Me and stalwart training/riding/and racing buddies Michael Ritter and Bob Lamberson rode the McQueen's Gap loop on Holston Mtn. I was not only looking forward to this ride to test my Optimus but to also gauge my fitness since me and Bob did this same loop in February and it really hurt me.
Sign says no dumping. Pissing is ok (be careful what you do around Duckman with a camera)
McQueens Gap is about 25 miles of all forest service road with a small bit of pavement and some potentially hazardous doubletrack with babyheads covered by leaves. It also has a couple of really nice climbs, the biggest being about 5 miles long.
Nice climbing, just steep enough to push you a little
By the end of the ride, I was really pleased with how I felt. We took it easy and still did the loop faster than we did in February and I never felt like I was really pushing it. Plus my gearing is 32X19 right now where it was 32X20 in Feb when I was there. It was just another stamp of approval for me that my training has been all that it could be.
Now how about the bike?
I was very impressed with the ride and the handling of my Optimus. The Vassago ti frame and White Bros carbon fork gave a really nice ride. A lot of the high frequency bumps that you'd normally feel were either gone or deadened to the point that they didn't matter much. I will admit it was a bit weird looking down at the fork and seeing it flex but I am told and it is backed up by lots of riders using these forks that they are the real deal and they hold up to the kind of riding I will be doing. Corners were inspiring as the wheels seemed to stick wherever I put them. I can only imagine what singletrack will be like at this point but I believe I will be pleased.
Climbing with a sub-20 pound bike is a real treat. It is stiff where it needs to be and compliant where it should be and this all adds up to a great riding, great handling bike. I can't wait to see how it feels after 100 miles next Saturday.