Good Times at Outerbike in Moab
Outerbike was an amazing 4-day bike-demo event in Moab, Utah that was held for the first time this year. It was in early October—soon after Interbike, which is a trade show primarily for the “insiders” in the bicycle retailing world. In contrast, “Outerbike” was held in a beautiful outdoor setting and meant for those outside the retail world—the customers!
Outerbike was located just north of Moab at a trailhead for a half-dozen mountain biking loops and right off a newly paved bike path for demoing road bikes. It was primarily a mountain-biking event this year, but next year there will be many more road bikes to demo as well. Contrast that with demoing bikes in your home town: you could wait for the bike brand of your choice to come to your town for one day each year or you could pay money down to demo a bike at your local bike shop. One man I overheard said that his local bike shop charged $150 a day for him to demo a bike. For that same amount of money, at Outerbike he could demo as many bikes as he had the energy to ride over the four days.
Ashley Korenblat, the director of Outerbike and also of Western Spirit Cycling Adventures said that was the very reason for this event: “When you’re spending $2000-10,000 on a bike, it’s quite a serious commitment and this is an opportunity to really try out those bikes and make sure you are getting the bike you want. There seems to be a need for customers to demo all the bikes they are thinking about. It helps you to see all the latest innovations from the various bike companies and it is a chance for the bike companies to show those innovations off directly to customers, instead of just to the media or dealers. The customers get to try the bikes before buying and the companies get direct feedback from the customers. It’s a win-win!”
How Outerbike Works
Attendees were urged to bring their bike shoes, pedals, helmet, a hydration pack and be dressed and ready to ride (For those who don’t yet have their own bike shoes, all exhibitors will have flat pedals, so you’ll still be good to go!) At registration we received wristbands and our Outerbike card that allows us to check out which ever bike catches our eye. We also received a great string backpack with an Outerbike T-shirt, water bottle, various energy bars from Clif, several bike magazines and other fun swag.
The expo area is full of various bike retailers with some of their best bikes and latest technology to try. Want to try out SRAM’s XX component group with a double ring in the front? Or perhaps the Gravity Dropper Seat post which changes seat position as you ride with the push of a button? I loved trying out the lightest-weight carbon mountain bikes (sub-23 lbs.) and feeling how easy it was to take those up a hill! Osprey was also there with hydration packs for sale and for demo (you’d get to keep the bladder.) Each of the exhibitors had friendly reps who will help you choose a great bike to ride and will set it up for you with the right fit, suspension and put on your pedals.
There were several choices of rides, most of them were short trails, but one can lead to another… If you choose a road bike, the newly paved bike trail is close by. There was also a really fun choice: each morning and afternoon vans with bike racks arrived to shuttle riders to one of the rides of the day: a classic Moab trail such as Slick Rock or Porcupine Rim trail. Riders could leave on the shuttles by 9am and be back for lunch or leave after lunch for an extended afternoon ride. The shuttle also delivered Outerbike attendees to and from Moab.
Outerbike took care of us in other ways too: there were large containers of water and Hammer Heed for refilling hydration bladders or water bottles. Bowls of apples, bananas, oranges, Clif Shots and energy bars were there to keep riders going. Lunch generously ran from 11-3 so all those who went long on their rides didn’t miss out. The buffet-style lunch was delicious and generous enough for the hungriest guys. In the late afternoon there was a beer garden and bike-themed movies such as Race Across the Sky were shown in downtown Moab.
Rebecca Rusch (24 hours of Moab winner & Leadville champ) was there on Friday and Saturday to lead a women’s clinic and ride. It was an amazing chance to ride with Rebecca and get technical pointers from her to improve my mountain biking skills. As I struggled to attempt one technical uphill (remember I’m a road biker), she patiently encouraged us to try it again and told us what to correct. In our group there were women from scattered points across the US and Canada with a variety of skill levels. The more experienced mountain bikers were very nurturing and supportive to those of us who were in the advanced beginner levels.
Ashley said that next year’s Outerbike which will be October 7-9, 2011 will be even better with more exciting trails to try, some of the best of the 2012 bikes (including more road bikes,) and more athletes like Rebecca Rusch. There will also be some pre-event clinics on Wednesday and Thursday (Oct 5-6) and that will include some for women-only. Each clinic will have something for each skill level and will be led by some of the top athletes. Ashley has one parting piece of advice for those who’d like to go to next year’s Outerbike: “Make your hotel reservations early! Moab can fill up fast!”
And I would add, be prepared to have an awesome, amazing experience!