Friday, July 12

My life as an industry insider douchebag for a day: Part Three

Once we were done riding, we were invited back to Rocky Mountain's headquarters for foodage and beers.

photo cred: Brendon Purdy
 Nobody was jumping at the food.  Nobody was really jumping at the beer either.  A man who was identified as the German distributor for RM was manning the tap in a manner that was less than efficient.  I grabbed my half froth/half liquid over-sized pint glass and began my journalistic process.

There was hanging out, a chance to meet Brett Tippie, a man who later in the week would be screaming at me constantly in the BC Bike Race Cheer Zones.

 photo cred: Brendon Purdy
Interesting Brett Tippie fact:  He was in 56 print ads last year and his entire mouth is full of nothing but molars.  

Rocky Mountain had placed an embargo on the information we were meant to disperse.  That meant we had to withhold any juicy tidbits and pictures till the following Monday in order to give everyone a chance to put their shit together.  Unfortunately for me, I was only going to have my laptop and guaranteed internet access for another sixteen or so hours.  That meant that I needed to get my Dirt Rag media commitment done that night.
Not a good time for unlimited beer, but...

I needed to wait for the photographers to upload everything from the day onto a memory stick before I left.  This was a time consuming endeavor.  While the other industry insider elitist media douchebags were able to leave and get the important digital info later, I had to stick around... close to the keg and the German. 

And then there were espressos.

And then more beers... and chatting with the photographers thus hindering their ability to get the memory sticks ready.

Eventually I got my stick, stumbled back to the Holiday Inn, and wrote my launch related article.

And then I woke up the next morning with bleary eyes, did some sober editing, and dispatched it with haste.

So what do I think of this whole business of bike launches, press camps, and whatnot?

Some would think it's just fluff.  The cycling media is not going to bite the hand that feeds, right?  How come we never read anything bad about bikes in reviews anymore?

Some of us are old enough to remember these days:

Writing bad reviews was much easier back then.  There was a constant stream of terrible ideas that went from napkin to showroom, and bike design was quite the ugly duckling back then.  To say that the process is slightly smoother now would be an understatement.  FEA analysis, computer modeling, a history of bad ideas permanently shelved, and engineers with budgets.

I'm not saying bad bikes still don't get made, but they are few and far between.  Don't be surprised that when you read a bike review, there might be very little to complain about.  A part spec that doesn't really match up with the intended use of the bike, a problematic widget oversight, an annoying cable stop placement, a bottom bracket height that is too West Coast/East Coast...

Bikes are quite refined by the time they make it out to the general public.  The hurry to get something to the showroom floor before anyone else has been replaced with years of product development and testing.  You're not going to see this anymore:

Now, are journalists being bought with these trips?


I'm sorry, but these luxurious vacations are work.  I know that now.  Sure there was some fun riding, beer, food, and schwag.

 photo cred: Brendon Purdy
 The Handpresso, for the snooty coffee aficionado on the go.

But really, the reason the media is there is because it's their job.   Sure, it might be better than your job, but it's still a job. 

In a brief chat with Bike Magazine's Vernon Felton, I asked him how he gets used to riding all these different bikes all the time.  I mean, every bike has a slightly different feel... suspension, controls, brakes, geometry, all that complicated shit.  How on earth do you get over your own preconceived knowledge of how a good bike should ride and be set up?

I wondered because I couldn't.  As glamorous as I made this bike launch sound, I woulda rather been riding my bike that day.  Don't get me wrong, the Instinct was a great bike.  Just not my cup of tea (or espresso).  It would be a blast to rip shit down a mountain is Pisgah, but I'd rather be on my single speed.

BTW:  When I was in the process of making arrangements to participate in the 2013 BC Bike Race, the idea was tossed about that I could ride the new bike that Rocky Mountain would be launching (they couldn't tell me what it was going to be at the time).  A chance to ride an all new 2014 wiz-bang bike that I could beat on guilt-free for seven days in BC.

My response?

"Any way I could just use my bike instead?"

I have a slightly different perspective on this business side of things now that I've seen it up close and personal.  MTBR's Francis Cebedo, while looming high above me from his platform shoes, asked me why I don't come to these things more often.  I had to remind him that I have an actual job that pays my bills and requires my attendance some 230 days a year, so I can't "live the dream" like a real industry insider douchebag.

I'm not saying I wouldn't go to another one...

I mean the only thing better than taking up an offer for a once in a lifetime opportunity is to do it twice.  I can deliver packages any day, but the chance to meet new people, see new things, and ride new trails?



Eric Gadlage said...

I always wanted a Manitou frame, but that was not the one

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping it real.

I have a Waltworks frame from 2011, which to most means it's old as shit.

I ride with people that switch out $2K, 3K, 4K bikes yearly (not hating just statin). Sometimes they let me ride their bike, and within the first 20 feet I think, meh, can I have my bike back.

Ryan said...

Two comments, two days. Record for me. I think this is the best post I've read on here to date. Very well put, and I'm glad you had your day as an insider douchebag. It'll at least give your readers insight to the glitz and glamor of the bike industry.

John Parker said...

Bikes just don't suck like they used to....didn't you have an AMP once?

Anonymous said...

If a 2011 bike is old as shit, I am in some serious trouble.