My final observations;
1. A shiny bright booth does not necessarily guarantee a great product.
2. Meeting and talking to icons/pros of the sport: Ned Overend, Magnus Backstedt, Tom Ritchey etc. meant more to me than seeing any products.
3. The cyclocross race was great. Besides seeing the top pros go at it on a fast dry course, Molly Cameron finishing the race with a beer in hand and flashing the "rock on" gesture was priceless. Please do it again next year.
4. Many people in the booths didn't necessarily know the technical aspects of the products they were "selling." For example, on more than one occasion when I asked why the chainstays on a bike were a certain way the response was something like "that enhances the bike's rideability" or something along those lines.
5. The new XT looks great as does the carbon Dura-Ace cranks. SRAM Red also looks to gain market share, but the price may be deterring.
6. Presentation says alot about how a company views its own products. For example, the presentations of Mavic and Zipp were works of art, showcasing their wheels side by side for easy comparison. Shimano displayed their wheel sets separately thwarting any kind of comparison.
7. I intend to return next year with a better game plan than just wandering around wide-eyed, although I think for the first time out "wide-eyed" was fun.
8. The Italians dress and eat better than the rest of us and they know it.