Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vayg-ass: A brief (but not brief enough) word on the why.

Looking at other people's photosets of INTERBIKE... and then looking at thing becomes glaringly apparent: There are very few actual bikes in my photos.
Almost none, in fact. Sure... I took a few shots of the bikes in the Fairwheels booth. And of the cranks on the bikes. (Why? I'm still not sure. But for the sake of sake, I included them in my facebook album. Just to show that I saw some things outside of the 10 people who keep appearing in my pictures.)

And I guess the fact is that I really don't go to INTERBIKE for the bikes.
I know that there's a huge contingent of people who think that's the stupidest thing they've ever heard. But I sincerely mean it. (And I know that they do too.)

The most common question asked of me by various folks was, without a doubt, "So... what have you seen that's cool?" Or "What's exciting this year?"
And the answer, sadly, is.... nothing.
Definitely not this, fun as it might be.
Photo cred: Jeff Thrasher.

And definitely not this, awesome TRON graphics aside.
photo cred: Dale Brown

I mean.... don't get me wrong. There were some really cool bikes and some amazing tech out there. And getting to put your hands on it, or at least your eyeballs (except for that one bike, that totally got another kind of balls on it... if you know what I mean. You don't? Me neither. But yeah... it did... totally) is great. And a lot of my companies had some awesome shit out there.
But still..... I don't go to INTERBIKE for the bikes.
I go for the people.
On the business side, I get to put a face to the myriad of different folks that I talk to on a daily basis. And putting that face to it, and in most cases having a beer or sharing a ridiculous story, it makes our future transactions and business together more personal and enjoyable.
And on the sort-of-business side, I get to see the many and varied friends I have in this mess of an industry. They range from all over. Some are sales-reps, some are sales-managers, some are bloggers, some are racers, some are shop owners, some are journalists, and some... I have no clue just what it is they do or how they even got in to the show. And every year, I look forward to high-fiving and reconnecting.

But most importantly... I go to INTERBIKE to get out of the vaccuum of my market and get re-excited about the industry and about bikes in general. Because it's very easy to get jaded and bitter, frustrated and bored, just all around bummed about what's happening in your own neck of the woods. And seeing bike people from all over. And not just a ton... but a fuck-ton... it makes you realize that there's more going on than your scene. And a lot of it is rad. Sure... there's some neat-o product, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about shops in other cities that inspire me to up my game.  I'm talking about cohesive groups of people who are doing amazing things in their communities. I'm talking about people with energy and charisma and ideas.
And not ideas on how to better "grow my sales" or "maximize my profits." Not bad ideas, mind you. But we've been over this before.... at the core of it, that's not why I have a shop.

And by this time of the year, so much of the time, I've honestly often forgotten why I do have a shop.
I go to INTERBIKE to remember.

Once again.... I'm sure there are tons of people out there shaking their heads at me.

Don't get me wrong. I hate Vegas. Despise. Looooaaaattthhhhhe it.
And yet...
It is such a massive disconnect for far removed from any place I'd ever go, that there's a part of me that really enjoys it.
For one... it's cheap. A week in a decent hotel room here in Greensboro, NC costs more than my plane ticket and decent hotel in Vegas cost this go round. Seriously. And your hotel in Vegas is going to be totally fucking nuts. Last year, I was walking through the hotel talking to Milo-the-boy on the phone, and a shadow passed over me. When I looked up, I saw an entire trapeze act going on right above my head.
My hotel this year looked like a fucking castle.

Sure... food can be expensive. (But just be a VIP like me and they'll give you food vouchers for free. (I'll tell you why I'm a VIP another time.))
And no...I don't gamble. In all the years I've been going, I've never once touched a slot machine. I don't even know what they are, honestly. If it was one of those old lever style things, I might be tempted to try it, but as is, I take a cursory look at them as I walk through the casino to whatever destination I'm locked on and say, "Yep... I do not have the patience or interest to even bother puzzling this out."
Shows... strippers... prostitutes delivered straight to your room.... These things just aren't on my map. And so, I'm sure at some level, I'm missing the "quintessential Vegas experience." But I've also never broken a limb, outside of knuckles and toes, and I'm told that this is a "quintessential life experience."
I'll sit these things out, if you don't mind.
The point is, that while I would never vacation in Vegas.... Ever....I'll sure as shit attend a bicycle trade show there.
All of these people converging on a raging shit-show of a city that they all (for the most part) have absolutely no interest in going to makes for a very interesting time.

I was asked a number of times what I hoped to gain from going to INTERBIKE.... and wouldn't it be better to put that time and energy (and money) into the shop (and as one rep pushed and pushed, into some big purchases from his company)... and well, maybe.

But I came back with perspective and enthusiasm that I just flat out didn't have when I flew out to Vegas. And to me.... that's worth it.

Next up: The actual story.


  1. See... this is good stuff. And it's an angle/ perspective that I frequently fail to remember when ranting about the show. I often forget that it isn't just "business" that gets done at the show, but advocacy and other support/ community work is getting done too. I fully agree with the awesometasticness of the face to face time as well. It's a big part of it for me too- it's the reunion of the tribe every year (I enjoy our yearly high-five). But it is the community/ advocacy element that I think is often overlooked by many- myself included, obviously.

    Interbike is a lot more than just a showcase for product and a chance for me to empty your wallet. I just hope we can find a way- as a collective industry- to make Interbike more meaningful and less of a burden. It's very expensive as a brand, and the return is not keeping pace with the expense. There are bugs to be worked out... and I sincerely hope that we do.