The Angry Singlespeeder: Is Las Vegas the Best Interbike Can Do?

Opinion
Why must such an incredible event representing one of mankind’s greatest creations be contained in one of mankind’s worst creations?

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at singlespeeder@consumerreview.com. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

Before I start sending certain people into an uproar, let me start by saying this is not a rant to criticize and call out all the hardworking, tireless people who make Interbike happen. I am amazed by Interbike. It fascinates me. The size and scope of it are absolutely awe-inspiring. The fact that an organization can pull off an event of Interbike’s magnitude blows my mind. I have a ton of respect and admiration for everyone who helps put it all together.

Having said that, please consider what I’m about to say just a question. An inquiry. An opportunity for open discussion where good ideas can be shared and solutions can be offered. I care about the bike industry and everyone in it, which is why I ask:

Is Las Vegas really the best Interbike can do?

I know it’s a question that’s been asked ad nauseam, yet it continues to be asked for good reason. I’m not the only one in the bike industry who thinks Las Vegas represents everything that is so horrifically wrong about humanity. I feel filthy, pissed off, annoyed and depressed every time I set foot within city limits.

It’s a non-stop barrage of neon lights, obnoxious advertising, fake body parts, sleazy, dirty sex, half-rate Elvis impersonators and moronic, drunken tourists. The bicycle is one of mankind’s greatest creations, so why must we showcase it in the heart of one of mankind’s worst creations?

The contradiction couldn’t be greater. Having a trade show that promotes efficiency, simplicity, health, outdoor recreation and family in a city that exemplifies waste, excess, sickness, spending your life indoors and the exploitation of women doesn’t compute to me. It would be like holding the North American Auto Show in the country’s biggest wildlife sanctuary.

While I understand why Interbike is in Las Vegas – cheap, affordable flights from all over the country, affordable hotel rooms out the fart pipe and gargantuan exhibit spaces that can accommodate ONE MILLION square feet – there has to be a better answer. There has to. I understand Interbike exists to make a profit. But Interbike also exists to sell cycling products, celebrate the bicycle and the amazing people who make the industry tick. So which is the priority here?

There are other cities in the United States with far more orientation to outdoor recreation just foaming at the mouth to get an opportunity to host one of the largest bicycle trade shows in the world. I’m sure they would bend over backwards. But it seems many of these cities get pooh-poohed because flights aren’t cheap or accessible enough and hotel rooms are too expensive.

So flights are cheap in Vegas and so are hotel rooms. Great. But nobody seems to consider the fact that a cup of coffee runs four bucks, a crappy sandwich ten bucks and a beer worth drinking is priced competitively with your local pro sports stadium. Nevermind the constant barrage of “resort fees”, advertisements, promotions, shady taxi cab drivers and jerks on the strip pushing postcards in your face about some night club sure to rape your wallet and leave you with an unpronounceable disease. And last time I checked, unpronounceable diseases are pretty expensive to cure. So add that to your Vegas bill.

All said and done, that hundred bucks you saved on a flight to Vegas is chump change compared to the money wasted just being in Vegas.

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About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • eric stobin says:

    let’s do it in SLC or Denver, bro’s!

  • Craig Manning says:

    I couldnt agree more. Reno/Tahoe would be perfect. Could have the ODD at Peavine or even Northstar. Rooms are cheaper, flights arent as bad, cheaper food. I spent the week at Interbike, figured it cost me about $60-80 a day to eat (on the cheap I might add).

  • Hunter says:

    Reno/Tahoe likes….Las Vegas sure is known for the casino glitz glamor but to be fair Las Vegas suburbs has a lot of outdoor rec. with Mt. Charleston, Blue Diamond- Red Rocks, Boulder, Lake Mead and Valley of Fire. If you haven’t visited those places you should. Gravity Logic is suppose to start a trail system at the local ski resort 45minutes away.

  • Mark Graves says:

    Agreed, my favourite part of visiting Vegas when they send me there for work is when I leave!

  • Teleken says:

    But Kurt everybody loves Vegas they think it is EPIC! I’ll never understand why people like it.

    I keep hearing the Winter trade show may leave SLC any bets they take it to gross Vegas?

  • Mark R says:

    What a lazy piece of writing. As you said, this subject has been beaten to death, you are not breaking new ground here, so why write it? Oh yeah, ‘cuz you’re getting exposure and getting paid – hmmm doing something just for the money and attention, sounds like you’d fit right in here in Vegas.

