The “Dude”, handy guy that he is, put the bike together perfectly in no time flat. A couple runs up and down the street and we had the fit dialed in just right. Rode down to the nearby elementary school soccer field and I did a few hot laps to try it out.
Shockingly fast, light, stiff and incredibly nimble through turns. I did a few figure eights in the grass, and immediately fell deeply in love with it. And those Disc brakes…
A few other first impressions:
Great geometry. I really love the solid, steady feel of the bike. It’s an interesting mixture of lightness and stiffness combined with a really rock solid feel.
It’s quick handling, but not twitchy by any means, so it goes where you want, when you want, how you want. Love that.
It’s fast. The overall stiffness of the bike translates into quick acceleration. It’s gonna be fun to race this bike.
The looks. Beautifully understated. Up close, the frame finish is a gorgeous soft charcoal with some really pretty gradations of gray/silver along the top tube. From far away, it just looks incredibly BADASS.
The ride. Smooth, forgiving, and easy on bumpy terrain. My old bike tended to jar my fillings loose tearing across a bumpy dry CX course, so by the end of the race, I’d feel like I had been beaten up. This smoother ride is going to be great and probably more efficient in the long run–leaving me a little more energy for those last few laps.
And the brakes. The new disc brakes are awesome and will be fantastic in a muddy, wet CX race! A stroke of genius allowing those on a cyclocross bike. Makes it that much more of an all-around great bike.
I even like the stock tires that came on it. They grip uneven surfaces nicely but roll smoothly and easily. Great tires for virtually everything.
But the best way to test out the new Auger…a cyclocross race.
Now it’s not cyclocross season, but it just so happens that Ballwin Days puts on a heckofa fun CX race in the middle of June. It’s a great course–hilly and bumpy, with two sand volleyball pits, a LONG stair run up, some asphalt, some curbs, and tons of really steep, off-camber hills. Not a dull moment, that’s for sure.
I signed up and entered the ‘A’ race, which according to the registration guidelines was for “racers.” However, when I rolled up to the start line, it was me and a bunch of really fast mountain bikers. Ten laps, as opposed to the 5 for the ‘B’ race. Ouch.
Not sure why I like CX so much. I just do.
Maybe it’s that feeling of being totally redlined most of the race, that ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ feeling that you have to go as if your life depends on it. I dunno…I always feel like I’m gonna puke and die about the third lap of every race, but by the 5th lap or so, my heart has finally caught up, I’m breathing in O2 and I’m in the Zone. And when you get done, it’s a buzz like nothing else. (Or is that the post-race beer?)
I was delighted with the Auger’s ability to fly through the sand pits. We are talking about some deep, loose sand here. I hit both sand pits at the highest speed possible without wiping out, and found that the bike floated through on those nice fat tires until I got nearly to the other side. Then it was either pedal hard (weight off the handlebars-thank you, Alison Powers) or steer over to grab a little bit of grass for traction, and it was right on through. Love it.
My slowest spot was the curb back up onto the course after the front straightaway. I can do a decent bunny hop, but not having been on the new bike long, and not being totally used to it, I opted to go the safe route and put a foot out to get over. That slowed me down a little, especially with the guys who had mountain bikes and were just easily hopping over that obstacle.
And you just cannot see how long and steep this hill was, but it was one of those you look at and wonder how the hell you’re gonna make it up there… The Auger carried me through this turn like a champ. Well, except for that second to last lap, when my legs started turning to Jello and my back tire slipped on the very last hard pedal stroke before the turn. Crap. But, one foot down and around and I was back in the game.
The steep off camber hills were no big deal, and actually quite fun. I liked testing the limits of how fast I could go along the edges of those hills and make the turns. The Auger carried me through all of it with ease.
In my fuzzy oxygen deprived state I had a funny realization that I was going steadily uphill at least half of the race, but the uphill sections really felt no different than the level parts of the race course. This bike loves hills! Thank God for that.
Race over, I lived through it, and I did a pretty decent job. The Auger was fantastic. No question about it’s race-worthiness.
And if I were purchasing a new CX bike, this would certainly be at the top of the list. No question about it.
How many more days until CX season starts? Bring on the rain and snow and foul weather. I cannot wait.
We are off to the Farmer’s Market today, my Auger and I.