Friday, October 11, 2013

Two men Interbike.... one man leave.

It took me about two weeks to recover from Underbike.
I don't remember exactly what happened, but the massive bruise on my leg had me limping for a while.

It might have been when I jumped (fell) off the speaker?
Or when a wigged Hurl crashed into me and we all landed in a heap on the floor?
Or when Danger had to sit in my lap for the ride back to the hotel? (All 140 lbs of him)
Or when I walked smack into the safe on the back wall of my hotel closet that night, mistaking it for the toilet.

Either way... I was kind of a mess when I woke up Friday morning.
And it was all starting to catch up with me... the lack of sleep, lack of proper hydration, piss poor eating habits, massive quantities of beer.....
I awoke on Friday looking like a less attractive Michale Gambon.

But we're not there yet.

Descending the elevator on Wednesday morning, I joined the river of industry people as we flowed through the casinos.... past flooded Starbucks after Starbucks... towards Mandalay Bay.
As I was swept up in the current, I stumbled into Dan Hensley, who I somehow stumble into pretty much everywhere. Dan was the man behind the Nashville Bicycle Lounge, and the "Annual Fuck You Everybody Bike Ride and Back Shaving Competition."

He's also the man behind the "Fuck You Everybody" socks that you may have seen me kicking around in.

Dan's kind of a kindred spirit, if only because he's on the same page when it comes to alienating everyone you're probably not supposed to.
(By my nearest estimation, this page is straight out of Joyce's ULYSSES (or is it Finnegan's Wake)... so don't nobody understand what we're even reading, including us.)

Successfully solving the casino maze and braving the Starbucks gauntlet, we made it to the show entrance, and waited for the doors to open. Dan went to go grab his badge and I took stock of my fellow bike-folks. I saw a number of familiar faces, many of them familiar simply because we all looked the fucking same. I saw my doppelganger everywhere (beard, tattoos, tallsocks) and after thinking "how do they do that so much better than me?!" I wondered, "Do I need a new style?"
To the former, I fear I have no answer save for "I suck".
To the latter, the answer is, of course, yes...
....and no, because honestly, who gives a shit? We all have our stylistic quirks and aesthetics. If some like-minded people share it? Awesome!
If some assholes share it? Yeah... I know... it kind of taints everything a little bit...
....but truth be known, you're probably that asshole to someone else. (I know I am.)
We're all taints in our own way.

I will say this about style: It was the year of pomade.
I totally blame Ty(berius) Hathaway of the Golden Saddle Cyclery.
("Haven't you ever wondered if there's more to life than being really, really, really, ridiculously good looking?")
(Incidentally, I'm pretty sure Ty has long figured out that there's more to life than his looks and is owning it right now. Bastard!)

The show? Meh. Do you really want to hear about that?
Ok, so.....I walked around an insanely large room, looking at stuff and meeting with people I needed to meet with about said stuff. (Awesome story!)
What did I see that was cool?
I dunno....Stuff. You stuff.
Oh, specifics?
Hmmm... alright, so, this one thing I saw.... There was a new ________ from __________ that will literally revolutionize _________.
Pretty amazing!

One of the first stops inside the show floor that day was the Chrome Bags booth.

photo cred: Don Palermini
 Head honcho Steve had given me the secret intel the night before and walking up to the RV that served as their inside base, I politely requested of the pretty, punky blonde inside that she cold-cock me.
"Hard?" she asked.
Yes please.

Walking away with my delicious "cold-cocked" iced coffee spiked with whiskey, I made my way to some of the other booths I where I had, what's known is the business as... business.
(Insert business here)
Around 2pm (actually, much earlier, depending on where you were) the beer started flowing and as I had met with most of my big accounts already, I started wandering around a little more, (ie: totally got lost) and saw some of the smaller booths and vendors.
I took three pictures during the show that day. Here they are, in chronological order.

Shinola's blinged out C-3P0 bike.

A spy shot of some guy's mullet...  From what I'm told, these will probably be available sometime mid December.

...and this. (Carryover from last year, but considered by most to be timeless.)
Yeah... so.... I have no idea.

