What impressed me at Interbike, the annual bicycle trade show

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Anonymous's picture

I've just returned from Interbike, the annual bike industry trade show. Here are my exceedingly limited impressions of it, as always leavened with wry.

Firstly, I must tell you, although I walked the show for each of its three days, I'm not a good reporter of it: I saw very little, in fact almost nothing, of it. That's because my agenda at the show keeps me moving, and in a way that almost obviates my really seeing the show. I can explain this seeming paradox if need be. However, here are my limited impressions.

Tiger puts 2000 people out of work.

There is a shrine on The Strip in front of The Mirage Hotel, lately home to Siegfried & Roy. It's Princess Diana, Part 2.

From tigers to cages.

The most interesting product I saw was a bottle cage. It holds two bottles, one on top of another, on a single downtube mount. The company is Tallac. It also sells a small bottle to use in one of the holders in place of your under-saddle bag with spare tube(s), money, tools, and maybe a cell phone.

Why don't all computers mount like Sigma's?

Nylon ties on bike computers make me gnash my teeth. They're too difficult to work with, look ugly, don't remove easily or quickly, and are not easily or quickly replaced...as are computers and magnet pick-ups held with elastic bands. Until now Sigma was the only maker of the latter. Ads tell you Vetta has joined them--but not the people at the Vetta booth. The company has been sold yet again--I think for the third time in four years--to Asian buyers who operate in Virginia. I had a difficult time making myself understood by them as I extolled attaching computers and magnet pick-ups with elastics. So what did they sell me when I thought I was buying their new, elastic-attached computer? Yep. Old inventory...attached with nylon ties.

Light as a nickel.

Imagine a headlight and a tailight each no bigger than a nickel and likely no heavier, either. It's not a light to illuminate the roadway, but to indicate to drivers that if they want to hit a cyclist, there you are. Well, I'm being too cynical here: the lights seem to be enough to signal you on the road. And they attach and unattach literally in two seconds...or less. Their method of attachment is identical to the Sigma (and maybe Vetta?) referred to above: with elastic bands. The maker is a company named Baldieri.

Carbon dating.

Well, I never went out with a carbon girl. But the floor of the bike show was awash in carbon and everyone is now playing carbon-catchup.

There were handlebars by several manufacturers that are formed to your hand in a way superior to any heretofore. A few manufacturers had them.

Craig Calfee of Calfee bikes will custom make a single carbon piece that consists of whatever handlebar you send him and a stem.

Carbon dating, Part II

Would you want a pedal body made of carbon? I wouldn't. I put the pedal into the ground too often to want to see it shred and crack or worse. If you differ from me, there are carbon pedals out there.

Helmets: To air is humane.

It's not likely I'm going to get another helmet account so, here, any of you: take this idea and run with it. Or bike.

A very graphic way to demonstrate just how airy, well, at least how hole-y, a helmet is is to turn it upside down, put a newspaper under it, and do the same with competitive helmets side-by-side. See which paper you can better read.

Giro has a new helmet, the Atmos, that you could read a paper through. I don't know if it's any cooler for this, but it's a start.

Second place to Limar's 911. That's the model name.

I can't wait to see how my thinning hair looks alternatively matted and standing up in these new formats. Actually, given all the open space, any weight saving will be offset by my having to use a sun bloc on my tonsor.

Pissing away your postal money.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

Your statement ""The U.S.P.S. has a monopoly, and a quasi-government subsidized one at that, on first class mail. In fact its entire operation enjoys the benefits of subsidies"" is absurd. The US Postal Service is a government agency. Check Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution.

USPS, the team, is not. They are merely an advertisement vehicle for the US Postal Service. USPS presence at a bicycle trade show is therefore appropriate. Being in the business, you should understand this."

Anonymous's picture
richard rosenthal (not verified)

"Oh, John, I've been around this dance floor way too many times for me to be able to arouse the enthusiasm yet one more time to respond in full.

When I first asked the USPS for the rationale of its sponsoring the team, I was told it was to increase sales. I pointed out far and away the bulk of the publicity the team received was in Europe where you can't use U.S. postage and you can't buy it except at a philatelic shop.

Upon further questioning by me, the rationale changed: now it was to persuade Europeans who send bulk mail to the U.S. to trans-ship it to the U.S. where it would be deposited in the U.S. mail. Yeah, right.

Upon further questioning, the rationale for the sponsorship changed yet again: now it's to demonstrate to postal workers the benefits of cooperation and team work, and to act as a morale booster for postal employees.

