The Rodeo Journal

Photos, words, adventures

May
09

Cinco De Grindo!

Endless climbing! Hero dirt! Banditos! Cervezas! Andy Kadlec took forty of us on a joyride-fiesta through the hills above Boulder Colorado on the day after Cinco De Mayo and good times ensued. Here’s a Black River Map if you’d like to ride it yourself. Just remember to bring a lot of water, your climbing legs, and a sense of adventure!

 

 


Apr
21

Via X Rodeo Rally

Join Via Bicycle Cafe and Rodeo Labs for an unforgettable ride through Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding Forest Service roads on June 17th.

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Mar
29

Stoney by Donkey

It’s been a really really busy year here at Rodeo. Working on bikes, kits, forks, wheels, rallies, and the Roundup has taken a huge bite out of miles ridden. They say if you work in the bike industry then you can expect to ride less. They may be right about that but we aren’t going down without a fight. We started Rodeo because we loved riding bikes, with friends, in the mountains, and we’re going to keep doing that until our legs have no pedaling left in them. The bike industry can wait.

Monday was a government holiday so Monday was a day for riding bikes. Geoff had a new Traildonkey that he hadn’t yet fully put through its paces and he had some time to burn. He extended an invite, I accepted, and into the hills we ventured.

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Mar
16

Highline Midnight Rally // June 9th, CO

Plans are still coming together, but for now we know this: we will meet the evening of Friday June 9th along the the north end of the High Line Canal at dusk (close light rail access is a high priority – either the Peoria or 61st and Pena Stations along the A-Line). We will then head south along the trail – front and rear lights are a must. Perhaps a mid-ride stop for a quick beverage. Some general shenanigans along the way. And of course we will stop for every possible photo op imaginable…

While the canal ends on the south end of Chatfield Lake, we will loop back through the park to the Platte River Trail for those wanting to ride back into town OR to Mineral Station on the D-Line, for those who are done riding and prefer grabbing the train back to town. This route provides easy entry and exit points for folks to chose their own start and end points – so do it all, tack on some extra, or simply come for as much as you can. The route from Peoria Station to Mineral Station is approximately 75 miles with 1,400 ft. elevation gain.

This is a “come one, come all” style rally.

Extra style points for anyone dressed in rodeo-themed attire…



Mar
14

Rodeo Rally Fraser, CO, Sept 23rd 2017

Come capture some early fall vibes with us on September 23rd in Fraser, Colorado. This Rodeo Rally, planned by Tom Miller, will take gravel roads through expansive vistas and rich groves of Aspen on a 90km (55mile) loop. Expect decent climbing for the mileage but plenty of nature’s beauty and good company to distract you from any pain in your legs. Rallys do not cost anything to participate in but are also are not supported events, they are unstructured rides with old friends and new. Rallys are open to any rider who has evaluated the route and determined with their own due diligence that they are up to the challenges of the course without assistance. Rallys are always intended to have an element of adventure.

Typically groups of riders of a similar pace will form and ride together.
Faster riders are not expected to wait for slower riders.
If you can, bring a friend that you like to ride with to ensure at least one good wheel to ride with throughout the day.
Tools, tubes, food, water, lights, and foul weather gear are always encouraged in The Rockies.
The ideal bike for this Rally would probably be a drop bar gravel, cyclocross, or adventure style bike with 35-40mm tires.
Please direct course questions to tomcolorado@mac.com.
Rodeo Rally waivers will be supplied and required at the start.
The route will not be marshaled or closed to traffic in any way. Please obey all traffic laws and respect vehicle traffic.

 


Mar
14

Gravel Ring Rodeo Rally, Fort Valley, VA, Jun 10th 2017

Join us Saturday, June 10th, for a Rodeo Rally in and around the heart of Shenandoah County, VA.  While slightly less challenging than it’s big brother, the 135-km Gravel Ring will challenge adventurous riders with multiple traverses of the east and west Massanutten ridges as it encircles Fort Valley and surrounding towns.

