Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Enterbike.... Exitlife

Yes, the title is a crappy parody of a crappy line from a crappy song from crappy band (written by a crappy writer.) So good.
(And yeah.... I called Metallica crappy.)
Recently, I forwarded a video of Dee Dee Ramone rapping to Stevil. True to form, instead of commenting directly on content, he asked if I'd seen the Metallica movie advertisement that preceded his viewing of the clip. I had not, as the advertisement I'd gotten was a three minute long car commercial starring Claire Danes. (Which, I admittedly watched, because Claire Danes is pretty much my only Hollywood Crush.)
I guess that's what happens when you google  "claire danes naked" enough times.
(Nooo...I totally kid you.... Kind of.)
I told him that I hadn't seen it yet, (I have now and wtf? Really.... wtf?)... but that I had really mixed feelings about Metallica. I likened them to Suicidal Tendencies, who for me, had started off so promising... only to become a stale cartoon. I listened to them.... but wasn't necessarily proud of it.
Which led us to this.
Which led us to the entire funk revival that anyone of our generation couldn't help but bear witness to.
Which led to admissions of our own complicity in said funk.
And while all of you undoubtedly have at least one Red Hot Chili Peppers album boning up your closet, some of you out there might have the dubious honor of owning titles by bands like The Sex Police, Fungo Mungo, Mindfunk (fronted bizarrely enough by Pat Dubar, from old straight-edge hardcore legends Uniform Choice),The Limbomaniacs, or local boys Johnny Quest. Though hopefully none of you, unlike myself, owned anything by a band called Sweet Lizard Illtet. (the horror... the horror.)
There was a point to this story, but for the life of me, I can't remember it.
So, now to that other "story."

The old man at the ticket booth and I were not communicating effectively. And by that, I mean that he was an idiot and honestly, should not be responsible for checking people in. I'm sure there are a number of other shoes he can fill with United, but that just isn't one of them.
"It's a bike.....a bicycle. Look....No....There's a flat rate for that. No.... you don't charge the bicycle fee, plus the oversized luggage fee, plus the overweight luggage fee. It's all one fee. Bike. Bicycle."
A coworker yelled from a few aisles over, "You type it in as bicycle, Frank!"
He looked over his spectacles and finger pecked something in.
"Hmmm.... See... No....That's not it. Look, It's $100 even for a bicycle. That's all. Bicycle."
More typing.
"Bicycle, Frank!" his coworker yelled.


Eventually it was kind of sort of sorted out...
But I was starting to second guess bringing the bike.

I mean.... why was I hauling this thing out there? It's not like I was bringing a cross bike to race CROSS VEGAS (next year... Totally.), which would have made sense.
Instead I was bringing my Handsome Cycles/All Hail the Black Market collabo Shop Bike.
It's the dark magic what keeps it standing.

I mean... It seemed like a great idea (until I started packing it up). And without a doubt, it would be a kick-ass bike to putz around Vegas.

In years past I'd walked everywhere, and as I'd stayed where the deals were (meaning wayyyy far away), by the end of the week, I'm usually pretty toasted from walking a few miles to and from the venue, plus the however many miles I end up walking inside the show. A bike seemed like a capital idea. Plus I wanted something to do All City's Bandit Cross and ride my solo ass out to Underbike.
Plus... it would just be fucking fun.
But... it's kind of a chore to haul it around. Even in Chthulehu. And the shop bike isn't quite a featherweight racing machine.
 And for some reason, I was already hauling a ton o' shit out there.
For the record, writing Cthulhu on your luggage will never endear you to the TSA. 

Anyway..... A wee bit of plane drama later, involving delays and a last minute change to Delta, and some slammed beers in some airport sports bar, and I was in the land of horrible dreams.
I crawled in my bed overlooking not-so-shiny castle towers of my hotel and slept the sleep of the sleepy.

This year the show had moved from the Sands Convention Center to Mandalay Bay.
I was less than ambivalent about the change, but it did mean that I would have to alter some of my routines of old. In years past, I would always wake up early and make my way to Denny's, (or if I was feeling uber-boojie, to Paris,)  where I would eat breakfast outside, sip bad (or good) coffee, watch people and scribble thoughts and nonsense. Then I would proceed to the show, walking along the strip and enjoying the warm desert air, tainted as it was by the Vegas sights and scents.

I was unsure how this year would play out, but figured I'd find something that worked... and riding my bike along the strip in the morning sounded nice.

Instead, I found myself funneled into an interminable indoor shuffle. Even though I was three hotels away, as I followed the obvious industry people toward the show, we never once poked our heads outside during this exodus from hotel to showfloor.

It was depressing... like much of Vegas.

It was like being in the future.... where the surface air is too toxic to breathe and we move about in massive underground cityscapes.
My first and most prevalent thought was, "when the shit hits the fan and society collapses, what the fuck is this place going to look like?"

