full days in Vegas, I jetted away towards my colder city on Friday with lingering thoughts of "Man, I wish I had spent more time at..." and "Crap, I forgot to go to..."
Until next year, maybe. And while I'll miss it in the interim, I'm slightly grateful for the year-long wait. Because like the buffet I shamelessly ate on Wednesday night, it's going to take a little while to fully recover from Interbike.
[Pictures here...and more on Interbike later...]