    Every city has it’s bad side. Las Vegas is not perfect. However it is just insulting to paint the entire place with same brush. There is a great cycling community here and just generally a lot of good people.

    Next time get off the strip and meet some real cyclists and find out what the area is really like. Or better yet, just stay home in your perfect world.

  • TFinator says:

    Mark R – He didn’t paint the entire city with a brush. He said it was a crappy place to hold Interbike. Interbike has to be held in a convention center type place with a lot of space, and if it’s going to be in Vegas, then the strip is the only option.

    So the obvious solution is to hold it somewhere else. Also, while the subject had been beaten to death by people that go to Interbike, someone on the outside of the industry who doesn’t go might like reading this perspective. Sounds like you’re too lazy to think about other people who might like to read the article.

    Probably should get your head out of the ASS’ ass.

  • Jon says:

    SLC… 400 miles of rideable trails 30 mins away in Park City, amazing trails minutes away in the benches, and more outdoor brands and love of recreation than Paul Bunyon could shake a stick at…

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    What can I say Mark R, I am a lazy guy. I’m not going to lie. But guess what? Water is lazy too. It follows the path of least resistance. So I guess you can compare my writing to water. It’s not sophisticated like fine wine, but guess what? Everybody drinks water.

    And I definitely don’t write this column for “the money”, because quite frankly, I could make a lot more elsewhere. I do it totally for the attention, because I am an attention-depraved, fame-hungry egomaniac who loves staring at himself in the mirror four hours a day in my perfect world.

    I’m sure there are areas in the outskirts of Las Vegas that are nice, and I’m doubly sure that there are some extremely pleasant people such as yourself. But I won’t hide or apologize for the fact that The Strip represents everything I despise about humanity. That’s just how I feel, and since I’m a lazy egomaniac, I let it be known.

    - ASS

  • vanhelzer says:

    The next time you visit for Interbike, make a reservation at the Element Hotel on the west side of the valley. Las Vegas Cyclery is right across the street. You can make plans to ship your bike or rent one there. Then ask the shop about Bears Best mountain bike trails rideable right from the shop or hotel. Or if road is your thing, the red rock area is awesome and rideable right from the shop or hotel. There’s a corner store that sells locally made craft beer (Tenaya Creek Brewey) for reasonable prices…. I’ve just given you several reasons NOT to be angry about going to Interbike in Las Vegas… But then again if you weren’t angry then you probably wouldn’t have a job

  • David Jaget says:

    You’re angry. I get the schtick. But, this article was penned with either complete ignorance or for want of s specific story line. If Vegas was ‘all’ how you describe it, none of us would live here. We happen to be surrounded by some of the best mountain biking in the world!! Are you only a product of the hotel marketing? Do you wonder aimlessly from buffet to gentleman’s clubs? That’s what it sounds like to the reader.

    While you were getting a lap dance, I was riding through desert bloom on sweet singletrack overlooking Red Rock Canyon one day. The next day I drove north to ride a mesa running parallel to Zion National Park that any magazine in the industry would have paid to be snapping photos and made it back for dinner (see today’s photo of the day at Singletracks.com). The locals work hard to build, maintain and show out-of-towners our local fare. You sully our name with this ignorant screed.

    It’s as if I went to the beautiful little town of East Burk VT, where Kingdom Trail are located and said ‘it rains constantly’, ‘there are limited food options’, ‘there is no night life’, ‘the wet roots are hard to ride’ and ‘the local bike shop is rude’. That’s a story line that doesn’t paint the whole picture.

    As President of SNMBA(Southern Nevada Mountain Bike Association), I invite you to join me for a ride and a tour of the Las Vegas area we love. Then… go back and re-write this article with apologies.

    Stay Angry,

    Dr. David Jaget

    • Ed says:

      Well said David!!

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      Vegas has good riding, we’re told by very reliable sources. But riding Bootleg Canyon in mid-September past noon has been miserable the last 5 years. 105 degrees of blowing wind and sand is no joke for a non-acclimated rider.

      This year, I skipped the demo riding and I was happier and healthier so I may never ride desert demo again. Unless the dirt demo moves or the date changes, this is the only Las Vegas riding relevant to Interbike that we can relate to.

