Monday, September 26, 2016

Still Pedaling Into Red Rock Canyon At 80

So, on my last walk in Vegas this morning, when I breathed in the cool, crisp dry air in Summerlin, he came chugging up Charleston Boulevard on his Schwinn bike, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and wearing gardening gloves with the finger tip cut off as his bicycle gloves.

It was 80-year-old John Taube, a former Teamster truck driver initiated by Jimmy Hoffa in 1956 who I used to see every morning biking his big heavy two-wheel rig from Charleston Blvd. into Red Rock Canyon on State Road 159. I used to be racing down the canyon hill on my road bike back into Summerlin when I would always see John slowly cranking up the grade.

"If you don't stay moving, you die," John told me this morning around 7:30 am as we stopped to catch up.

When I worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and lived here, I gave the story of John and how he rides his bike very day 17 miles to View features writer Jan Hogan, who penned this story last year.

John pedals that hefty bike each morning from his home off Town Center, and then heads over to a nearby casino to relax after 3 pm when things are quiet.

I thought to myself, what a nice way to say good-bye to Summerlin and head back to Florida.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bye Vegas, I Miss You Already

It's my last night in Las Vegas and my last bike ride is in the books.

The mixed emotions of happiness over seeing so many close friends and biking some great routes blended with the sadness of leaving such a vibrant place are washing over as I pack my bags for a flight back to Orlando and my home in Vero Beach.

When you say you miss a place, you're really saying you miss the people who bring a smile to your face in that place.

And there's the natural terrain that fills your heart with awe like the Red Rock Canyon around the corner where I used to live and stayed this week.


Of course, Interbike was the main even during the week and the reunion of the bike tribes from around the country is always a wonderful time, including the chance to see bike friends from the Tampa Bay area like David Luppino and Tom Jessup and Steve Toll.

I had the chance to catch up with amazing friends, like the animal doctor-bicycling tourist-man of letters Scott who completed his 1,000th Red Rock Scenic Loop on a bike ride.

Then there's Anthony, another bicycle pal who owns Broadway Pizzeria on Rancho near Charleston and is a strong cyclist too.

Scott and Anthony are just two members of our goofy Pedaling Yentas group. We gab our way up the steep-hilled Red Rock Scenic Loop.

And how about my Las Vegas Academy teacher friend and fellow dark beer connoisseur Liz, who is hanging out with her mom Tizzy at Liz's (and her dad's) new house in central Vegas.


The bicycle week of Interbike was a blast, starting with two days of outdoor demo action at the toasty and dusty environs of Bootleg Canyon park in Boulder City before the week moves to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for the last three days of the week.

And I got a chance to see the new arena I wrote so much about when I was a reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Bike Ride Down Memory Lane With An American Flyers Reunion

My worlds of bicycling and writing collide at Interbike. Last year was especially sweet when I wrote about the Breaking Away reunion of the Cutters at I-bike. And this year, these were the most joyful 840 words of writing when the Las Vegas Sun gave me the chance to write about the reunion of the American Flyers cast.

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The bicycling industry's crazy family is wrapping up its annual family reunion called Interbike in Vegas on Friday.

You have the crazy youngins pulling their stunts and tricks on BMX bikes. There's the Baby Boomers making the e-bikes sector a viable category. The rangy older guys with wispy goatees who manufacture and distribute the parts and bikes are out there too. Plus the lean young bucks riding beautifully-constructed road machines..

And one of the nights when they all come together is the Thursday night of Interbike week when there's the annual industry awards dinner.

The fun thing about the bicycle industry is that just about everyone is approachable and they'll give you an honest answer right back to your face. Compared to many industries that are filled with corporate stiffs and phonies, the bicycle world is mostly peppered with many unpretentious people who left that corporate world to work with bicycles.

One of the truly super nice guys in the bicycle industry is Steve Flagg, who created a bike part distribution company called Quality Bicycle Products, or QBP, It distributes bike stuff to more than 5,000 bike shops and I recall that Quality sent boxes of free bike stuff like gloves, socks, T-shirts and caps to the SWFBUD bike shops that I organized for our annual bicycle bash festivals in the Tampa Bay area. We used to hand out all those bike goodies to the festival goers and Flagg's bike stuff probably still lives on in homes across the Tampa Bay area.

Interbike recognized Flaff with a lifetime achievement award and there's no better recipient.

The awards dinner also had Pedal Chic bike shop owner Robin Bylengam whose Greenville, SC bike shop won the women's bike store of the year last year.

