Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interbike: Where to Begin

I returned to Flagstaff late Thursday night after two exciting days in Las Vegas at Interbike 2011.  And no, I did not hit the casinos or go to any shows; I was there only for bicycles and all things bicycles and that's exactly what I got!

Uh oh!  I'm at the Brompton exhibit!  Like a moth to the flame . . .
In truth, I wanted to go to Interbike last year but didn't even consider doing so since I questioned what right I had being there.   I am, after all, a mere bicycle dilettante, barely able to put air in her tires.  I don't belong to the bike industry, nor am I a member of the "working press".  More than that, who cares what I think?  But you know, I soon learned that a few non-industry people I am acquainted with went last year.  Some bike bloggers who I follow went as consumers and reporters for their readership.  I've even learned how handy an allen wrench is for making on the emergency adjustments to handlebars and seatposts.  Why shouldn't I go?  As one of my readers alerted me just a few weeks back, I landed number 41 on's list of 50 Most Influential Cycling Bloggers of 2011 so maybe a handful of people actually are interested in what I have to say.  I told Ted at Commute by Bike, the blog I write product reviews for, that I wanted to go and he invited me to tag along with them this year.  I registered and was accepted as a member of the working media, but still, I hesitated just a little.  Did I really belong there?

The answer turned out to be most definitely!

Yes, it really DOES matter that it's cute!
Yes, Interbike is the huge North American bicycle trade show but it is so much more than that.  It is an event for and by people who are passionate about bicycling, whether it is racing, cycle cross, recreational or commuter/utility.  I met bike builders, engineers, marketers, journalists, retailers, designers, advocates, consumers and fellow bloggers.  Just like me, they came to Interbike because they love bicycles and everything it contributes to how they live.  I met the CEO of Timbuk2, Mike Wallenfels, and immediately knew why I love my Shift Pannier-Messenger so much.  I got the feeling that Mike organizes a good portion of his life around his commute and getting to where he want to go by bike.  The Shift is a product that is perfectly designed to do what he needs it to do.  I met so many people just like him.

Haniya Hussain (Urbana), Richard Masoner (Cyclelicious), Josh Lipton (Bike Shop Hub), Ted Johnson (Bike Shop Hub), me, and Paul Harris (Urbana)
How often do any of us get the chance to be surrounded as far as the eye can see by so many people who feel strongly about the same things that we do?  You forget to eat in that kind of energy.  It happened for me in art school and much later when I was a Legislative Aide in Louisville, Kentucky.  And it happened again last week at Interbike where, refreshingly, nobody thinks it's strange that I show up to meetings or the doctor's office on a Dahon.  It is agreed by all that keeping funding for bike infrastructure in the transportation bill is a no-brainer.

Sheila Moon apparel, designed by a woman, for women.
My final point in this first post about my experience at Interbike 2011 is that my thoughts and YOUR thoughts as cyclists, consumers, or bloggers does matter.  Almost everyone I spoke to at Interbike seemed to care about not only educating me and finding out about my experience with their products but also learning about how I acquired my passion for bicycles and what I hoped to accomplish as a bike blogger.  Interestingly, at least to me, there was quite a bit of buzz about who speaks for women cyclists. The consensus seemed to be that despite the fact that the event was well attended by women, it is men who are usually doing the talking.  True or not it is fodder for discussion and I hope some of that will happen here.  I'll be posting more on Interbike 2011 throughout the next few weeks in between other posts.  As always, I look forward to hearing your reactions.


Sam said...

Good introduction! I'm looking forward to reading your perspective especially, because truth is, I hardly can tell what the various components on my bike are without hurriedly looking up a image with the components labelled on google images.

Ben said...

Sounds like a very nifty trip. Why did you think you weren't worthy of going earlier? And congrats on the Top 50 status....pretty cool!

John Romeo Alpha said...

I think a lot us who follow you find it valuable when you share what you find useful and worthwhile in a product, to help separate out the glitz and marketing hype. Of which I'm pretty sure there was a fair amount at Interbike.

Kara said...

Las Vegas is about 6 hours away for me by car. I might have to drive down next year. This looks so fun. Who cares if we're "just" bloggers. And I really think that cycling dress is so cute!

She Rides a Bike said...

Ben, I think my "I'm not worthy" issues stem from my career being off track for the last few years (I'm employed though so at least I'm still in the workforce), coupled with the fact that the bike bug really only took hold 4 years ago. Even in my previous careers I always struggled with that worry that everyone would find out that I was a complete fraud. I have to remind myself that that thinking is pretty common. But as Kara points out who cares of we're just bloggers.

And Kara, Sheila Moon really did have some cute biking clothes. Definitely a more fashionable alternative to the usual Lycra.

Jeff Moser said...

I went last year. Arrived by plane in the morning, left by plane in the evening. In between I tried to see each and every booth at the indoor show until finally I thought my head would explode! I did get to meet a few cool people in the bike biz, but missed many connections too...never would have imagined just how big it would be. I sat this year out, but hope to go next year and spend more than one day!

She Rides a Bike said...

Next year, I plan to go with a better plan now that I know what to expect. I will try to set up appointments with questions that I've outlined for myself in advance. I also intend to get really skilled with my camcorder. I was completely intimidated by it so I'll be lucky if I can piece together something decent.

BluesCat said...

I think it's great that folks like you, Kara, Ted Johnson, Josh Lipton, Sheila Moon and a lot of other bike commuting advocates are exhibiting and attending Interbike.

As I told you over on Commute by Bike, looking at the photos on a lot of forums, the impression I get is that the main Interbike theme is "Racers Rule!" Good to see the other side, MY side of bicycling, is so well represented here. Keep it up, Karen!

inspiredcyclist said...

What a great experience! I enjoyed reading about it from you, and the photos as always!

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