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Elly Blue sets off on her Great Interbike Adventure

Posted by on September 22nd, 2009 at 11:07 am

A crowd only a true bike geek could love.
(Photos: Interbike)

As I write this, our intrepid managing editor Elly Blue is en route to Las Vegas for one of the world’s largest bike industry gatherings — the Interbike trade show.

I have fond memories of working and walking the Interbike show floor, having gone several times as an employee of Chris King Precision Components, Old Man Mountain products, and later as an independent PR guy with clients in the bike business.

For a young, wannabe bike industry insider and former starry-eyed racer, the place was nothing short of nirvana. I would be so busy talking up products to dealers and rubbing shoulders with my heroes from the race track, the boardroom, and the newsroom that I would sometimes not even stop for lunch.

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It’s been several years since I attended the show (my laser-focus on BikePortland and lack of a budget have made it hard to justify), but I felt our site must have a presence this year. After I realized my calendar wouldn’t allow it, I was happy to realize that my intrepid staffer Elly Blue was eager to go.

Elly will be a great BikePortland representative at Interbike. She goes into it with completely fresh eyes — her only knowledge of the Interbike and the industry is the half-hour crash course I gave her before she left.

Elly’s Great Interbike Adventure
will begin at Outdoor Demo.

I’m not sure what exactly Elly will be compelled to report about. I told her to share whatever catches her eyes and ears. Elly said she’ll be looking mostly at transportation/utility/cargo oriented bikes and products, finding out what Portland people are up to, checking in on the vibe around e-bikes, and generally just soaking everything in.

I do know that in her research prior to the trip, Elly was amazed at how many photos of women in bikinis she saw at the show. “What does that have to do with bikes?” she asked me. I tried to convince her that the show was all about business, but she’s determined to find out for herself.

Elly’s experience will start with a few hours out in the dust at the Outdoor Demo later this afternoon.

Stay tuned the front page, our Twitter feed, and our Interbike 2009 Special Coverage page (I’ll run all her dispatches in the sidebar) for more from The Big Show.

[If you're at the show and want to connect with Elly, drop her an email at elly [at] bikeportland [dot] org or DM her on Twitter @ellyblue.]

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  • michael downes September 22, 2009 at 11:13 am

    As someone who has attended way too many Interbikes over the years I can only sympathize with Elly and wonder at the irony of holding the premier American bicycle show in the cycling equivalent of the ninth circle of hell. As for the bikini clad ladies……I think it has something to do with aerodynamics but I couldn’t vouch for that.

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  • Bill Stites September 22, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Elly will do a great job seeking out the utility/cargo set, that we love so much here in Portland.

    I’ll be most interested to read her take on the presence, or lack thereof, of e-bikes.

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  • Obiwan September 22, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I look forward to the coverage. Having gone before, I can totally agree with the “9th circle of hell” analogy. I hope she’s ready for the wierdness of being on a plane w/ a load of people that WANT to go to Vegas. I mean, they are going there ON PURPOSE. It only gets wierder when you land. Can’t wait to see the latest folding-recumbent-electricassist-bamboo-tricycle-with-continuously-variable-transmission-with-a-bumble-bee-bell.

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  • Elly Blue September 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    The good news is that I survived the bike ride from the Vegas airport to the convention center.

    Saw one other guy on a bike on the way here. He noticed me, too, couldn’t tell if he thought we were made for each other or he just was deciding whether or not to knock me over and grab the Brompton (thanks, Brompton!).

    Some photos.

    I was warned — but still did not realize a city could be this bad to bike in.

    Off to the dirt demo! Apparently there was a major crash on the highway that delayed a bunch of the shuttle buses. Can’t imagine how that happened. Bring on the weird.

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  • Elly Blue September 22, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    By the way, thanks for the nice intro story, Jonathan. :) Looking forward to meeting a bunch of folks here in the trafficless aircon world, please feel free to get in touch.

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  • beth h September 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Oh, Elly — as someone who went last year and is skipping this year, let me just warn you to make sure you drink plenty of water and GO OUTSIDE at least once an hour. Otherwise, the off-gasses from all the rubber and plastic will give you a migraine…

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  • Mark Allyn September 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Folks:

    May I suggest that if you think that Vegas is ‘hell’, then can we get a team together to try to host this here in Portland?