She handed out the award to the best women's bike shop this year and Robin has emerged as one of the industry's bright stars.

Robin is a super dynamic woman who wants to help bike shops cater better to women customers.

She's here with awards dinner host Alonzo Bodden, who won the Last Comic Standing third season.

And every industry has a Ray Keener, a super friendly guy who writes about the industry and has a good common sense approach about how the industry products fits the needs of the consumer.

Ray is the kind of guy who knows someone in every sector of the bicycle industry and talks in every day language about bicycling to people outside the bicycle world.

He was also one of the night's award presenters.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thank You Sam Morris of the Las Vegas News Bureau

Here's your visual treat of the day from Interbike.

These gorgeous photos are what happens when you let a talented photographer such as Sam Morris (who also happens to love bicycling) loose on the 300,000 square feet of show floor at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

So, enjoy all these photos courtesy of the gifted Sam Morris and the Las Vegas News Bureau.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Random Collisions At Interbike

Why bother trying to arrange meetings when you can let Interbike's magic red carpet take you to random collisions with people from your past.

Like this fella, David Luppino.

Why am I in the bicycle world?

It's because of David, who used to own Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium in Tampa.

I left the comfort zone of newspapering to work five months on PR for David in 2006 and we worked together to launch the Tampa Bay Bicycle Bash festival and then SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers.

David ultimately sold CBE to Brian Eckman and the Carrollwood shop is now owned by David Sanborn, who owns at least a dozen Trek dealerships around central Florida and Tampa Bay.

David gave me my break in the bicycle industry a decade ago, allowing me to leave journalism for seven years and promote bicycling in the Tampa Bay market on behalf of the bike shop owners group called SWFBUD.

He now lives in Hammondsport, NY in central New York state's wine country and has a business that makes furniture out of used wine barrels.

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Steve Toll of Tampa was sitting on a toilet seat after a bike ride more than 10 years ago and his butt was killing him.

So, he took the toilet seat concept and ran with it all the way to a successful bike saddle company called ISM.

The former Tampa police officer and jeweler also was a huge supporter of SWFBUD and my bicycle reform efforts in Tampa Bay and we always have a marvelous dinner on the Sunday night before Interbike.

And Steve can be a little goofy too.

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When I moved to Las Vegas four years ago, I read a local alternative paper that featured a kick-ass writer named Sarah Jane Woodall.

That girl could spin some words. And lo and behold, I met Sarah Jane on a Blinking Man bike ride in Vegas a few months later.

Her Facebook page describes her as "adventuress, nude model and all-around badass motherfucker also known as Wonderhussy."

And she also works lots of trade shows -- and once again I saw Sarah Jane with a bicycle today. She's fresh off her stint at Burning Man, where she collected two more bike cruisers. Impressive bike collection, Sarah Jane.

She told me she's in Facebook prison for posting some photos that Facebook deemed violated standards.

But in person, Sarah Jane didn't seem to violate any standards and was a fun person to talk with.

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John Schubert is a big proponent of riding your bicycle in the traffic lane like any nother vehicle on the road.

And he's an instructor for the CyclingSavvy bike education program, which teaches bicyclists best practices on pedaling the lane

Remember bicyclists, stay away from the road edge.

Selling And Marketing Bicycling To Women By Two Women Who Know How

It doesn't take long to realize that bike shops need to improve the way they sell bikes and accessories to women. Two prominent women in the retail bicycle world will be holding an important session on Thursday at noon to discuss this topic:

On Thursday Sept 22, at noon in the Electric Bike Theater at the Interbike trade show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Robin Bylenga the Founder/CEO of Pedal Chic in Greenville SC, and Melissa Balmer, the Founder/Director of in Long Beach CA, join forces to present a fresh take on “The Art & Science of Selling Bicycling to Women.”

The 45 minute presentation will have a special focus on how the convergence of the growth ebikes, the continuing rise of the city/suburban bike culture, and progressive cities building safe, networked bike infrastructure is creating a tremendous, mostly untapped market potential for the U.S. to engage women “not yet riding” or who “haven’t ridden a bike in years.”

The presentation will also delve into what both women have learned as thought leaders, change agents and advocates for successfully selling and marketing bicycling to women:

  • Bicycling was a $6 billion dollar industry in 2014. Athleisure, the newest and hottest segment of the apparel market, is estimated at $44 billion annually by NPD Group. So how do we collectively grow bicycling  to $16 billion, and then even $66 billion? Women.