On the photo front, I admittedly shy away from taking pictures of the bikes and product.
For one, my photos suck.
For another, there are professional photographers wandering around doing just that (and doing a much better job). If I want to see awesome pictures of the product, I'm going to look at their galleries.... not at shitty, blurry, drunken photos that I'm not even sure why I took. Like this...
Oh wow! A... umm... drop out... and stuff? 

And... a.. a...  a wampyr kraynk?
See? I mean... why bother?
I'm not even going to be able to tell you what it is we're looking at.

Sigh... I walked the floor and highfived various folks, and eventually, when I'd inadvertently collected 1000% more pint glasses than one should ever carry in a bag, much less pack for air-travel, I made my way toward the shuttles to head out to Cross Vegas.

Through a series of events that I will eventually document in novel form, I'd been granted VIP access to CX Vegas ( and everybody else, Watts) and flashing my credentials I entered the venue. I rolled up to the start just in time to see Danger and Scrapes of the Ritte CX team ride through on their warm up laps.
Sraper... so serious!

Danger and.... is that? Yep. Zach Lail of the MOB
I walked around for a bit, highfiving more folks and snapping some pictures of "famous" people milling about.

I have to wonder what Bub Role made of Robert Marion.

"Did you guys meet that Robert Marion guy? Yeah, so I have no idea what to make of him."

Ben Berden reaching for his non-warming peanut butter embro.  All the pros are doing it... you should too.

J-Pow and Danger.

Awesome to see the Wilcox, who was out wrenching for the Rapha Focus team. 
"Give me a sip of your beer."

Brian, sales wizard of Knog.
(little known fact... you actually pronounce the K while the N is silent. Oh... and the G makes "K" sound)

As always, Sally Fornes of Raleigh hooked me up, (as we are one of their premier dealers*) and the BikeRumor folks and myself hung out in the Raleigh VIP tent where we were treated to tacos and coolers full of beer. 
*(totally true)*
*(not really)

Cross Vegas is such a great race. 
...To watch. 
I always kind of want to race.... but honestly... racing is hard
Watching rulz!
Milling around the VIP area, I ran into tons of folks I know from all over. 
Shop owners, racers, sales managers for brands I don't even carry, reps who aren't even in my territory.
Duncan Satchel asked, "How do you know all these people?"
I don't know. I just do?

There was this hirsute fellow....
My third Ernesto sighting of Interbike. 

And this guy...
Wes Dickson and Watts Dixon..... I'm so confused.
Some of it comes from racing. Some of it comes from the Interweb. Some of it comes from just being a social gadfly of a person. For whatever reason, any and all inhibitions I once had about just talking to people has evaporated in my thirties, and as a result, I've made friends and acquaintances all over.
What can I say?.....I'm a C level industry douche.(alright... D level... at best.)

Back in April, I was awarded a scholarship to attend the IBD Summit in Monterey, CA.
3 days of seminars and discussions centered on competing against online discounters and the strengths and weaknesses of IBD's (independent bicycle dealers). They were, for the most part, useful and relevant. Did I need to fly to CA to sit in a room for those presentations? Probably not. But for the same reasons I attend, Interbike, the summit was an awesome networking event, and I will more than likely be back. I made tons of connections, met new and old friends, and had the shit wined and dined out of me.
They did interview me for the video, but I was seriously so wined and dined by that point that I can't imagine I made much sense. Also, I was covered in sand from rolling around in it at a "beach party."
I'd LOVE to see that interview!
Here's one of the propaganda videos from the event. Look for me at :54.

I was originally going to do a whole post about it, (and there are some decent stories there) but alas....
So here's the short version:
I got to see Band of Horses for free my first night there, somehow scoring guest list passes as I wandered into the Golden Theater while looking for some dinner.
I met tons of other dealers and had some candid and not full-of-shit conversations about the industry and the various struggles independent bike shops face.
Dalton and Sally hooked me up with the RXC Disc Pro to kick around on for the week, and after throwing slicks on it, I had a blast riding some beautiful roads with some awesome people.
I spent a lot of time riding and drinking with Steve and Adrian of Chrome Bags.

Every pub we entered had a distinct nautical theme.

I hung out with a direct descendent of Brigham Young.

Omg! (hic) Your... your, like... great, great.. (hic) great....grandfather....or whatever....was like... totally batshit crazy!
That's sooo.... crazy!

