Friday, September 25, 2009

Interbike, Part II

Now fully armed with Metrigear stuff, I had to figure out how to tackle the convention floor layout. Pretty simple to just walk the aisles so that's what I just did. First up was the Euro area of the show. Strained conversations were the norm here. I got the sense that a few of the interested people at some of the booths were having a hard time trying to get through the language barrier of the foreigners.

For me this happened at the Acros booth. This is a German company that has some pretty light weight gear. Yup, a homegrown competitor to the other weight-weenie company Tune. They displayed a sub-700g wheelset made from their hubs and some new prototype AX Lightness rims. I asked about the hub weight, but this was lost in translation. I never got the answer. Most of the other Euro stuff were things I had already seen from the interweb postings from Eurobike.

Continuing my assault on the aisles, I soon found myself approaching the Vittoria/3T/Selle San Marco booth. And to my surprise there were some Garmin riders signing autographs. I'm typically not an autograph/rider groupie, but I couldn't pass up see these guys in person. First up was Christian Vande Velde, then some other random Garmin guy who I couldn't identify, and then Dave Z. All of them were cool, but I was most interested in DZ partly from my own twisted fascination with TT's and his complete domestic dominance of this discipline. I had a photo taken with him, but he didn't want to look short, so he stood up on his chair to even things out a little bit.

And here's DZ's secret weapon to being fast. His shoulders are so narrow that he probably could have been birthed from his mother at his current side and she probably wouldn't have needed an epidural at all. This dude is narrow, plain and simple.

Along the way I'd get folks asking me what Metrigear was all about, so I'd hand them the literature, show them my Speedplay pedal and direct them to the booth. I started to hit the wall and came across the Fizik booth. Some neat stuff there, but best of all was the espresso vendor. I downed a double and kept on working.

I eventually came across some other regionally focused vendors. First up where the Asian companies. These all felt cheap and inexpensive. I felt like I was walking through rows and rows of copy-cat designs and rip offs. I was happy to move on and find I was soon halfway across the world and surrounded by the Italians. All the Italian vendors had a certain air about they were the holders of cycling's holy grail (not sure what that may be, but the Italians probably have it...maybe it's called the World Champion rainbow jersey). Besides the class of the Italians, I really appreciated their attention to detail; very refreshing and a nice change from some of the in-your-face displays from other parts of the floor. I was surprised by the number of clothing vendors from Italy. A ton of vendors showing fabrics and clothing components. Neat stuff if you're a chamios geek.

On the way out of the Italion stallions, I passed through the Kuota booth. Go figure, more pros! John Murphy (US Crit champ), Rory Sutherland and Floyd Landis were just chilling at a table with nobody around. I saddled up and asked for a poster, and given the lack of action, and probably because there weren't any pretty girls around, they decided to strike up a conversation with me and ask what brought me to Interbike. We probably talked for five minutes and there were all pretty excited about a pedal-based powermeter. Nice guys.

A quick check of the clock revealed it was 1:30pm. The espresso was wearing off and I needed nutrition. I headed back to the Metrigear booth and met up with Alan. We headed over to grab lunch. Since he had been on the floor the day before he gave me the rundown of what transpired the day before and some booths I had missed that I needed to head back to and look at in more detail.

On the way back I wanted to hit up Pearl Izumi and find out what was new with some of the aero shoe covers. We had to cut through Shimano. Yes, I know. A Campy guy like me walking through the Shimano booth. It was damn tough. To make it worse, George Hincapie was signing autographs. I pushed aside the Campy voices in my head and had George sign a poster for me. However, the picture Alan took with my iPhone didn't turn out at all. Oh well. And if George is "big", then I'd hate to see the rest of the peloton. He's not that big, just normal size.

Wow, so who else did I bump into? Well, Lennard Zinn (VeloNews technical editor and tall guy frame builder) asked me where the Metrigear booth was located. And yes, he's not as tall as he claims too. It's like high school again when you hear about athletes from opposing teams (or frame-building editors) seeming to be larger than life, and then when you see them in person there's a different perspective you walk away with. Trust me, I played against a lot of 6'7" guys in high school who were barely pushing 6'4".

By this time the day was winding down. I hit up the espresso guy again and swung by the Bell/Easton booth. An old Stanford teammate of mine is the business manager for their helmet business. He was in the middle of a conversation with some former US mountain bike pro champ, but when he saw me he quickly excused himself. We caught up and later I told this story to the rep at the Prologo saddles booth. He said that my buddy was probably all too eager to get out of the conversation with the bike rider because the rider was most likely only talking about themself.

With sore legs I went back to the booth and meandered through Rotor and Selle San Marco. Rotor is coming out with their Q-rings for the Zipp cranks (which will suit my road bike just nicely thank you). Selle San Marco just came out and updated the Regal saddle at Eurobike. They've shaved 150 grams off the saddle and have retained the shape. Finally, a nice big saddle without a significant weight penalty. I asked the rep if I could buy one, but he had to keep it around until the show ended.

This led to a moment of enlightenment. Some of these vendors are willing to wheel and deal with their goods on Friday. As the show closes down, they're looking for ways to reduce the amount of product they need to ship out. So with that in mind I took Mandi over from the Metrigear booth, made introductions between her and the San Marco guy, and gave them both instructions on the saddle make/model/color I wanted. Mandi, I owe you!

Wow, is reading this exhausting? Yeah, probably. Just like being on your feet all day at the show. More reads to come in Part III and pictures.


Dan Kaempff said...

Pretty cool first hand reporting, Todd. Thanks! I'm excited to hear about the new Regal. That's my saddle of choice, but even with ti rails, it's no flyweight. I'll be interested in seeing one in person.

Manley Man said...

I think you'll really like what they've done with the new least I did. I have the older Ti rail model on the commuter and am still in the process of breaking it in (just got it 4 weeks ago).

With the new weight around 200g, this saddle is a viable option for the weight weenie in me. And the fact that it has a ton of surface area for sitting just makes it that much better.

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