by Larry Lagarde
Okay. I don't want to gush but InterBike 2008 was such a rush!
Today is the final day of InterBike, the big, international bicycle show held annually in Las Vegas. It's an industry only show because it has to be. There is so much bike stuff on display here and so many dealers in attendance that it's just not possible to accommodate more people. Too bad because the bikes and bicycle gear on display were awesome.
InterBike is like 2 shows in one. First, there's the Outdoor Demo, a 2 day event way out in the desert where the latest bicycles are on display outdoors. There were 3 interconnected encampments of booths in the form of tents chock full of new bikes just waiting to be ridden. Yes, ridden. Attendees get cards that can be exchanged for a bike.
Hand over the card and you can ride a bike all day if you want. But with so many gnarly cool bikes gleaming in the sun waiting for a rider, why ride just one??? And as far as the riding is concerned, take your pick: silky smooth pavement, dirt or double black diamond "I'M GONNA DIE AWWWWWWWW" runs.
That's right; nobody's holding your hand fretfully saying "now be careful with our brand new $4500 bike." Obviously, those parameds on site with several ATV's carrying stretcher boards were not just eye candy (happily, I didn't see them get any action but scrapes and scratches did happen).
As to Eye Candy, there was plenty of that as well - both at the Outdoor Demo and at the 3 days of the Indoor Show. More bikes. More products. And pretty girls to draw your attention. It was a challenge to stay focused.
Dahon had a big presence at both the Outdoor Demo and on the show floor. Although I associate Dahon primarily with 20" folding bikes, they had quite a few standard sized bikes that fold. There was even a Dahon ExtraCycle at the show. Pretty neat.
I rode a 2009 Dahon Mu lightweight at the Demo. Outfitted with the 9 spd Shimano Capreo derailleur (I love that drivetrain), it was pretty nimble but what I really wanted to ride was the magnesium Mu XXV. Unfortunately, they didn't bring the XXV to the demo. :-(
BigFish, Brompton, Moulton
BigFish (the new brand from Slovenia) was there with their new folding bike (the one that makes the rock solid "Click-Clack" sound when folded or unfolded; look for a coming review). This is the bike that Slovenian athletes rode on at the Olympics. Also in attendance were classic looking Brompton's and delicate looking yet strong Moulton take apart bikes.
The Strida has been around for a long time; however, the brand has become quite exciting this year and is improving even more. Not only were there Strida 5.0's at the show but the limited edition MAS Special was there (see photo RIGHT with/Mark Sanders & I) as well as an 18" Strida, a Strida Mini and a variety of new Strida accessories. You go AreaWare/Ming! Great fun chatting folding bikes with Mark Sanders too (I want that remote folding bike, okay Mark...).
Pacific-Cycles of Taiwan was well represented. Present were their CarryMe's, a CarryAll, an IF Reach with the Swivel Head technology and even an IF Mode. That's right. The IF Mode is NOT vaporware; it's for real and it's awesome (so cool that one was actually stolen from EuroBike 3 weeks ago - a very rare occurrence). Oh how I wanted to ride that IF Mode to Lake Mead but they didn't fly in until after the Outdoor Demo was over.
Feature Ride: Boulder City To Hoover Dam
I did ride a Reach City 9 spd out from the Demo to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. What a blast that was. The bike is light and fast (according to my Garmin 305, the bike maxed at @35 mph). Primarily, the route follows a paved rail trail/drainage culvert that runs to Lake Mead. Since it hardly ever rains, you could ride this run just about every day of the year if you wanted. It's downhill pretty much all the way to the lake but there is ZERO shade and it does get hot out there. My advice: leave early and take plenty of water. If you followed the whole paved trail including the full Lake Mead loop, you can do 35+ miles of riding, all on trail.
Once the Boulder City/Lake Mead rail trail enters the Lake Mead National Park boundary, there's a visitor center just off the trail (between the trail and the highway). For a really nice hard pack/gravel ride, you can take the 6 Tunnels rail trail from this point all the way to Hoover Dam. The 6 Tunnels trail has outstanding views of Lake Mead and don't be surprised if you encounter mountain goats. In fact, those goats might be the only life you see along this trail until you get to Hoover Dam.
Expect a video of my Boulder City/Hoover Dam ride as well as a series of reviews of products I saw/tested from InterBike 2008. There's so much more to tell but, frankly, I have to get going. Bicycling to the airport and taking my bike aboard as a carry on is a really sweet deal but it's best not to do this at the last minute.