Regarding your, and many others' notion that it serves the purpose of advertising, i.e. to increase sales, can you imagine anyone saying, ""By gosh, I like that team. I think I'll patronize the post office. Yes, that's it; why I'll just sit down and write someone a letter.""

The fact of the matter is the sponsorship came about as nothing more than a gesture of friendship between the marketing director of the USPS and his bud, Thomas Weisel, owner of the team.

Here's a Weisel story. Some years ago I, along with others, received a fax from him stating he was withdrawing his sponsorship from his Montgomery Sports cycling team because, of all things, Clinton's tax policies! The guy has a history of support for the right-wing and his being a Clinton hater was not new; but it was cheap and tawdry that he should seek to make political capital out of his decision to withdraw his sponsorship...and, at that, for such a phony reason. As it happens, his company had a banner year that year; as it further happens, he continued to sponsor his master's team on which, coincidentally, he raced.

Here's another sidebar to this: In 1998 I wrote the postmaster-general and asked that USPS vehicles carry a bumper sticker urging drivers to be mindful and respectful of cyclists on the road. That seemed a good tie-in with their sponsoring a cycling team, and what effective billboards the USPS bumpers would be, seeing as how they are in every burg,hamlet, village, town, and city in the country.

The answer? No. Why? Because their design director decreed nothing be on their trucks, etc., except the USPS logo.

Oh, yeah? Don't look now but isn't that a large MSN ad you see plastered on the sides of their trucks.

As for the sponsorship being effective advertising, have you noticed the balance sheet of the USPS notwithstanding rate increases. Apparently it's not working.

As for your other point about the USPS being a wholly government agency, in c. 1970, by acto of congress, it was given semi-independent status unlike any other government agency.

As for the sponsorship, I'd prefer the USPS spend it on hiring more clerks, or less surly ones.

But in another year this discussion will be moot. If the USPS renews its sponsorship, John, I'll buy you dinner.


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

"""As for the sponsorship being effective advertising, have you noticed the balance sheet of the USPS notwithstanding rate increases. Apparently it's not working.""

I never implied this. Advertisement, as you pointed out has many objectives, not necessarily immediate positive impacts on the balance sheet.

I am not a fan of Lance Armstrong, nor the team. However, I do feel the Postal Service's sponsorship has had a positive effect on cycling. In this country, it is just about the only national exposure cycling gets. I'll take that, and at negligible cost to a $60 billion agency."

Anonymous's picture
richard rosenthal (not verified)
The Postal Service is not an eleemosynary institution.

"John wrote, ""I do feel the Postal Service's sponsorship has had a positive effect on cycling. In this country, it is just about the only national exposure cycling gets.""

That's beyond dispute...but that isn't the purpose of advertising or sponsorship.


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Agreed (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Just another thought

"Lance Armstrong, on his interview on PBS on Tuesday night, told Charlie Rose that the cost of funding the USPS professional cycling team this season cost ""about $12m"". I'm not sure what the USPS's share of that is, as there are other sponsors, but I would guess it is the lion's share.

Given that during the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain, the US Postal Service got over an hour's worth of free live television coverage in the US every day for the best part of three weeks in both races, albeit on a channel that has relatively limited distribution, that strikes me as being remarkably good value for money.

And that doesn't even take account the repeats and the weekly cycling round-up programmes on OLN.

If the US Postal Service booked the equivalent amount of TV advertising in the US, even on a channel with limited distribution, I'm sure that would have cost considerably more than $12m.

Whether it encouraged anyone to post anymore letters is probably doubtful, but it may have encouraged one or two to get on a bike. And it may even have encouraged a few people to use USPS's parcel service. Certainly, I have used USPS for mailing parcels by various guaranteed express services to the UK and found it more reliable and competitive compared with its competitors. However, I'm sure I'm not representative of the public generally. Had it not have been for USPS's involvement in cycling, the chances are I would have stuck with FedEx or UPS, both widely recognised brands in Europe.

I'd love to know how much the USPS spends on the huge adverts at Times Square, which seem to be there the whole year round. I wonder if it's more than the cost of funding the USPS cycling team? And I wonder which campaign has the greatest impact in the US and is seen by more people.

Regardless of the merits of the USPS sponsoring a professional cycling team, I'd like to see the US Postal Service follow a tradition of the UK's Royal Mail - postmen and postwomen doing their rounds on a bicycle. Yes, it does still happen, even in London, although not central London. And, yes, that is beside the point, but I thought I would say it anyway.

