Exclusive: The Survivor’s Guide to Surviving Interbike
By Mike Ferrentino
Filmed and Edited by Dan Barham
Okay, so we’re at Interbike, the bike industry’s once a year chance (in the US, at least) to get together in one place, kick tires, take notes, tell lies, and see who has the worst new graphics. As with any trade show worth its salt, Interbike takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes, there used to be an Interbike East, that flitted around between Philly and Atlantic City, and yes, there was a dark time where Interbike spent a few years in Anaheim. And grizzled old timers tell stories of when Interbike used to take place in a corn field outside of Des Moines, or something like that, and pundits argued the merits of “safety” versus “ordinary” bicycles, while disgruntled proponents of velocipedes scowled at the sound of steam train whistles shattering the peaceful air. But Vegas is where Interbike has been happening now for the past 15 or so years, and Vegas is therefore going to be the backdrop for this short, informative guide for how not to be a total chump at Interbike.
Because Vegas, in spite of all the advertising, is not the kind of place you fuck around with. We’ll explain that more, as we head into, Interbike Survival Tip #1.
1. Know The Beast That Is Las Vegas
Bugsy Siegel, arguably the father of Las Vegas, would’ve eaten your babies if he thought there was any profit in the act. Forget everything the movies tell you about Las Vegas, forget all that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas bullshit, ignore the “Sin City” tagline, pay no attention to the little old ladies slapping cards of nude women at you as you walk down the strip. This city is not Sodom; it’s not Gomorrah. It is, however, a highly evolved work of art, a beast that is perfectly evolved to serve just one purpose, and it executes that single purpose with a ruthlessness and efficiency that is truly spectacular. That purpose is this; Las Vegas exists to separate you from your money.
All those cheap hotel rooms, two-for one meals, fly and stay combo packages, reduced weekday rates, free drinks while gambling, no cover clubs, and the orchestrated marketing of the notion that you can pursue your most base desire without fear of moral consequence, it is camouflage that serves serves one end and one end only – to empty your wallet. Learn it, live it, love it. Step back, watch this endless stream of humanity as it seethes past you, and listen to the jubilant song of the slot machines and the cash registers. It really is a majestic piece of work. However, if you’re posted up here on this website, there’s a good chance that you are in some way involved in the bike industry. Safe to say you probably don’t have a whole lot of money to piss away in the first place.
2. You Are Not Going To Be Remembered For Your Blackjack Skills
Or your poker face, for that matter. Nor will you be known as the dude who stood atop the craps table and threw hundred dollar chips by the fistful into the crowd, screaming “Drinks are on me tonight, bitches! I broke the hizzouse!!”
Why not? Why do I gotta rain on your daydream? Because it is just that – a daydream. That doesn’t really happen. The high rollers in a town like this are rare enough to be mythological creatures, spoken of in reverential “I knew a guy who knew a girl who knew a guy” terms. They exist the same way that Elvis still lives in a beach shack with Jimi Hendrix, and the way Bigfoot roams the redwood forests looking for pieces of petrified wood to offer the Lemurians in exchange for maps to their tunnels that burrow under Mt Shasta into other dimensions of time and space. It is possible, they may exist, these high rollers. But then again, this is Vegas, and The House Always Wins.
3. A $20 In A Strippers G-string Does Not Equal True Love
We don’t really have to spell this one out, do we? Folks, we’re all ostensibly grown up here… ‘nuff said. But this, the grim specter of empty pocketed drunks emerging into the glaring dawn of another supernova cruel day in the desert only to realize they have to be at work in two hours talking to all and sundry about bikes, raises a very important point:
4. Know Why You Are Here
You are here, at Interbike, because you have a job to do. You, or someone, spent money to get you here, put you up somewhere, feed you, maybe even left you with some walking around money for drinks and cabs. Do everyone a favor. Do your job. If it is your job to stand in a booth from 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening talking about why your bike is rad, stand there and do just that. Know what it weighs, what it costs, what colors it comes in, and what the availability is. If it is your job to find a new line of bike for your boss’s shop, then question the ears right off of those booth monkeys about every bike that catches your eye. Take notes. Report back to your boss. If your job consists of handing out candy while dressed in a Tigger costume, rock the shit outta that role.
