Friday, October 19, 2007

Excel Sports Cross Vegas

Cyclocross... Las Vegas.... Sunshine.... Beer....... Four of my favourite things, I just had to find a reason to go and check it out.
Those very nice people at VeloPress tempted me with some book promo opportunities if I made it, I was looking for work and there was no knowing who I might bump into at the bike show, I had some airmiles that were about to expire, and, well it was a 'cross race and I didn't need a reason or excuse.

The race rocked! Even though I was jet lagged to hell and a 9pm start felt like the middle of the night after just 24hrs in that timezone, some beers woke me up I couldn't fail to be impressed by the effort and enthusiasm that had obviously gone into the event by Brook Watts, Chris Grealish, and the rest of the fella's involved. The course was just right; hard enough to ensure the right guy and gal won, especially with grass that felt (and looked) like riding on velcro, but fast and flowing enough that groups stayed together and the winner, certainly in the mens race, wasn't decided until the last few minutes of the race.
The majority of the crowd looked like they appreciated an opportunity to get out of the show halls, off the stands answering the same dumb questions, and get some fresh air away from the strip. Cow bells rang (they would have been "cyclo cross book" cowbells if they had arrived in time...), beer was spilt on the course in an attempt to make slippery beer-mud puddles (what a waste), tv cameras swung around on gantries, Elvis looked like a regular fat guy in a sparkly suit (Gary Fisher looked way-cooler), Dave and Richard race-announced like their lives depended on it, and the right Man and Woman won. It was great, and worth a week of my life on planes and in a 'lagged fuzz to be able to say I was there.
As for the book promo and work opportunity excuses to be in Vegas, well I'm sure if I'd been given a table and a box of books I could have sold a few, and a planned chat with the announcers at the race never quite materialised so that fell flat on its ass, and although I didn't get offered the job of my dreams at the show I did meet a lot of old friends and colleagues I hadn't seen for years, and I got to laugh at carbon 'Cross bikes complete with bottle cage bosses that were cable routed for top-pull front derailleurs that don't exist.... (see below).
Check out the amateur footage on utube and look for airtimes and dates for upcoming proper television coverage on Altitude Sports and Entertainment Network by logging onto, and more importantly make it a date next year, you wont be disappointed.

As it was Vegas it would be a shame to leave it without some awards, so....

Top 3 must-have 'Cross frames from the show: BMC, Time, Kuota.
Special award for building a frame without thinking hard enough: Ernesto Colnago who couldn't find anyone on the stand to explain how the front derailleur on the C50 could work without a pulley wheel behind the seat tube or a top-pull mech. Oh dear....

Top 3 friendliest people on stands at the show: Andrew Herrick, Crank Bros. Danielle Vidinich, Sock Guy. Dave Griebling, Squirt lube.
Special award for looking good but not realising that looking good and being freindly aren't the same thing: the Italian lady on the Campagnolo stand who's name I didn't get as the show pass with her name on clashed with her shoes so she didn't wear it.

Top ride at the race: Matt Toulouse; held up in the crash on the pavement first lap, but never gave up and was going as fast as the front group.

Best use of orange: Those Maxxis Boys on new Litespeed bikes with custom paintjobs and orange tyres.

Can anybody out there tell me why....? Barry Wicks can put the hurt on the best that America has to offer as well as anyone who has bothered to go over there from Europe, and be a great team mate to Ryan T, but loses time on the above and looks like a duck out of water if he tries to race in Europe? Is it like Guiness which tastes different in Ireland to America? Its the same thing but stick it on a plane for a few hours and something undefinable happens to it?!

1 comment:

erikv said...

Quote from Jonathan Baker in recent Velonews interview:

Sometimes it's a little confusing. You see [reigning world champion Erwin] Vervecken go to New York and guys are keeping up with him. But then you see [reigning U.S. national champion Ryan] Trebon come over here and he's struggling. Well, over here everyone is really fast and everybody is fighting you for every corner, elbowing you. You can't make a single mistake, and you are not starting from the front like back home. Trebon is used to making that front selection and being with 2-3 guys in the front. That's easy. Here you are fighting for 15th place and if you make one slip you never see the front again.