Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to Maine- Interbike/Vegas Wrap up.

Boy was I ready to be home! Don't get me wrong, the Interbike show is and was great, I met a lot of really cool Industry folks but, I was DONE with Vegas. There is only so much I can't take of all the money getting wasted, the ding, ding, ding of the slot machines, the cigarette smoke, the drunk people and the Mexican guys and girls flicking the porn baseball cards at you or anyone, even little kids. Who brings their kids to Vegas? I am not sure just who or why for that matter but, to each their own to do what they please. I thought about the wasted money part quite a bit as I watched the Fountain Show at the Bellagio earlier in the week. With the amount of money getting poured in and out of the city of Vegas on any given night, you could probably make a bit of headway on the National Debt this country is dealing with. It made me sick to my stomach or maybe that was the Vodka, I don't know for sure. I did not gamble a stinking penny and for that I am glad.

James and I tore down our booth on Friday night and put all of our stuff on our pallet to be shipped back to New Hampshire. It is amazing how quickly the Union Guys and Gals move in and start tearing the place apart. After working hard all 3 days talking about bike parts and computers, we were just numb. We took a cab back to the Treasure Island and got our luggage from the Bellman and a drink from the bar and sat outside and sorted our luggage. One group of people walked by and a Lady looked at me with strange curiosity...."It is a yard sale" I said, as my suitcase and bag were laid all over the ground with clothes, shoes, aero bars, bike computers and other fun goodies wrapped in bubble wrap waiting to be packed efficiently in my bags. She laughed, "I was just looking" she said, and did not seem interested in making a purchase. We had checked out of our room that morning and we had a red eye flight back to Boston Friday night so, I had few options on where to get my stuff packed up. We quickly took advantage of the lobby bathroom to clean up a bit. The Casino was full of people on this Friday Night.

I was making my rounds at the bike show at one point Friday afternoon and I ran into Katie Compton and her husband Mark Legg. They walked past me and I noticed the Spike Shooter logo on their shirts. Spike Shooter is their Major sponsor. Ironically, I had searched my address book to find Mark's email and ask him to stop by our booth since we sponsor both of them with U.S.E. Spinstix. As we walked by each other, I tried to connect eyes with either one of them and as I walked past, we both turned around at the same time and I had the opportunity to introduce myself to them. Katie had won the Cyclocross race on Wednesday night, so I quickly congratulated her on that and we chatted a bit about her upcoming World Cup Cyclocross aspirations and how she will be racing in Europe for most of the season. I told them about the new design of the Spinstix and asked them to stop by the booth so James could meet them and they could see the Stix. That was really cool meeting Katie and Mark, they are both very genuinely nice people. I also went over to Tara Llanes's booth to wish her well- If you remember from a past post, I visited her at Sea Otter last April and was struck with emotion as the reality of seeing her in a wheelchair hit home. She is such a bright light! I told her I have been reading her blog updates on her recovery and wished her all the best. She had a big smile and thanked me for coming by. I am not sure if she remembered me from Sea Otter but, I felt compelled to pay a quick visit and wanted to spread some love and healing energy her way. I hope she can someday ride a bike again...seeing her really made me think of my childhood and the issues I had. I am fortunate to be able to do the things I do....

So I am home with my lovely wife and furry friends, it is so nice! Now we prepare for our up coming working vacation to Colorado and Utah (I'll be the one working). We leave on Monday the 6th, (Tuesday is our second anniversary!) and we will be in the Denver/Boulder area as I meet with a few dealers and hopefully some journalists at Velo News. Thursday we will travel to MOAB, Utah for the 24 Hour race on the weekend. Steph and I will be hanging out with the Cannondale Mona-Vie Pro Mountain Bike Team as they defend their 24 Hours of MOAB Championship. They are sponsored with Exposure Lights and we will be up all night keeping their torches light. Tinker Juarez should be there also so that will be a huge honor to be in his presence ,as well as the other Pro riders. Plus, we should be able to get out for a few laps on the course ourselves. We have a couple of extra days either side of the race and hope to ride Porcupine Rim, Slick Rock and maybe get a nice hike in at Arches National Park or Canyon Lands. I have set a goal of helping Stephie find her Mountain Bike Soul she lost on our last trip to MOAB in 2001.I am looking forward to the drive across the Rockies to the Western slope of Colorado and desert of Utah. We are really pupmed to get back out there!
I'll have updates all next week and photos also.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interbike begins

Phil Liggett- a Legend, an Icon, a great soul.