The ride will start at 8:00 am at the Elizabeth Furnace Campground, approximately four miles south of Strasburg Rd off Fort Valley Rd.  While the campground has restrooms and running water, there is no parking for non-campers.  Instead, please use one of the other nearby parking areas: across the road from the campground, several hundred yards south on the left, 1/2 mile north at the Elizabeth Furnace Picnic area, or the large lot 1 mile north at the Signal Knob trailhead.

The route is predominantly gravel, with several paved stretches, and three Hors Categorie off-road climbs each approximately one mile in length: Mudhole Gap at the start, Milford Gap in the middle, and the  pièce de résistance, Veech Gap near the end.  The off-road sections will be challenging for skinny tires, but will avoid the excessively rocky trails common to the Fort Valley area.  Be sure to wear sturdy shoes suitable for walking for the mandatory dismounts.  Cyclocross bikes or 29er MTBs only; this Rally is not appropriate for bikes with road tires.  For reference, the ride leader will be on a Trail Donkey with 40c WTB Nano tires and 38×42 low gearing.

Estimated ride time will be 5-7 hours.  There will be limited opportunities to re-supply along the route, but there are several natural potable springs, the Detrick County store, and a killer rope swing a mile from the campground.  Since it is a loop there will be multiple bail-out points and opportunities to shorten the route if necessary.

Like other Rodeo Rallies, this is a non-sanctioned, non-competitive event.  The group will make an effort to stay together, but it should not be considered a “no drop ride”.  Riders should be prepared to be self-sufficient and take care of food, hydration, and mechanicals themselves.  The route will not be marshaled or closed to traffic in any way. Please obey all traffic laws and respect vehicle traffic.

Month out update!

To add to the stoke, we’ve added a little challenge: The King and Queen of the Gravel Ring

By design, the Gravel Ring Rally is a non-competitive group ride. But that doesn’t mean we can’t throw a little hustle to a few uphill sections. Using pre-defined segments along the route, we’ll determine who gets to claim the coveted Queen and King of the Gravel Ring. Both winners will receive swag courtesy of Rodeo Adventure Labs,. Competition will be run enduro style: lowest combined time over the five segments wins. All timing will be done according to Strava—sorry, no exceptions!

Segments:

Peter’s Mill Rd to Bear Trap Trail 4.0mi/800’
https://www.strava.com/segments/7205116

Fort Valley Gap 1.6mi/619’
https://www.strava.com/segments/647168

Milford Gap East Side – Page Valley Rd to Saddle 2.6mi/1128’
https://www.strava.com/segments/14788063

Veech Gap West Side – Lot to Saddle 2.2mi/934’
https://www.strava.com/segments/14788056

Counter-clockwise Pump Track
https://www.strava.com/segments/13568405

Fine Print:

  • There will be no visible markers for the segments. Do your homework ahead of time.
  • All files must be uploaded to Strava no later than midnight, 10 June if they want to be considered for the award.
  • GPS error, etc. is part of the experience.
  • I (barry) will be the final judge.  No quibbling

That’s it. Looking forward to seeing everyone out next month for an awesome time.

     


Feb
28

Flaanimal is GO.

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a nail biter around the lab the last few weeks. Or if we’re really honest it’s been a nail biter since early January.

At the turn of the year we found ourselves waiting. The Lab was stocked with boxes of parts allocated to two new prototype framesets that were overdue. We nervously answered emails and tweets kindly requesting a status update on the project. We set up meetings with videographers anticipating the coming need to show what we’ve created. And still… we waited.

One thing about the bike industry is true: Nothing EVER arrives on time. I don’t care how carefully you plan, how perfectly you think you’ve dialed in your supply chain. Something will go wrong. Things will be late. You will sweat. People will kindly inquire as to why. Life will go on, but it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Waiting = stress.

Finally the frames arrived and we set upon upboxing and oggling our creation. The frames were beautiful!

I don’t care if you’ve got a great 3d render, a set of plans, paint samples, graphic mockups, and even previous prototypes in-hand; you don’t know if the final product will be good until you hold it in your hand.

To our relief and excitement, the final product was good. Dare I say very good?

