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The thing is, none of the above really has to do with the ostensible point of the annual expo, which is for retailers to learn about the next year’s wave of bicycle innovation. People go for the business, but also for the perks, sometimes exclusively. In the last few years especially bike kids have been using Interbike as a chance to hold informal urban events in the form of alleycats, roller sprints, and mini stage races. Wednesday night brought fifty or so riders to the Double Down, an off-strip punk bar, for roller races by Salt City Sprints and, predictably, a beer chugging contest for bike schwag. The next night two recent fixtures, the Mash Drag Race and the King of Vegas Alleycat, occurred back to back, sending brakeless fixed gears, crusty roadies, and ex-messengers bowling through stoplights and curb-hopping around the the escort-hustlers. 

Everyone knows there’ll be other alleycat racers, random events, and chances to win a useful component or two, so they make the trip, some loosely associating themselves with a local shop in order to get expo credentials. Jessica Gilmore, a courier from Legal Messenger Inc. in Salt Lake City, came out to the show for the first time and proceeded to win fastest woman in the roller sprints and in the King (Queen?) of Vegas race. “I can race in Salt Lake, but I’m usually the only girl who competes and the same crowd’s been showing up for three years. Interbike is a fun way to see how I’m doing against other fast people. It’s fun to meet people there, make friends, visit them in their cities.” Just like the sanctioned businessmen inside the convention center, people are there to network and rekindle friendships with others who could take the week off, pile in borrowed vans, and burn across the desert. Hernan Montenegro, Los Angeles-based winner of the 2010 King of Vegas race, has been coming out for eight years. “It’s the one place I know I’ll see a lot of my friends from all over the world and we are all gonna have a good time. This year I went representing Orange 20 bikes, where I work, but I really didn’t talk to vendors or anything. I just hung out with all my friends.”

Others, like Crihs Thormann, came from farther afield. Crihs, a staple of New York’s bike and messenger scenes, won the King of Vegas race in 2009 and came back to defend his title, winning the MASH drag race by sneakily skitching the final sprint to the finish. LA was pissed. Like with