So Day 2 of the 2008 Interbike show is well underway and as I sit and type this, Bike folks of all types file through the aisles. Many have a "glazed" look on their faces as they move from one both to the next checking out all the latest bike gear, clothing, bicycles, and other stuff. This is the place to be if your in the Bike industry. Once a year bike people of all personalities converge on Las Vegas, probably one weirdest places to have a "bike show" in my humble opinion. More seriously, it does have all the facilities for just such an event with plenty of nightlife to last a lifetime.

We arrived on Monday after a tedious journey. First we circled JFK in New York as VIP's were whisked in and whisked out safely under the close watch of security details. The pilot mentioned President Bush was the reason they kept us up in the air. We made our connection without issue. We were able to meet up with our counterpart Petra (from VDO-Germany) at the airport and all hopped a cab to our respective hotels, her The Mirage, us the The Treasure Island. Checked in, dinner and nighty night.

Tuesday we set up our booth and then ventured out for dinner at Trader Vics in the Aladdin Casino. We walked back to our hotel taking in the Fountain Show at the Bellagio. We even saw a Michael Jackson impersonator who looked JUST like the freak....WEIRD!

Day one was a whirl wind....People trying to get our attention relentlessly (in a good way). I have been fortunate to meet many people from the industry over the years and probably the highlight was meeting Phil Liggett yesterday. He was speaking with James my colleague and I noticed him and got wobbly knees....star struck, I asked him for a photo and he so politely accepted my request. I told him how much I enjoy listening to his Tour De France commentary over the years. Meeting him was truly an Awesome experience. We had a great day on the booth meeting and greeting with our dealers and prospective dealers. It was nice to put a face with some of the voices I hear on the phone on a day to day basis. Petra, James and I all had a craving for Sushi last night so we went out to SushiSamba a restaurant at the new Palazzo Hotel. The Sushi was INCREDIBLE! Out of my "BOX" I tried some new rolls, my lovely wife would be proud and would have been in Sushi Heaven if she were with with me. (Some day sweetie!) After dinner we went to the Lamborghini dealer in the hotel. The $10 admission fee was well worth it for having never seen one in person. My favorite car cost only a cool 2.5 million dollars...YES 2.5 Mil!!! When the lady told me that my jaw hit the floor. The average price of some of the other cars was $250 thousand. A drop in the bucket! She did tell us that the $10 admission fee could have been applied to the purchase price of any car of our choice plus, we would get a FREE Lasagna!!

..Back to work, more to come!

SJ

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sin City

So here we go to Las Vegas for the annual Interbike Trade Show. Stay tuned for updates this week as I check in from the city of Sin. I arrive tonight with my colleague James probably just in time to rally with Petra coming from Germany and get a cab together to the Treasure Island Hotel. Tomorrow is set up day for our booth and then we work the show Wed-Fri and fly back on the red eye Friday night. I'll have some photos and stories to tell as I examine all the new goodies for bicycles...Highlights for me will be he new Shimano Dura Ace group, anything from Chris King, Mavic and a few more fancy trinkets that I anxiously await seeing.

More to come....
I better watch out for Aliens!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Slither and Slide through Life

"God damn-it Harry" I am sure were the first words out of Steph's mouth this morning when she discovered Harry had injured a Garter Snake in the garden. She woke me up just before leaving for work saying " Are you getting up soon, I have to leave" "Oh and by the way, I have a Snake under warm towels that Harry tried to kill. Can you take him to The Center For Wildlife on your way to work"? I admit, I was not thrilled at all about handling a snake and the thought of the whole process of driving out of my way and dealing with it just made me grumpy. Selfishly, this was my first reaction. I had just been woken out of a deep sleep....But, as I poured my coffee I began to realize, Steph will never cease to amaze me with her love for nature and wildlife. Most people would have just let the Snake die or let their Cat finish it off. It's not Harry's fault, it is part of his nature to catch critters, mice or snakes, Harry does not discriminate. I began to think....There is a chance this little guy can be saved and rehabilitated and released and I could not just go to work while the little snake died in our garage.

