I’m Seth Carlson and I’m new here to the Grammo crew. I race Cat 1 XC and Marathon MTB. I am based out of Fargo, ND. Yes, there are people who ride bikes in the frozen tundra. In fact, my race season started out back in January. We have what are called “Winter Races” or as many of you have seen popping up: “fat tire races.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a fat bike, so I just refer to them as races where I get to work on my sweet snow handling skills on a skinny 29er! I’ll spare you the recap on the few winter races I did since you are all most likely baffled by the fact that we ride bikes all winter in -20 F weather with blowing snow and blistering winds. Basically its miserable riding, but we like to think we’re super B.A.M.F. when we do it. (if you need a definition on bamf, give me a call)
My first race on the TOA [well, technically my first DNF] this season was down in El Paso, TX at the Coyote Classic XC USAC race. This is a 28 mile knuckle busting race on loose gravel and gnarly pumice like lava rock with cactus hazards on every turn. I got a chance to pre-ride the night before the race on my brand new TOA 29er. It handled like a champ, unfortunately, my seatpost had a bolt malfunction which caused my saddle to slide around. I last minute rushed to the shop in El Paso and swapped out my post with an FSA K-Force Lite post. This is where everything went downhill. Within the first 5 miles of the race, my FSA post SNAPPED IN HALF!!!! This was the end of the race, and a sad day indeed. I later found out that the shop in El Paso had sold me a used FSA carbon post that was 4 years old…ever heard of Material Fatigue? Well, I just defined it for ya!
This last weekend, I had a chance to head over to Lawrence, KS for the Bone Bender Marathon Race. After my shenanigans racing in El Paso, I luckily was able to get a lot of riding in throughout New Mexico and Colorado on my way over to Kansas. I even picked up my girlfriend in Denver so she could join me at the race in Lawrence, KS (and by the way she kicked butt and placed 4th in the women’s division!) The race was one of the toughest courses I’ve ridden in a long time–which was surprising since we were in Kansas of all places. It was basically a 13 mile rock garden on flowy singletrack with short punchy climbs and winding descents.For the 3 hour marathon, I got 3 brutal laps in. And, yet again, I had a mechanical issue on lap 1. The night before, I put a new stem on, and the bolts loosened up within the first mile of the race, so I spent the first lap with handlebars sliding up and down and side to side–basically zero control on descents. I lost about 15 positions during that first lap. After lap 2 and 3 I regained control with my bars now in order and caught back up to 7th place overall. I placed 2nd in age group 19-29. For the first true lung buster race of the year, I felt good, but there is definitely some improvement to be gained!
***Overall review of the TOA 29er: EXCELENTE!!!
I have ridden tons of 29ers, and this one is the most plush, stable, and rock solid bike yet. With the full XX1 drivetrain, stan’s wheelset on hope hubs, SID fork, and Thomson cockpit, this is truly a World Cup worthy ride. If only I could convince everyone to ride one of these sweet pieces of Magic, we’d all be champions.