Ride Review: The Ilsa ‘Bad Ass’!

I recently had the good fortune – and the immense pleasure – of spending a week riding a pre-production version of Velorangutan’s in-house full-suspension Ti build. To be sold under the Ilse brand, the ‘Bad Ass’ ate up everything I could find to throw at it. Fast on the straights, snappy on the corners, and with some rather fancy wireless technology, the bike pretty much rode itself. I hit the new bermy trails at Forrest Creek, the chunk and climbing of Steiner Ranch, a lap at Walnut Creek, and a long, humid ride on the South Austin Trail Network.

The build:

  • The flowing line of the Ti lower tube means two water bottles!
  • 29 x 2.4″ Pirelli Scorpions – based on the legendary Euro car tire
  • Rockshox Pike 140 fork
  • Rockshox Deluxe Ultimate 130 rear shock
  • Head angle: 66 °
  • Seattube angle 76 °
    • SRAM AXS wireless shifter and dropper
    • T47 bottom bracket
    • Magura quad piston brakes

For more info, contact Wes@Velorangutan.com.

Forrest Creek Ranch – new trail report!

It’s always nice when private landowners allow singletrack to be built on their land. Forrest Creek Ranch, out past COTA in Dale, Texas, now has around 10 miles of sweet, bermy, flowy singletrack on it – and plans are in the works to add to this. With about 600 feet of climbing, it’s not the hilliest trail in Central Texas, but each small climb pays off with fast-rolling dips and berms, so it’s really fun to ride.

Plenty of lovely, fast berms built by the crew at KOM Trails
A Paul Uhl-grade mud pit
A stock pond in one of the few unshaded areas
A rock outcrop has been used to add a little kicker on this short downhill
A nice straightaway with a great view to the left and a herd of young deer ahead

The trail is 95% shaded, so definitely a good option on a hot day. It is not open to the public at this time – open hours and events are posted at https://www.facebook.com/groups/659192675547555, or you can email Todd@Endurarace.com.


Day 21 Finally made it into Cuba last night. Hated that route from Abiquiu to Cuba. Relentless climbing, miles of it were technical both climbing and decending.Left Cuba at 4 am to tackle the 120-ish miles. Finally got some progress logging 100 miles in 8.5 hrs. Picked up my mail package at the Post Office and grabbing some lunch. Still have sunlight and it’s to early to call it a day so gonna head for Pie Town 71 miles down range. Probably won’t make it there before sleepy time but it will be miles closer to the finish.The stretch between Pie Town and Silver City is 146 miles with no resupply. Gonna have to load up on food and water in Pie Town for that stretch.Loaded the last map sets this morning. Currently 368 miles to go.


Been at this so long, I think today is day 19? Lots has happened since last report from Del Norte…..Made it up and over the highest point on the Tour Divide, Indiana Pass reaching nearly 11,000 ft above sea level. Took about 5 hrs from town. Didn’t get rained or stormed on however, starting down the other side lots of rain and cold. Decided to call it quits as the decent was too wet and cold even with all my layers on. Camped in the bush again setting up the tent in the rain. Never knew I could my tent up so fast.Next morning made slow progress down to Platoro, CO. Low on food I went to the Cafe hoping for a stack of pancakes and 20lbs of bacon to find the Cafe is closed on Mondays. Distraught I felt my race could be over because I did not have enough calories on board to make it to the next known food stop, Sylvia’s Snack Shack in Canon City. Two locals walking by told me the Skyline Lodge with the blue roof might have something. YES!!!Skyline made me some sandwiches and burritos to go. Also loaded up on the essential Tour Divider cuisine such as Milk Dudes, M&M, Peanut Butter Crackers, etc. So far today the weather had been chilly but the skys looked like it could rain at any moment. Refreshed and refueled I headed onwards. Made quick time down the road to the pavement. Up and over Manga Pass (10233) and back Into the wilds. Met two north bound riders just before sumitting Brazos Ridge (10883) that warned me to not get caught out on the ridge during the storms that are coming. They also mentioned that I had taken them nearly 7 hrs to get there from Hopewell Lake campground do to the muddy road conditions.I kicked it up a notch and raced the storms, getting to the top and across Brazos Ridge before the rain came. I only got a few drops of rain on me but continued to charge downhill.Making great time and covering many miles after the Ridge I reluctantly called it a day 30 miles short of my goal.Found a nice little spot under some huge pine trees and slept like a baby in my Down Puffy Pajamas, in my down sleeping bag. Temp was 33 degrees when I woke this morning.Today’s ride plan was just make it to Abiquiu some 80 miles downrange for a much need reset. Ride was great, mostly downhill, and mud was not an issue. It took me maybe 2 hrs to cover the same ground the two riders I met the day before had covered. I hit a mud pit on the wrong line causing me to take a few minutes to clear the mud from the sidewalls and bike frame.A moment of scare was when bombing down a very bumpy road I hit something hard and heard something hit the ground. A quick scan of the cockpit and bike, everything seemed normal. I slowed and took a quick look back, something didn’t seem right. I saw something laying on the ground I had just covered. I turned around to see what it was. Turns out it was one of my two GPS units. The unit had come out of its mount, disconnected the USB powering it AND broke its secondary laynard. Glad I stopped because the next few miles where all downhill. Once noticed missing I would of had to climb BACK up the hill looking for the unit. Quick square knot and everything reattached I was back on my way.Rained of an on all day today. Stopped way too may times, rain pants on, rain pants off, etc. Mostly just a mist. Stopping early the night before and where I did was an excellent decision.Dropping of the mountain headed in to Abiquiu was fun. All-n-all the roads were mostly well graded and packed AND NOT MUDDY.Tomorrow, the last of the massive climbs with Polvadera Mesa topping out at 10328ft making it a 4328 ft climb in 27 miles.Only 565.6 miles to go!!!I am so ready for this to be done!!