      • David Jaget says:

        Francis Cebedo… we aim to change the riding perception next year and offer tours of the local favorite spots.

        • Francis Cebedo says:

          >>Francis Cebedo… we aim to change the riding perception next year and offer tours of the local favorite spots.

          Right on!!! One of our buds, Chris Sugai from Niner moved there btw. Group ride!

  • Trey Richardson says:

    Truth be told, I HATE VEGAS! But we’re all missing the point here. A.S.S. mentions several times that if else where hotel and flights will cost more. Well, that’s a BIG one. Sure, that may not effect one person much, but look at the vendors that fly between 5 and 40 people out and ship HUGE containers with products/displays, etc out every year for this show. Lets consider those costs. Interbike is not about “rider experience” nor has anything else to do with being in a proper glorious bike environment. Its business, plain and simple. If you added 15-20% to the cost of people going to Interbike, many companies would have to leave behind some essential staff, and less retailers may be willing to pay to attend.

  • Jon Harrington says:

    I completely understand that you (Mr. Gensheimer) desire to maintain your occupation as a writer, which necessitates finding fresh material to opine about; however, you’ve pigeonholed, generalized, and slandered one of the finest locales to ride a bike on Earth, which is truly ironic given your ostensible passion for cycling. Las Vegas / Clark County provides terrain perfectly suited for the outdoor demo rides, conveniently stable weather conditions, almost unmatched logistics to support a convention of Interbike’s size, and an overall fun atmosphere for spending one’s leisure time. You’re a talented writer, but this editorial was not without its faults; had you omitted the hackneyed, strawman version of Las Vegas that was presented, your essay would not only be worth reading, but your points could be taken seriously enough to consider.

  • JB says:

    You figured it out: cheap hotels, flights, and exhibition space (?) = cheap for companies/magazines/bike shops to send their people. Don’t know how many of them then pay for the attendees entertainment, drinks, meals, etc. Passing the cost on to the individual.

  • Eric S says:

    Available flights, rooms and enough seats at restaurants for 20,000++ people at a time. Nobody said anything about cheap flights, rooms or food. Find another city in the US that these things all come together. Good luck. Oh yeah, don’t forget easy access by truck, train and plane for all that cool bike stuff to get there for the show. Sounds like some hookers and blow might ease the angry part of you just a bit…

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    To everyone who lives in Las Vegas and was offended by my article…

    It is natural for you to defend your city. I’m glad you do. If you didn’t, it would be a real tell about what the city is actually like. This article was not about the riding and the cycling community in and around the LV area. I did not say “Las Vegas is a horrible place to ride.” I’ve only ridden Bootleg Canyon, and although I didn’t find it particularly memorable, I am sure there are other much better areas. I love riding in the middle of the desert…in the winter.

    This article was about Interbike and having the event in the heart of downtown, on The Strip. Nothing more. It wasn’t a knock on local cyclists, not a knock on local bike shops, not a knock on outlying communities and not a knock on the hard work that SNMBA does.

    My editorials always have faults, and I will never apologize for or re-write my feelings on a topic. Having said that, I always have an open mind and am always willing to give a city and their trails a chance. So maybe I will return to Vegas, only in the winter, and only if I don’t have to be anywhere near Las Vegas Boulevard.

    - ASS

  • Lisa Caterbone says:

    I am absolutely stunned at the tone in your article. Where else in the world can you find a location that has so much to offer in such a small geographic area. I have lived on the East Coast (Lancaster, PA), and also on the West Coast (Los Angeles, CA and Las Vegas, NV). Las Vegas is surprisingly a very bike friendly town. Yes, the Las Vegas strip is pretty difficult to navigate by bike… but there are perfectly good side streets you can ride on that aren’t as difficult. And just like any town, you know what streets, at what time to avoid, when riding your bike. I do agree that food and beverages can be expensive inside the hotels, but again… all hotels wherever you travel jack up the price of food and drinks. If you’re going to compare, please compare apples to apples. Honestly, you have to admit, Bootleg Canyon and the River Mountains Loop Trail are perfect for test riding bikes at the outdoor demo. Other than your complaint about the weather, you at least have to admit the trails are great for mountain biking and the road biking on the RMT are outstanding fun! Come on… show Las Vegas a little love, won’t you?

