The joys of numb travelling

Out of instinct, I asked for a second shot of coffee in my wan-weak airport latte, but really, it’s not that needed. I find that the warm fuzz of over-tiredness really helps with long travel days. Riding on Saturday, packing until 2am and then leaving that house at 7am helps keep me from getting even remotely stressed when flying.

I’m off to the Sea Otter for what must be my 18th or so year in a row. It’s the first big bike gathering of the year. Ostensibly it’s a race, but really it’s a chance for the industry to get together after six months since the show frenzy of Eurobike and Interbike. It’s a chance for team riders to show off their new race kit and bikes, and a chance for bike companies big and small to sneak out previews of what they’ve been working on all winter.

It’s where we’ll get our first (or second) glimpses at products that will make it into production this autumn. Sometimes it’s a ‘no photos!’ peek at a carbon prototype in the back of a truck. Other times it’s a quick lap of the test track on some hand-machined brakes or a ride on ‘the only one in existence’ early prototype of a bike that’ll be launched at Eurobike. It’s here that having been in the business for a long time helps, as much of the new stuff isn’t on public display and it needs a nod and a wink to get to see behind the wizard’s curtain. And in some cases people will happily tell me that they have something new, but I can’t see it yet. Which is fair enough – if it’s not even remotely ready for the world, then there’s less of an urgency.

Either way, it’s a good chance to see where everyone is at, all at once. And it’ll show where everything’s going. I just found a video I made in a traffic jam leaving the Otter last year, where I said that the world had gone 27.5in. It hadn’t happened in the UK by then, or even in magazine land, but it was obvious by what I was shown at the event that there was now no turning back from medium-wheel mayhem.

It’ll be interesting to see what’s going to happen this year. Stay tuned.