We have been through this before, many times. Steph picked me up at Logan Airport back in 1999 (when we were just dating). I had taken a trip to Colorado with some friends for some skiing and climbing. She said "Oh hey welcome home" and all that, here is a kiss and a hug, "By the way, we have to rescue a Sea Gull in the middle of I-95 that I saw on my way down here, he looked injured with a possible broken wing". I was thinking the whole way up from Logan, How is this going to go down? Were going to pull over into the median and rescue a Sea Gull? This woman has to be out of her mind? At the same time, I was humbled by her willingness to put her life in danger by jumping out of her car on a very busy highway to save this bird who many refer to as a rat with wings. Well she did just that, she knew exactly where he was on the highway and without a care but for this gull, she pulled into the median and quickly said "get in the drivers seat and get ready to drive". She hoped out, grabbed the gull, ran around the car and got into the passengers seat and said "go, lets go, oh and don't look at him he can peck your eyes out. Anyway, we saved this gull we so appropriately named "Denver" and he was released from The Center for Wildlife after his wing was repaired. The good folks who volunteer their time at the CFW saved him and now he probably scans the beach for crabs or french fries at the local Mickey D's.

I am not sure of the status of the little snake as I sit and write this blog but, I am happy knowing I have someone as compassionate and caring as Steph in my life who has taught me to give back to nature by trying to help in times of need. I am happy I made the minimal effort to try to help this little snake. He is a small spec of life in this large world. Sometimes it's the little things in life that matter most.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Allagash Adventure continued

If you have not read part 1, click here then come back and read the rest. I have had time to reflect and greatly miss the lakes and the wilds of Northern Maine. The dents in the car from the big tree falling are fixed and still as I write, I visualize the Great Blue Heron as he and his friends fly by us as we emerge onto Eagle Lake. There were three Herons, I think that is a close as I have ever been to one, he was about twenty feet in the air about ten feet from the front of my boat.

Photo above - A suspicious string of clouds that only threatened. Remote and beautiful, Soper Mountain can bee seen in the distance.


Our paddle to Pillsbury Island is about two
miles from the stream and we make good time. We arrive to the first camp site which looks nice and open. Another party is camped at the middle of three camp cells, thankfully there are a lot of trees dividing the cells. The weather continues to improve and then fully clears and warms significantly. After quick lunch consisting of fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, on pita bread, doused with Olive oil and a side of Cape Cod chips, and we make a break for the Trains. This is about a four mile paddle round trip. We make our crossing from camp on still water and light winds. Steph spots a motor boat in the distance and gives me a very annoyed look. I am thinking it must be a Ranger or Warden since your only allowed a 10 HP motor or less on some of the lake sections and other parts, no motors allowed at all. Our wilderness experience was only briefly interrupted by Ranger Paul and another Ranger whom we never got the name of. Actually, we never did get either of their names. It is only after our trip that I saw a picture of Ranger Paul on some one's photo web site, that I recognized him and now know who he is. We starting chatting and eventually, they wanted to see our camping permit. They were both very friendly, even offering directions to the trains. The one nameless Ranger kept taking pictures of us, oddly with his camera. In the end, he offered to take pictures of us with our camera also, he took a lot of good pictures and captured some good facial expressions.

Let us go laughing!

We continue our mission after the Ranger encounter and arrived at train cove (as it is called) pretty quickly. It was right where Ranger Paul had said, "Look for the big beaver dam and you'll be right there". It's not hard to imagine what took place many years ago in this working forest that it was back then. Train cars sit rotted away on rotten tracks with large trees growing right through the middle of them. There is a lot of debris remaining around the general grounds, old rail car wheels, wire cables and piles of wood planks from other decaying old cars.

The Trains sit idle since 1930

Departing Train Cove
We made our way back to our campsite and had a couple of drinks before making our dinner. Switchback spaghetti, cheese and bread, Yummy! We stayed up for a while and checked out the sunset and all the stars that were constantly popping into our vision.

The next morning we awoke to warm temps and crystal blue sky. After a quick breakfast we loaded our boats and took off heading back to our car parked about 6 miles away on Indian Pond. We both were not looking forward to the hard effort of the portage we had done the day before and discussed finding the easier route. We toured around Eagle lake and where Chamberlain empties over Lock Dam into Eagle. What a neat area of the lake. Someday I plan a trip down Chamberlain into Eagle via lock dam and back, just for fun!


As we arrived at Indian Stream we had to exit our boats and pull them up the stream against the knee deep current. We arrived at the culvert and decided to squeeze through laying down on the stern of our boats and pushing ourselves through the culverts. About 500 feet up, I noticed a trail on the left that appeared to go towards Indian Pond. In fact, I had actually been to this very spot the day before but, I did not see the stream flowing through the thick forest. We portaged our boats and celebrated our endeavor with cheese and crackers and a few chocolates. After a quick 2.5 mile paddle we were back at the Indian Pond campsite and the car. A quick loading of the boats and camping gear and we were on our way out of the wild..

This is the worst part, I dream of another day spent in the Allagash Waterway.