R.I.P. Chris "Monk Dawg" Vasquez - Legendary Wrench

Aug 7, 2016
by Richard Cunningham  
Monk dawg... this man is a legend. 26 years of wrenching on bikes. The names are legend Kintner Lopes Gwin. Just to name a few.


Chris "Monk Dawg" Vasquez wrenched for the best of the best - a self-taught perfectionist with the work-ethic of an army ant and heart of gold. The man, who was as round as he was tall, had the rare gift of being able to fix his riders as well as their bikes. Somehow, he always had the right words at the right moment. Monk's last gig was with Trek World Racing, but his health became tenuous recently, and he was in and out of the hospital with a number of serious issues. He was deeply loved. Monkey's friends and his racing community raised over $18,000 through a Go Fund Me campaign launched by Paula Lopes to help with his mounting medical bills. Sadly, Monk lost that battle yesterday - and we lost one of our best.


Trek World Racing Mechanic Monk gets down to business on Justin Leov s bike.

Southridge owner and director Donny Jackson getting some face time with Trek World Racing mechanic Monk Dawg.

Monk dawg... this man is a legend. 26 years of wrenching on bikes. The names are legend Kintner Lopes Gwin. Just to name a few.

It wouldn t be a World Cup without Monk working his wrench magic. He ll be making sure the Trek World Racing athletes bikes are dialed in and ready for race day.


the cloak of invisibility

monk the coolest mechanic out there

Focus begats a fine ride. Monkey Vasquez redefines that focus for the riders under his care numbers one and one in the men s and women s elite Downhill.



R.I.P. Chris "Monk Dawg" Vasquez
1970-2016






Posted In:
Industry News



102 Comments

  • 394 1
 That man helped me, my teams and my athletes more times than I can count. Always there to lend me a hand, whatever he had was mine to use and he saved my ass so many times. When I was done working on bikes, late at night at world cups and nationals, i'd walk out of the pits and always stop by monks rig, because he was always the last one in the pits...i'd stop by and waste his time because I had to get a daily monk story in.

Those were the best days of my life-90's racing, with the monk. I do believe that a dozen or so cast of characters in that era really made the sport what it is, most are athletes, one was a tech support specialist; Monkdawg.

All of us that knew him, we knew he probably wouldn't live to be very old, the dude had zero interest in eating healthy or living a healthy lifestyle, part of me thinks it was some weird reverse psychology to get his athletes to be the best they could be, he would go to those lengths-risking his life to make others succeed.

We say the word 'legend' a lot...too much probably, Monk was legendary in his work and in his spirit and his devotion to helping his competitors.

RIP Monk.

Your Buddy, Stikman
  • 24 0
 Well said stik
  • 14 1
 Well done sir.
  • 9 3
 Monk was HIGH on my list of people to have a chat with.
  • 8 0
 Heavy. It's been a rough year the mountain bike community. Stay safe everyone!
  • 3 0
 Thought immediately of you when I read the news brother. Knew you two were close. Thoughts and prayers to the extended family of MonkDawg...which was everyone he ever met. Very fitting that one of the pics up top was of him on a moto. He was always shuttling gear around on a Z50. For you, Missy, Kirt and all his closest circuit buds, a truly sad day. Wrench in peace.
  • 170 3
 It appears Kelly and Stevie have a wrench to keep them rolling solid. RIP
  • 26 3
 @Pininator, Mirra will be thoroughly entertained as well.
  • 3 1
 @EastCoastDHer: Indeed.

