On the way to the Interbike Outdoor Demo today, Kenny and I had a strategy session on how we would determine what kinds of experiences we would seek out. Before long, we narrowed the approaches that interested us to two:
- Find and ride the best-of-breed versions of what we already enjoy riding. In both our cases, that meant we could spend the day finding and riding top-notch 29" hardtails. In fact, we probably could have spent the day doing nothing but riding and comparing fully rigid 29" singlespeeds. Yes, Interbike is so diverse that that niche could easily have occupied us for the whole day.
- Find and ride stuff that we normally don’t ride at all. Since both Kenny and I already ride top-of-the-line fully rigid 29" singlespeeds, what if we spent the day exploring and riding stuff that was completely different?
Both of these options were good ones, but we agreed that it’d be fun to explore the wild and wacky side of the world of cycling.
I think it was a good call. Here’s some of what we did, in the order we did it.
All-Mountain Touring: The Salsa Fargo
The first booth we stopped at was Salsa. Kenny, in a rare moment of weakness, wanted to immediately abandon the "let’s ride stuff we don’t usually ride" plan, and picked out the Selma — their 29" scandium / carbon SS bike — I just left it up to the guys in the booth.
"Give me something interesting," I said. And they gave me the Fargo, a 29" mountain bike, set up to be fully rigid with drop bars, with eyelets in place for racks and panniers-a-plenty. The idea behind this bike is comfortable multi-day outings, on-road and off.
I thought it would feel ridiculous and awkward to ride.
I was wrong.
On the short mountain bike course at the expo — mostly singletrack — I comfortably switched between riding in the drops (when climbing or braking) and on the hoods (when on wide, open terrain).
A few minutes on this bike and I found myself wondering what kind of big adventures this bike would be suitable for.
As Kenny and I walked by the Rans booth, Kenny said, "We should try out riding recumbents."
I laughed and we kept walking.
Then I stopped and said, "Yeah, we should."
And so we did. Kenny started on a real-life recumbent, which he nearly wrecked when he tried to execute a simple U-turn.
Apart from the strangeness of whacking his knees against the handlebars, and the disconcerting nature of having the front wheel roughly thirty feet in front of him, Kenny said that his least favorite part of riding this bike was the miles and miles of chain required, and the way it slaps around constantly.
I’m not sure Kenny’s ready to convert.
As for me, I got a low-to-the ground tricycle-style recumbent.
Unlike the two-wheeled ‘bent, this trike took no time at all to get used to. Steering is intuitive, and balance doesn’t enter into it.
But I had to ask myself: "Why?" Why would I ride this bike? It’s slower than a conventional road bike. It’s heavier. It’s vastly more complicated. The only compelling reason I could think of was if you found a ‘bent more comfortable.
The thing is, though, I’m very comfortable on regular bikes. I can go all day — literally — seated on a Selle Italia SLR. A hammock’s a little overkill.
I’m not saying I’d never buy and ride a ‘bent, but that day is not upon me yet. Nor upon Kenny, I’m pretty sure.
Still, it was fun to try one out and get contemptuous looks from people on regular bikes as I struggled up a gentle climb.
Oh, and I noticed that during my fifteen minutes of riding a ‘bent, I grew a full beard.
Gary Fisher Roscoe
What is the opposite of a fully-rigid 29" singlespeed? Well, probably a downhiller, but I just couldn’t bring myself to try one of those, because of my snobby belief that nobody should be allowed to ride anything downhill that they didn’t first ride uphill.
So the bike furthest from my personal point in the mountain biking universe may well be the new Gary Fisher Roscoe: a 26"-wheeled, 6"-front-and-back, geartastic bike.
But Travis Ott — Gary Fisher Bike Brand Manager — told me I ought to ride one. He said I’d have fun.
And he was totally right.
The Roscoe encourages you to plow through stuff. To run over stuff. To drop off stuff. To ride your bike as if you have recently attended the Monster Truck School of mountain biking.
And so I did.
Kenny got a nice sequence of me ignoring lines and plowing straight ahead:
Please feel free to note the goofy grin in that last picture. And also please note that I later turned around and rode up the same pitch. This bike takes big hits, but it’s also light enough that you can climb back up afterward (or beforeward, depending on where you start your ride).
