Monday, September 21, 2009

The Cyclist Nerd hits Las Vegas

Arrived at probably the worst cycling city in the United States, Las Vegas, NV for Interbike.

The giant jaccuzzi in my room

The show, if you don't know is one of the biggest gatherings in the U.S. for cycling business to show their products and for the press and bike store owners to come and see what's new. More on this later.

I don't have entirely negative feelings about the Las Vegas, even though it's completely unbikeable. Every inch of road space is taken for cars. And there are thousands of them. There is not enough sidewalk space for walking, and there are no shoulders for bicyclists.

Add to that, the intemperate weather (too hot) and the locus of the joint--exploiting working class people, and basically stealing their money. The whole recipe makes me want to puke. But okay there are some things I have come to like since I first started coming here.

A sideways view of Las Vegas from the plane: the only time Vegas looks cool. Like some kind of giant, underwater sea animal maybe.

For one I have a soft spot for the people who work here. Many work so hard, and they make very little, in the $20K to $50K range (kinda like how much I have been making since I became a "journalist'").

I have two friends that work in the casinos, and every hotel worker, restaurant worker I come across has a deep layer of real kindness, and many an under layer of pathos or sadness too. They have long stories to tell of why they have made this their home, and why they can't leave.

Like those bell hop guys who sent me in search of a Mexican restaurant two years ago. When we tried to come back, there were no cabs, so I tried to hitch. I thought it very strange that all the cars were slowing down but no one came to a stop.

Later I was told it was a famous strip for hookers.

Ah, but I had such a good time, I really mean that.

Another time I was walking down Flamingo Road, again looking for a good Mexican restaurant, and men who literally could have been infants when I was in college were stopping and asking me if I wanted "a ride. "

Flying in as the sun was setting this evening was spectacular. The patterns of the rocks, and the man made developments looks like Inca patterns from above. It was truly a beautiful view of Las Vegas I had never seen or imagined before.

Tomorrow before I put on my hat as CEO of Hotvelociti and try and sell my 2010 line,  I will have my BBB hat on for the Outdoor Demo being held a half hour away out of the city in Bootleg Canyon.

It will be the first time that I get to ride a bike out here and I am really looking forward to it. I have appointments lined up with Giant and Trek for the 24 mile ride from there to Lake Mead.

One year I did visit Lake Mead, and got to see firsthand how the water has been drained from the Lake by over use by Las Vegans (oh that does have a funny ring to it, doesn't it?), and a declining water table.

It was really frightening, you could see the layers of old water marks like the marks inside a tree, more than a hundred feet down. And though we swam in the water, it was murky, dense and concentrated with sediment and other roba that was the result of lower water.

I also got to see the Valley of Fire, a large red rock formation that we got completely lost inside of. It's not hard to get lost: all the rocks are endless and look the same. I had an opportunity to stay in a friend's camper out in the desert that year, and it was one of the most magical times I have ever had, with the soft pink tones of the desert at sun fall, and the full moon over the rocky terrain.

And I have met really terrific people here, like the people who work at the Hotvelociti booth every year, and who make it feel like coming home.

But to make this the gathering spot for cycling every year? It's an oxymoron: Interbike in Las Vegas.

Here is a pic of BBB taking advantage of her mirrored ceiling over the King Size bed. How a cycling nerd sees Las Vegas, replete with computer instead of some hired sex God. (Yes, that is my skin sticking out under my shirt, it's apropos, isn't it?)

And a few steps away from my bed is a giant jacuzzi, I mean, GIANT. It's bad Feng Shui really, I wish they would put a curtain on it, how am I going to sleep? And do you know why I am in this room?

Because otherwise I would have been on a SMOKING FLOOR (and paying $25 less), with smoke coming out of every crack and crevice, invading my room, my lungs, my clothing (well, forget it, I already reek of cigarette smoke, and all I did was walk through the lobby three times.)

Really, they should just move the whole meeting to New York, the cycling facilities are so much better there. I asked them to two years ago, and they said after "extensive consideration" they had decided to keep the meeting here over other more amenable slots.

For anyone who is interested, BBB is having talks about expanding its media coverage on cycling to an around the world format. Stay posted. It's gonna be big!

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