Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cross Vegas, Hot Designs and No Shows at Interbike

Yesterday was the first day of Interbike and some hot designs were on display.

First of all there was Nutcase, producing an amazing array of helmets, with stripes, squiggles, dots, painted flowers, splotches, or just subdued mat colors. These helmets are made for cycling, skating, skiiing and any other sport, and though they are not roadie style, I can see them being quickly snapped up by urban cyclists. They retail for $50.

Though we still have not had time to walk the show, we got a preview thanks to Hotvelociti (the other BBB hat,) of this terrific back drop to a booth not too far from Nutcase.

Then there's Hotvelociti of course, where we introduced cycling dresses for the first time--this is a skinsuit with skirt, modeled by Markie Ross.

 She's supposed to be on ICTV later today, Thursday, modeling the Blue Pool dress which retails for $175. Never mind that more than half of HV's products did not come in from the factory, they talked up their new team graphic styles with pictures.

Activity overall at the show seemed slightly less than 2007, but better than 2008. This is where the politics come in: show manager Andria Klinger says participation by exhibitors is up, but it is hard to see how this is true. Sections of the show were empty and big players weren't present this year for the first time, like Giant Bicycles, Castelli, and of course, Trek is not coming anymore. And I have heard of countless smaller companies not coming this year also. Some like Giant just attended the Outdoor Demo in Boulder City on Monday and Tuesday, others have either sold all their accounts already before the show, or are doing business from their hotel rooms.

It says a lot about show management who still have not come into the 21st century with the show process. Forms still have to be faxed!!!! and can't be entered on the Internet. My invoice never came to me either by mail or by email, even though I asked for it about 5 times.  When I arrived at LV, none of my booth furniture had been delivered, nor my carpeting. All the "faxed" forms had mysteriously disappeared, and I had to wait NINE hours for them to deliver everything. Mind you, there is some sort of f- up every year with GES, the furniture provider, and it makes you think that they really don't care about small companies.

Another mysterious happening, my booth was switched without my knowledge to another row (I was one row closer to the concession stand), and one of my competitors has a 10 by 20 in that row even though they were in the row I am in last year--the less desirable location. Show management's answer is to put on a big smile and pretend it never happened, but they can't imagine how many intelligent people they are dealing with who might just go and form their own competitive show that really has its act together.

Add to that, retailers seem to use Interbike as a way to shop around, but few are serious about placing orders at the event. Perhaps that's because many of them have already made commitments to the companies that don't have booths here. Which means Interbike needs to be at least 2 to 3 months earlier to really have any sales effect. I seriously considered not coming this year, and after the terrible experience I had setting up this year, I wonder if it is worth it.

Still I would love to hear other exhibitor's and retailer's comments. One exhibitor who has been coming for 14 years said that they did write orders here. So there may be a 50:50 rule, some do and some don't.  Still Interbike has come a long way, pointed out the inestimable Steve Stollman of Critical Mass fame who happened to come by from New York this year.

"The only bike show used to be one floor in the Toy  Building in New York," he said. "Now look at it." Got a good point there. Could it be that some of the big companies like Giant and Trek will come back one day?  Or will it become a bifurcated market, with smaller companies doing Interbike, and the bigger companies holding their own events? Either way, we spoke to some people who were pushing European shows, and the east coast "Interbike" equivalent (Interbike East) held in the fall in Rhode Island might start to generate more enthusiasm.

Next, to the Cyclo Cross race held at Mountain Spring Park last night. What a terrific event. At 7 pm industry riders took to the grassy course, at 8 pm were the women, and at 9 pm were the pros.

Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale. Cyclocross World) was the winner of the men's Elite race, and second place was road rider Christopher Jones (Champion Systems). The two stayed ahead for the bulk of the 10 lap race, which took them up and down a circuitous grassy course that looked harder than any road race I have ever seen.

In the women's Elite group, Katie Compton of Planet Bike took first place with Katarina Nash of Luna second. Check out the podium boys before they gifted the women!!! Ay yi yi, finally we get our due.

Cycling News has great coverage of the race.

Oh and BBB ran into Frankie Andreu at what was billed the best event of Interbike 2009, the Tweet up at Lavo's at the Palazzo, thanks to Lisa Hachadorian blogger Girl Meets Bike who invited me as one of her guests.

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