Ate with jelly fish.

 Hung out with other NC folks.

Look! It's a veritable who's who of top NC bike dealers....
....and me!
And stuck around for the rest of the week to putz around Sea Otter, where I rode awesome bikes, saw my leetle seester and her brood, and wore myself out. But not as much as Tyler.

He looks like such a little angel when he sleeps.

Kent Cranford taking a load off.

Greg Herbold has a lot to share.

Cheever and Sally... a tender moment.

Sister Jeannie. Ensuring that baby Flynn takes a nap.

Lil' Baby Flynn totally compromising my super-cool insider douche image.

What an ASS this guy is! So angry!

Brother in law Bretty. 

Danger with his sick new tattoo. 

But anyway.....back to Vegas!
When we'd officially obliterated Raleigh's supply of beer, Tim Jackson of Focus, who is always good to me, slapped a Rapha cap on my head, granting me access to THEIR beer and tacos... and their view of the barriers. I heckled myself hoarse and offered beer handups to anyone and everyone that came through.
(Did I mention that I love Cross Vegas?)
When the racing was over, I met up with Dan, Spencer and Brett of Ritte, and we headed back to the strip.

I was a little bummed about missing the Chrome Urban Cyclist Hall of Fame ceremony at the Double Down, but I just wasn't in a place to be able to make that happen. Given my state, you might as well have asked me to find my way to the moon.
It's a problem with Interbike. There's always something going on, and it becomes a kind of mania not to miss any of it. One group of friends heading one way and another heading the opposite.
Case in point: when Spencer and I got back to the strip an entered the casino bar, we were supposed to rendevouz with Stevil. We never found him, and instead sat down with Jeff Thrasher and friends.

You may have seen one of Jeff's (Hollywood's) infamous cringe-inducing interviews before.
Like this one with Dario Pegoretti.

Underbike 2011

photo cred: drrenfield
Tyler texted me, asking if I was going to make it out to the Double Down, but at that point I was questioning whether I'd even make it back to my room, so alas... no.
I somehow did make it back, and woke up the next morning, ready for the week to be over.
But I had more meetings that day, and Underbike that evening, so hitting up the Chrome folks for some cold-cocked spiked coffee, I rallied and began the day.
Sophie Ballo was in Vegas on super-official Empire of Specialized business, and we hung out for a bit and ate a late lunch before heading out to the industry crit.
More great Vegas racing, albeit around a parking lot, where All City, Rolf Prima and others were working hard to prep us for Underbike.

Dejay Birch. Bout to move in.

Kelli Samuelson of Ritte and Ty(berius) Hathaway of Golden Saddle Cyclery.

Argh! I totally forgot their names!

All City Jeff and crew.

"You totally forgot my name, didn't you?"

Gene-o, Handsome Ben and others.

Jimbo Malta.

Dick Bruceman of Progold and Billy Alcorn of Bikeflights.

Strauber and Richie Rich of NOTUBES.

This guy apparently just started a blog too! And he told me that the Revolting Cogs was massively influential.*
*Totally true..

Hawley Cult.... Company members often "rage." Then they have to be reprogrammed.

Dan F Hensley and Dejay

NC boyz.

Dude! You're totally going to get yelled at for not wearing your long-sleeve shirt!
I mean... I'm totally positive that dimwitted, uber-conservative shop owners with no fucking clue everywhere would never buy from J&B if they knew you had tattoos!!

Spencer and friends.

I don't know... some dude, totally gussied up with his gussied up girlfriend. Where are y'all going? To the Sinclair Party? Sweet!

Leaving the crit, I grabbed some food with Tyler and the Bikerumor folks before heading out to Underbike.

Oh cool.... you got the bill, right Tyler?

Discovering that Underbike was waaayyyy the fuck away, and that we were in danger of missing some fun, I rode my bike over to meet up with Spencer and Brett and just threw it up on their rack.

Yep... glad I hauled this thing out to Vegas.

We entered, ordered our beers, said our hellos and got down to it.