Dammit, 2016 is getting too damn heavy. Frown
  • 5 1
 this is a wonderful image that has made me smile. thank you!
  • 54 0
 I had the pleasure of meeting the man once. At interbike, after a long hot day of bike demo's I finally had a few minutes to test a few bikes. I wandered up to one tent that had a bike I wanted to test, and being from NZ I run my brakes the other way round. I asked if they could be changed over real quick. I could almost hear the eyes rolling in peoples heads. You want what?! Now? Monk Dawg pops up and says "sure no problem, ill change them for you" with a genuine smile, only too happy to help. Swaps the brakes over, hands it back with another smile and a cheery quip about kiwis doing things ass backwards. Made my day.
I hope those who knew him well focus on the good times they were fortunate enough to share with him, rather than the pain his absence causes. RIP.
  • 7 0
 It's just beautiful to see, that those very little moments - which seem so negligable at first glance - are the ones you will always remember. Most of the time, the appreciation comes late... but still, its amazing how such a little gesture can make a difference in your life and in your own actions.
  • 42 1
 Wrench In Peace Monk Dawg!
  • 28 0
 Saw him in the pits at Fontana during Gwin's Trek days. He was as much a celebrity as Aaron. People flocked to him to talk, get a selfie or just say hi. Another good man in MtB gone. Sad. Can we stop the losses for the year please?
  • 30 2
 With so many people passing away this year in the world of MTB, for me its highlighted that we only really find out about these amazing people after they've gone - I'd like PB to step up and do some articles on the unsung heroes so I, and others, can appreciate them whilst they're still here.
  • 6 0
 ^ this is the piece to read. ????
  • 3 0
 @powderturns: Yea I'm not sure why it linked to the homepage but the article next to it is about him
  • 3 0
 @Obeh: and a f*cking awesome and heartfelt article it is too... :tup)
  • 2 0
 @Obeh: yup. Fantastic article. My ???? were supposed to be an emoji. Thanks for the link.
  • 1 0
 @Obeh: You need to include the last '/' at the end of the URL.
  • 14 0
 2001 Arai World Cup Japan, I spent the entire day hanging out talking to Monk, he was super friendly and kind answering a million questions I had all day. Great Guy.
  • 12 2
 Fuck dude gone to soon . Thanks for your help over the years man God speed RIP brother
  • 9 2
 The world is not the same place without Monk Dawg here !! I love You Brother and we all love you!!! !!!! I wanna tell you alittle but about my brother, my friend, my homeboy , my race tech and wrench for 6 years on world cup tour the legendary Monk Dawg for those of you that know him this is no news too you .. Monk was one of the most selfless , loving , talented , hylarious , unique characters you could ever meet! Monk gave me and his riders all of himself and his caring loyal love and talented efforts that was so profound that you would be so inspired to give all of yourself . At the top of the course every time before I raced he would be chillen wit me and knew emotionally exactly what I needed.. Which was a friend who loved me who stood beside me ( making me always laugh in when I needed too) and I knew that wether I won or lost or crashed or f*cked myself up that he would me there for me to celebrate or take care of my broken body or broken heart.. That allowed me the freedom and confidence to launch myself into the unknown cause I knew My loyal homeboy Would be there for me to pick up the pieces of me if I needed it! I wouldn't of wanted too see a difference foolish face at the top or looked into Someone elses eyes before I rolled off into the unknown ! I had total confidence in my bike he prepared so f*cken perfectly and he was proud in just my efforts not results.. I wouldn't of had the same success or fun times doing any of it without him!!I I would go to the Hesperus desert he loved to extract him every year and sleep on his floor wit Moto (his kid bull dog) for a month at a time at the very least wit both them snoring too go testing and riding wit our friends in a place he called home and I recognized he had a hard time leaving there and he hated Durango co where I lived( weather) and no taco locos or pin up girls !! Even though he lived for the Tour .. He was always getting ready for and being the perfectionist and inventor he is...I would have too let him know it was ready enough . We are ready lets go rumble!! And he would never look back...! We never worked a day together ..he was my partner in something we both loved and passionately lived for! monk was pinned in life and I have mad respect for how he choose too live his life even though i sometimes wish he took better care of himself selfishly because I knew I would miss him and thought it mayBe he be here longer with us. Mad Respect to you monk my fearless friend! We got ridiculous funny times I could entertain you with but I needed you too know how inspiring this dude is and was ... And why I won't ever forget... Stik couldn't of said it better.. You are Legend!
What Up Fool!?This smoking dew can is for you Monk! I love you forever ! Unforgettable that's what you are and will always be!
  • 1 0
 I remember briefly meeting him in 2003 ( I think) at St Anne when you were having a tiff with your GF, swearing and all that, and he gives me a wink and a smile knowing it was just you guys being yourselves. Super friendly dude, even to a stranger like myself. always been a big fan of both of you. cheers Missy.
  • 12 2
 Tough year for biking......RIP Monk
  • 11 1
 RIP dude , really tough year in MTB Frown
  • 9 0
 Cool dude, met him and talked to him many times, RIP!!
  • 4 0
 When the Trek team first visited Port Angeles for a NW Cup, I was stoked to see Justin Leov, Neko Mullaly and Gwin. But while announcing the race, I saw Monk and gave him a "shout out" on a very spontaneous moment. All I remember was his "thumbs up" response. Every where you went you left great memories. Rest In Peace Monk!
  • 4 0
 Sad day . Monk Dawgs was an institution! The most helpful mechanic ever on the circuit! He helped out so many privateers lIke myself back in the day an many a WC and world Champs alike. We will miss you ! RIP
  • 8 2
 so sad, rest in power friend
  • 5 0
 Sad to see him go. Rest in peace Monkey, Mountain Dew and wheelies forever!
  • 2 0
 Monk fixed my broken bike a Snowshoe national years ago. Gave me a part out of his rig i wouldn't have been able to get anywhere else. I always thought it was sad to see him so unhealthy, a little effort there can go a long way.
  • 2 0
 I never spoke to Monk personally, but he was definitely and industry personality that I have both read about and seen at events. I used to wrench on bikes for a living and he was definitely who we looked up to! Whenever you got stuck you thought, "Monk could do this, so what would Monk do?"

