– Witness the crumbling bunker. Hear the absurdly optimistic message broadcast from within. The assertion that Interbike enjoyed a tangible uptick in attendance in 2010 is one part flat earth, one part WMD, and a pinch of Baby I love your haircut. The critical fact avoided by the Interbike Minister of Propaganda is that 2010 was the first year the show was conducted simultaneous to (and literally alongside) the big ‘Health and Fitness’ trade show. In pre-registering online to attend either Interbike or ‘Health and Fitness’ you were explicitly encouraged to register at NO EXTRA CHARGE to the other show.
Like a casting call for ‘Flashdance’ or ‘Rocky 2’, the corridors of Interbike were clotted with obvious purveyors of treadmills and Shake Weight For Men. Drill sergeant haircuts; flesh coated in 10 endless summers of spray-on tan; cheekbony-fit like triathletes, but instead of knee-high compression socks, the garb of the realm was Bike-brand coaching shorts and cut-off warm ups. If the Interbike attendance count was (as purported) up by 3%, then 15% of the total attendees were mere rubberneckers, more in tune with the etiquette of jumping jacks than how Rival stacks up against Ultegra. Take the Health & Fitnessers out of the mix and it was a double-digit attendance loss. The word-of-mouth consensus was definitive: The show was a ghost town.
Oh, Interbike, God bless your classic dictatorial ploy: The steamrolling of reality by delusional PR. The final dictatorial act, of course, is death at one’s own hand -- something your move to early August for 2011 has assured. Farewell Interbike. We’ll toast your memory at Fredrichshafen.
– Aesthetic surprise of the show, by the way, was the BMC Race Machine RM01. It’s basically this year’s SLR 01, but 50g heavier and about $800 less costly. The Red, White, and Black version was a stunner in the flesh. Taking into account geometry, technology, and beauty, the RM01 gets the nod as our dark horse in pre-season polling for 2011 Bike of the Year. In the sub-$3,000 frameset range it’s a temptress. (Ironically, the other color BMC showed in the RM01 had the argyle cartoon colors of a Garmin tribute -- a fact they didn’t appreciate hearing…but anyway…)
– The honor roll list of non-Interbike-attending big-hitting manufacturers include Trek, Cannondale, Cervélo -- and 1st-time absentee Giro-Bell-Easton. The timing of Giro’s absence was made acute by the fact that the week of Interbike was when they went live with their new website -- a site fully functional for the first time with a full-blown shopping cart for direct-to-consumer sales.
As promised here many times before, our charmingly dysfunctional industry will one day see all manufacturers go consumer-direct. Giro’s conversion to the dark side was probably predictable because (a) their goods are less-complicated than bikes in terms of managing product liability risk; and (b) the CEO of Easton-Bell is a gentleman named Paul Harrington, whose track record includes a spell as CEO at Reebok -- a corporate behemoth unafraid of retail customers. Giro is probably the most important company in the industry to make the move to full-on consumer-direct sales. Surely this presages similar moves by other big hitters. This is a big deal.
– The year was 1989. I was home for the summer and one night my parents were out of town and a few friends and I took matters into our own hands -- an evening brought to you by the letter B. Brendan. Bourbon. Beer. Bacchanal. Bordello. The stuff of semi-reckless youth that ended up with the morning after -- my friend Zack and his girlfriend blitzed asleep in my parents bed.
Enter stage left my parents’ housekeeper. The un-empty house. The detritus of plastic cups and undergarments. She shat toy hatchets. Metric tons of them.
I mention the memory for one reason: The following morning was the next-to-last time I was ever screamed at during breakfast. The spittle flying across the table/vein-throbbing-in-forehead type. My father, rightfully, gave me old school fire+ brimstone. Fast forward to 2009, which was the final time I got a high-decibel haranguing over scrambled eggs. It was courtesy of Simon Wear, COO of Future Publishing -- the parent company of cyclingnews.com. He made it clear to me & everyone within 2 tables’ range that the not-inconsiderable advertising money of Competitive Cyclist meant nothing to them if I didn’t stop our vocal criticism of the (then-new) layout of cyclingnews.com.
Like most, I’ve come to terms with the ‘new’ cyclingnews. But I’ve never been able to shake being lambasted a bit too publicly at my favorite breakfast joint in all of Little Rock. And then I saw this in all of its tautness and non-elaboration. It may be time to start advertising on cyclingnews again.
– Contador? Four words: Liberty Seguros Alumni Association. Other old teams might be bathing in insinuations of dopage, but none has a mile-long rap sheet like theirs. And it all-too-sharply confirms the pointlessness of being a fan of the sport, and the self-same pointlessness of the clean boys trying break through as PRO.
Warning signs and heartbreak be damned, we keep coming back for more. The absurdity of our persistence is unexplainable to people who aren’t trapped in the same way. It’s a pathetic addiction, one no rehab can treat, and it’s perhaps best summarized in the classic early-90’s angst of Denis Johnson --
The terminal flopped out
around us like a dirty hankie,
surrounded by the future population
of death row in their disguises -- high
school truant, bewildered Korean refugee --
we complained that bus 18 will never arrive,
when it arrives complain what an injury
is this bus again today, venerable
and destined to stall. When it stalls
at 16th and McDowell most of us get out
to eat ourselves alive in a 24-hour diner
that promises not to carry us beyond
this angry dream of grease and the cries
of spoons, that swears our homes
are invisible and we never lived in them,
that a bus hasn’t passed here in years.
Sometime the closest I get to loving
the others is hating all of us
for drinking coffee in this stationary sadness
where nobody’s dull venereal joking breaks
into words that say it for the last time,
as if we held in the heavens of our arms
not cherishable things, but only the strength
it takes to leave home and then go back again.