There was no time for a proud-dad moment though. The bikes needed to be built and vetted. Drew and I set upon them instantly. Nobody owned a single build, but Drew adopted the Bleaux Flaanimal and I adopted the Black / Copper one. Each bike was so different. We kept stepping back and saying “check this out, it looks so good!”.

They rode well too. Quite well. I knew that they were going to be good bikes because we had 94 weeks of development and testing under our belts before we ever rode the final frames. Still, the maiden voyages were pretty euphoric. Finally riding something you’ve seen a million times in your heads, something that you brought to life… that is a special feeling. A proud feeling too.

We got with Sam and Lucas and shot a bunch of video for the launch. We had so much fun. Riding bikes with friends, taking photos, flying drones, and laughing: That’s good fun.

We ran numbers, worked up spreadsheets, and tried to pin a number on a fund raising goal for the project. We looked into Kickstarter but it added costs and removed our discretion to feel out the fund raising as we went, so we ditched it and decided to fund raise through our own site. That was a tricky decision to make, but we’re glad we did!

As we raced through editing and writing up the launch page the days went very long. The entire week was exhausting. At about 1am on Saturday morning, about two weeks ago I pushed “publish” and launched the crowd-fund page. About five minutes later the first order came in from someone I’ve never met named Nicholas.

Nicholas, whoever you are. THANK YOU for being the first to say “I’m in”. Someday soon I hope to be able to ride with you and say that in person!

It seems ignorant now, but when we launched the fund raise I thought this project would get easier. I thought I’d be able to kick back and relax. I thought I’d go on a few long rides. I was very wrong.

These last two weeks since we launched have been one of the biggest emotional roller coasters I’ve ever been on in my life. It seems maybe too personal to admit that, but I want to put it out there because Rodeo is not an empty shell of a company. It isn’t some huge faceless corporation churning out bikes and gear. Rodeo The Company is a very small huddle of people trying to force their ideas into existence. Those ideas and products are very personal. You have to try to be a businessman when you launch a product, but really you’re more like a parent, hoping this thing you make survives. If that isn’t an emotional thing I don’t know what is.

When you put something new out in the world there is no time to relax and exhale because the first thing the world does is line up to take swings at it.

As soon as we launched Flaanimal the swings came fast and hard. Here are a few things that people said about the bike on the internet and elsewhere:

  1. “Already been done”
  2. “Horrible geometry”
  3. “Heavy”
  4. “Overpriced”
  5. “Obviously repainted frames from another manufacturer”
  6. “Vaporware”
  7. “It’s a scam by a company that has never made a bike”
  8. “Hype”
  9. “Probably sucks to ride”
  10. “Disc brakes suck”

The list goes on. But you get the idea.

But here’s the thing. People also said wonderful things about the bike. People called, texted, emailed, and messaged us to congratulate us on what we’d made. Yes, the trolls emerged to take some hard swings, but people also appreciated what we were trying to create, and they were excited about it with us.

More importantly, people stepped up and bought some!

Here’s a pro-tip: If you ever crowd fund something make sure you have a giant jar of quaaludes, a very supportive significant other, or both. Watching the sales tally for Flaanimal was extremely anxiety-inducing. Sales did start quickly, but eventually fell off pace. The number crept up ever so slowly. How would we ever reach our goal?

As I thought about this over the last two weeks a thing occurred to me. I realized how ridiculous our request was of people who wanted to help make the Flaanimal happen:

If people stepped up and bought a Flaanimal these last two weeks they had to pay full price, up front for a bike that barely existed, that they had never even touched much less ridden, and that they wouldn’t see inside of three months.

Who in their right mind would buy a Flaanimal?!

And yet… people did. 1, 3, 6, 12, and into the mid 20s as of last tally.

That simple fact brings us to now. As of 4pm MST on the last day of the fund we have not reached our goal of 40 framesets. We have not fully funded this project and eliminated the risk of the endeavor as we intended.

So… what are we going to do?

It took some serious soul searching over this last weekend to arrive at the conclusion but I think deep down I’ve known for a while what I was going to do:

Flaanimal is GO.

