Interbike 2005 was, in my opinion and in relation to my brand, a huge success. I can't even begin to tell you how many people complimented the line of bikes. Retailers and fellow exhibitors were very complimentary and the members of the media who came by were very approving as well. As I mentioned after the show in Canada, I was headed to Vegas with a lot of positive energy and momentum, but I had no clue just how well things would actually go. I can not tell you how excited and relieved I am now. Things look really good for the future of the brand in the very near term and the long term outlook is constantly improving as well.
Another really cool thing to happen at the show, for me personally, was the responses I got to this blog. The compliments were very, very flattering and the number of people who simply walked up and said, "hey, you're that Masiguy, Masi guy" was pretty amazing. I mean, using the Statcounter software I can see how many people visit the blog, but I had no clue just how big this thing has become. The pseudo-celebrity is astounding to me. The SRAM guys were regular visitors to the booth, though I never had the chance to speak with them because I was always so busy. It is an Interbike tradition to walk the floor and check out your competition. I got one chance to run out and see a few friends and partners that I wanted to thank for their support, but I didn't actually look at much. However, there were lots of folks from other bike companies who were regularly coming around to check out the bikes and watch the traffic flow in the Masi booth. My goodness, some people might think they were getting nervous or something...
I had the chance to speak with a few members of the industry who I hold in very high regard and was thrilled to get some perspective from them as well. One such conversation was with Donna Tocci from Kryptonite. We had a wonderful conversation on the morning of the last day, before the show started (and for about 30 minutes after it started). Donna was exceptionally kind in her analysis of what I have done with this blog and with my marketing in total. She's a smart, smart cookie, so her words of praise mean quite a bit to a dork like me. Tim Grahl of Blue Collar Mountain Biking stopped by the booth and we had a chance to speak for awhile. Tim runs a great blog and was great to speak to. He's one of the more well-known bloggers out there and it was great to speak and share thoughts, as well as geek-out on all the bikes and people. My good friend and fellow blogger Jonathan Maus from Just Riding Along stopped in for a chat as well, though not nearly long enough since I was so busy I couldn't speak for long. Jon is another great guy who has some great insights and thoughts about the bike industry. I certainly hope you read his blog, if you don't already. Chris DiStefano, a good friend and former Shimano mouthpiece was there working for Interbike and I had the chance to speak with him a few times between Dirt Demo and the show. Chris is now out of the industry, professionally speaking, but his heart is still very much into cycling. It's always great to spend some time talking to people like that. Chris Lesser, one of the writers for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRaIN) stopped by to talk for awhile... and tell me he was getting on a plane to LIVE in the Caribbean... that very day! Chris is a darned good writer and is a very smart guy on top of that, so I wish him the very best of luck with his move and new role as a freelance journalist. I am sure we haven't seen the last of him.
More celebrity sightings...
Marla Streb; I used to train with her a bit when she was living in San Diego and racing for Marin. Talk about a cool woman... she's one of the coolest. I caught her walking by and stopped her to give her a couple of Masi espresso cups (more on that to follow). She was pretty stoked too.
Fast Freddy Rodriguez; I've never ridden with Freddy, but have always liked the guy. So when I saw him stopped by the booth talking to George Hincapie (another cool guy), I ran out of the booth to give him a couple of espresso cups too. Freddy has his own brand of coffee and is known as a coffee freak, so he was pretty smily about getting the cups. I stopped him and said, "Freddy- a little something for your coffee." He had a pretty genuine smile.
Mary McConneloug; Mary rides for the Kenda/Seven mountain bike team and is the new cross country champion. Haro is very related to Kenda and so Mary is part of the family to me. Mary is way beyond cool. She's one of the very best cross country racers out there and is very kind, humble and has a great sense of humor. I congratulated her on her new national title, wished her another great cyclo-cross campaign and handed her a couple of espresso cups. She was totally happy with her gift and smiled her famous smile of approval.
Finally, after several tries, I also got to meet and speak to one of my all-time heroes; Tom Ritchey. What an amazingly cool guy. I had a great conversation with him and then pulled my camera out of my pocket and asked, "Tom, can I be a huge bike geek and ask to get a picture with you?" After a second, Tom shrugged and said, "sure, why not?" We stepped over to an un-crowded corner of the booth and shot a picture... I was stupified!
I hope you'll forgive the fact that my eyes are closed and that the picture is blurry. The intense lighting in the building really messed with my camera and the pictures I took inside all came out like this. Still, I got my picture with Tom! We talked about bikes, cool bikes (like Masi and Ritchey bikes) and then he had to leave to another appointment.
There were many other folks I talked to or met and the names will come to me later. Also, there were many friends that I saw who I didn't get the chance to speak to or see after show hours. To all of you, I apologize that I couldn't get enough time to hangout and catch up with you. Next year I will do a better job of budgeting my time and not get as caught up in meetings and such. Interesting note- the show ended each day at 6:00 PM, yet I was in my booth talking to customers until 7:00 the first two days.
All in all, I officially proclaim that Interbike 2005 was a big success and that I am happier than I thought I could be. Soon, the 2006 website will be built and the whole world will get to see the new bikes that we worked so very darned hard to create. I hope that you will be as impressed as I am with them.