  • If the bike industry will throw its net much wider - truly engaging the casual bicyclist - they’ll get more of those avid, sport focused cyclists they so desire.

  • The experience – not discounts – is what sets you apart from the rest.  We’ll share how to develop a better in-store experience.

  • Compassion is key. Meet women where they are.  We'll discuss how to relate to, and inspire, your customer thus building relationships and the “forever customer."

  • Storytelling needs to be at the heart of your communications strategy to successfully sell to women. Only storytelling engages hearts + minds. Anyone can become a masterful storyteller.

  • Masterful storytelling + today's smart, low cost digital communications tools = culture shift. Culture shift = sales.

  • Why getting positive bike-friendly stories into the media, especially the lifestyle media, is such an important part of a successful communications strategy not only for your own business, but the business of bicycling overall.

This presentation launches a new series of sales, communications and leadership programming that Pedal Chic + Pedal Love will now make available via webinars and live presentations to those interested in successfully marketing and selling bicycling to women of all ages and health and wellness levels. Learn more: s/2016/9/22/the-art-science- of-selling-bicycling-to-women- the-electric-bike-theatre- interbike

Both Bylenga and Balmer are members of the new, nationally focused and Pedal Love Culture and Lifestyle Council. This growing group includes 18 thought leaders, women passionate about creating safer, more active, and more sustainably vibrant and equitable streets, who’ve come together to strategize on humanizing and normalizing bicycling for women and their families in the face of the tremendous cost of our current car-centric, speed-focused culture.

The eighteen-month Pedal Love Council project consists of leadership development, storytelling platform, and a traditional and social media outreach campaign focusing on measurably increasing the sharing and media coverage of positive, compelling stories about women and bicycling. The project gives center stage to casual bicycling as a happy activity and joyful form of transportation -- an activity that nearly anyone can participate in, whether they’re 3 years old or 93 years young. Learn more: ove-culture-lifestyle-council/ .

Bylenga and Pedal Chic have been awarded Interbike’s "America's Best Bike Shops" 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 and "Best Bike Shop for Women" in 2012, 2013, 2015. This year she’ll be presenting the Interbike award for the “Best Bike Shop for Women.” Besides leading Pedal Love, Balmer is the Media Director for the California Bicycle Coalition and has been on the forefront of engaging U.S. bike advocacy in recognizing the power storytelling and the lifestyle media to exponentially grow bicycling for women. Both women have excelled at getting stories into the media including the Associated PressBicycling Magazine, Southern Living, Better Homes & GardensCNN Money, Cosmopolitan,The New Yorker, Momentum Magazine, various National Public Radio affiliates, Reuters, Sierra Club Magazine and more.


About Pedal Chic
In 2010 Robin launched Pedal Chic, the first women centric, full service bike shop in the U.S. in Greenville South Carolina. Her award winning store in a “must stop” location for those interested in creating their own female focused store.  Pedal Chic's clients regularly drive 5+ hours for personalized saddle fit, bike fit and fantastic product selection. Dedicated to transforming women’s lives through bicycling, Robin is now bringing her groundbreaking approach to the bicycle retail world through live talks, coaching and webinars.

Begun originally as a California-focused organization, Pedal Love expanded across the U.S. in 2016. We cultivate and promote a culture supportive of bicycling and healthy transportation options for the U.S. using storytelling, creative collaborations, leadership trainings, webinars, mentorships and proactive social and traditional media outreach, positioning women as leaders creating active, mindful mobility for all. We work to catalyze this culture through creative storytelling from both thought leaders and real people to engage hearts and minds and create healthier, happier, kinder behavior. Learn more at

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Top 7 Bike Products At Interbike's Media Preview

Before Interbike's doors swing wide open Wednesday morning, 40 bicycle product exhibitors showed their goods to us wretched media types during Tuesday's media preview event.

Interbike uses free beer, free food and a free backpack to lure bicycle media for this annual event on the eve of the show -- and it usually works rather effectively. As if we actually know anything, we're asked to vote on the night's best product and it's rather obvious that your opinion would have been as good or if not better than mine.

I'll reveal my favorite bicycle product after two honorable mentions and the four runners-up.

Like I said, I'm not especially qualified to rank these items or choose the winner and I say lots of subjectivity rules the day.

But away we go.

2nd Honorable Mention: Athlos bike jersey makers

The guy's from Baltimore but owns a home in Key West and he puts a cool brewery on the jersey. Maybe not honorable. But worthy of a mention.