We didn’t technically make it, but Flaanimal is go anyway.

Even if we wanted 40 people to step up and join this project with us and didn’t make it, it cannot be ignored that at least half that number did step up and join us. Those people gave us a huge vote of confidence and a very loud “GO!” despite our somewhat ridiculous ask. If other people believe in you that much, how can you not take that into account and believe in yourself enough to push things over the top?

So… THANK YOU for the support, people! We’re going to do this thing.

We won’t be doing Ti on this first production run because while we are willing to take risks, we don’t want to over extend our resources trying something new. Perhaps we will swing back on Ti later when we’ve got more miles under our belt and the risk is minimized.

I’m brewing on a way to make a special statement to those who pushed us to the starting line on this. Drew coined the term “Flaactory” while we were assembling prototypes at The Lab, and I’ve decided that the people who pitched in and made this crowd fund happen are now all inaugural members of the hitherto-named “Flaanimal Flaactory Team”. We’re going to work up a special way to commemorate this group of individuals and when each of their framesets or bikes arrive there will be something extra special in the mix from us as well. (Don’t bother asking what it is, it’s a surprise!)


We’ve got some work to do now. We’ve got to put in the official production order on the framesets and finalize the final estimated calendar. Our production schedule did get bumped a bit during the crowd fund, but the bikes will soon be in production and frames will still arrive this spring.

We will post continued updates on the project over the next few months as well, and we vow to be good communicators with our supporters.

We will also keep iterating our builds in order to show the range of the frame. Next up in the coming weeks: the Bleaux prototype will evolve into a Di2 machine. Nobody knows what’s next for the black bike. It’s such a fun brute and I kind of don’t want to ever change it. The celeste bike will continue to morph as well no doubt.

Those who have questions can always shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you promptly.

Didn’t get in on the crowd-fund? It’s technically open until midnight on the 28th, and after that the Flaactory Team will be set. We’re making extra frames so that we have ongoing stock (that’s what the crowd fund is funding), and those will be sold on a first-come basis. We will update the crowd fund page soon and turn it into a standard pre-order product page for further orders until the frames are in-stock and ready to ship.

Once again, thank you for supporting us. From the beta testers to the design collaborators to the hand fabricators to the mechanics, advisors, video crew, accountants, friends, spouses, and the rest of you: Thank you for believing in the bike and for believing in Rodeo Labs in general.

-Stephen


Flaanimal in action on the mountain bike trails of Ken Caryl
Feb
24

Is Flaanimal a good mountain bike?

We’ve been shouting about it pretty hard lately, but just in case you missed it, we launched the Flaanimal 3.0.

Straight away we started reading and listening to peoples’ reactions and impressions about what we’ve created. Some people were all-in from the start, with the first order coming in no less that five minutes after we launched. Thank you!

Other people were more skeptical. What is so great about our bike? Why should anyone pay attention? Could anyone trust our claims that a single frameset can be suitable for road biking, gravel riding, cyclocross, city riding, or trail riding?

Skepticism is fair. No harm no foul. But as I read through the comments one comment struck me.

“Yeah you can build a mountain bike with it, but is it a GOOD mountain bike?”

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Gravel horizon
Feb
20

To the Prairie: V4

Sometimes the best rides come together last minute. This is one of those rides. The invite went out late in the day Saturday for an early Sunday departure. I didn’t know if anybody would be able to come. I didn’t even know if I wanted a big group or not. I was heading east because nowadays east is where I go to clear my head.

Sometimes you put out a ride invite and optimistically hope that only the right people show up. The “right” people are people that want to ride about as fast as you, that don’t mind stopping when you want to.

The right people are also easy to talk to, they laugh at your dumb jokes. You laugh at their dumb jokes too. The right people consider dumb jokes to be an art form.

The right people don’t mind wind, don’t mind flats, don’t mind washboard, and don’t mind getting up early.

Tom, Josh, Geoff, and Patrick were the right people on Sunday. I’m really glad that they showed up. It was a great ride.

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