Archive for the ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ Category

Interbike 2018: Relax

September 21, 2018

Just a little pinprick.

The latest iteration of the Gathering of the Tribes is in the rear-view mirror.

Was it a success? I have no idea. We’ll have to wait for the numbers, which may prove elusive.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

One astute observer who is not me does not recall seeing any attendance figures from last year’s Interbike, the Last Roundup in Sin City, and thus who knows? Just as in real life, we may have to judge based on anecdotal evidence instead of cold, hard facts.

Speaking of anecdotal evidence, real life, and cold, hard facts, both Charlie Pierce and Kevin Drum are goggle-eyed at the latest plot twist in “The Adventures of Brett Kavanaugh, Boy Wonder.”

If this were real real life instead of a cheapjack “Justice League” porno knockoff, Kavanaugh’s nomination would be as dead as John Holmes. But the Senate is all Jokers and no Batmen.

Meanwhile, a tip of the Rivendell cycling cap to Darren Sherkat, who was the first and only commenter to publicly recognize the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” which I was using for headlines on this year’s Interbike posts. Hope you enjoyed ’em.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Interbike 2018: The dream is gone

September 20, 2018

El Grande, being (ahem) gravitationally challenged, rarely participates in the Sport of Kings. Organizers grew tired of the frantic phone calls from the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado.

The inaugural RenoCross took place last night. Alas, neither I, the Mud Stud nor the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter was in attendance.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of coverage out there at 8 a.m. New Mexico time, though cxmagazine.com has a brief report, results and pix.

My colleague Steve Frothingham had contemplated doing the Wheelers & Dealers race, but his new duties may have kept him in the Show Daily office. The Fake News never sleeps, and it rarely pins on a number.

El Grande did, from time to time. But it usually got swallowed by a roll, crease or fold, and even if he finished none of the judges could see it and thus he never got his just deserts.

Sometimes he didn’t even get beered.

• Next: Relax.

Interbike 2018: Can you show me where it hurts?

September 19, 2018

There’s a new tariff in town.

Back to the present: My man Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News serves up a piece from Interbike about whether retailers should be stocking up on product with more tariffs on the horizon.

Among the folks Matt spoke to was Friend of the Blog Stephen Newhall of Rob and Charlie’s in Fanta Se, who is taking the dire pronouncements from some suppliers with “a grain of salt.”

“What will happen is that sales that would have otherwise happened in November and December will happen sooner,” he says.

One of the big issues is what constitutes a bike made in China, notes Bob Margevicius of Specialized.

“A bike’s point of origin is not necessarily clear because it is made from components from so many sources,” he says. “It is an extremely confusing time right now.”

The whole piece is worth a read, especially since Matt isn’t just another Fake News guy like Your Humble Narrator. He’s also a small-business owner*, a pro salmon fisherman with a boat, nets, and everything.

* Note the hyphenation there. That’s an Associated Press style deal intended to avoid confusion. Matt helms a small business, but as anyone who has ever seen him will attest, he is not a small businessman.

• Next: The dream is gone.

Interbike 2018: There is no pain, you are receding

September 18, 2018

OutDoor Demo at the Northstar California resort wrapped yesterday — to rave reviews, if you believe the Fake News — and Interbike Marketweek proper opened today. There’s a Show Daily and everything.

Not everybody makes it from Demo to the show floor, though. This year, as always, a few exhibitors did the Demo and then hit the door running.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

The Mud Stud usually strives for the doubleheader, if he makes it to the Gathering of the Tribes at all. A guy who lives on SpaghettiOs and PBR is not likely to own a GPS, even at bro-deal pricing.

He has been known to confuse Las Vegas, New Mexico, for Las Vegas, Nevada. The one time he tried to fly, Homeland Security wanted to add him to its museum of curiosities, but the EPA said ixnay.

Another time the Stud found himself in Myanmar in search of Mandalay Bay. Alas, the city of Mandalay is 500km from the nearest bay, and further still from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Sin City, Interbike’s final flop in that neon whorehouse.

You’d think the extended water crossing might have tipped our boy off, since hitchhiking and/or cycling across the Pacific can be damply sketchy. But the Stud spends a lot of time wandering around in his own head and is not always paying close attention to what transpires outside that cavernous, empty, Mohawked space.

In 2003 the Stud made both Demo and Interbike. But it wasn’t pretty. The bike didn’t let him down, but the bottle did.

• Next: Can you show me where it hurts?

Day 1: Big hair, bigger air

Day 2: What goes up, must come down.

