- Salsa La Cruz Complete cyclocross bike -- One of two staples of my stable in 2008, the La Cruz is one of Salsa's first complete models, and it comes stacked with good parts, from Shimano's 10-speed 105 group to a painted-to-match Salsa CroMoto SUL stem and a super-fly combination of True Temper OX Platinum tubing and Avid BB7 disc brakes. Salsa scores big with the La Cruz and comes up with one of the most versatile, fun to ride 'cross bikes ever. I rode mine to fifth place at the Dirty Kanza 200 mile gravel grinder and it just as happily pulls daily commuter duty with full fenders, which it has built-in bosses for, so it takes all of ten minutes to set the bike up with. Sweet! Learn more at Salsa's Website.
- Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ sunglasses -- The best performance sunglasses available, the Oakley Flak Jacket packs more technology into the frames, lenses and earstems than any other. For cyclists, Oakley's proprietary hydrophobic lens coating technology keeps lenses clearer, longer, so their trademark distortion-free optics are even more effective. More info about the Flak Jacket XLJ is available on Oakley's Website.
- Maxxis Ardent 29x2.25-inch tire -- I've often complained about 29er tires that lack aggressive side knobs, but the Ardent gives me the knobs I've been wanting along with a fast-rolling center tread, a decent overall size (approx. 56mm knob-to-knob after a couple of weeks running tubeless) and reliability so far goin' Getto Tubeless. I've even heard that Maxxis is working on a larger 2.4-inch version, which will be a great option for our forays out west to the Colorado Front Range. Learn more on Maxxis' Website.
- Time ROC ATAC Carbon pedals -- I've been running Time pedals since about 2005, when I made the switch from Shimano, which I'd used since 1990. Unfortunately, my experience with Time's latest-generation XS pedals was less than stellar. While the attachment is secure, rocking and creaking are present and they are simply not nearly as secure as my original Time ATAC World Cup pedals with the round springs. It was bad enough that, at the end of 2007 I was almost ready to give up and go back to Shimano pedals... Until I saw the ROC ATAC. It was the return of the round spring design of the original Time ATAC pedals, carbon bodies and now, adjustable spring tension and metal plating for the interface with the shoes. Best yet, they were less expensive than the XS pedals... How cool was that? As luck would have it, I just happened to be building up a new Salsa El Mariachi, so I ordered up a set of ROC ATAC Carbon pedals -- in the name of testing. What I found was the first Time pedal that I feel is a worthy successor to the original ATAC design. It's totally secure, very durable, reasonably light and has been 100-percent reliable. My original pair has been good enough that I just ordered a second pair for my new Salsa Big Mama. That's how happy I am with them... More info about these stellar pedals is available on Time's Website.
- Salsa El Mariachi 29-inch mountain bike -- The second staple in my 2008 stable, the new El Mariachi is an incredible 29-inch mountain bike. It's versatility and durability makes it an easy bike to add to just about any stable and its ride will put a smile on your face every single time you ride it. I lent mine to my good friend Dave Chase, owner of Redstone Cyclery, this past weekend while he was in town. During the ride, one thing he kept saying was, "man, they nailed the handling and/or ride quality on this thing." And that pretty much sums it up. It's a great bike. More info on the El Mariachi is available on Salsa's Website.
Thanks to: Jason Boucher at Salsa Cycles, Rob Versteegth at Oakley, the guys at Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, Dave Chase at Redstone and also to my good buddies Matt "mw" Wills and Brent "Butch" Johnson for their assistance with various technical challenges over the course of the season. These two guys also saved my butt earlier in 2008, when I crashed my brains out at Branched Oak lake, which left me with a broken helmet and handlebar, and required Butch to drive out, pick us up and give us a ride back to Lincoln. Thanks again guys! Thanks also to my beautiful wife Laura. Without her love and support, I know that none of my shenanegans on the bike would be possible, and I'm thankful daily that I have her by my side.
Thank you for a great 2008 and I look forward to working with you to build a better future for us all in 2009!