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Back to the Slop After Friday

— For this bike nut, Interbike has always been a dream. And while we oft consider its relevance, and how it could be better for everyone (vendors, dealers, consumers), I’d guess that it’s always exciting for a first timer. And as much as I’d like to say that I saw it all, there were innumerable booths that I did not see, let alone stop by and visit.Palms Casino Resort , Las Vegas NV I’m still baffled by this, and it’s remarkable to think that I missed so much with two full days inside the Sands Convention Center.

— While not actually part of the show, the Life Cycles film premiere at the Palms Casino was part of my plan for the week. I hiked down the strip and over the highway and tracks to get there, but the walk was worth it. I’d seen the trailer for the movie and knew enough to expect something great, and it didn’t disappoint. While I watched, I was impressed by the quality of the filmwork, the editing, the riding, the narration; it was so far removed from the cheap porn-quality videos that we used to watch. For me, the movement that started with The Collective has transformed bike film to a new level. Significant others, the uninitiated, non-riders -- I think anyone could watch and enjoy Life Cycles. To the filmmaker’s credit, that’s really saying something.

— Part of my plan for Vegas was to avoid the casino, since gambling for me goes downhill like Steve Peat at Fort William. So a VIP invite to ‘Cross Vegas was more than welcome as a safe distraction. A few of us went with the Rapha Crew out to the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex to watch the races. What struck me first was the length of the course. It was huge! I’d say that it must’ve been right up there at the UCI maximum length. But as soon as the Wheeler Dealer race blasted off, it was apparent that a long course is necessary because of the huge fields in attendance. The length minimized the problem with lapped and pulled riders. We occupied a prime spot on one of the runups for all three races. It was pretty amazing to watch how fast the elite women’s race was, and the fellas went even faster. There were guys bunnyhopping our local double set of barriers every lap, all the way ’til the finish of the race.

A few standout performances marked the night for us. Of course, Katerina Nash’s solo win was impressive, as was Jamey Driscoll’s huge solo effort – only he got nipped at the line by a surging French Champ, Francis Mourey. There were others; a guy who rode in the wheeler dealer race was looking like Catherine Bach in a pair of Daisy Duke flavored lycra shorts. They looked like the Carrera kit that Chiapucci and Pantani used to wear. He was an also-ran in the race, but provided a good spectacle when he broke onto the race course and ran through our section getting beer sloshed in his face by rowdy fans. He deftly jumped the barriers, only to faceplant on the run back down the hill. Luckily when he got back up, someone sloshed beer in his face again to wash the grass clippings out of his eyes. Another crowd favorite was ‘Slow Motion Man.’ This guy was big-time OTB, but was sharp enough to leave an impression on the crowd with his gutsy performance.

— File this one under: Helmets I’d love to have, but would I really have the balls to wear it?

…and this one under: Helmets I’d love for one of my friends to wear, but definitely not me.

— We sell quite a few powermeters here at Competitive Cyclist. To this point, they’ve mostly been a thing for road bikers. And although CycleOps has had a mountain bike version of their PowerTap rear hub for a few years, Quarq and SRM were both showing their crank-based powermeters on mtb cranks. Perhaps the tide is turning for high performance mountain bikers? If you train seriously on road and off, why stop getting power data at the edge of the tarmac? The new Truvativ X0 crankset is a perfect platform for the Quarq due to its replaceable aluminum spider. And the SRM unit looks darn good coupled to an FSA crank.

SRAM Truvativ XO SRM SRM / FSA Crank

— Put this one in the ‘This is the bike half of us want personally’ category: Scott’s much anticipated Scale 29 Carbon is a refined and bigger wheeled version of their previous Scale carbon hardtails. With a tapered headtube and integrated BB92 bottom bracket, it has all the right spec. The fact that it’s 950 grams has us all drooling with the idea of having a mountain bike that weighs as little as our first good road bike.

Surly Pugesly— And who couldn’t love this thing? The Surly Pugsly has been around forever, but it’s been a longtime contender for the title of, ‘The bike that I’ve always wanted even though I knew I’d probably never ride it.’ It’s spawned plenty of offspring including Moot’s superlative take on it. Look out Iditabike! Maybe we’ll get one and start training in a walk-in freezer to prepare for the event.

Boo SS— There were plenty of belt-drive bikes in attendance at the show. This Raleigh SSCXWC ‘Cross bike was the standout at their booth. It might be the hottest thing we’ve seen from them in a long while. Another super clean bike was the Boo ‘cross frame at the Enve booth.And even though we’ve always been intrigued by the carbon/bamboo construction, we were awed by the execution. This was one sweet bike! It didn’t hurt that it was loaded up with Enve’s to-die-for carbon wheels, stem, handlebars, and fork. The Dugast tubulars had enough wear to cement the notion that this was probably a working racer, just shined up for the show and then it’d be back to the slop after Friday.

— And in a pretty slick move, the renaming of Edge to Enve saved them the heartbreak of losing the impact of one of the best logos in the biz. Check the image above and see how their anagrams give them good advert no matter the position.

— Intense came to the show with a few surprises. Notably, they’ve brought back the Spider 29, rebuilt and rebadged as the Spider 229. Along with new geometry and refined lines, it makes use of their latest VPP linkage configuration and has adjustable travel as well. This new spider also features an asymmetrical rear swingarm. Many of their existing models will also get the new swingarm for 2011. It does away with the old plate that connected the seat and chainstays and also limited tire clearance. Now, a single tubular brace connects the left front corners of the stays. A smaller tube connects the stays on the driveside a few inches fore of the dropout.

— ‘Tis the season: For those of you that ride a lot at night, Uvex and Lupine teamed up for an integrated helmet/light system that looked pretty slick. If I was buying one, I’d size it to go over some insulative headgear as this would be my go-to lid for winter commutes to work and after dark singletrack fun. The thought of eliminating velcro from the mounts is strangely liberating.

— I stopped by the Ergon booth to see the stuff, but mainly to ask Ergon marathon racer, Jeff Kerkove, why we saw him go so far off route during the Colorado Trail race earlier this year when we checked the race website to track the riders. His story about making a bee line for civilization when his heels opened up into festering sores got us quickly in the mood to change the subject to the products at hand. One of the most notable things we saw was the BX-2 backpack. It marks a departure for Ergon as it’s their first backpack to forego their typical Flink-link harness system. Instead, it uses a traditional soft harness. It’s also a smaller pack, about what we’d wear for a typical adventurous ride off into the woods. With room enough for snacks, a hydration pack, repair gear, and even an extra layer or two, we expect that this pack is gonna be a hit. The suspension is adjustable to accommodate different torso lengths, and it has pockets on the waist belt pads for easy access to gels on-the-fly. They also showed some cool new gloves in a few models with short and long fingers.

— And so it was, my first visit to ‘the show’ was at the same time enlightening, exciting, and exhausting. All I can effectively say after this experience is that 2011 will be a good year to be a bike nut.

— As a reminder, Competitive Cyclist’s Syllamo Trail Day is just around the corner. Our crew is inviting any and all who might be interested in lending a hand to get one of our favorite trails buffed and ready for a spectacular fall season of riding. The real work will happen on Saturday, October 9th. And for Sunday, some of us are planning a workday of a different sort -- riding all 50 miles of the Syllamo Trail System. Come on out if you’re close by and want to take part. Click here for more information.