Day 3: Speaking of coming down. …

 

Interbike 2018: Protection racket

September 17, 2018

Ow, goddamn it, I had the helmet on, but hit my nose on the keyboard.

We interrupt our waltz down the aisles of Interbikes Past to visit Interbike Present, where the industry is looking at eating a fourth round of tariffs for Christmas dinner.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

As the fella says, a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Speaking of which, China appears poised for retalation, and The New York Times reports that “top officials have warned that could include penalizing American companies that rely on Chinese components for phones, cars, televisions and other products.”

The good news is that this latest round of Gotcha! won’t affect bicycle helmets. So strap one on before you start banging your head on the desk. You’ll be able to get a new one cheap. Ish.

Extra-Credit Business Studies

• Do tariffs save American factories? Nope.

• China’s options appear limited … on the surface, anyway.

There is no short-term solution, says China’s richest man.

 

Interbike 2018: This is not how I am

September 17, 2018

The Mud Stud is a top-notch wrench, but his periodic forays into entrepreneurship have rarely dollared up on the hoof.

Neither Interbike nor Bicycle Retailer and Industry News is limited to serving as a delivery system for my bullshit. There are various jobs of work being done, products being shifted, and money being made.

Or so it is to be hoped, anyway.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

But the show is not a cheap date. And as a consequence some penny-pinchers have been known to try to cut a few corners — say, by setting up outside the show and hoping to lure a few rubes away from the big tent and into their little tipis.

The Mud Stud tried that in 1999, when the show was still at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, with predictable results. At top, you’ll find the setup, a “Shop Talk” strip that appeared in the pre-show edition of BRAIN. Below are the subsequent Show Daily strips. Click the images for bigger versions.

And where was I when The Stud and Bobbi were trying to move their respective products? I was on site like a good dog, hawking copies of my first and only book, a collection of VeloNews cartoons titled “The Season Starts When?”

• Next: There is no pain, you are receding.

 

Show Daily, Day 1

 

Show Daily, Day 2

 

Show Daily, Day 3: The finale.

Interbike 2018: Hello, is there anybody in there?

September 15, 2018

My lodging for Interbike 1999 was a tad spartan.

This morning, when I should have been risking life and limb motoring to Reno via U.S. 550 and U.S. 50, a.k.a. The Loneliest Road in America, I took a little spin down Memory Lane, which is much easier on the kidneys.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Back in 1997, the pre-Interbike issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News ran a whopping 150 pages, more than three times this year’s 46 (and the pages were bigger back then, too).

It was an embarrassment of riches, so much so that the editors awarded me some extra space to play with, probably because they had run out of actual news to plug the holes between the ads.

Thus, my “Shop Talk” cartoon, ordinarily a simple black-and-white strip at the bottom of the Editorial & Comment page at the back of the book, took over an entire page of the September 1997 issue, and in full color, too.

The resulting CMYK image file was so friggin’ huge that I had to break the sonofabitch into segments to squeeze it through our lo-fi Innertubes outside Weirdcliffe for deposit upon the BRAIN trust in Fanta Se (click the image to see the big picture).

Back then I was drawing cartoons for the Show Daily, too. But that’s another story.

• Next: Just nod if you can hear me.

Interbike 2018: The Biggest Little Show

September 14, 2018

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Interbike Marketweek Reno-Tahoe Powered by Northstar California Resort doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in the mainstream media.

A cursory search of The New York Times finds a story from the 2008 show (“LeMond Critical of Armstrong”). The Washington Post mentions Interbike in a 2017 piece discussing Outdoor Retailer’s contentious exit from Utah. And The Los Angeles Times gives it a nod in a 2013 story on BikeSpike, a Chicago startup hoping to deter bike thieves.

Gosh, if only we could make the bicycle more expansive, expensive, and indispensible, we might draw a few more hungry eyeballs. (A Google search for “new iPhones” yields about 2,670,000,000 results.)

Alas, the humble bicycle — so far as I know, anyway — will not download porn for you from the palm of one hand, leaving the other free for, well, you know, whatever. You can ride one to an adult bookstore, but it will get stolen by some other jagoff, because BikeSpike seems to have gone tits up.

What’s that in the obligatory rear-view-mirror shot? The garage door. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.

But we were talking about Interbike Marketweek Reno-Tahoe Powered by Northstar California Resort here, not porn, adult bookstores, and well, you know, whatever.

The Northstar Free-Ride Festival kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday. OutDoor Demo will be Sunday and Monday, also at the Northstar Resort. The Interbike Expo will run Tuesday through Thursday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

The local business community is all atwitter at hosting the show, with attendance rumored to be in the low five digits.