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  • michael downes September 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Elly,

    Top tip for overnighting in Las vegas (if indeed you are planning to stay). Request a humidifier for your room otherwise your nasal passage will end up dry and dusty as Bakersfield.

    Most hotels provide them for free.

    Mark,

    Interbike is a fairly massive event that may exceed the capacity of our meager convention center. Plus there is a lot of folks in the industry that, for whatever reasons, think of Interbike as a great vacation and a chance to ‘misbehave’ if you know what I mean. I think it’s a laudable goal but there would be a lot of inertia to overcome.

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  • Kt September 22, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I was talking to my brother about a client of ours who has gone to Interbike this year and he wanted to know what Interbike was.

    I described it thus: “It’s SEMA for bikes.”

    Being a car guy, he got that concept immediately. From what I’ve seen online (pics, reports, etc) this is exactly like SEMA, but slightly smaller and more fit. Same amount of scantily-clad booth girls, though.

    Elly, try to have fun in Vegas, anyway! :) I’d suggest getting out of town and going to the Red Rock Canyon for some adventure and outdoors time.

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  • beth h September 22, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    @ #’s 7 and 8:

    The behemoth that is Interbike signed a ten-year contract with the Sands Convention Center. I believe we are currently in year three or four of that deal, so Interbike is in Vegas for some time to come.

    Another, more important detail:

    Interbike’s primary purpose is to show off new stuff to dealers, and to get them to sign up for large pre-season orders. In the current economy many retailers are choosing NOT to place large pre-season orders, but will instead place many smaller “just-in-time” orders through the year.

    Additionally, A lot of those same retailers (including this one) are choosing to stay home from Interbike because, in the present economic climate, the trip is no longer cost effective. One very large wholesale distributor took a poll of its customers: to date, more than 45% are NOT attending Interbike this year.

    In my discussions with various wholesale distributors and product manufacturers, several have told me that they recognize a sea-change coming to the way bike shops obtain their stock.

    It’s quite telling that at least two major players in the market — Giant and Xtracycle — have opted not to have a booth at the indoor show at all. Instead, they will limit their Interbike presence to the two-day Outdoor Demo that is happening right now; then they’ll go home.

    Stay tuned. The bike industry could get a whole lot more interesting in the coming year.

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  • Elly Blue September 22, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Word is that attendance is up this year, at least at the outdoor demo.

    Post, pics from today coming soon…

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  • patrickz September 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Elly, if at all possible, and counting on clear skies, don’t miss the sunrise over there. I was in LV once (for a work-related workshop) and saw it twice from a 12th floor. Pure beauty. And I look forward to your reports from “the front”.

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  • Anonymous September 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Hey Elly, if any new family bike options catch your eye.. give me a shout :)
    Also, might be a rare thing but if Zigo is there… definitely pick their brain.. am dying to find out the next chapter in that drama. Also.. if there is any infant bike transport stuff.. I know in my dreams.. but I am daring to dream :)
    Have a GREAT time.. and remember it’s all pretend there… don’t overthink Vegas.. it’s really a downer if you do :)

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  • Scott September 22, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Tonight is our big polo tournament near UNLV. We’ll see how many of these out-of-towners we can get off the strip to the best beer and tequila selection in town.

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  • davidio September 22, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    “It’s quite telling that at least two major players in the market — Giant and Xtracycle — have opted not to have a booth at the indoor show at all.”

    Having read hundreds of articles on this site, I do believe this made me laugh harder than anything I have read here. Only by looking through a giant cone of Portland smugness would one think that Xtracycle is a “major player” in the bicycle market.

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  • Joe September 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Elly yes its still key to report what will
    (try) and shape 2010 in the bike industry.

    me thinks folding and cargo bikes should be a focus in this market. transport options.

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  • matthew September 28, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Felt and Trek/Fisher also participated in the Outdoor Demo, but skipped the Indoor portion of Interbike.

    It was a bit weird this year. There seemed to be many mixed opinions on the economy and the direction the mainstream bike industry is moving in. On one hand carbon was everywhere; on the other, an industry ‘expert’ held a seminar denouncing everything carbon. …he did like cargo and bucket bikes though.

    I enjoy the rare trip to Vegas, but I look forward to the day when I don a pair of glasses to visit the virtual tradeshow and then have only the items I’m really interested in shipped to me for demo.

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