Summer Camp For Bike Editors
Before I joined the world of cycling editors, I’d read the tech reports and often wondered what it was really like to attend a product launch, or Interbike, and see the new gear before anyone else. Now on the ‘inside’, I’ve been to more than a few of these gigs over the past 7 years, but never quite like this.
During late June in Sun Valley ID, I was invited to two separate (but coinciding) events: Scott USA presented their 2010 line up with two days of tech, riding, and camping in the woods, which was followed promptly by 3 days of the inaugural Bike PressCamp, where cycling editors from home and abroad convened with 19 cycling manufacturers to see – and test – more 2010 product.
Sun Valley, Idaho – home of Scott USA – and Bike PressCamp.
Beyond the product focus was a week of very cool events, rides, and getting to know some of the most influential people in cycling. And as much as I love seeing the new gear, it’s getting to know the people who make this industry go round that made the week special.
The week started with Scott USA’s launch of the 2010 Genius all-mountain rig. And yes – the Pez went off-roading – and rediscovered my roots.
Bike PressCamp is the big idea of Interbike veteran Lance Camisasca, whose company Lifeboat Solutions responded to everyone’s general concern that there’s simply not enough time to see and test the enormous amount of gear coming for next year at the big show in Vegas.
His solution was to gather a small number of manufacturers (19 this year), invite the cycling press, and let ‘em mix for three days in an environment where bikes and biking were top priority. The list was notable: Alpine Bike Parks, Blue Competition Cycles, BMC Racing, Cannondale, CLIF Quench, Delta 7 Sports, DT Swiss, GORE Bike Wear, GORE RideOn Cables, GT Bicycles, Hutchinson, Lazer Helmets, Mongoose, Pedro’s, Saris Cycle Racks, Schwinn, Scott USA, Smith Optics, Sugoi. Also involved were “Gear partners: CamelBak, Mavic, and Timbuk2.
And while many manufacturers have traditionally hosted exclusive multi-day events to show new product to the media, (at considerable expense to fly and lodge everyone), Bike Press Camp allowed for a certain ‘intimacy’ due to limited exhibitors, and more time with press.
For us editors, it was a great way to see several pieces of new gear, spend quality time with manufacturers, and reduce our time away from home offices (I wish I had the luxury of enough time to accept every invitation that came my way…!)
Scott’s 2010 CR1 lineup gains some comfort, but gives up none of the stiffness or light weight.
By now many of you have seen tech reports on the PressCamp on your favorite websites, (some reports were posted directly from the camp), and you can tune into PEZ in the coming weeks for my own take on what was really cool about the new gear I saw, but first I wanna tell you about this really cool week.
The campsite – a key ingredient to any ‘camp’.
Sun Valley was the place, and as home to both Scott USA and Smith Optics, the location also offered up some of the best mtb riding anywhere. The road riding was okay, but really paled in comparison.
You can’t camp without a campfire, and ours was kept on the flame by our hosts from Scott USA.
Camping With Scott Bikes
My week started with a 4:50AM pick-up from NSMB.com editor and fellow North Shore resident Cam McRae. Our 6:30 flight & connections through Seattle got us into Sun Valley in time to join the afternoon mtb & road rides at Scott USA launch of their new Genius all–mountain mtb, and redesigned CR1 road racer.
Scott USA had wisely employed the services of CampChef to tastily handle the cooking. We took care of the eating part, no problem.
A number of us started the week early, as guests of Scott USA 2010 bike launch of the all new all-mountain bike the Genius, and after a morning product review of the new bikes, around 20 of us saddled up for a short bike path cruise to the base of Bald Mountain and a chairlift ride to the top.
A variety of methods were employed to combat the cold. This anejo tequila proved particularly effective.
Sun Valley was on the tail end of weeks of crap weather, so temps at the top were damn chilly – even with base layer, jersey, arms, legs, light vest and wool socks I was starting to solidify by the time our chair crested the summit. Any warm-up I’d done was long gone as I pushed myself over the edge and down an otherwise super sweet single track leading me back to the valley floor.
As an ex-mtb guy (got my start back in the early ‘80s), I knew this would be a gas, but being half frozen and a year since my last off-roading, “don’t crash- don’t crash” was my mantra.
The mountain morning dew arrived after the frost melted.
It worked as I made it to the valley intact, and ready to swap the plush ride of the Genius for the much stiffer but also much plusher ride of the new for 2010 CR1 road bikes, and an hour long pedal to our campsite for the night – which included a solid mile of dirt road – into the wind – to reach our final destination.
Both organizers had wisely engaged the services of Western Spirit Cycling Adventures to handle on-ground logistics and transport our group of oxygen-deprived (Sun Valley sits at around 6000’ above sea level), new-gear & swag inebriated journos to all the right places.