The Black Jetts started playing and in between bouts of rocking out, I took a bajillion pictures.
And at a point, things started spiraling.... if not out of control, then just on the borders.
I remember lots of dancing. (Define dancing)
I remember twerking. (Ugh... sorry everyone)
I remember jumping (falling) off the speakers... (Ugh.. sorry everyone)
I remember grabbing Sally's beer and pouring it over my head. (Sorry Sally)
I remember Paul of Paul's Components buying me beer.
I remember getting swept up in an impromptu mosh pit (I had nothing to do with it) and landing on the ground with so-drunk-that-he-was-nearly-nonfunctioning Hurl on top of me.
I remember stealing some guy's beer and pouring half of it on my head (sorry everybody)

And I remember the Black Jetts fucking destroying it.
Here's a slideshow I made of last year's and this year's UNDERBIKE parties.

Why I put them together instead of making two videos is totally beyond me at the moment. As it was the first project like that I've ever done, I suppose I blame virgin zeal? Either way....

When the carnage was over and we were pushing the limits on The Beauty Bar's hours, it was time to leave. As I was contemplating a good place to maybe try and... I don't know.. throw up or something? Danger yelled that we were leaving.
Sweet! Because I was cashed.
So we all crammed into Spencer's car. There was absolutely no room for any of us, so Danger sat in my lap for the (extremely safe, I'm sure) drive back.

Instagram magic.
 I woke up the next morning really wishing the week was over, but determined to chill.
This time I started the day with some coffee with the Mission Workshop folks, met with one or two vendors and decided I was done.
Attending the IBD summit had given me a few perks at Interbike, one of the oddest being free tickets to Shark Reef, the aquarium inside Mandalay Bay. I love an aquarium... even the shittiest. They had some giant sting rays and, apropos of the name, tons of sharks, so it wasn't bad. The best was the Komodo Dragon. Fuck, those things are terrifying.
See what I mean? Terrifying!
(photo cred:

Walking out of the show with every intention of going to the pool, I ran into Brett of Handlebar Mustache.
"It's shot time again, Watts. You're in, right?"
Fug....Yeah... I was.
I'd already stopped by their booth multiple times each day, but figured this was a perfect end to the show. Shots for a cause with friends.

And then.... for the first time ever... I made it to the pool.

It was quite an interesting crew... and hard not to stare at a few of the very tiny suits nearby. (While I might have stared a little, I had a field day watching other people stare. Awesome stuff.) The tiniest of these suits, unfortunately, happened to be on the man who took the lounge chair next to me. I tried to discreetly snap a photo, but nothing ever panned out. Sorry fellas.
After having a few pool beers I showered, shaved and met up with Richie Rich, Strauber, Jimbo, Mike Bush and some more of the NOTUBES crew. It's become a Friday night Interbike tradition.
Tacos, giant Arrogant Bastard Ales, and giant margaritas.

Friday night... 2012. Oog.

Friday night.... 2013

Just getting started.
We gave Strauber so much grief about the Strauber-smile that he refused to cave for this picture.

Starting to feel it.

Strauber and Mike Bush. Thanks for hooking it up, Mike. 
We left dinner and decided we had to ride the roller coaster outside of New York New York.

As we stood in line for the coaster, in typical fashion, I spaced out, and when I looked back, everyone was already on board. I jumped the gate and grabbed a seat before it took off. Like most roller coasters, they snap a photo of you at (in)opportune times. Man... I wish I'd bought it. There's everyone sitting next to each other in a pack, and me like 5 seats ahead by myself, all of us laughing hysterically. On the way back to the hotels, the Notubes men had a knock down dragout Pac-Man battle. 

I got back to my room, did my best to squeeze all of the things into my bag and bike box, and passed out.
4 hours until my flight left. Ugh.
I could have just stayed up.... but figured a little sleep would put me in a better place.

Boarding the shuttle to the airport at 4am, the man sitting beside me had clearly opted for the first option.
"Oh fuck... Oh man. I'm so drunk. Oh my god. This is bad. Really bad. Oh god."
He was in rough shape, and I scooted a few seats up, positive that this wasn't going to go well for him.

Vegas... What hath man wrought?

I finally boarded my plane and going into survival mode, made it back to the 'Boro.
I was glad it was all over and stoked to be back with the little boyo.

Missed the hell out of him.
Next up....

No comments:

Post a Comment