As a reporter/photographer for Pedal Pushers Online, my assignment was to assist in covering the 25th anniversary of this spectacular event. Relying upon the "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" theme I thought I could quietly slip into Interbike and keep my innocence intact. I was after all, a serious bicycle racer, I had seen it all. I was here as a professional journalist, observing, detached, impartial and most of all, above it all.
Or so I thought, I knew about Interbike the same way a thirteen year old knows about the joys of adulthood. You know it's good, and you think you can handle it. So, having an opportunity to attend this industry-only event was something that I wasn't about to pass up. I booked my flight, secured my vacation time and with my camera gear packed I waited for my departure to sin city. I was ready for a week of bike indulgence.
My assignment was to cover this international event and not to be lured astray by the ringing, blinking and the splash of lights and sounds. I put my media badge around my neck and proceeded to the staging area where the busses would take the masses to the Outdoor Demo. I stepped off the bus and waded unprepared into a world of all things bike. Immediately I became one of the streaming pilgrims heading to Bicycle Mecca.
Arriving at a barren dusty mountain hillside we passed the first of many vendors displaying this year's new product as well as yesterday's tried and true items. I walked up the hill toward the expo center rapidly firing shots from my Canon camera at just about everything that caught my eye. I realized that at this rate, I wouldn't last. I'd needed to be prudent, at least for now. I was going to be working all day! There were dozens upon dozens of various bike industry folk ranging from resellers, importers, mechanics, manufactures, shop owners and of course the sophisticated, blasé media such as myself. This was my wet dream.
With so much going on it was hard to focus on what to look at next. It was a real world website with too many pop-ups. Quickly the hours passed and it was time to head to the technical mountain trails where bus load after bus load of convention goers were hurtling, barely in control down the valley walls on every imaginable thing on two wheels or less. I even noticed a few unicycles roaring down the mountain. Hundreds of the faithful passed my camera lens. Everyone had smiles and whoops of joy as then launched themselves over the jumps and screamed down the trail only to labor back up and do it again.
Suddenly it was 5:00 PM. I headed back to the hotel to wash the dust off of myself and my equipment. After a much needed shower and some replenishing of liquids and food I headed back to the room to start editing the days work. Oh yeah, suddenly I remembered, this was work! Several hours passed. I edited my shots, penned some brilliant prose and my eyelids closed, ending my wakefulness for an instant.
The alarm clock was buzzing. I was out of bed, into my bike gear, down the hall and back on the bus heading to the Outdoor Demo morning road ride sponsored by Scott Bikes. I joined a few hundred other morning revelers for an easy jaunt toward Lake Mead.
The ride started with several miles of twisty downhill quickly turning a casual networking ride for industry people into a full fledged hammer fest. Reaching speeds of forty plus miles an hour the scenery whizzed passed with the slow falling back and the strong disappearing around the bends, I found myself somewhere in the middle. Being that I haven't done much riding the last month or so and not carrying enough water for the gentle morning ride I found myself suffering in the heat.
The joyous free for all decent soon became my foe. Sun beating down, my eyes stinging from sweat, the dry Vegas heat, the miles climbing back to the expo seemed to go on for ever. But, being the consummate pro that I am, I continued to turn pedal over and over pedal, telling myself I was like Floyd who suffered yet was able to regain his composure to ride the race of a life time. I zoned and before I knew it I was back. The suffering fading as I jumped out of the bike gear ready for more of what the Dirt Demo had to offer.
Properly hydrating, I walked out to the BMX course where I would get some of my best photos of the trip so far. Fearless cyclists launched themselves over me as I followed them with my camera like a hunter shooting geese. Covered in a heavy, powdery, dust, sticky from various sport drinks that I had consumed I headed back to my lonely writer's garret to battle my muse. But first, a "light" recovery meal at one of Vegas' famous all-you-can-eat bars. Then I returned to my room to work some more.
It was midnight and time for a break. I found my way to the roulette table, sat down and bought forty dollars in chips... They went and then with minimal hope, I placed my last six chips on the table. I played my customary set, my daughter's birthday, I dropped 2 on 27 and 5 on red, it was due...
As I turned, ready to leave the table - forty dollars lighter, red 27 hit! There is always luck in Vegas, sometimes good - sometimes bad. I cashed in my winnings and headed back up to the room for some more work.
By two thirty in the morning I had little energy left. I wrapped up what I was doing and got ready for bed. I was going to get up in a few hours and I needed my energy for day three of the first day of the expo. Are you ready?