This last one’s not easy for me to talk about, because I am somewhat conflicted about my reaction to one of the bikes Kenny and I tried out.
You see, we tried out a couple of electric-assist bikes from iZip…and I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that we both had a ball.
Here’s me, laughing out loud, my shirt billowing full of air as I easily hit 35mph, as I blast by road cyclists — as if they were standing still — on my cruiser-looking bike:
And riding uphill is just as hilarious. La-di-da as you casually pedal 20mph up the steep gradient.
These bikes look horrible and obviously have cheap components to keep people not used to how much a good bike costs from going into sticker shock.
But they’re fun. And I can’t help but think, "Maybe I could get my boys to come biking with me if I got one of these."
Hot and Tired
That’s just a sampling. There was other wacky stuff we rode, and I’ll be talking about them — and showing photos — soon.
Though it’s quite probable that I will destroy the video of me riding the bike you pedal like a stairstepper. Some things are best left unseen.
I’m working on my writeup of today’s Outdoor Expo excursion, but first I wanted to say that Kenny and I had dinner with Brent Gale and Ryan Carlson, the geniuses behind Twin Six.
Brent would let me photograph him only upon the condition that I put big black X’s over his eyes. Hey, I’m here to please.
And then, after dinner, Brent and Ryan sprung a great surprise on me: they’ve received a few prototype 2009 Fat Cyclist jerseys.
And they look awesome. Kenny likes his so much, in fact, that he never wears anything else.
Here he is, wearing it while he watches the hotel’s pay-per-view previews for the thousandth time.
And here he is, modeling the back of the jersey.
Or maybe he’s on the way to the bathroom. I guess we’ll never be sure.
There’s some surprise text behind the center pocket, too. You’ll just have to wait and see what it is, though, until the jerseys start shipping (which will be soon).
And now, I’m going to get back to writing about the Interbike Outdoor Expo, which I am pleased to announce will include the following photo:
Kenny and I are in the bus on the way to the Interbike Outdoor Expo.
I have had to tell Kenny to stop kicking the seat in front of him
three times. I swear, I can’t take him anywhere.
I’ve got a messenger bag with thirty Fat Cyclist T’s in it. It’s
remarkably heavy so I’m looking for any excuse I can find to give them
So far I have given away three — all three were to people who
recognized Kenny from the blog and wanted me to take their pictures
Last night, Kenny — whom I have hired as my photographer, because as my Working Press badge makes clear, I am the publisher of FATCYCLIST.COM, as well as a freelancer for BikeRadar.com — and I started our voyage to Las Vegas, where we very soon begin our coverage of InterBike 2009, if only I can get Kenny to stop drinking and lounging at the pool.
Anyway, we only got as far as St. George last night anyway, because we had business to conduct there.
Specifically, we wanted to ride the Green Valley Loop and the Zen trail this morning. And I have to say, having never ridden either of these trails before, that after riding them this morning I was giving serious consideration to maybe pushing off my InterBike attendance by an extra day, in order to get some more trail time in.
Green Valley Loop
Imagine a rollercoaster made out of baked desert clay. That’s the Green Valley Loop. You climb for a while, and then just let loose, following the humpty-bumpty-ziggy-zaggy trail to the bottom.
I’m too far away for you to tell, but — trust me — I’ve got a big ol’ happy face on here.
This ride is perfect for a singlespeed and rigid fork, by the way.
Oh, and I got a cool action sequence of Kenny dropping down what in reality looks like a freakishly steep wall and here looks like it’s barely downhill at all.
And here’s Kenny, contemplating his mortality at the edge of a certain-death cliff:
And all of this leads up to the question: if I hired Kenny to be the photographer for this boondoggle, how come I’m the one taking all the pictures? (Answer: because I know who my readers would rather have photos of.)
