Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who I met at Interbike

I saw Frank from my local bike shop (LBS) at the airport in Las Vegas on Tuesday and we shared a cab to the hotel. He's been a longtime attendee so he gave me some tips for my first Interbike experience. I asked how to get to the Sands Convention Center and after describing the circuitous route through several casinos, he said, "Basically, just follow the shaved legs!"

And sure enough, the next morning, I had a few of those to follow, as well as some bikes being wheeled over (they had to wheel them through several casinos). This group of mostly shaved legs made for a good photo op, but they aren't nearly as shapely as some of the other ones I saw. Some good eye-candy there (if you're into well-defined legs)!

But I could have also followed the all-body tattoos, because Interbike is a lot more than just roadies - you got your mountain bike culture, MBX, fixies, cross bikes, cruisers, electric bikes, commuters (a massive growing segment due to high gas prices), children's bikes, etc. It's a huge retailer's event (your LBS was probably there) and this picture below gives just one view of one tiny corner of the floor.  

And there's a lot of PR going on at the show. I was able to get a few autographs and photos (ok, I'm a self-proclaimed cycling geek), here's a few:

Christian Vande Velde (or VdV as his coach calls him) - a big name from this past Tour de France on Team Garmin Chipotle, with several yellow jerseys to his name.

Tyler Hamilton, team Rock Racing. Tyler's looking a bit haggard, but he just won the Road Racing Championship. His team's a little, uh, unconventional. But really, the nicest pro-rider I talked to, a fellow Coloradan, so we talked about our favorite rides. He was just in Vail last weekend for a PR event (when I was down riding near Boulder, his home town).

Notice my Alpe d'Huez t-shirt as I stand next to George Hincapie, from Team Colombia! For many years he was Lance's chief lieutenant on US Postal and Discovery teams. I always thought he kinda looks like a chimpanzee (a cute one), and it's even more evident in person. He's always been one of my favorite pro riders. Last year at the tour, I had one goal at a particular stage - to get a photo of George at the food zone grabbing his bag. Check out the awesome photo I got of George!

And yes, of course, Lance was there. I happened upon this opportunity by accident. I walked by a big line wrapping around the Oakley booth, and asked what it was about. When I heard it was Lance, I got in line, and soon they came out with wrist bands to give to those in line - they only gave out 200 and Lance would only sign those and then he was done. I was towards the end of the 200 they handed out!

One of my favorite people I met, Fatty of Such a kind, down-to-earth, laid-back, funny, humble human being! He was there to take part in a panel on using Web 2.0 (the next phase of the internet, such as blogs, podcasts, videos, social networking, etc). I even got a Fat Cyclist t-shirt for me and my husband. He said he'll do what he can to promote my tours with links! And with his readership, that can be a great thing!

I saw Greg Lemond and went to talk to him (he didn't have huge lines waiting for him). I stood in front of him and said, "Greg, do you remember me?" He said I looked familiar but needed help... "Greg! 1999, Tour de France. I was a guide and soigneur on your tour to the Tour!" Of course, he remembered then, and we spent about 20 minutes reminiscing. That was an amazing opportunity - worthy of its own post (I'll have to dig out the photos and scan them). Let's just say, Greg Lemond likes to party, and we all drank champagne one night at a hotel in Grenoble until 4 am, the day after we all climbed up Alpe d'Huez, where we had a helicopter take the clients from the top of ADH and fly them to the hotel in Grenoble so they didn't have to deal with the massive crowds. We, the guides, drove the bikes back in the vans. It's been 9 years, so I can't fault him for not remembering!

But, the current Greg Lemond is not my favorite person - I think he's doing more harm than good to cycling. He was practically a heckler at Lance's press conference at Interbike (which I missed). There seemed to be a lot of anti-Lemond sentiment at IB.

I also met Daniel Bernstein of the Fredcast, a cycling industry podcast. I wanted to see about the possibility of getting some exposure for my company on his podcast, and I explained to him my idea for the new do-it-yourself bicycle tour product and he loved the idea and wanted to interview me about it. But when I told him that that product is only in the development stage, he said maybe we should wait until it's ready and he'll interview me sometime next spring. I talked him into interviewing me about my current custom self-guided tours and we set up an interview for the last day. You guys can't imagine what great PR this is, and as soon as it's available, I'll be posting it here!

On the first day, I saw another long line and I thought, "who else's autograph can I get?" It was at the Shimano booth, and I found out they were actually selling their top-of-the-line custom heat-molded cycling shoe that retails for $350 for only $100! After an hour wait in line, I got both mountain and road shoes for $215 with tax - which would have cost me $700 plus tax! You had to schedule the custom fit for a later time so I had mine molded on Friday morning - very similar to getting a ski boot fit, and i can tell you, I've never had such a comfortable cycling shoe on my feet! It would have been a little excessive had I gotten ones for Spinning - instead I'll convert my Sidi's to my Spinning shoes and put the rest on eBay (used cycling shoes? You wouldn't believe what people buy on eBay!!) My husband is so jealous he can't stand it! 

So this trip was an absolute success in many ways!


sandy said...

Jennifer all I can say is you've already been to cycling heaven, what more can a bike geek want from this life, (and the hereafter)?

Jennifer Sage said...

I think you're right Sandy!

Patrick said...

Was Lance rude? He was when I met him. He (hardly) gave a speech here at University of Kentucky--- he spent the entire hour sitting and sending text messages while someone spoke for him. He refused to give autographs.


Jennifer Sage said...

No Lance wasn't rude, he was cordial. But he was just signing autographs out of "obligation". I mentioned that I take tours to the Tour and my favorite stage in 2004 on the Col de la Croix Fry as Floyd pulled him ahead of Jan and Basso, and he just kind nodded and said, "that's nice."
George Hincapie laughed and said something like "I'll have to try that sometime, I hear it's fun!" when I told him I take tours to the Tour.
By far the nicest was Tyler Hamilton. He asked for my card. We chatted about rides in Colorado, and he was sincerely interested, not just "obligated".