    Lisa Caterbone
    http://www.bikinglasvegas.com

    p.s. I loved bicycling in Vegas so much, I created this site to share all the great riding information for everyone to enjoy. Visit it next time before you come out to our great city and try again…

  • Kevin says:

    I find it intresting that you put suitable areas in your list to hold interbike at of Reno / Tahoe / Denver / SLC/ and just where would you hold the event, oh yea in the convention centers that are right in the middle of town in those areas. You would have the same issues of traffic – human and vehicle. I was born a raised in Vegas, but I also lived in Denver – SLC – St.George, Lousianna, and Texas. I also ride BMX, Road, Mountain and dare I say Motorized Dirt bikes, every weekend 12 months out of the year .. there are plenty of great places to ride, just because you dont like them or cant take the heat, Stay home we dont need any more tourist using their cell phones while driving anyway. Before you start throwing Vegas out the window because it doesnt live up to your expectations, take a look in the mirror and see if your living up to your own expectations.

  • Dongoose says:

    As an industry guy who had Interbike (and other trade events) as a major part of my job responsibilities and budget for a decade or so, I can tell you that many of the questions and alternatives discussed here have been visited repeatedly. Unfortunately, none of them are viable for Interbike in its current form.

    To quote former Interbike Show Director Lance Camisasca, “IB needs 1 million+ square feet of ‘gross’ exhibit and meeting space, plenty of affordable housing in close proximity, an international airport that is also close and caters to every major US market with inexpensive flights…AND does NOT have mandatory labor for set-up and tear down like most cities have.” So Portland, Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, Reno, fill-in-the-blank won’t work.

    Salt Lake City almost makes the cut, but I can tell you having attended the Outdoor Retailer Show there in August, that it doesn’t have nearly the hotel space needed. Housing for OR was so bad many attendees had to stay in Park City and travel 45 min+ each way daily. If you did get a room in town it came at a steep premium.

    The trade show hall–the Salt Palace–has its quirks, and flights to SLC are also generally more expensive–items worth noting but, I think, ultimately manageable. The housing, however, is a deal killer. If more hotel facilities materialize as Utah officials have pledged for OR, then it could be the place to go. If not, and if not Vegas either, then perhaps the North American bicycle trade show needs to be a different proposition entirely. And what that looks like is the million dollar question.

  • Evil E says:

    Wow Kurt, it’s as if you called their sister a whore. It’s funny how people personalize things the way they do. I get the point of your editorial/opinion…the strip sucks if you’re there for anything but drinking, gambling or other vices. To say the strip is DISGUSTING (and it is) does not sully the rest of the city or whole state as folks have seemed to infer. Good grief, relax people! Keep up the good work Kurt…always like your OPINIONS!!!

  • cheryl says:

    Vegas was cool/fun in the 60s and 70s-lots of open space. You could not PAY me to go there now. Interbike has been there 4ever too…they should move it to Tucson in conjunction with our Tour de Tucson. I will mention it to our race director….they are looking for new ways to fund the tour.

  • Evil E says:

    Second vote for Tucson ;)

  • Kevin Woodward says:

    Hey Kurt I for one applaud your article even through you knew very well in advance exactly what was coming from the Las Vegas Tourism Board members and poor folks who live there currently experiencing tough economic times and the highest unemployment rate in the nation (according to Associated Press story of Sept. 25). Obviously they depend on industry events like Interbike to survive because vice isn’t cutting it anymore. I have never been to Interbike because I don’t like Vegas either. I understand some people do … good for them. I live in Santa Cruz, CA and as you know we have a few MTB companies here who had no choice but to reluctantly trudge off Vegas again this year. And you know what? Every single one of them I spoke to this week said the same thing you did. And yeah it has been said before but so what? As long as the obvious question remains then your job is to keep asking it no matter how many complain, attack you personally and refuse to acknowledge the logic of your statements. Your article was fair and balanced and why I spend my time reading MTBR instead of the other industry-funded sites and mags. Keep up the good work!

  • Bob says:

    Apparently the majority of IB attendees prefer LV since there were cancellations galore the last time a move was contemplated. Guess bike industry execs have the same “passions” as the rest of the visitors.

  • DEH says:

    When we owned our shop Interbike was in Anaheim, during the early 90′s. There was talk of moving it to Vegas and they did have it there one year during a one year Anaheim one year Vegas experiment. For me Anaheim was way nicer, but I like the beach and Disneyland better than smoky casinos and strip clubs.

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