At first glance, Rodeo may seem like a bunch of guys who decided to one day purchase bikes and take pictures with them. Not only with bikes, but on them, of them, of themselves, and the places that those bikes take them. To some, this takes away a part of riding; The feeling of going out on a ride, fully immersing yourself in the surroundings and the feel of it all, and finally coming home to tell others about your journeys. What some fail to realize, however, is that Rodeo – all of those involved – have simply taken both and melded them together.
Photography is nothing new and has documented more about the world than anyone could care to remember themselves. Over the years – from enhancing personal, business, and romantic relations to simply documenting and sharing – photography has helped put an image to things that words may not have been able to accurately explain. This mindset is so much a part of modern society, in fact, that a majority of people require visual proof of something to feel assured or vindicated that something has actually happened. This combined with the easy access to portable cameras as well as the many avenues to share said pictures means it should come as no surprise that there are those who wish to share their world through pictures, regardless of what others think.
Let me go back to when I discovered Rodeo and go into why it appeals/appealed to me.
One day, while browsing Instagram, Castelli posted a photo. This one to be exact:
At the time, I simply laughed it off and went on my way.
Then, not too long after that, they posted yet another photo from this “velo_steef” character, this next one being a bit more scenic.
At this point, I was sold; I decided to follow this guy just for the pictures, regardless of the cycling implications. I had just returned a few months prior from going to a show at Red Rocks. Not only was it my first time visiting Colorado in my adult life, but Red Rocks was one of the reasons I fell in love with the state. Of course, as with all things that capture ones attention, I had to share these pictures; Not only with those I know from Colorado to show them places they may know, but with my girlfriend as well whom had never even looked too much into the greatness that is Colorado. From there, this domino effect happened to where we decided that we would move to Colorado, all starting with showing her random Instagram pictures with people on bikes. But I digress.
Stephen posted anything ranging from well thought-out shots to accidental shots that happen to turn out good (or not so good, like finding a snow-covered hole big enough for a bike tire). Not too long after I started following Stephen on Instagram, there was this post:
It outlined a plan that Stephen had and how he and Peder were just going to wing it and start something new, encouraging people to follow this new project if they were so inclined. I thought that although vague and being only an idea and passion, there was something mysteriously promising with this and decided to give it a follow. It has now been a little over a year since that post and the start of Rodeo, and I am glad to have been able to move to the center of it all, becoming part of the second year of this roller-coaster that is Rodeo.
But what is the appeal?
To some people, there is none. It’s a bunch of guys who not only ride bikes, but feel the need to document this experience with words and pictures on social media and a blog (because technology will be the downfall of us all, of course). An activity such as bike riding some feel should be kept to the rider, those on the ride, and those told face-to-face. Some of these people, of course, are also ones to use Strava, a Garmin, and possibly power meters and heart rate straps. My point is this; Times change, especially with ever-changing technology, and those who embrace the change should not be chastised, judged, or otherwise put down for simply seeing the value in the change. In fact, Rodeo has done just that so well that people have a hard time believing that the people involved are, well, real people.
However, what I saw in Rodeo was different than just pictures and bikes. I saw a sense of broad community that my current cycling world was lacking. I saw opportunity, adventure, challenge, and, on top of it all, getting all of it while on a bike with people looking for the same escape. It was something shared with a lot of people, not just in the city or in the state, but across the globe. I saw, overall, a place where I could be a part of without worrying about being ‘pro’ or a ‘fred’ or any of the other labels that so many cyclists are plagued by. I have only been seriously riding bikes for a couple years now and this idea of riding for adventure and exploration highly stood out to me, even if I did underestimate how quick these guys are. Am I fast enough to ride with these guys all the time? No. Not even near there half the time. But I feel welcomed all the same, no matter how long it takes me to get up a climb or grab a wheel in a line.
My first rides with the Rodeo guys opened my eyes to the fact that I have plenty of work to do, but where would the fun be in riding with people who don’t push you?
I have been able to find my physical, emotional, and mental limits on these rides and surpass them continuously. Isn’t that, as cyclists, why we continue to do these stupid things on bikes outside of fitness? To really push ourselves to the limit and then find that we can, in fact, get further than that? On top of that, why be ashamed to take pictures of the views while we push ourselves this hard? If we can enjoy the view on a ride, why not share it with others? It is these pictures that inspired me to come out and explore Colorado, and it’s the taking of pictures that some days motivates me to get out. Those involved with Rodeo do this as it is, but anyone else reading this who isn’t privy to the ‘Rodeo style’ of things: Explore new roads, take some new pictures, and then share it with those who know where you went and even with those who don’t: You never know when you can inspire them to someday want to go there.
Rodeo has taken what has been on the internet for months if not years and just made it work for them – for us, the people involved. It is a network unlike anything else, and it has only been a year. I, for one, am excited to see where things go from here and how long I can stick around for the ride. I have only been in the Denver area a matter of months and have shared a number of experiences and new roads with these guys (including the Native Lands Classic, which will be a post in and of itself), so I feel like there will only be more fun, adventure, turmoil, challenges, and good times to come. With that being said, come out to Colorado. The Rodeo guys – any of them – will make it worth your time and maybe even come out to visit you one of these days. Because what’s the point in networking without being able to interact while sharing the passion we all were drawn here for?