Yeah, it’s a show, and that is part of that involves canned beer with old friends, and a prescribed amount of goofing off, and even going out and getting hammered and regretting it. BUT, do not let that get in the way of doing your job. Nothing spells “r-o-o-k-i-e-l-o-s-e-r” like some hungover dipshit who doesn’t know a thing about the product he or she is supposed to be representing. Great, you went out and got shitfaced last night. Good for you. So did almost everyone else. You know what separates the pros from the rest? The pros can still show up and get the job done, even if their eyeballs are bleeding. There is never really an excuse for amateur hour.
Speaking of amateur hour…
4a. You Are Being Watched
Okay, say you don’t agree with my statement that Vegas is a monetary succubus, or that you disagree with points 2 and 3 and consider yourself to be the entire retinue of the Oceans Whatever movie franchise all rolled into one high stakes flaunting, Bugsy Siegel defying, money and stripper magnet. AND, you are pretty sure your boss won’t know what you get up to between shifts on the strangely conductive for static electricity trade show carpet. Go for it. Turn the know to 11 and break it off. Live the dream. Yep, damn straight, Mister Tyson gonna want his tiger back… Just bear this one thing in mind. You are being filmed. The casinos are full of cameras. Your friends all have cameras. Shit, there are ENTIRE WEBSITES DEDICATED TO THE ACT OF BEING RUINED IN VEGAS. It’s just a little something to remember when you wake up in an alley without your pants. Someone got that on video, and it is probably becoming a viral sensation on YouTube before you even remember why your knees are all skinned, let alone who took your wallet.
Right, back to general Trade Show stuff. Whether you are partying like it is last call in Valhalla or whether you are getting a solid 8 and hitting the show early each day, remember to drink enough water to make your kidneys float. This is a desert, and an air-conditioned hell. It sucks the moisture out of the human body fast enough to make a human being resemble a dried apricot slice in less than 12 hours of left unhydrated. Drink often, and pee a lot. Which brings us to…
6. Lávese Sus Manos
One of the benefits of having to pee often is that it affords the opportunity to wash hands often. If you are doing your due diligence at a trade show, it is entirely likely that you will shake hands with dozens, maybe hundreds of people every day. It is uncouth and kind of serial killer creeepy to whip out some hand sanitizer following each handshake, and it is sadly retarded to engage in fist bumps or elbow bops or some other codified bro-gesture of greeting. Handshakes get it done. Just take the opportunity to go wash the damn things every so often. Your doctor can thank me later.
7. Take A Seat
You will spend two days standing in the desert sun, getting crisped, talking about bikes, followed by three days stalking the cavernous halls beneath the disorienting glare of freakish lights that were probably stolen from some sort of internment camp, and one thing will become very apparent. There are not many places to sit down. If you stay standing, rocking back on your heels with arms folded while debating the true meaning of “murdered out” or wondering why fat bikes aren’t coming in 27.5” wheel sizes yet, all while a messenger bag hangs lopsided from one shoulder and slowly drags your soul into the basement, you will feel, somewhere around noon on day two of the indoor portion, a pain sort of like an ice pick being driven into your L5 vertebrae. This is common, and nothing worth worrying about. But it will make you cry in your sleep sooner or later. So, either get used to it, or ditch the messenger bag (but please, for the love of God, DO NOT replace it with a roller bag. Jasen Thorpe will justifiably kick it over every time he sees you haplessly trundling it around inadvertently ruining everyone else’s day), or keep an eye peeled for somewhere to put your ass down for a few minutes. We evolved into upright walking beings, and we also realized that sitting is a mixed bag as far as the whole postural thing goes. But trust me on this. A few brief sits during each day of a trade show are worth more than a lifetime of private moments in the VIP room at Crazy Horse lll.
8. Nobody Cares How Trashed You Got Last Night
Just thought we ought to repeat that. Seriously. Be pro.