Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Time to re-light this candle. It's Christmas eve.. The gifts are wrapped and the stage is set for the magic to happen on Christmas day. Much has changed in the past few years and the adult Christmas is way different than the kid Christmas. The older I get, the more I am faced with the reality of things in this world and although much is not good around us, there is so much still to marvel at and the mystique of the Christmas season still holds a lot for all of us. I find myself more thankful these days for everything in my life. Simple things like walking, talking, hot coffee on a cold morning, the voice of my son calling out my name, the people God has placed in my life - some to help me, others to challenge me, all to make me a better, stronger and more resilient person. All made possible by the first Christmas.

Another candle is my racing. What once was a raging fire died down to embers.. I still race and ride my bike but it has become much more challenging due to work and the life of a single parent. I love my job and I love my life and the joy of raising my son. Racing for me is what it is, an outlet, a vehicle to keep moving. I thought that there nay be others out there who share the same struggles as me, the same challenges, same hopes and same dreams. I have decided to write about my experience again and in doing so, maybe someone will find something useful, funny, happy, sad, inspiring or encouraging.. Who knows.

I am teaming with Vassago Cycles again for this coming year and I am excited and happy to have the relationship that I do with them. It's been 7 years now since I started with the brand and it is a company that has mountain biking in its soul, it's run by people with a passion for big-wheel bikes that are fun to ride.

I am near the end of my cyclocross season now and I am looking at a few off road events for 2014 and of course a load of cyclocross again next fall on my new TKO cross bike from Vassago (review coming soon).

Until then, guess I'd better put down the Christmas cookies.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 Vassago Optimus Ti - First Ride

Anticipating the arrival of my 2013 Vassago Optimus Ti for several weeks, I was really excited when Fed-Ex dumped off some very conspicuous boxes earlier in the week. I unboxed and drooled over each piece and set them aside for a few days until I had time to build it up. I got it done and could not wait to get on the trail to see how it would ride.
I have owned every iteration of the Optimus since its inception so I have a wealth of experience to compare this one to all its cousins. Tom @Vassago had been telling me how different these frames were going to be from the others and I noticed some big (literally) changes right off the bat.
Changes like the fat 44mm head tube and the beefy bottom bracket that went from 68mm to 73mm on the new frame.

All the tubes are slightly bigger yet the frame is still just over 3lbs which makes me curious about the butting in the tubes. The welds are pure art.
Another piece of art is the one off vertical drops they made for me. Production frames are all going to have Paragon Sliding drops like earlier versions. Nothing wrong with sliders and Paragon ones are the best. I got vertical ones on this frame because I am special (plus I have a Optimus SS already and this bike is forever going to be geared)
Enough bike geek love. How does all this stuff feel on dirt? Glad you asked. Immediately after my first ride (and I mean immediately, I was still in parking lot and had bike gear on) I shot Tom @Vassago an email with the subject line: Holy S**t Tom! and that was pretty much the first thing that entered my mind within the first mile of singletrack I rode. This thing feels amazing. It feels strangely like a carbon frame in the way small bumps just aren't there. I never knew how flexy the older Opti frames felt until having something else to compare them to. The new Optimus handles amazing. Having not seen the geometry yet (Hey I trust my peeps! I just said build me a bike and make it ride sweet) I can't say where the difference is but I am guessing it's in the tubing and it looks to me like the head and seat tube may be kicked back a half a degree, I am not dure about that though. I do know the "Wet Cat" geometry should be called Wet Cat on Crack geometry now. I pushed this bike in the twisty stuff just to see if I could get it to fail in some way and I did over cook some turns and drifted a bit but the effort it took to get there surprised me. This bike is stable and turns are unbelieveble. Onto faster, forest service type roads, the bike kept on delivering the goods with great handling and stability. There is one rocky descent that normally makes me a little nervous because most of the  baseball sized rocks aren't attached to anything and I felt much more stable and descended quicker than normal.
A couple of component highlights worth gushing over are the SRAM XO 2x10 group, specifically the type 2 rear derailleur and the brakes. The T2 derailleur has a tiny clutch inside that prevent it from moving forward freely and that all but eliminates chain slap. It is freaky to ride a geared bike through a rock garden and it be as quiet as my singlespeed.
I have ridden Formula brakes for the last decade and Hayes before that. I had heard some horror stories about Avid discs and was a little concerned but after today, no more. Set up was simple and since my brakes had about 3 miles of extra hose once I got them in place, my set up included bleeding both brakes. Bleeding is probably the most complicated thing you can do with hydro discs and these weren't bad at all. Stopping, modulation and lever feel are super.
I really can't say enough good stuff about this bike. They are legit and have stepped up their game in the 29er market. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself. You will be glad you did.