RIP Monk :*(
  • 2 0
 Super sad to hear this. He was a great guy whom I had the pleasure of hanging with wayyyyy back when I wrenched some nationals neutral support. Funny and a top notch wrench! condolences to all his family and friends. Rest in peace my friend.
  • 2 0
 One of the first guys I recognized at my first Sea Otter many years back. I remember just watching him work and the constant flow of friends and fans dropping by to say hi. He always a big smile and something nice to say. I thought this guy is the Happy Buddha of Biking. My condolences to all who knew him. Peace man.
  • 2 0
 Monk was like the Yoda of wrenches. He was the pit boss. He saved me and my pathetic little tent from a windstorm, lovingly scolded me on the art of sand bags and buckets of bricks, and never complained about a damn thing while I wandered around like a total novice. Thank you Monk, for that brief moment of sanity, and for being one of the absolute solid guys in our sport. 3
  • 2 0
 I wrenched and drove the race support truck for another company in the 90s. Monk was a badass without a doubt. He was part of a burgeoning, elite group of a brand new type of racing back then, but never had a chip on his shoulder. He put EVERYTHING into his job. Monk's concern for his racers, their bikes, their races, his race support truck, and his tools was all top notch. God, he took so much pride in all of that. I wish he could have figured out how to make his well being part of the formula too. RIP, Monk.
  • 4 0
 Man that sucks, he was such an icon - how old was he? He looks far too young to be gone!
  • 4 1
 Judging by the dates above he was about 46. Far too young for sure.
  • 2 0
 @Fresh1: ah i missed the dates despite looking for them, thanks
  • 5 0
 It's so bad, Pinkbike is like an obituary this year. Very sad.
  • 2 0
 monk was one of the best he had time for all the riders and for the fans he will be sadly mist bye every one I'm honoured to have met the man a couple of times so sad rest in peace monk
  • 5 0
 As recognisable, if not more than, any pro in the WC pits. Big loss Frown
  • 4 0
 I rode the gondola with him at Fort Bill one year - what a character! RIP Monk.
  • 3 0
 RIP Monk, I feel fortunate to have known you, crossed paths with you from time to time, sharing some laughs with mutual friends.
  • 3 0
 2004, les Gets, he manage to help me with a Turner DHR , first proper DH bike I can afford. a true nice guy part of the spirit of our sport
  • 1 0
 as a wet behind the ears first time in durango co rookie racer struggling to get the bike to normal after unpacking it.monkey took it into the back of the old yeti truck and made magic happen! and every year since,either out west or when the circus rolled into mt snow,monk was always there to talk with and offer tips or tweak the bike! such a down to earth nice person that I looked forward to seeing every year,its so freakin sad to have lost such and amazing person. RIP in mink! you'll be missed by many!
  • 5 4
 www.23degrees-sports.com/news/archive/1470579838/chris-vaquez-19702016
This "tribute" is disturbing on several levels:

