Day One; Dirt Demo- Set up
After an uneventful drive across the desert into Vegas from San Diego, we hit ground in Boulder City and Bootleg Canyon around 3:30 or 4:00. Since I was the first of our crew to arrive and the others were to be a bit longer to get there, I got ready for a ride. As I was leaving, two of our MTB folks arrived (Jill Hamilton- the MTB Brand Manager and Mike- the Senior Product Development Manager). While they got a few things ready, I rolled out for a short 15 mile loop down by the Hoover Dam, down to one of the scenic overlooks.
(Penske trucks rolling through the desert.)
(A little blurry because I was going nearly 40mph down the hill to the dam.)
(The dam, as seen from the first scenic overlook.)
(Post ride helmet hair...)
Day Two; Dirt Demo... the real thing
We got the Masi booth set up pretty quickly with the demo bikes and got ready for the throngs of riders from shops all over the country and they didn't dissappoint. There were many, many retailers there, along with all of us vendors, and many members of the cycling press as well (more on that later). We sent many folks out on the new CXR cross bike and the new version of the Gran Criterium (built with the new SRAM Rival group this year). Each rider came back with many compliments about the bikes and most even grabbed the bike they hadn't already ridden and went out for another ride. Way cool. By the way- my apologies to those folks who rode bikes that I personally worked on... we eventually got them fixed up.
(Late in the day, after the sun had baked us dry as bones.)
The overall response to both bikes was really fantastic and I was really put at ease by how many people came back from the rides smiling. (As an aside- our brothers and sisters at Haro had an exceptional demo as well. If you're looking for a 29r... have they got something for you!)
A big, big "thank you" goes out to our sales rep in the Haro/ Masi family, Bob Bellamy. Bob came to demo and worked the entire time with me so that I wouldn't have to fly solo in the booth... which would have been ugly. Bob also threw down some serious effort in the Masi booth during the show as well. Without Bob's help, I would have been in trouble. Bob- Thanks a ton!
After the first day of demo and riding the new cross bike around the demo area, I was aching for a ride. We got back to the hotel in Boulder City around 6:30 and I bolted out the door in my gear and headed out onto the rodes again. This time, rather than just going down to the first veiw point over the Hoover Dam, I went all the way down to the damn itself. Which, by the way, is truly an amazing site up close. Also, I have noticed that when you descend 8-9 miles, it means you have to climb 8-9 miles on the return trip... up hill... big hill. By the time I got back to the hotel, it was dark and I was getting cold and very, very hungry. My coworkers had already departed for dinner, but fortunately gave me a call and brought me back some dinner (thanks John). I scarfed it down, without ever even chewing or tasting the food- but I am told it was good.
(This is before going up this...)
(Have I mentioned I am not a very good climber?)
Day Three; 3rd Annual Hangover Ride and Day Two of Demo
Day three started off early to get to the booth and get it set back up. We tore it down at night because the desert winds have been known to send tents flying to Arizona. We had to get to the booth in time to get it ready for bike pick-ups for those folks who reserved a bike for the ride. We had three prearranged and one special guest request at the last moment; Lennard Zinn. Lennard is the head Technical Editor over at VeloNews and also a very talented frame builder. He's kind of a "hero" of mine, so having him ride one of my bikes was a huge thrill and also a little nerve wracking. I mean, the guy knows good bikes (and bad bikes) when he rides them. I'm very confident in my bikes, but he IS Lennard Zinn... After a few adjustments for Lennard and the other folks taking our bikes out, things moved down to the bottom of the hill for the start of the ride. Scott Montgomery, the head of Scott USA in the US, gave the opening "speech" and it was perfect. Basically, in an oversimplified version, he talked about how great it was that we could all get together as an industry and go for a ride and have fun together. Together, he pointed out, we could do greater things for the sport and the industry. Together, as a family of friends with a "friendly rivalry", we could all help to grow all of our slices of the pie by creating a bigger pie. Yes, I'm a sucker for pep-talks and feel-good speeches about this industry, but I think that Scott said some great things.
Once we got rolling, the nearly three hundred of us headed down to Lake Mead. Once we got to the lake, the friendly morning ride turned into a hammerfest... and I was letting my ass write checks that my legs couldn't cash! I was in the first group with the real killers (like Wayne Stetina) as we got almost to the turn around point. But then we hit a hill... and I popped lilke an overinflated tire! I saw stars, I felt weak, I saw the Care Bears and then I couldn't see the group anymore. I fought my way through different groups of stragglers falling off the fastguy group... but I never caught them before the turn around. The good folks of Mavic were hosting the turn around point so I stopped long enough to drink a Coke and get my blood sugar/ caffeine back in whack. After that I rolled gingerly over each hill and limped through all the other hurting folks. In the end, I had a great time... even if the ego took a major bashing for being old, fat and outta shape. But hey, it was a great ride with all of my industry brothers and sisters. How bad could it be, right?
On the final, long hill up from the lake, I caught back up to Lennard Zinn. He seemed to actually like the bike and we spoke for a few moments before he took a phone call and rode along at a slower pace. I chatted with some guy from Boulder City (sorry I forgot your name) until the end of the ride and then cleaned up with a damp cloth and got ready for more demo riders!
Lennard came back by the booth to drop off the bike, but instead said that he really liked the bike (despite some shifting issues that were likely my fault) and wanted to keep riding it so he could give the new Hutchincon tubeless road tire and Shimano tubeless compatible wheels a try. I said ok of course and sent him back out. The wheels ride great he said and he was impressed with the bike as well... he even gave it a very slight mention on VeloNews.
The rest of the day consisted of many more demo riders going on rides with the bikes. After a second full day in the sun and sand, we were pretty happy to see 5:00 roll around. We bundled up the bikes, the tent and other crap... stuff... and headed into the city of neon lights... Las Vegas.
(Stay tuned for another installment...)