This is a piece about Interbike that is not quite about Interbike. Well, it is, because I was there, but my trip was slightly different. Of course I was drooling over the Ridleys and Colnagos and the Merckx (ooohh… Chanavel’s bike…). And yes I saw many interesting, ogle some spinning doodads that percolated through my system in no ambiguous ways, ways that made me feel frisky inside–if you know what I mean. However, it wasn’t quite about the luscious world of shiny-latest-most-delish two thousand elevens. Which is curious because I told James that to me, Interbike would be like Disneyland. Or a Willy Wonka’s factory tour with stuff-your-face samples along the way. Yet, the Vegas too-muchness desensitized me to the unsanitary ways of gaudy gamblers, clockless casinos, and a perpetual Saturday night feel to the crowds, indoors and out. So with that out of the way, I focused on the experiences. And what a treat it was. Got to finally meet legendary super heroes such as Dan Sharp the photo man and Bill Strickland, one of my favorite writers of many many years. Folks, it was a pleasure. Dan has been super cooperative and extremely generous with his collaborations with the printed version of Embro. And Bill, well, what can I say? We’ll be doing stuff, Bill. Oh but we will. Meeting those guys had the familiar impression of “hey, haven’t I met you before?” kind of chemistry. Felt just right.
Ok, so we out of Interbike yet? Good. Outside of the demo derby desert jamboree, there’s this cyclocross thing called CrossVegas. It sure is a great idea to have an actual race during Interbike, as it adds spice to a hot week of two-wheeled deliciousness. So there we headed, 3 Embro racers with Linnea, Pete and Jeremy names on their bibs for the media/manufacturers’ event; Linnea and Pete preferred a chill approach and decided to ride the 10km out to the venue. A sweet, easy warm up was in store for them while Jeremy drove with us, bike in the trunk. Laflamme, Dan Sharp and I completed the crew with James as the mighty navigator.
We got to the course site, an oasis of irrigated-intensive grassland surrounded by an ocean of desert and strip malls, and promptly uncorked previously ensconced tall 24 Millers. We sat at the back of the rental truck’s open trunk—is this what we call “tailgate”? Does it apply to cross too or should I get a Chiefs’ jersey from Kyle’s closet? Anyway, Laflamme, James and I sat and insulted, berated and cajoled each other in the lazy ways of late afternoon pre-inebriation. “Hey, that chick looks nice in the purple skinsuit. What? What’s the matter with purple?”, and so on. Pete eventually rode by, shot a quick breeze, and resumed his course warm up. The girls did too, hello-pin-me-goodbye. Beers flowed. A Ritte set of racers parked by us, and were not immune to the filth. The bigger one of the two was also doing the media/manufacturers’ race on a steel, fixed gear cross bike. Impressive, crazy, but awe-inspiring just the same as I didn’t even think those things existed or were possible. He definitely earned severe props, so we shared our water with him. Water. Desert. Dry. The kind of dry air that cakes your nostrils with perma-crusties that never really go away.
“Hey, isn’t the race starting in a few?”, suddenly in comes Jeremy, dewy brow sweat and temple vein popped—evidences accusing him of a proper open up workout. He had the “holy shit” mask of someone who’s about to start the race and has just realized his numberless status, the commando version of cross racing. “You guys need to help me,” no biggie. We briefly interrupt our brew loading and start wrestling for pins while pinching spots of lycra for purchase. He’s restless. Nervous? Let’s say un-quiet. We run out of pins. Big Ritte racer returns the water kindness and dispenses a handful. Nice, man—thanks. As we dutifully pinned him, we’re presented with nasty surprise number one: “I need to pee,” so he does. Gross. “Turn it the other way, man, come on.” “Well you don’t have to stand there.” Nasty surprise number two: he reaches inside the van and grabs a pot of Pete’s team issue summer embrocation. I think “kinda late for this,” then what I witnessed left me perplexed. Startled. Bewildered. He indexed a dollop and frenetically rubbed his gums and teeth. Like when you’re a kid and you do a sleepover and you forget your toothbrush, so you use the index finger to clean your teeth, a palliative resort for short term oral hygiene. In this case, a practical move to stave off dry mouth during the race. Remember: cross bikes have no water bottle mounts. Or aren’t supposed to, anyway. Dust barely settles and he storms off again, leaving us staring at each other.
As Interbike time came to a close, we were exhausted, sleep deprived, and homesick. Or in Laflamme’s case, just sick. The experiences speak for themselves: we got out, we hustled, we worked, made many more friends, and had a great time. Meeting Pettacchi, getting blown off by Merckx (we’re still cool, Eddy), talking at length to Botero, all added to the lure of Vegas. Sadly, no gambling, and no naked ladies. Boo, right? Well, but I learned one thing, something that I’ll keep for posterity that cannot be forgotten. Or unlearned.
When in the desert, drink plenty of water.
Drink to hydrate.
Then embrocate to salivate.