Confession of Apprehension
After the ride, we finished the drive to Las Vegas. As we got close, my nervousness grew (and it hasn’t really gone away). You see, while I’m perfectly happy to ham it up with a small group of friends — or on my blog, which feels like a small group of friends — I do not like big cities, or convention centers, or crowds of any sort. I don’t go to big parties. I don’t hang out at clubs. I don’t break into sweats, panic, and bolt for the door; I just prefer quieter places, where I have a better chance of being the center of attention.
Between you and me, I’m a little worried that this bike-centric trade show thing is not going to be my kind of thing.
Tomorrow Kenny and I are headed for the Outdoor Expo part of the show, and I am looking forward to that, because I am assured I will get to try out a whole buncha bikes. I expect to behave much like a kid in a candy store, where all the candy is really, really expensive.
And I’ll be wearing a messenger bag, stuffed full of Fat Cyclist t-shirts, which I have decided make a fantastic business card.
A Note from Fatty: I’ll be at Interbike all next week, getting the stories nobody else has the guts to report. On Wednesday, I’ll also be on a panel called “Just the Basics: What You Need to Know About Web 2.0,” which will be in Casanova Room 601 at 2:30. I plan to show up about half an hour early with a few Fat Cyclist t-shirts to give away. If you’re going to be at Interbike, come by and introduce yourself. Then, if you feel like it, stick around for the panel.
I have a crazy theory. I’m almost entirely sure it’s wrong, what with the teeny little problem that I have exactly zero facts (or even rumors) to support it.
But I like my theory, so I’m going to bring it up anyway, in the hope that you too will like this theory, and you’ll spread it as if it were fact. And then it will become rumor.
And — as everyone knows — most rumors have a kernel of truth. And if it has a kernel of truth, well, why can’t the whole thing be true? See, my theory will go from ridiculous notion to plausible possibility in just a few short steps, without me having to do any work.
I should write a book on this technique. I could call it The Secret 2: This Time It Requires Even Less Actual Work.
OK, I’m off track, aren’t I? Yes, yes I am. Where was I? Oh yes, my theory.
As you learned in my world-exclusive announcement last week, Lance Armstrong is returning to professional cycling. What Lance didn’t tell me — that dude can be so coy sometimes! — is what team he’ll be riding with.
So here’s my theory.
Lance Armstrong won’t be joining a team. He’ll be forming one: Team LiveStrong.
OK, that sounds a little nuts, but hear me out. Armstrong has said, “I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden.” And he’s said he’ll be announcing more on September 24th (probably while I’m presenting at that panel at Interbike, with my luck).
Sure, as a cyclist on Astana he could have some impact, but on a team of his own — a team branded not to sell a product or company, but to raise money and awareness to fight cancer — he could have a much bigger impact.
I know that — for the first time ever — I’d buy a pro team kit. And I would root for Armstrong and his team like I never have before. And I daresay there’d be renewed interest in next year’s Tour.
When you think about it, you know what seems likely? Team Astana — a Trek-supported team with Bruyneel leading the way, but evidently locked out of the TdF due to its name — will be bought by Armstrong, becoming Team LiveStrong.
Would ASO — the organizer of the Tour de France — turn away a team explicitly created to fight cancer, helmed by winningest TdF racer in history?
Uh, no. No it wouldn’t.
I really like my theory. Sure, it’s probably wrong, but a man can dream, right?
And besides, just in case I’m right, I want to be on the record as being the guy who saw it coming.
Just supposing this works out to be real, I furthermore bet the following:
- George Hincapie will find a way to join the team.
- Alberto Contador will find a way to leave the team formerly known as Astana for some other team. He’s at the top of his game; he won’t want to play second fiddle to Lance. Something tells me he won’t have a difficult time finding a new team to race for.
- Rock Racing will look even more ridiculous whenever they race alongside Team LiveStrong. Consider: one team is dedicated to fighting cancer, the other team is dedicated to selling very expensive pants (among other very expensive things).
- FatCyclist.com will make a case to many people at LiveStrong that it should be the official blogger of Team LiveStrong. This case will take the form of open letters. Ultimately, I believe that these pleas will not be successful. But it’s worth trying anyway.
What do you think Armstrong will announce on 9/24? By all means, feel free to augment, supplement, or debunk my theory with your own.
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