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November 2015
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Ian puts the MX RSL through its paces during the Sisters Stampede

GrassMoots racer Ian Leitheiser got to put his new MX RSL to the test during the Sisters Stampede held over Memorial Day weekend. ¬†He writes in about missing the start and his “other” new love…his Vamoots RSL…..

In Oregon, we’re already about six weeks into the racing season. Until last night, I’d not yet raced a bike this year. A wicked combination of flu and then pneumonia put me down for all of February and most of March. The start of Tuesday night racing at Portland International Raceway was a good way for me to finally get back to riding hard. I have something of a love/hate thing with PIR. One on hand, I’m more of a climber and threshold guy, where PIR is a dead flat race track for things with motors, or for those riders built more like muscle cars than climbers. Good riders are good riders everywhere, but I often feel outgunned at PIR by the trackie/sprinter types. As for the love, there’s not much better than being able to ride to work in the morning, leave the office at 5:30 to ride out to the race, get your race on, and then ride home as the night settles in. Pretty sweet.

As for the racing itself, I got my season off to a swell beginning by shooting the breeze with my brother in law and missing the race start. One of the officials had lots of fun with that as I set off in a solo pursuit of a field of about 60 that was going way, way too fast for the start of a race. That’s what PIR gives you, though: it’s a low-stress opportunity to do things you might not in other race formats. Attack like an idiot, put your nose in the wind just because you can, or heck, as I once did, sit ten meters off the back of a 100 rider field all night long and get what amounts to a good motor pacing workout. Different riders go to different races for their own reasons. Roadies might race ‘cross in the fall “for fun,” which doesn’t compute to someone like me who lives for October. My typical messing around at PIR is certainly a different approach than those who are there to ride for a result, but that’s one of the things that’s great about living here. Plenty of racing, and opportunities to do races that have no pressure if they don’t happen to be something on which you’re especially focused.

Now that’s horse power…..the lead out from the gun…

Anyway. I tried to put in some work, despite the fact that it was obvious many guys had at least a few race days in the legs and I quite clearly had none, and essentially got out of the way in the end. It’s that outgunned thing again. At PIR I’m there to work. I’ve had a PIR result or two by going to the line in a small-ish break, but I tend to try bridging efforts, or work to bring breaks back, rather trying my hand in a bunch sprint at the end. As much as I like to go out there and tell myself I’m training my weaknesses (flat and fast), I’ve resigned myself to generally avoiding the crazy part of bunch sprints. Rolling through with the right amount of work done is enough for me for that kind of racing.

This pony is ready for trail…..

I have to comment on the Vamoots RSL. I’ve had excellent road bikes of all materials, and rather than spew the usual cliches about the ride, I’ll just say it’s the best overall bike I’ve ridden. If I were to compare it to one bike, it reminds me of the compact Anvil steel frame Don Ferris built for me back in 2002, the frame I had while riding and racing in Europe. I mean this as the highest compliment. I loved that bike, but the RSL frame takes all of the metrics up a notch: about a pound lighter, stiffer, smoother, and just faster feeling on the road. I don’t know if you use any Anvil tooling, but I like to think you do, because it lets me believe there’s a lineage between that old bike and the RSL. It’s perfect. I could talk about how you use the right head angle on the 58cm, how the BB is properly low, etc., but you already know all that, obviously. Can’t say enough good things about the design, guys

One last thing about racing last night. I’ve never noticed much attention being paid to what I’m riding, but last night was different. It was odd, and really not my style, but yes, this bike was noticed. Don’t get me wrong. The bike, which I consider understated, is absolutely my style, but receiving attention because of the bike was new. I’ll just force myself to get used to it. While I’m just flat out not as good as the bikes, I’m so happy to ride them. Thanks to all those who play a part!



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