Flying into Las Vegas always holds a singular dread: you can see, on the approach to McCarren, the hotels of the Vegas Strip shimmering in the smoky-hot Nevada desert. You know you’re headed into the belly of the beast; you’re not only in Las Vegas — you’re headed into Vegas as a trade show attendee.
You’re a mark; a tourist. One of the babbling, drunken hordes that descend upon this freak of a city plopped in an arid wasteland, and your only functional utility is to spend your money and get out — hopefully with a modicum of dignity and with more than your emergency Andrew Jackson in your wallet with which to remember your stumbling visit.
The long walk from the middle-class lodgings of Treasure Island Casino & Hotel to the showfloor at the Venetian/Sands Expo is long, and confusing. But the closer to the Interbike floor you get, the more reassured you feel. A quorum of like-minded folks develop in the human stream of conventioneers. You see more shaved legs. You start seeing banners announcing Interbike’s presence, even as you fight through the throngs of Blue Tube ticket seekers.
Maybe you’re not just a mark. Maybe you’re among your own kind.
Finally, you get to the center of it all. Bikes appear in glass-enclosed showcases like the go-go dancers found in close proximity. You’re surrounded by divergent types: tattooed freestyle huckers and sleek-legged roadies, all closing in on the Sands Expo. But you all share ONE thing: you are all riders.
And when you’re finally in, Las Vegas disappears, and you’re in Biking Nirvana.
Exotic Italian nameplates beckon, their seatstays bowed like melted carbon taffy. You overhear earnest conversations about seat tube angles. You engage in lengthy conversations about gear ratios and moisture transfers (of the sweating kind…not the other kind).
You’re at Interbike, and though I wish the trade show was elsewhere….anywhere…Dubuque, or Nashville, or Albuquerque…you’re among your own kind. And it’s good. Pretty darned good.
As long as you stay away from the casinos.
“Seatstays bowed like melted carbon taffy.” Tasty word art, amigo!