The interbike doors opens at 9:00 am and as they open, it is as though you have made your first climb through the mountains into the valley of Shangri La. What unfolds before your eyes, as the barriers part, is a mystical valley enclosed by the walls of the Sands Expo Center, an earthly paradise, a permanently happy land isolated from the outside world. It is bicyclists' Shambhala!
From the floor to the ceiling the senses are titillated by brilliant colors, gaudy chrome, and the smell of virgin bike rubber subtly blended with new carpet. The vista that spreads out before you as you enter contains over a thousand exhibitors and literally millions of products presented for the trade, ultimately hoping to be delivered to the consumer.
Products which range from ultra high end bikes in carbon, titanium, bamboo, wood, and unobtainium, down to trinkets as small as shark shaped electrolyte delivery chewies or loose ball bearings for moving parts. If "IT" belongs on, in, around, under, over or inside a bike you will find it here, but more likely you will find eight to one hundred versions of "IT" all of which are claiming to be the best, newest, most researched, highly inspired, or brilliantly executed version of "IT" offering more value than any of the other "ITs"
And so it goes after about four aisle journeys, the Interbike goer's eyes glaze over and the scene begins to blend into a sea of sameness. Then suddenly, as though it popped from some rabbit hole, simply the best tire iron ever placed upon the face of the planet reaches out and shakes the dreamer from his sonambulance, a crowd begins to gather and suddenly everyone is talking about the obvious pros and cons of the, fit, finish, and function of the QuickStick tire Changer, "The only one you will ever need." It is at that point that the fact that it is sold by the same vendor selling a "never flat" tire liner causes pause...
But that is Interbike. Hustle and bustle as the crowd surges through the venue, each traveler working for advantage in the queue. Then the observer senses an underlying message, Watch the bots they tell the answer... And I do... trends develop and they yield the secrets of what will sell. This year, high end road bikes are at market saturation, but the component upgrades for them are hot. Wheels, brakes, hubs, saddles, the key is shave grams, improve efficiency and upgrade that prized roadie. The crowd moves on suddenly. They once again aggregate, this time at the 0ff Road area. Mountain bike, downhill, and 29'ers are all the buzz and will sell well this year. How can we tell? Simply follow the crowd.
It is the wisdom of the market place. Watch the trends and the market will reveal all. Clothing is always in, but the lycra spandex thing is fading again and in its place the hotties are baggy shorts, eco-materials, knicker lengths, ride & wear will be in. The commuter and emerging cyclist will rule the cash flow this year. The next one is strange. Literally there appear to be at least a hundred, well ok maybe fifty, ok at least thirty hydration options on the market, with and without protein, with and without carbs, with and without water (yeah there is even an electrolyte delivery product in one of those top of the mouth, in your cheek, dissolving film dispensers), but this year it swung one way or another. The booth was either empty, and I mean deserted, or it was jammed. Which hydration product was which? Sorry I can't tell you, what happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas!
What other surges happened? Well there is always the celebrity thing, today was no exception, on hand to drive traffic were luminaries such as actor/environmental activist Ed Begley, racer Bob Roll, cycling commentator Phil Liggett, triathlete Becky Levelle, European Pro Racer Axel Merckx, mtb World Champ Juliene Absalon, Tinker Juarez, and the list goes on and on. But especially heartfelt was the appearance of Saul Raisin to sign his book, Tour de Life.
This reporter walked nearly ten miles today at Interbike and this means that the combined Pedal Pushers Online Staff walked from Canarsie Piers in Brooklyn to about Babylon (for you non-New Yorkers that's about half the length of Long Island). The sights and insights of Interbike can be and are overwhelming, but if attention is paid, there are gems in the rubble, and friends in the crowd, we leave exhausted, but look forward as we stroll into tomorrow.