Issue 05: Moments from My First Interbike

By Shawn Michael O’Keefe

The longest line is the line to meet Tom Boonen.

Tuesday, September 17

9:01 pm – I find myself sitting next to a 15-year-old girl and her family on the flight to Vegas. I can only guess what most teenage girls do with their time – but this young lady eats, sleeps and breathes bicycle racing. The plane hasn’t even reached its cruising altitude, and I’m already engrossed in great conversation with her dad about horrific bicycle crashes. The Interbike experience begins much earlier than expected.

11:04 pm – I have a good laugh at the “Stop and Think Before You Tweet” banner at the airport, as well as the unusual number of folks at baggage claim sporting Rudy Project or Mission Workshop bags. Cyclists are indeed invading this town.

11:14 pm – I realize it’s 1:14 am back home in Austin, Texas. I’m fairly certain that I’m going to miss out on the party at Tern Bicycles HQ Vegas. As in any race, I must pace myself.

12:24 pm – Sleepytime.

12:27 pm – Just as my head hits the pillow, a friend texts me about needing some quiet and a place to crash. We’ll just call him “Byron” to protect his identity. Good thing I was upgraded to a suite and have a couch. Anything for a fellow bike racer.

Wednesday, September 18

11:10 am – Good lord. This is the largest trade show I have ever witnessed in my 13-year career in the events industry. (Las Vegas hosts over 22,000 events a year.) The size is both good and bad. Good in that it is a never-ending array of new products and gear. Bad in that it is complete cognitive overload. Much like exposing yourself to radiation, it’s best to experience the show floor in a succession of short bursts.

12:41 pm – I spy George Hincapie at the Snack Bar buying a sandwich.

1:04 pm – It’s very apparent there are two kinds of companies in the bike industry. Those who are truly innovating, and those who are simply rebranding and reselling the work of others.

1:15 pm – Within the first two hours of wandering the vast show floor, I’ve met Greg Lemond, George Hincapie, and Fausto Pinarello.

3:26 pm – One of the sexier pieces of gear I come across is the new Brooks Cambium Saddle, made from “vulcanized natural rubber and organic cotton enhanced by a thin layer of structural textile for added resilience.”

5:50 pm – While rushing to catch a ride to the Cross Vegas course, I have a “Spinal Tap” moment and actually get lost in the casino.

6:37 pm – With numerous flyovers and grassy uphills, it hurts just to look at the Cross Vegas course.

7:11 pm – Of course Elvis is singing “God Bless America.”

8:21 pm – I drink beer from a can for the first time in my life. I am 38 years old.

8:34 pm – Thanks to some Texas-sized hospitality from a Chicagoan and an Aussie, the Knog tent becomes my home away from home.

9:31 pm – This. Racing. Is. Unbelievable. Byron is out there too.

10:26 pm – Don’t ever bet against a Belgian winning a cyclocross race. Or any race for that matter.

10:47 pm – I catch the last shuttle bus back to the hotel. Two young rabble rousers are getting the bus driver to talk in weird voices on the loudspeaker. Uncomfortable laughter is elicited from everyone.

10:51 pm – After seeing all that Cross Vegas has to offer, I wonder what the hell I am doing racing crits.

Thursday, September 19

11:17 pm – By now, everyone here knows they owe Greg Lemond a goddamn apology.

1:47 pm – Finding a booth that you have previously found (even numerous times) is not easy. I find myself consulting the exhibitor map over and over again.

2:37 pm – The longest line is the line to meet Tom Boonen.

7:03 pm – I shoot a couple of Vine videos while on the Mobile Social, Bike Hugger and Tern’s annual cruise up The Strip. (Yes Mom, I’m wearing my helmet.) It’s a perfect evening for a ride, and everyone is having a fabulous time as we pass tattoo shops, massage parlors and little churches for drive-thru weddings.

8:36 pm – The Mobile Social winds up at the Downtown Cocktail Room in Fremont East, the area being developed into a hub of tech and creativity by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. I’d read much about these efforts and the Downtown Project, but I must admit that seeing the burgeoning community firsthand is quite inspiring.

11:20 pm – I catch a ride back to the hotel on the Boo Bicycles bus. (Boo is the company that makes intriguing frames out of bamboo.) There is a young man passed out in a panda costume next to me. Enough said.

Friday, September 20

10:00 am – The final day of the show is referred to as “Consumer Day,” as the general public is allowed into the exhibit halls for the first time. After talking with various vendors, most express how important this day is for positioning their product with the public. Many industry folks are already heading home.

9:12 pm – I’m sitting alone at the hotel bar. A smooth jazz band is playing nearby. This definitely calls for another drink.

9:40 pm – I walk upstairs to my room, and then proceed to spill a drink on myself. I feel compelled to order the movie Oblivion starring Tom Cruise.

9:42 pm – Yeah. I’ll definitely be back next year.

Ed. note: We brought event producer and recreational road racer, Shawn Michael O’Keefe, to Interbike for the very first time. Above are glimpses into his inaugural experience. Find more of his ramblings at shawnokeefe.com and rockthatfont.com.


Ed. note: After a good run of 42 issues, our magazine app is no
longer available, but we’ve archived
the
content here on our blog.


Also published on Medium.