The casinos are all laid out in an obvious (and obviously successful) attempt to confound and entrap the masses. There is no walking straight through. And trying to follow signage doesn't help much either.
During the long walk to the show, you'd transition from hotel lobby to shopping mall to casino multiple times, often losing track of which one you were in. They all look the same. Dark, with ancient carpet. Each one full of the same stupid games...Ones that bring misery and death instead of fun.
There are no healthy people sitting at these machines.

Walking through the casinos at 7:30am, there are still tons of people seated at the bars, drinking what must be their millionth shitty beer... their "night" still going stong(ish).
Groups of men still trying to spit game at ladies, or groups of ladies still trying to string those men along.
"Keep it up, fellas." I say to myself. "You might get lucky tonigh..... er... this morning."

That first morning, walking the gauntlet, grabbing some coffee and donuts at Krispy Creme,  I finally arrived at Mandalay Bay, picked up my super-vip badge (kind of, but not really) and ran into Tyler, Zach and Saris of the Biketumor.
We boarded the shuttle buses and headed out to Dirt Demo.

"Working".... as opposed to twerking.... which was the real reason Tyler was there.
That boy's a twerking fool. I know because he lives in my town.

After running into tons of folks I knew, I headed straight to the NINER tent to grab a bike to ride.
I had a few bikes in mind to demo that day. I ended up with a WFO, which was not on the list, but looked like fun.
I have to say.....
Even after riding tons of other stuff, I still haven't lost my stoke about this bike. 
Does it make sense for Greensboro? Or for the kind of racing and riding I do? No. Not even close. 
But if I lived out west, this bike would be a given for my quiver.

Dirt demo is , without a doubt, my favorite part of INTERBIKE. 

Because really.... what's this blog without at least one selfie taken up mostly by my nose?

Certain places resonate with people more so than others. For some, it's coast. For others lush, humid greenery. And as much as I love all of the natural places on the planet, the desert has always been that place that affected me more than any other. All of it. The heat, the exposure, the sparse and insanely hardy flora and fauna. Hoodoos, mountains, fossils.... ancient seabeds and groves of trees.... like my long-time hero, Edward Abbey, I love the desert like no place else. 

Dirt Demo takes place near the Hoover Dam at a place called Bootleg Canyon, in Boulder City, NV. 
Ganked from the Interbike website. This shows only one small portion of the venue.
Here's some propaganda from the Interbike folks about the event. It gives you at least some idea, contrived as it is. Still... probably better than my crappy pictures.

Snaking their way around the rolling hills are more trails then you can shake a stick at (if you could even find one, this being the desert and all). It's riding unlike anything on the East Coast. Easy and flow-y in a way the claustrophobic and dense east can never be... and technical in a way that until fault lines break and new mountains slowly rise and erode, the east will never be. One day... one day. But we'll be long gone, and whatever species takes our place will hopefully take immense pleasure in recreating in those barren hills.

After taking chances and lines and bombing descents on the WFO that I would never touch on my rigid singlespeed, I traded it in for a few different models, among them the Santa Cruz Bronson, The Tallboy, The Tallboy LT, Niner's RIP 9 RDO and ROS 9. I put the dropper post each bike was equipped with to good use, with only one close call. Launching off a decent size kicker on the Bronson, I accidentally and shit-curdlingly rode a nose wheelie down the other side. When I could breathe again and my hands stopped shaking, I tried the same bump again, this time looking at least marginally like I knew what I was doing. When I'm out here, I try and ride things different from what I usually ride. And each bike had it's own feel and strengths and I loved them all in their own way.
But mostly.... I was just stoked to be riding... especially in this remarkable landscape.
I'd put them each through the paces climbing the gravel road up to the descents, and then would snake along the lesser known trails away from the crowds and people.

Last year, Richie Rich, myself and a rider from Giant (whose name I forget), managed to get our asses lost as hell up in the hills. We were fast running out of water, and backtracking just wasn't an option, as the trail had gotten technical past our abilities, dehydrated and exhausted as we were.

This is exactly how it looked out there at 2pm.

Ditching the trail, we began following a flash flood channel downhill, toward a golf-course in the distance.
When we reached the barbwire fence, we lifted it up and crawled underneath, hauling our demo-bikes with us. And then we were in an oasis. Lush greenery, a waterfall, palmtrees. As we bombed down the cart path, trying to find a point of egress, a woman in a concession cart blocked our path.
I was ready to get yelled at for our more than blatant trespassing, but before we could even make weak excuses about being lost and dumb, she was giving us ice-cold water from her cart and offering us free lunch at the club-house. So there's that.
We finally made it back to Bootleg Canyon, completely toasted.