Seriously folks, he's Dave Manchester and he used to work for Cannondale before the brand got bought out of bankruptcy and he's a super nice guy with great customer service skills. He does a whole lot of hand holding for customers to guide them through the process of making the best possible jersey.

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1st Honorable Mention: Swiftwick socks

Swiftwick makes the most amazing socks that wick sweat away from your feet and toes.

And when you live in the muggy, suanabath of Florida, Swiftwick socks are a lifesaver.

A very helpful and pleasant PR woman named Katy Holmes told me all about the socks and I can't wait to try them on in Florida to kick some muggy Florida ass.

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And now our Top 5.

5.  Tern foldable bikes

So, here's Kara Cartin, director of strategic projects, marketing being nice enough to spin the front wheel to show how it powers a front light that's bolted onto the handlebar. This particular bike was also belt driven, which I thought was cool. I don't ride foldable bikes but if I had to, I'd choose the Tern.

They look super sturdy and Tern partnered with Xtracycle to create a foldable Xtracycle that I thought was super cool.

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4. GoPro

They're the big guns in the bike camera category and video footage from GoPros have been known to track down motorists who crash into bicyclists.

'nuff said.

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3. Nutcase helmets

I first met the creator of the Nutcase helmet, Michael Morrow, at Sea Otter in 2013, and we reunited tonight at the Nutcase booth. Bike helmets were the most popular item showcased at the media preview as I counted seven helmet exhibitors and I gave a tip of my helmet to Nutcase.

A lot of folks dislike the look of the common bike helmet, so Michael decided to use fun colors and designs to spruce up the look. Here's Michael with his lovely wife Miriam Berman tonight.

If a bike helmet can look fun and stylish like the famed Nutcase watermelon, people will wear them more and ultimately it can save more lives.

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2. Linus bicycles

I adore the Linus bike as a beautiful urban commuter machine that can also be pedaled out on a suburban or rural paved trail. The Linus bike was inspired by the French bikes of the '60s and is a pure utilitarian bicycle with gorgeous geometric lines.

That's Tom Tolhurst, a former photography teacher and now bicycle designer standing at a bike that retails for $669.

I suggested Tom get his company to invest in safety education programs so that more people are willing to use urban roads for bikes -- which would ultimately lead to people buying Linus bikes.

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And drumroll please . . . checking in as your top product is the

First Place: Lumos helmet

Two engineers created a helmet with integrated lights and it actually looks much better in person than what I look like with the helmet here.

Lumos raised more than $800,000 on Kickstarter, hitting its goal in the first 12 days.

Even the best light systems can get stolen off a bike, or lose power.

But when the light is built into the helmet and you wear your helmet all the time, the light will shine.

Even though I can be awfully dopey, I wasn't too far off on this one because even before I checked out the Lumos brochure that said the helmet had won numerous awards, I had decided this was my favorite product of the night.

And now folks, it's off to the Big Show -- three days of walking 300,000 square feet to check out other products at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Come back for more reports and posts.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dust. Heat. Fat Tires.

Cannondale has returned in full force, and that's a big deal because that popular brand spurned Interbike a few years ago before returning with a small presence at last year's show.

I bumped into Pat Hus, the man who runs Interbike, and Pat remarked, "It's all about distribution," in explaining why Cannondale is exhibiting with a show of force this year. Pay, by the way, used to work for Cannondale back in 2000 though the brand has completely changed leadership.

Last year's record 327,000 square feet of show space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center was a record for Interbike.

But this year's square footage is down to 300,000 -- a dip of about eight percent, Hus said.

There are 900 exhibitor contracts representing 1,400 brands this week.

I then sauntered over to the Surly tent, where I chatted with Paul Zeigle, a brand manager who told me about the Wednesday model that was debuted at last year's Interbike. I liked his Surly card -- "bikes. parts. chaos."

I filled in Paul about my Surly Pugsley that I ride everywhere in Vero Beach after taking it up the snowy trails of Mount Charleston outside Vegas.

Paul mentioned that more people are buying the Surly models like the Wednesday and The Ice Cream Truck because riders are using it for other purposes besides snow.

Amen to that.

Add at 12:10PM: After drifting around the Outdoor Demo, I noticed some popular brands that used to show here are not around. Notable brands missing here are Specialized, Giant (I was told they dropped out of the Outdoor Demo only a week ago); Jamis, Yeti and Santa Cruz.

Apparently, it seems like some brands are using the money they normally use to show at the Outdoor Demo to have their own demo tours, an industry source told me.