1. You focused on (and applauded) yourself.
• A tribute should not be about you or what you've done for the deceased during his or her lifetime.
• The readers aren't interested in where you were as a "novice team owner” when you hired him, or any implication that you were taking a risk on him.
• The fact that you are a dog lover means nothing to an audience that wants to read about him.
o It doesn't mean you can understand his loss better than a non-dog-lover.
o Empathy is actually not having had the experience, but still understanding it.
o Regardless, you don't need to understand anyone else's loss for it to be real for them. Not all experiences need to resonate with you.
• Later in this response, I will touch on your role as his fat-shaming employer, but I'd like to include in this list how proud of yourself you are for trying to save him.
• This is not about you, and these facts don't help paint a better picture of what your relationship with him was like as a friend - something that actually would have been of value here in a tribute.
• There are touching moments that could have really shined in this writing. For instance, the anecdote about the letter you received from the tour guide about Monk’s personality was lovely. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by your humble-brag that you gifted that safari experience to him. Aren't you just great!
2. You altered the perception of a man's personality who cannot prove otherwise.
• Next: Let's get to your armchair psychoanalyzing of your friend. It's inappropriate to attribute his weight or diet of unhealthy foods to any particular event in his life. Because you do not actually know that it had anything to do with his weight. Even if he said so. We live in a culture obsessed with fatness as the worst version of yourself, one that isn't the "real" you. A lot of people are genetically and/or hormonally predisposed to heaviness, and wrestle their entire lives with the fact that being fat is their "fault" or that it must be due to some event or trauma. That's a false construction, that sets people up to shame themselves.
• To say he had "demons" in an online post is to represent him to the world as someone misunderstood and disconnected. It is to summarize every second of a life as if he was in this dark place unfamiliar to most who knew him. It degrades the essence of who he was. It is something that his family and friends may not appreciate, nor is it necessarily accurate as you do not hold any degree in psychology, psychiatry, or counseling. Unless you count having watched Intervention or My-600-lb Life or The Biggest Loser of course. It seems like you're intent on belittling your deceased employee.
3. You're misguided about several points you make about diet and obesity.
• Obesity and unhealthy foods (as well as unhealthy eating practices) are prevalent in parts of the world other than the West. Some, yes, are a result of Western influence, and other are due to different cultural practices. Let me educate you on a few:
o Nauru: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_Nauru
o The practice of Gavage in Africa: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leblouh
o China: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_China
o Don't forget Samoa, where obesity is strictly biological: www.ibtimes.co.uk/thrifty-gene-mutation-that-boosts-fast-storage-fuels-samoa-obesity-problem-1572440
• Binge eating is a psychological disorder that you cannot diagnose. It's not simply "eating a lot."
• It is unfair to classify food as an "addiction" because unlike other addictions (like drugs or alcohol), we must eat as humans (whereas we don’t need to drink or get high). We are also biologically programmed to desire salty, sugary, and fatty food in ways that the world's top psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and endocrinologists do not fully understand. Did you know, for instance, that patients can exit gastric bypass and no longer have diabetes? Really. Without losing a single pound, and just by entering surgery, patients are being cured of type 2 diabetes in the same day. Here's a link: science.sciencemag.org/content/341/6144/406
• Your assumptions about the human body are reductive and trite. Using your friend's human body as a cautionary tale in his memoriam is truly vile as well as inaccurate.
4. Your Morals Should Be Questioned by all who know you.
• You sound like a very judgmental "friend." I wouldn't want to be friends with anyone who would post anything this disrespectful about me after my death.
• You are fixated, even after his death, on another person's weight.
• What you did is a just like attending a funeral and saying, "What? She had cancer! And I graciously, frequently, even at my own financial expense, tried to tell her to put on sunscreen! What a pity, but she was sick in the head!" You wouldn't do that, and you shouldn't when it comes to weight.
• Anyone in AA or any other program (including over-eater's anonymous) will tell you labeling someone else as an addict in life is useless unless that person wants to change. What is your end game by labeling him an addict in death unless you're just a fat-shaming, hateful a*shole?
• Your last two paragraphs moved you from self-absorbed blowhard who thinks a lot of himself to a vicious, controlling employer. Don't worry, you're legally protected because you claim that his health problems were putting riders at risk, but on a moral and ethical level, you fat-shamed and health-shamed an employee to the point of embarrassment.
o You publicly punished a man by excluding him from a trip because he wasn’t adhering to your regimen to alter his own body!
• You have control issues. You refuse to acknowledge that he had a right to eat whatever, whenever he wanted and that you aren't a saint for trying to force him to live more like you do.
• Butting into the medical choices of your employees is not acceptable.
• You say you're upset and frustrated he wouldn't take your help. You have quite the complex. Shouldn't you just be upset your friend isn't alive anymore? Why is this still about you?
• Here are a few links about discrimination:
o www.cswd.org/docs/faq.html
o en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sizeism (You're lucky sizeism isn't considered an actionable, discriminatory offense as an employer).
o www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/weight-bias/weight-discrimination-a-socially-acceptable-injustice
The good news.

