iBike 2012: Leaving Las Vegas

Eastbound from Kingman at sunset.

Eastbound from Kingman at sunset.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — Two and a half days of Interbike is just about right. Eyeball some bling, catch a bit of face time with industry cronies, drink some adult beverages and then be on your way.

Vegas is the only place I know of where one can arise in the morning without drinking heavily the night before and still feel like hammered shit. It’s a contact hangover, the parched ghosts of a billion debaucheries. That the show will move from the Sands to Mandalay Bay is only like shifting the ball-peen hammer to your left hand so you can smack yourself upside the left temple for a change of pace.

There seemed to be fewer actual bicycles at the show this year. Plenty of appetizers, side dishes and desserts, but a tad light on the main course. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this, either, though most attendees would’ve walked right past a pretty bike, eyes locked as they were onto their smartphones.

But it was encouraging to see more companies serving up transportation rather than toys — Yuba was showing some particularly interesting bikes — and more companies are offering racks, bags and other accoutrements that say “transportation” rather than “toy.”

Outside the Sands I encountered plenty of Obama supporters. You know the type: shiftless, smelly ragamuffins living on the streets, begging for alms outside shops and on street corners while awaiting the splendiferous bounty of the welfare state.

The Wal-Mart across the street from my Motel 6 in Flag’ has a scattering of folks camped in their rides despite prominent signs forbidding overnight camping. Others find nearby convenience-store/gas stations whose parking lots are big enough for a brief bivouac before pressing on.

The motel itself shelters the next step up — working-poor families packed into one room, taking the evening air with lawn chairs and coolers, enjoying a smoke. At least one room has a plant in its window. This does not bespeak a casual visitor passing through.

For me, it’s only temporary. In a few minutes I’ll be burning up the road at four smacks per gallon, bound for Bibleburg. This is a good deal easier than hoofing it like the young dude I saw as I walked back to the motel from breakfast. Equipped with haversack and dog, he asked directions to Route 66, and I provided same, warning it was a ways down the road.

“Well, it’s not like I’m not used to walking,” he said with a grin, then moved on.

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21 Responses to “iBike 2012: Leaving Las Vegas”

  1. Derek Says:

    The dog helps the perspective if not the ride prospective.

  2. Karen Says:

    Give the young dude a bike, and trailer for the pooch!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Karen, it would’ve made his life a lot easier, for sure. The dog was some class of Chihuahua or min-Pin, about the size of a belligerent rat, and the dude looked fit. But maybe a bike and trailer constituted more possessions than he was willing to accept.

      I recall a time when I could transport all my worldly goods in a Japanese pickup. I left a bike behind once because there was simply no room for it. Now I need an 18-wheeler just to fetch the damn’ bikes.

  3. Larry T. Says:

    Sorry to have missed you (again) in Lost Wages. One day was enough for me this year, though I had Friday morning in reserve in case I couldn’t get everything done in one day. Flew back to Omaha, NE Friday afternoon and hit the gas up the highway to Sioux City, running home on fumes just to enjoy some REAL food again! Gawd, I hate Las Vegas! My Interbike reports will trickle out on the CycleItalia blog over the next week or so, starting with this one
    http://cycleitalia.blogspot.com/2012/09/interbike-2012-campagnolo.html. REALLY happy to see the triple brought back to the lineup, compacts just don’t cut it for me and I guess the folks in Vicenza agree.
    As to MIttens, he proved my point about why CEO’s, successful or not, should NOT be our president. He wrote off almost half the citizens because they’re not Romney Inc. customers. His interests are in the ones who’ll drink his kool-aid and pony up to support his campaign – the 1% and the wannabee 1% (as soon as they win the lottery) while everyone else can go f__k themselves. I’m happy to see Mittens sinking in the polls but hope Obama doesn’t make a sympathy candidate out of him by beating up on him too much in the upcoming debates, though it will be rather fun to watch Mitty talk out of both sides of his mouth at the same time!

    • md anderson Says:

      Both sides of his mouth and one other orifice that I could name but won’t.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Uh…yeah, Larry. That’s some really nice looking equipment at the Campy stand in your link. I’ll take the Daniela gruppo out for a ride right promptly.

      The idea of a triple is sounding better, too. At least in the off season when I’m pushing a 25×34 rather than a 34×25.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Daniela was able to adjust my camera to take that photo! I fiddled with the damn thing, trying to get it out of the macro mode I’d used earlier to take some shots of a gorgeous frame at the Fondriest stand to no avail, until she volunteered to fiddle with it. In seconds she had it dialed-in and handed over to some nice fellow to snap the photo.
        As to BICYCLES, Campy’s new triple groupset will let you have a 30 X 30 low gear – plenty to get your carcass up pretty much anything as long as your bike’s not loaded down with luggage that should be in the back of our support van anyway. I’m hoping they’ll fix me up with one to test as I have a gorgeous tricolore Mondonico frame sitting on the shelf just waiting to be built up.

      • khal spencer Says:

        A 30X30 should open up touring to the rest of the world, not just uber-fit people. At 58 going on 60, I still can manage the 34-29 on some pretty steep terrane in Los Alamos (aka the hors-Fat Guy Camp May Road climb up to the ski hill at 9200 ft courtesy of a roughly 9- 10% ave grade) but it ain’t pretty at the end of a long Sunday outing.