But at least the USPS's financial performance is just as abysmal as that of the Royal Mail's. And both organisation are state-owned."

Anonymous's picture
richard rosenthal (not verified)
Anthony's observation about mail delivery by bike in London.

"Anthony wrote, ""I'd like to see the US Postal Service follow a tradition of the UK's Royal Mail - postmen and postwomen doing their rounds on a bicycle. Yes, it does still happen, even in London, although not central London.""

As it happens, the mayor of London has barred cars from entering central London on certain days due to traffic congestion and has also imposed a fee for driving in central London.


Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Theft is the issue

I think the reason for postal rounds in Central London not happening by bike is because the bikes would get stolen. It's different in outer parts of London, where a postman/woman can wheel the bike right up to somebody's front door, before shoving the mail through the letter box.

I gather from a few cycling buddies of mine in London, that they find it marginally easier since the congestion charging was introduced, but note that plenty of cars actually pay the charges and drive in central London on weekdays. That said, there is supposed to be a 20% reduction in the number of cars entering the charging zone on weekdays compared with before the charging was introduced.

Now that I am completely off subject, I shall shut up.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
nice write-up

Nice write-up, Richard; love the wry humor.

Concerning the USPS team sponsorship discussion, I think what you write is very relevant and generally agree with your sentiment.

One thing though - the postal service does provide service to many (unprofitable) areas that FedEx and UPS don't or at least do not service regularly. Having to deliver mail to the far reaches of Wyoming, Alaska, and other remote, less populous areas, a government subsidy is very much needed.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Interbike 2003

"Many good pictures taken by Dale Brown at http://www.cyclesdeoro.com/Interbike/2003/Interbike-03_main.htm. I love the Brooks Swallow and Nagasawa ""path"" racer.

Also, a very interesting report at https://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CCY?PAGE=WHATS_NEW."

Anonymous's picture
Carlos Sanchez (not verified)

I was incensed that I wasn't allowed to bring my bike into a Post Office recently on 42nd Street. I also can't believe that John Z is not a fan of the USPS cycling team. Given he's such a good climber and the fact that Heras won La vuelta in the final UPHILL ITT. I would have thought that would have made a fan out of him.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Jan is the Man!


I wonder if they make exceptions at the Post Office for Lance? Regarding my support of USPS, while I appreciate the team’s abilities, not just Lance but Heras, Beltran and Hincappie as well, I am not a fan simply because I was a fan of Jan Ullrich well before Lance’s recovery from cancer and immergence as a dominant tour rider.

I became a fan of Jan Ullrich because I have a similar riding style to his and a similar physique, although I am neither not nearly as good nor as light as is Jan. Perhaps if I was as light I would be closer to my cycling-related goals, but therein I can relate to some of Jan’s we documented struggles with weight! In addition, Jan does not lead a monk’s life, something I can also relate to, as opposed to Lance’s well-documented ‘focus’.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
Jan the Man

"Yes, Jan is #1 on my list for many of the same reasons, not the least of which is his ""no-monk"" lifestyle ;-)

I do admire LA - but only when he rides or talks of riding. Otherwise, he has said some silly things and seems to be, well, uninteresting. What did he say: ""If I had a nickel for everytime someone accused me of doping, I'd be a millionaire."" Duhhhhh ... LA, you ARE a millionaire!

His wife, his home, Texas, Robin Williams, Dubya ... I just don't care!

And I'm still pondering: how could LA, with Carmichael at his side, weighing the grams of his food and bike, 5 time (now)TdF winner, always training and focused - how the heck could he dehydrate himself as he did this past Tour in the ITT???? It's almost like forgetting to breath! I saw him on OLN a few weeks after the Tour, his lip was still split!! Yikes!!

And why the heck doesn't LA race more?? He cherry picks the TdF and wins. And again, why does he not race more in the USA??

Wait 'til Jan gets a real team behind him!!!!"

Anonymous's picture
Carlos Sanchez (not verified)

JP, I agree with you on some points about LA. I recently read Lance's new book and certain things really turned me off i.e. describing himself screaming the National Anthem at the top of his longs in the woods somewhere in Texas. Maybe he has political aspirations for the future. But don't forget Jan's drunk driving conviction, also he was convicted of doping (albeit with a recreational drug). As for dehydration that can happen to any athlete on any level and in my opinion shouldn't be a point of criticism. Have you ever road at near max heart rate for 47 kilometers in humid-90 plus degree temps with one water bottle? No team support allowed in ITT's. At least he admitted his mistake.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Have you ever road at near max heart rate for 47 kilometers in humid-90 plus degree temps with one water bottle? No team support allowed in ITT's. At least he admitted his mistake.