I could be petty and hope anyone who ever sees you eat an Oreo again thinks of you as a hypocrite. Instead, I’ll wish for your sake that after having written this public hatchet piece about your “friend” that you never gain weight or pass away one day from one of those fatty syndromes like a heart attack and suffer the embarrassment you bestowed upon another for his body. Lastly, I hope you work through your obvious issues.

To that end, I'm here to offer you help in the form of this book which details what it's like to live as a fat person in the United States. Now, it is written by a woman, and it does contain some powerful feminism, but seems like you could use a dose of anyone else's reality: www.amazon.com/Shrill-Notes-Woman-Lindy-West/dp/0316348406

I'll even purchase it for you if you'd like.
  • 1 0
 One of a kind... He was more than words can say, always smiling, positive and will be forever missed..some of the funniest shit ever, he was right in the mix... From the Z50's and the Yeti box van.. god bless you Monk and thanks for making all those around you smile.. you will be missed but, never forgotten... Cully
  • 5 0
 Wrench in peace monk
  • 3 0
 Rest in peace Chris, you will be sorely missed. 2016 has been a very cruel year so far.
  • 4 0
 R.I.P. Monk
  • 3 0
 I seem remember talking to him when he was Missy's mechanic. R I P Monkey
  • 4 1
 Deus conforte sua familia e familiares
  • 1 0
 I've been emailing people all year to get him nominated into the MTB Hall of Fame... Hopefully this isn't the way it works. RIP...
  • 1 0
 Neat guy. Met him back in the yeti cargo van days wrenching for missy giove. Very nice and helpful. RIP - world needs more kind people like him.
  • 2 0
 One of my life heroes. Monk will keep Stevie and Kelly and mirra rolling right
  • 1 0
 Had the pleasure of meeting him and having him wrench on my bike the last few years. He was a super nice guy and great mechanic. Real bummer.
  • 4 1
 Rip Monk....
  • 4 2
 This year has been a bad year! 2016 just isn't doing any of us any good Frown
  • 2 0
 Damn man. Seems like he was a cool ass dude. Rest easy
  • 2 0
 He will be missed. I really wanted to meet him.
  • 4 1
 Obesity is a bitch
  • 2 0
 What a character ,too soon to go ,rest in peace
  • 2 0
 only met once. amazing guy. jedi wrench. rest in peace, mr.vasquez.
  • 1 0
 Monk meant a lot to the DH community of the world. We'll miss him and remember him fondly. RIP friend
  • 1 0
 Much love and condolences to his family, friends and all the riders he helped and wrenched for. God bless. Rest in Peace.
  • 1 0
 The Dawg sure knew some good lines, check his Twitter mobile.twitter.com/MonkDawg1
  • 3 1
 #RIPmonk
  • 4 2
 Prayers for his family
  • 2 0
 rest in peace, Chris.
  • 2 0
 RIP.
  • 2 1
 RIP, Monk, What's wrong with 2016?
  • 4 3
 Man, fuck 2016. RIP brother!!
  • 2 0
 Rip Monk
  • 2 0
 RIP Frown
  • 2 0
 rip monk
  • 2 0
 RIP
  • 2 0
 RIP Frown
  • 2 0
 RIP
  • 2 0
 R.I.P.
  • 2 1
 Can anyone explain what was wrong with him?
  • 1 0
 Aw no not Monkey too. RIP brother, you old legend you.
  • 1 0
 2016 sucks...So many greats taken...
  • 1 0
 for real tho...2016 sucks.
  • 1 0
 Sorry Monk. Just found out. You will be remembered and be proud of that!
  • 1 0
 Looks like he liked his booze.
  • 3 2
 Rip brother , be well .
  • 1 0
 R.I.P
  • 1 0
 RIP. Goodbye...
  • 1 0
 RIP Monk....
  • 1 0
 R.i.P monk buddy :-(
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