        On the other hand, there is a SRAM gruppo that alleges to have a 34×32 capability on a 2×10 drivetrain. Patrick, have you road tested it for Adventure Cycling? Could be a 99%er’s response to Mr. Mountain.

      • Larry T. Says:

        I tried that 2 X 10 stuff for a couple of seasons but when my compact-equipped bike developed a mechanical issue I couldn’t fix in time for our 2011 Legendary Climbs tour I borrowed a triple-equipped bike from our rental fleet. After remembering how much I enjoyed the wider range of gearing available, I ditched the compact for 2012 and went back to the triple, cobbling together a 10 speed setup with a 30 X 29 low gear. Made the Passo Stelvio seem easier than two years ago and at my age that’s a no-brainer! With the new, lower Q factor, Campy’s new triples pretty much ditch ANY reason not to use a triple – excluding vanity of course.

      • khal spencer Says:

        At my age, vanity gets old real, real fast. I’ll go with a well designed triple any day and leave the macho stuff for the young studs who don’t know any better.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        K, I’ve ridden SRAM’s Apex group, which will give you a low end of 34×32 in 2×10, and it works fine. Shimano 105 yields a similar setup, if memory serves.

        But I like John Schubert’s notion about the utility of low gears, outlined in the 2010 Buyers’ Guide from Adventure Cyclist:

        “At some point on a long tour, you’ll encounter the perfectly bad confluence of events: a steep hill, a sore butt, and low blood sugar.”

        John recommends a gear between 20 and 25 inches “for that moment on tour when the hill is two miles long and you’re already tired.”

        The 34×32 low end served up by Apex gave me 28.7 gear inches on a Jamis Aurora Elite, with 175mm cranks and 700×32 tires. This ol’ dog needs more lovin’ than that when the going gets steep. Shoot, some of my cyclo-cross bikes go 34×28, though 38×26 used to be the norm. And I’m not carrying any weight on a ‘cross bike, unless you count the Large Irish Ass (LIA).

      • khal spencer Says:

        I’ve only bonked really hard twice. The worst of the two was halfway between Ithaca and Elmira on hilly NY-13. I sat in a gas station, alone, pumping quarters into a vending machine and eating Hostess Twinkies with my eyes glazed over and running a fever from an oncoming flu. It really was that bad. The other time, on Long Island, three of us co-bonked, so we could lean on each other for moral support as we faced 50 miles into a headwind to get home. Those are the memories of a life of cycling.

        On a serious tour when you have your legs and your ass as your only reliable friends, one can’t have a low enough gear. A well designed triple is a good idea. My recollection is they went out of fashion due to lousy shifting, poor Q, and ego.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Schubert describes what we call the “after lunch gear” which is useful on ALL of our tours, not just the Legendary Climbs. I only started using triples when Campy came out with their first modern one back in the 90’s…they seem to just get better and better in my experience – I expect this latest one to rival any of their competitor’s offerings as far as shift quality, etc. while providing the legendary reliability and durability the stuff from Vicenza is famous for – but of course I AM biased in favor of all things Italian.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I like the idea of an after lunch gear.

        A lot of the triples I see on road bikes combine a “road plus granny” setup such as 52-42-30 with a tight rear cluster, resulting in a lot of small jumps but no really LOW gears. One still has to go out and purchase a 12-28 or 12-32 to get a 1:1 or lower ratio, and that sometimes (often) means buying a new rear derailleur, too, so one has adequate wrap-up capacity rather than running a chain that could accidentally blow the system apart from being too short for an accidental cross-chain shift (big outer chainring to big cog). I managed to just get my old Chorus 10-spd to work with the old medium length Chorus derailleur and a 50-34 in front and a cobbled together 12-29 in back, but it took some experimentation that most folks would rather not mess with. Likewise setting up our Co-Motion tandem with a 12-36 off road cassette and a new Shadow derailleur. It works, but it took work to get it that way.

        What’s good about the new Campy stuff is that it is purpose-built to provide about a 1:1 ratio out of the box. No fiddling required.

  4. Ray Keener Says:

    Miss Spoke has named you “Favorite New Friend at Interbike.” Jewelry for Herself to follow. Since you always give Her credit for whatever charm and social skills you posess, you get nada.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, shucks, Ray. Give my thanks to Miss Spoke. The two of you make a lovely couple, and I wish you all the best.

      And yes, nada is precisely what I merit in nearly all situations. After a quarter century of trying to turn me into a passable facsimile of a human being, Herself deserves all the jewelry she can carry.

  5. Charley Says:

    Regarding the morning hangover; it tends to the lack of sleep not the alcohol. It is still the only serious 24 hour town in the US.

    • Brian Smith Says:

      Are you forgetting New Orleans?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, Charley, where are you hanging your hat lately? Some colleagues and I tried to get Scotched up in Vegas during Interbike and had to call it quits around midnight because the joint was empty and the barkeep wanted to go home. Reminded me of drinking in Bibleburg, is what.

  6. iBike 2012: A body at rest « Mad Blog Media Says:

    […] plan to spend as much time as is humanly possible piloting a bicycle — one with what Larry calls “after-lunch gearing” — instead of a Subaru. Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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