Tour Divide 21 Update – Day 17

Made it to Del Norte. So much has happened since last update. Gonna keep it short…Quick stop in Salida (Day 15) for some “Moe Burrito” one gut bomb for dinner and one to-go. Bumped into my friend Brian Steele just outside of town. The last 12-ish miles is a awesome downhill run.Slept in the bush again about half way up Marshall Pass. Day 16 – Finished the climb and enjoyed the 18 or so miles downhill to Sargents. Had a very large breakfast at Tomichi Trading post.Got caught in a storm again but coming down a mountain off of Cochetopa Pass. Called it quits at something like 5:30, set up tent in the rain and laid down. Slept solid 8+ hrs.Back at it this morning. Knocked out Carnero Pass and made it into Del Norte. Next up is the highest Pass on the trip. Indiana Pass is a 22+ mile climb up 4314 feet. Usually gets rain/storms in the afternoon so not looking forward to that.752.4 miles to go and counting.

Tour Divide 21 – Day 12 update

Sorry that it’s been a while since I’ve updated here.  Frankly, this WordPress app is not that easy to use and requires an internet connection.

Anyway, been riding virtually solo since halfway thru day 6.  Ride with one rider for about 3 hrs leaving Pinedale on the 10th day.  Dont mind riding solo, keeps me from feeling like I have to keep up with someone else.

So far I have stayed at a hotel twice.  One of those times I “washed” my kit while I showered.  Multi tasking works best when in race mode.

I have wild camped at least three times where I was the only human for not less than 20 miles around.  The night of the 10th day it was more like 50 miles as I was in the middle of the Wyoming Great Basin.

Today is day 12 and officially passed the half way point.  I had a light day today riding only about 45 miles to Brush Mtn Lodge where I decided to take some time off for Man & Machine maintenance.  Full Mani & Peddi, a massage, even got my hair done.

Actually, ate a pizza cooked in a real wood fired pizza oven.  First pizza of the trip and so tasty after eatting so much junk food.  Did a detailed inspection of the bike.  Brakes are still good which is surprising, bringing me and my crap to a HALT after bombing down some of these mountains is no small feat.  At time I can feel the heat from the front disk brake on my shin.  Love the smell of hot brakes!!

Also took the opportunity to do all of my laundry too. I was getting pretty stinky having not washed clothing in over 1200 miles of peddling.

I have seen some amazing scenery. My favorite so far has been waking up at 2 am in the middle of the Basin and being able to see in detail the arm of the milkyway and the stars so bright. There was no other lights around nor on the horizon. Just my headlamp and the stars.

Never thought I’d say this but the worst part so far has been eating all the quick calorie junk food.

Butt is sore at times but so far, none of the legendary saddle sore/infection issues. Physically I am feeling pretty well. Have an issue developing in the right foot but that is fixable. I stand too much in the pedals on my right foot. Focusing on not repeating movements such as this and how I mount/dismount the bike has taken care of most of the aches and pains.

Taking the rest of today off and resting will be good for me and the bike desperately needed some love.

Off to Steamboat Springs in the morning 49.1 miles and 4415ft of climbing, that aught to get the legs warmed up.

TD Day 5 update

After pushing hard and finally making it to Basin earlier in the morning (1 am) I awoke at 6am after only maybe 3 hrs of sound sleep. Packed up camp and proceeded to wait an hour for the post office to open. I had sent a package to myself with what I thought would be nice to have or needed items. Sad to say I waited for no real gain.

Grabbed a quick Breakfast at the only joint in town and hit the trail by 9am.

Today was all about dealing with the Sun, Heat, and headwinds. Oh, and the climbing.

My plan for today was to make it to Wise River a short easy 88 mile day HA!!! Nothing appears to be easy on the Divide.

Wind and heat and the lack of sleep the night before took its toll. I got behind schedule falling victim to “Town Suck” in Butte. I was going to again hit a very technical and dangerous section called Fleecers Ridge. After the extreme effort in the dark on Lava Mtn the night before I wanted to see thus in the day light.

So charging up the grade towards Fleecer Ridge I came across a nice little Nat Forest campground that had a bear box for my goodies. AND to boot, Cell service

All is well here. Man and Machine are running smooth.

Update from Basin, MT

Big Day yesterday. Disaster averted when Big Sky bike shop found my front axle loose. Reinvigorated I went for Basin, MT. Didn’t realize the one of the 3 mountain passes between Helena and Basin was gonna be such an ass kicker. Thre last 3-ish miles of the Lava Mountain pass was the toughest thing I have ever done. Imagine 14% grade, pushing a 60 lbs bike up over washed out jeep track strewn with boulders and the debris/remnants of fallen trees all in the dark with nothing more than a head lamp. Didn’t get any photos. Too busy pushing. Took me approx 9 hrs to cover the 38 miles and 5000+ feet of climbing.Rolled into Basin approx 1am, had trouble finding a camp spot, ended up setting camp in the easement of I-15. Got a good 4 hrs sleep. Now waiting for the post office to open to fetch my care package I had sent myself before leaving.Gonna be a big day today also. Fleecer Ridge day!!!

Progress Report

Hoss is currently pulling 100+ mile days – here’s a couple of pics he had time to send thru during a burger stop in Ovando. Kathy, who runs the Blackfoot Angler, keeps an eye out for Tour Dividers, and makes sure they get water and so on.