“It’s very similar in size to Safari Club International … and close to the qualifying events for the Northern California Volleyball Association,” said Phil DeLone, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, in a chat with the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s certainly in the top three largest events that come to Reno.”

Elite company, to be sure, and proud we are of all of them. But among Those in the Know, the expectation is that Le Shew Bigge in the Year of Our Lord 2018 will be greatly diminished from the glory days.

“Gonna be a sleepy little show,” observed one observer.

As a consequence I will not be notching my 21st Interbike this year. Adventure Cyclist did a quick cost-benefits analysis and decided the office sofa infrastructure would yield just enough change to get staff from Missoula to Reno-Tahoe and back again, with nothing left over for bail. And Bicycle Retailer and Industry News quit underwriting my travels a dozen years ago because I kept writing columns about how the show had become a sad exercise in, well, you know, whatever. This had grown tiresome, even for me, and I was the one being paid to write it.

Since Interbike fled north from Las Vegas to Reno-Tahoe I have talked to some industry types who are going and not happy about it, and to some others who are not going and are delighted. Me? I’m mildly disappointed to miss a chance to catch up with the friends, colleagues and industry types I only get to see once a year.

But when I read a weather forecast like this one, I cheer up pretty quickly. Shucks, I have enough bikes in the garage to put on my own damn OutDoor Demo.

• Next: Hello, is there anybody in there?

Roll of the dice

August 20, 2018

Off with your head!

Here’s your helmet, there’s the door, what’s your hurry?

Megan Tompkins, the publisher of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, “has left to pursue other opportunities,” in the parlance of our times.

Marc Sani, the semi-retired co-founder of the trade magazine, has stepped in as interim publisher. Given the present economic climate, and with Interbike Reno just around the corner, this must feel like climbing out of a hot tub and into a piranha tank, wearing a pork-chop Speedo.

I’ve done bits of this, that and the other for Sani and the gang since 1992. Alas, the mag’ has dwindled, in tandem with the trade it covers, and so I do a good deal less of it now than I once did. In fact, I’m down to drawing the “Shop Talk” cartoon at the back of the book, period, end of story.

But that’s the carefree life of the independent contractor for you. Easy come, even easier go. Happily, I also contribute to Adventure Cyclist, and I married well, so we will not lack for kibble in the dish here at El Rancho Pendejo.

The remaining full-time BRAINiacs are not breathing so easily, especially after such a high-profile departure, with so much at stake.

So here’s hoping for better days. Maybe Marc will roll nothing but sevens in his old hometown next month.

 

It’s a long, long way down to Reno, Nevada

August 15, 2018

Thirty days and counting to Interbike.

I’ll be skipping the show this year. Adventure Cyclist expects slim pickings in the touring category, and BRAIN hasn’t paid my freight in forever, a cost-benefit calculation that keeps coming up snake eyes for Your Humble Narrator. In lean times the last thing you want is an ill-mannered, off-the-leash cur snarling at the customers as you try to keep the bank from taking the bike shop.

Le Shewe Bigge has shifted north from Las Vegas to Reno for 2018, and I can’t be the only person who finds it amusing that Interbike went there to get itself a divorce from Sin City. Still, I’m curious to see how it works out.

There’s much chin music about an ongoing “Reno-ssance,” the local spin on “gentrification,” which itself is the scenic route to “get those poor people out of sight, they’re scaring the tourists and playing hell with property values.” See Bibleburg, Duke City, et al.

For instance, in The Biggest Little City in the World one may enjoy a nifty Riverwalk District that skirts the Truckee, where the John Laws have been running off homeless campers, unfortunates who may be traveling by bicycle because they have to, not because it looks like fun.

Novelist and musician Willy Vlautin has written about people like these who seem to be missing out on the “Reno-ssance,” and so has Our Town Reno, a production of the Reynolds Media Lab, part of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno. They taught me a new word: “artwashing.”

It’s been years since I last visited Reno, en route to and/or from visits to friends in Northern California. It always felt like a rest stop between Here and There, not a destination in its own right. I’d camp at the Motel 6 West, and dine at some hippie joint down off Sierra, or maybe Virginia, I don’t remember. Vegetarian fare, heavy on the garlic to ward off the vampires.

Come morning I’d grab a cup of joe and a tank of gas and get the hell out of Dodge. Which, as it turns out, seems to be mostly what all these tourist traps want from us. Howdy, partner! Got any money? Keep moving.

Before long the last place in the country without a riverwalk, legal weed and a bespoke artisanal microbrewery will be Ash Fork, Arizona. You will not see Interbike in Ash Fork anytime soon, no matter how bad the bike biz gets.