Las Vegas. Things are weird in this town. This much is visible to the naked eye from 3,000 feet—an aberration of a city, buildings rising from beneath the dunes and desolation. The city itself is a testament to man’s folly; his misguided belief that with enough money God and Nature can be made to fit man’s will. Yet the landscape leaves no room for doubt: you are in the devil’s country, its crags and craters tinted red as though painted by Satan’s hand himself.

Of course, at ground level, it’s obvious that things can only get weirder from here. Especially when you see your first Prince impersonator before you even check in to your hotel.

And weirder they become. Indeed.

Of course, a city built on Man’s Disconnect from Nature cannot handle a sudden influx of cycling professionals. Las Vegas can only survive as long as its residents, both permanent and temporary, remain distracted from the inhospitable conditions that surround them. As bicycles connect individuals to the communities and elements that surround them, the cycling population must not be allowed to proliferate unchecked. Mass realization that this climate is unsuitable for human habitation would lead to chaos, rioting, and certain destruction.

Sure, it’s socially acceptable to drink alcohol in public from a novelty cup as tall as you are (refills only $6!), but the general populace is simply unprepared to deal with an influx of padded-chamois pedal-powered biped animals. We simply can’t have thousands of individuals traveling by pedal power alone in direct affront to the norms and conventions of this town.

So this is why Interbike provides friendly shuttle buses to the aptly-named Bootleg Canyon for an outdoor-cycling extravaganza hosted by adult-beverage brewers Sierra Nevada. Give the cyclists as much beer as they can stand, allow them the use of high-end mountain bikes and miles of trails—let the beasts loose and weed out the weak, those unfit for survival in this savage country.

By the time the actual convention starts on Wednesday, you will have reduced the number of cyclists to acceptable levels. Those that have survived hundred-plus-degree weather and demonstrated the ability to corner sharp turns at high speeds while under the influence have proved themselves weird enough to endure.

And endure they must.  We are, after all, professionals.

Approaching Las Vegas: the doom and desolation surrounding the city. Clearly, no place for mankind: only madmen, lunatics, and celebrity impersonators would call this landscape home.

Mountain biking in Bootleg Canyon. Helmets required. Beer optional.

Single-speed mountain biking with a carbon belt drive–that, dear readers, is the Spot Honey Badger. Steep inclines and even steeper descents? Canyon debris, rocks and sand in your path? Honey Badger don’t care.

Nechama and the Spot Honey Badger in its natural habitat.

Are you savage enough to survive this savage country? Cassandra shows off how a novice off-road rider deals with the Fear: “Every time you feel like you should hit your brakes, you should probably just scream instead.”

A break from the trails: road bike testing time at the Specialized tent! Cassandra on the Roubaix and Nechama on the Amira.

The most comfortable road-riding shoes we’ve ever tested. Even Bill de Blasio, Dear Leader of the NYC Bikelash Movement, would be convinced to ride clipless with a pair of these.

Even Brompton came to the Demo, to show off their ever-innovative solutions to bike-people problems. Where’s the water bottle cage in this picture? Well, you won’t find it–Brompton’s 2013 models harness the power of magnets to hold your hydration vessel in place.

Pretty much the coolest multi-tool we’ve ever seen….

Because it’s been designed to fit inside the frame of the bicycle. Brompton blows minds of cycling professionals everywhere, yet again.

Cassandra prepares to take a Specialized Crux on the trails. There comes a moment when you realize the madness of what you are doing–essentially taking a road bike with knobby tires out onto the trails. That is the moment when you start screaming.

We couldn’t attend the Interbike Outdoor Demo without trying out the SRAM XX1 for ourselves. Take a close look at that drivetrain: ONE chainring. ELEVEN COGS ON THE CASSETTE. This man is a professional–a lesser mechanic’s brain might explode were he to handle these components without knowing such a thing were possible.

Close-up on the XX1. Your eyes are not deceiving you–this mountain bike has a SINGLE. FRONT. CHAINRING. We were in Las Vegas to get weird. The SRAM XX1 helped get us there, giving us the smoothest ride we’d ever experience off-road.

Cassandra being fitted at the SRAM tent to take the XX1 for a ride.

Nechama gets fitted as we prepare to take the XX1 on the trails.

A return to the badlands….

Fun times at the Yeti tent.

Cassandra and Nechama at the first-aid tent, demonstrating what happens when the terrain bites back–which doesn’t stop us from hopping back on our bikes for more canyon trail riding. We are, after all, professionals.

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