Morning light hits the sage covered hills.
There’s no better way to get the all-mountain experience than settling into a fold-out chair, campfire toasting your feet, frosty beer in hand, and someone else doing the work! Lodging for the night was provided by Nemo Equipment, makers of a huge line of lightweight portable tents and camping gear, who had committed themselves to our comfort by setting up a tent for each of us editors before we cycled in. Comfy pads, sleeping bags and their very awesome ‘Fillo’ pillows were also supplied. I’ll tell you that was an impressive site.
Day 2 of the Scott USA launch started with a mellow single track exit from the campsite.
We were told it might be a chilly night – so I’m glad I checked the weather before packing and threw in my longjohns, extra wool socks, long gloves, and my trusty wool cap by Capo – all of which would be worn as pajamas when the mercury went down to freezing. Chilly indeed – although that bottle of anejo tequila (patiently stored by Scott marketing man Adrian Montgomery since his last trip south of the border) certainly eased the cold.
After a night of questionable sleep – not actually aided by the howling coyotes at 5 AM – we emerged from our tents for the 8:00 AM coffee call. Ahead lay another day of putting the Genius through its paces on several hours of tasty local single track – climbing, descending, switchbacks and stream crossings… ‘all-mountain’ stuff for sure.
Although we were never more than a few miles from the town the hills and real altitude took us up local peaks that offered views to the tops of the Rocky Mountains – pure spectacle that made me realize how much I love an epic mtb adventure.
But it wasn’t all flowery fields and scenic views. For me, a good x-country ride, done right, is way more intense an effort than most of my road rides. A highlight was battling out a switch backed single track climb with James Huang of Cycling News, and Scott Montgomery of Scott Bikes. I was reminded how intense a low-speed grind can be – when you get 3 guys wheel to wheel on a climb that demands perfect balance to maintain traction, very bottom gear steepness, and high-alpine air (or lack thereof) – . My heart was pounding outta my head, my lungs clawing for every scrap of air… hang on… hang on… then someone if front slips out and down you go… only to realize I’m so far in oxygen debt that I can barely stand to hold up my bike… And after a few seconds recovery… we were back at it.
The ride finished up with a super fine single track descent – and a cold one from the cooler, followed by a fine BBQ lunch – and hot showers – back at Scott HQ. Then it was off to the Sun Valley Lodge to meet the rest of the editors and sponsors who’d arrived to begin the official Bike PressCamp.
The famous Sun Valley Lodge was built in 1937, and over the years has set the stage for a couple films, hosted Hollywood stars, and now the cast and crew of Bike PressCamp.
Onto The Bike PressCamp
As much as the real reason we were all here was for manufacturers to showcase some new product for 2010, and us to write about it, the organizers had craftily couched all this work into some seriously relaxing environs.
Wednesday and Thursday mornings were taken up by half hour meetings with each brand rep, which offered a short, but sweet amount of time to learn a little more about some of the gear for next year, while the afternoons were devoted to riding and testing out the goodies.
My Bike PressCamp afternoon road ride was notable for the headwind, tailwind combo of the flat valley road, and Road Bike Action’s Zap Espinoza’s (sporting the ‘go to hell’ mix of Eurotrash kit) regaling tales of motocross from the 1970’s. Outside’s John Bradley made the early attack to Phantom Hill, forcing the rest of us to chase into a most unpleasant headwind.
The mtb rides were the most popular – no wonder given our location, while the road rides were great if you liked a straight out and back loop, on a flat road with a headwind & tailwind.
Evenings were group dinners, and the grand finale “Gelande Quaffing” beers races organized by the boys at Smith Optics – who were suspiciously well versed in this activity.
Here it is – “Gelande Quaffing” – that’s our team in action. Note that flying brewski heading right for my hand.
The Bike PressCamp offered a broader scope and better depth of gear range than anything I’d attended before – but it was the after hours activities that stood out for me. In the global biz of cycling, it’s rare that media and manufacturers meet with enough time to really get to know each other – and the best place to do this is either on the bike or ‘after hours’ over a meal and a cocktail.
By the final night everyone was old tequila-shooting pals. And after a solid game of beer guzzling (and spilling on our shirts), we celebrated with one more toast. Here’s (l-r) Chips Chippendale (Singletrack), Avery Stonich & Lance Camisasca (Lifeboat Solutions), Emily Heikenen (Western Spirit), and Kenny Roberts (DT Swiss).
And as obvious as this may sound, the better we know the manufacturers, the better info we can report to our readers – both because we’ll take more time as editors to understand the gear, and also because we’re simply more motivated by the personal connection.
Both events were a big success, and one more reason why cycling is such a cool business to work in.
I’ll have a couple product specific reports to follow, so stay tuned.
• See more Scott bikes at:
• For info on next year’s Bike PressCamp, visit: