This year I started the season with a few goals, some of which panned out, some of which were abandoned and replaced, but all of which involved going all-in to experience things as richly as possible. I did the miles, had the coach, wrote the training diary, ate a lot of food, coached an athlete, volunteered at clinics, juggled training time with family and work time, added a few new races, and wrote the blogs. Each experience, whether I planned them or not, has added to my love of the sport and to my knowledge and experience that I may pass on to someone else. I had to decline a few things that came my way because I was spreading myself too thin, but one thing was easy to say “yes” to: testing carbon wheels. Who doesn’t want to ride or race on free carbon?!
IRT Wheels, a Southern California based company sponsors a couple of men’s teams and wanted to add the opinion of a woman to the feedback they received. Throughout the season I raced on their carbon tubulars and absolutely loved them…and the company. Everyone was available for questions and truly interested in what I thought about the wheels. When I was preparing for Nature Valley Grand Prix, which included a team camp several days before the stage race, I was offered clinchers to help with the dilemma of taking too much equipment. I took one set of wheels and used training tires for camp and changed to race tires for the stage race. The wheels were even hand-delivered to me by the owner of the company on his way back from delivering another order…personal attention.
It’s through this relationship that I was asked to go to Interbike with IRT Wheels. I had never been, so after I stopped jumping around the room, I said, “Sure, why not?” in as serious voice as I could muster. While preparing for the show, I learned more about the products IRT sells, more about Interbike, and more about the extra-curricular activities – more specifically, what to wear to the extra-curricular activities. Topping my lists of worries were 1) doing a good job of representing the company and 2) not looking like a fool in Las Vegas, then I reminded myself of the last time I went to clubs Sin City: I wore tiger print pants and a tank with “HOTTIE” in sequins. So, with a bag of way too many shoes, I set out for Las Vegas where about 6,000 of my cycling friends were also headed.
Interbike was amazingly over-stimulating just standing in the booth. Once I ventured out of the booth and up the escalators, I first wandered around trying to find someone until I retreated to the safety of the IRT booth in exhaustion. The next time I went up, I had a plan and a map – it’s that big! It was fun to see friends in their work environment, thank sponsors, and meet new people.
Back in the IRT booth it took a couple of conversations with potential customers for me to find a sales groove, which I was nervous about since I don’t like to be sold to and don’t consider myself a sales person. The guys and gal from the company helped me out and the visitors were easy to talk to; we were talking about carbon wheels and racing after all. It was fun to have been included in the catalog and I was even asked to autograph a few!
I went out with my friends and co-workers two of my three nights in town. I know you’re thinking, “What?! You went to Vegas and didn’t go out one of the nights?!” Yes, I couldn’t find my personality even after 2 Cokes and a shot of espresso, so off to the gigantic bathtub and bed I went. It turned out to be an enjoyable night, because it’s rare I get to take a shower without being interrupted by my son’s need to find a toy right that minute and my tub at home is only big enough for my legs. So, I enjoyed the quiet, but the other two nights I got down with the get-down. SRAM and Sinclair Imports threw great parties where I enjoyed a few tasty beverages and danced like the diva I think I am. It was fun to let loose with people I only see on Sunday at a race or on Facebook and I admit I went right over for my photo opportunity with The Lion King, one of the greatest sprinters to ever ride a bike.
Just like in real life at home, balancing the day job with extra-curricular activities can be difficult, but with the help of a high-caffeine diet I made it through 3 days and 3 nights in Las Vegas. It was the perfect end to my All-In Season to be able to attend Interbike with a great wheel company like IRT Wheels, learn a little about the cycling industry, and to blow off some steam. It only took about 3 days at home for my feet to feel normal and to catch up on sleep, during which my son asked a few times, “Momma, why are you so slow today?” I could only answer with, “Vegas, baby.”
For more information on IRT wheels, please visit www.irtwheels.com