Monday, October 6, 2008

Vegas Redux II: Celebrity Sightings

I’m purging Vegas from my system since I’m getting on a plane tomorrow morning for Kona. While much of what was seen is out there, I have to say there were a lot more athletes there than I’ve seen in the past. There were several I didn’t run into (multiple-time Ironman champ Mark Allen and coach Luis Vargas of and some I saw but was too on-the-go to see (like Simon Whitfield).

So after four days in LV, who did I see? Conrad Stoltz, showing off the new AviStoltz trail shoe that he helped design with Avia. Low heel, aggressive tread, a sealed tongue and mesh upper that helps keep sand out.

 founder Dan Empfield (left), with Gerard Vroomen of Cervelo. This was minutes before the debut of the P4. The tension was palpable.

This trio includes three Ironman winners, two from this year: Ironman Canada winner Bryan Rhodes of New Zealand is on left. In center is former Ironman Malaysia winner Marilyn McDonald of Canada and TeamTBB, and on right is Marilyn's husband, Chris McDonald, recent winner of Ironman Wisconsin and fellow TeamTBB team member. While Rhodsey will be in Kona this week, Chris is passing on Hawaii this year to focus on the fall race at Ironman Arizona.

Cervelo's Gerard Vroomen, with Swede bike powerhouse Bjorn Andersson, and the new P4.

Ironman 70.3 specialist Chris Legh of Australia, chatting up Dave Ripley, one of the designers and product managers on aerobars at Zipp Speed Weaponry.

2006 Hawaii Ironman World Champ Michellie Jones and Holly Bennett, the head marketeer at Gu Sports. Holly was a champ to be on her feet at the show in Vegas given that she had just come from racing Ironman 70.3 Cancun and was bruised up from a bad bike crash. Michellie had gone down with her and essentially played the sherpa for Holly. A cool reversal of role from one of the classiest athletes in our sport.

Dan Empfield and VeloNews technical editor Lennard Zinn, discussing the finer points of fine linen that drapes the P4. Lennard will be in Hawaii for the first time to watch the race, and when he heard about SRAM marketing guy Michael Zellman's affinity for open-water swimming in brightly-colored Speedos (see my below post), he said he, too felt repressed for his desire to wander city streets in minimalist attire.

With all the pale Germans and leathery Brazilians that will be traipsing around town eating mahi mahi sandwiches in cafes wearing nothing but Speedos and Crocs, those two will finally feel liberated and fit right in.

Scott Forrestall (left) and Vinu Malik, the brainchild owner of FuelBelt. Vinu and Scott are both fast cats, kicking one anothers' asses in training over in their home base of Rhode Island. Vinu qualified for and is racing this weekend in Kona. I wish I could run business and be as
fast as this guy. Both are great cats, too.

Felt Racing-sponsored pro Tim DeBoom, and namesake Jim Felt. Felt is one of the nicest guys in the sport, and Tim, as historically one of the quietest, most secluded pros, has opened up to the point where he's doing a column in Triathlete about his experiences... which are really, really enlightening. Dealt some bad hands in races, Tim has been a warrior and while he was often dissed for being fleeting with the press, he was always genuine with me and has been one of my favorite pros to deal with.

Rhodesey with Tim Moxey of Nuun Nutrition and Blue Seventy Wetsuits. Tim is often on the other side of the camera, as one of the finest multisport shooters in the game. He's also all-around fun guy to be around with a wit you cannot touch. Rhodesy is the couch-surfingest pro on the Ironman circuit. He's spent time crashing on the air mattress at my old condo before, and has probably spent time rifling through your cereal cupboards, too. Arrrgh, mate! Good guy.

That was just a collection of the peeps I ran into. I also saw a few cool things, three of which I wanted to mention before I sign off of Vegas and onto Hawaii: First was the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly shoe that P.I. made up for Jan Frodeno before he won his Olympic gold, and had on display. It was a very nice one-off, especially for a guy who no one expected to figure into the top five, let alone the win. A nice way for a company to look after its athletes.

Another was the low-key setup by newcomer Feather Brakes. A moto-cross brand, they come into the superlight road aftermarket brake market with not only a pretty product, but one they aim to improve on performance-wise. The CNC'd bodies, with ti bolts and springs weigh 199 grams complete. They have upgrade kits to add anodized color accents (blue, pink, gold, black and red) to your bike. But they have a barrel that attaches to your brake cable and hooks onto the cam lever, making it easy to open the caliper to remove the wheel. We cannot wait to try this one.

Finally, I present MotorTabs. Nothing new save for a new six-pack offering (which is nice for the cash-strapped that wants to buy in small lots). However, this effervescent, drop-in-the-bottle-and-add-water) is THE most underrated nutritional tab on the market. Michellie Jones uses it, but whateverl nutrition is not sold on who's using it; it has to work for the user. I have used a lot of stuff, and when it came to my training for my ultra this spring, this was my go-to hydration. Greg Sellers, owner of the company, told me there have been several big-name riders on major road cycling teams that buy his stuff and use it instead of the sponsor-supplied goods, because it works. Good hydration, good salt, easy on the belly and easy to re-up on the go. They have fruit punch, orange, lemon-lime and a new grape flavor, but for me, lemon-lime is the go. I have heaps of drinks at my disposal, but when I go to the cabinet to do my bottles up for ride morning, I always go for these tabs as a default. This stuff is so good, I gotta recommend it.

I'm out. Next stop: Kona.

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