Well, I approximate that - no where near the speeds LA maintains, but I've stretched myself out many times. Heck, my HR was running at 74% of max for a few hours after a ride. RECOVERY!

The point, my point is LA proably started the TT dehydrated, warming up w/o air conditioning. I never have gotten that dehydrated - nor have I ever won the TdF. Nor will I ever even attempt 1 stage of it within pro time guidelines. LA is amazing, but I'd rather ride with Jan (off the back) and learn some German and have a beer with HIM.

His drunk driving and x use - after he blew his knee and his season??? Aside from the driving, so what! He's human, he parties a bit - and I think he's learned alot.

And Jan rides lots ... in races. Go Jan!!!

Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
We are poor little sheep, who have gone astray

This started out to be a thread about a bicycle show. Have we gotten a bit far afield here, or am I on the Planet Nictu?

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
True, but

We should keep it going. Its a first: JP, Mordecai Silver and John Z in agreement!

Anonymous's picture
Uli (not verified)
Who cares if this discussion drifts!

It's quite Interesting. Please continue.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

"One of my issues with Lance is that he has not shown himself to be gracious when on those rare occasions when he has shown vulnerability. In 2000, when he lost 1'37"" to Ullrich on Col de Joux-Plane, it was due to ""bonking"" and dismissed as an amateur mistake. The year, during the time trial, it was ""dehydration"". Another amateur mistake? In a post Tour interview this year, when commenting on the stage to Loudenvielle where Lance was put into great difficulty by Ullrich on Col du Peyresourde, Lance's take was ""if this is the best Ullrich can dish out, then I have nothing to worry about."" Just once, I would like to hear Lance say ""so and so was unbeatable today."" Regarding the dehydration issue, the CTS geeks presented a lot of disinformation regarding Lance's fluid loss. All has been challenged in various forums and was shown to be medically impossible.

All this supports my contention that Lance, his team and his handlers do not believe Lance is the strongest rider. Do get me wrong, he is among the duo of strongest riders in the world; however, you take Ullrich away from Pevenage and put Ullrich on the strongest, smartest team in the world, and cycling history over the last few years gets re-written. Just this year, take Beltran from USPS and leave him with Bianchi and Ullrich wins."

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Bruyneel's excuses

And this year, when Lance was in difficulty, Bruyneel said that his brake had been dragging on the wheel for 150 km. I can't believe this. I think that, like the dehydration, this was a tactic to make other riders believe that Lance was only suffering because of the heat or his equipment.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

I have used this one myself...

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

"When I was an novice, I would struggle to the top of any hill(ha, any bridge) and check to see if my brakes were sticking. I, me, moi, cannot be so weak - it must be the pads. Now, I always give my bike a roll and lift it to see if the wheel turn unfettered. Old habits. I wonder if the pads were sticking in LA's marriage (insert ""below the belt"" emoticon - figuratively and literally)."

Anonymous's picture
Chris T (not verified)
LA doesn't hold a monopoly on ungraciousness

"It seems that quite a few cycling champions will give some excuse (e.g. ""I didn't have the legs today"") rather than give their opponent(s) credit for out-performing them on a given day.

In many team sports (at least in America), you don't disrespect your opponent prior to the event -- ""don't make it bulletin board material"". But in cycling, disrespecting your opponents seems to be an art. Even Armstrong in his post TDF interview with Phil Ligget dissed Jan regarding the events on Luz Ardien (sic).


Anonymous's picture
R Bander (not verified)
At least in America

Are you kidding? Trash talking was born in America.

Anonymous's picture
Chris T (not verified)
Trash Talking part 2

"I should have prefaced my second paragraph with:

Coaches will encourage their team not to disrespect their opponents prior to game time

Of course, too many Pro athletes disregard coaches advice (e.g. Jeremy Shockey) and IMHO, trash talking generally backfires on the talker, although not always (e.g. Joe Namath poolside prior to Super Bowl III -- and he didn't say ""The Colts [email protected]"", but ""I think we are really going to win it."")

Anyway, back to my original thought: What's up with cyclists dissing each other, sometimes on the same team?"

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