This year, only once did I start to get nervous. During a solo jaunt, on the backside of the main chain of hills, I'd been riding for an hour and hadn't seen one person. And while I could see a trail ahead that should (and I sincerely hoped would) take me back to the main demo area, the trail I was on would periodically turn 180 degrees and head the wrong way. Along the trail, I saw tons of beautiful rock formations as well as windblown arches and hollows. (I could take shelter in one of those, if it came to it, I thought.)
Finally a woman rode past me with a cheerful "Hi" and I took her chipper and nonchalant greeting to mean that we weren't actually up shit creek (dried out as it were.)
I made it back and decided I was done for the day. Riding time was over.... Time to drink some cheap beer (the hydrating kind) and walk the expo.
Taking stock and shelter with fellow Cackalackians, Jacob and Jake from Industry Nine.

Skratch Labs had their foodtruck set up, and I wolfed down a curry chicken burrito along with a breakfast burrito, chased by tons of Skratch drink.
Sated, I saw the sights, talking to old friends, and palpating product.
As the afternoon wore down, a group of NC folks, including the I9ers and Bikerumor, found ourselves killing the last of FELT bikes keg (poured, as usual, by some Las Vegas talent... always popular).
Tyler and Zach, who recently underwent bionic upgrades. Can you guess where?

Jacob... talking to the talent? 

When it was done, we converged on the SURLY tent, as I saw a number of friends and aquaintances congregating over there, and I knew that was a party that would likely not end until long after I'd gone to bed.
Yes... that's the legendary Joe effing Murray...and a guy in tie-dye tshirt and aero helmet..

Hurl.... the man behind Cars R Coffins.

"Hey Joe Murray.... get outa my tent!"

Surly Eric... practicing his dancing for Underbike.

Evil Sally.

"One time... me and this dude was drinking... and we found this dead body.... and...."
Cheever and Gene-O swapping tales.

So much bromance out  in the desert.
Gene-O holding court.

The beautiful desert sky... juxtaposed against the true legacy of mankind. (and Tyler)
And then it was time to go home. We hopped in a car with some friends, made it back to the strip and changed for some dinner.
We met some boys from the Hawley Cult... (I mean... Company) at a mexican restaurant claiming to be "the birthplace of the margarita."

Jake and Jacob of the I9.

It's a well known fact that Hawley boys (men) are discouraged from fraternizing outside of the cult... I mean.. company.

Birthplace of the margarita? Hmm....Doubtful.
Oh.... you mean the $48 pitcher of margarita?
Well... yes.
My friends Steve and Adrian from Chrome Bags were also eating in said establishment, and I split my time between the two tables, admittedly imbibing of the $48 pitchers of margarita at both

Chrome head-cheese, Steve.
As it was the first real night in Vegas, my body was still on east-coast time, and by midnight, I hit the wall. Hard.
I somehow made it back to my room and passed out.

The next morning, shuffling through the casinos like morlocks, we made it to Mandalay and boarded buses for more Dirt Demo.
More awesome riding and getting almost lost on awesome bikes. Then hanging out and drinking cheap beer with awesome people.
(And seeing some awesome campers)

Next year, I might have to drive the Adventurewagen out there. (Still haven't named her... him... it.)

After riding bikes all day, refreshing with barbeque from Bell-Easton and beer from the Surly crew, I went back to the hotel, cleaned up and met the NC contingent of Kent Cranford and Ben Hinker from Motion Makers, and the I9 Jakes for some beer and snacks at an Irish Pub (with real Irish waitresses.... recruited from Ireland to come to Vegas to work. What a disconnect and rude intro to 'Murica that must be.)

Kent and Jacob. "So wait... how do you get "the google" on this thing?"

Jake and Ben (who was rocking the Vegas camo. Otherwise known as paisley.)
Bidding adieu to the NC boys, I headed out to eat some dinner with Spencer (aka Lanolin) and Brett (aka DJ Clever) from The RITTE. We rendezvoused with Stevil and Monika, as well as Kevin and Peter of Swobo and ate a boojie meal at RICE.... a random restaurant I'd scoped out.
Over noodles and squid, we swapped tales of Interbikes and Underbikes of olde, and of the various dicks and douches, dudes and dudettes,....and directions in the industry.
Brett and I waxed nostalgic about hardcore and edge (he still is, and I've fallen so far.... so very far)...our favorite bands from way back when (Deadguy, Snapcase, Converge, Cave In)... and where they are now.("You're shitting me....Tim Singer has an Instragram feed?!)

And then we toasted Monika and Stevil's respective birthdays.

DJ Clever. Definitely not sexting anyone. 

Spencer.... smoldering.

I'm going to go with Stevil's caption for this: "Grownups."

Crappy photos of awesome times with awesome people. 
I bid everyone adieu, and went back to my room to pass out, unused as I am to eating my dinner at 11:30 at night (or 2:30am my time, as it happens).

Next up... Interbike, Crossvegas and Underbike. 
More than ever... more than you ever wanted to know.... Ever.

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