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All Posts By

Barry Croker

2018 Rockstar VA: The Stuff Legends Are Made Of

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Preface

I’ve been on a long-distance off-road adventure kick the last few yeas (exhibit A, exhibit B,exhibit C, etc).  When I heard about the Rockstar VA bikepacking race, I decided not only did I have to ride it, I was all-in it to win it.  The course seemed to be right up my alley: long backcountry trails, rocks, ridge, suffering, hardship, or other words everything that makes an epic event.  At first I thought “hey it’s just a really long ride” but the more I dove into it I found it’s actually a whole different sport.  It’s actually a combination of land navigation, lightweight camping, nutrition planning, time management, hiking, and with some bike riding in there as well.

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A Year In The Life of A Donkey

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Today my Trail Donkey turned one year old.  Not sure how many Donkey years that is, but it’s about 3,748.3 miles of adventures.  Lots of people ask me what kind of bike the Trail Donkey is.  I’m still not sure what to tell them, other than it’s a cyclocross-adventure-commuter-criterium-dirt-gravel-grinder-group-ride-fendered-fat-tire-road-racer-kind of jobby.  Jack of All Trades, Master of Fun might be a better way to sum it up.  Here’s what my Donkey’s First Year looked like.

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The Gravel Ring Rally Report

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Eighteen hearty souls attempted The Gravel Ring Rally; more than nine hours later only four would finish the full route.  The weather, the trails, and the route were near perfect.  The challenge, however, was slightly more than anyone anticipated.  Congrats to Ben Lepene and Britt Mason, whose solid performances earned them the titles of King and Queen of the Gravel Ring.  Next year I’ll be sure to bring a bit more food, a few lower gears, and an extra thru-axle for Dickey.  But if everything went as planned it wouldn’t have been an adventure, would it? Read More

Trail Donkey 2.0: My First Ride In The Wild

By | Gear, The Lab | No Comments

[Ed. Note: Barry is a former Denverite who now is part of our east-coast Rodeo contingent.  This was an unsolicited review for which he received no compensation.  Actually, I still own him for the Burrito he bought me on our last ride.]

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Trail Donkey evolve over the last year and have been eagerly awaiting the chance to actually ride one in person.  So when Twinkie offered me the chance to ride a near-production Trail Donkey on my last trip to Denver, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  I expected it to be a fun bike, which it certainly was, but in many ways it exceeded my expectations.

I arrived in town early on a Tuesday and immediately drove over to Rodeo World Headquarters.  After a short tour and a visit with Rodeo Wife & Rodeo Kids, Twinkie unveiled the goods: a 54 cm Donkey 2.0, built with a simple-yet-reliable 10-speed Force Hydro kit and a smattering of colorful yet functional parts.  As a bonus I’d be the first one to try the Donkey with an alternate wheel configuration: a set of SRAM/WTB 650b wheels shod with WTB’s newest Horizon 47c slicks.  Not quite your average build, but then again the Donkey is not your average bike!

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Back in the Ring

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With my stomach growling from hunger I nursed the dregs of my nearly empty Camelbak and scanned the trail ahead. Rocks. Endless rocks. The slight uphill of the trail told me I had yet to reach the top but just how much further before the final descent, I couldn’t recall. Twelve hours on the bike had taken its toll both physically and mentally. My mind was clouded, buzzing with that blurry feeling that happens right before it all starts shutting down.  And with the exhaustion and pain, the doubt started to creep in. What the heck was I thinking? Didn’t I swear I’d never do this again? Once was enough. It’s too long. Too hard. It had been nearly a year since I’d ridden this stretch of Short Mountain and all I could focus on was getting to the long descent down to the trailhead. Just a bit further and it’s all downhill. All downhill to dinner and a break from the rocks. And with the thought of food and water on my mind, I pushed ahead. Just a bit further.

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The Massanutten Ring of Fire

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I believe Adventure does not have to have a logical purpose.

I believe Adventure for adventure’s sake is reason enough.  A reason to try a little harder.  To dig a little deeper.  To find out what one is truly capable of.  And often times, reflection on our most memorable Adventures starts along the lines of “I don’t know what I was thinking, but…”

I would not classify myself as an “adventurist” by any means—I have a half-dozen kids, a demanding job, and other adult responsibilities.  But the lure of an Adventure is enough to keep me going thought the minutia of long meetings and tiresome commutes during my daily grind.  About a year ago I wrote a note to my buddy G.  He and I had spent several rides together on the rocky, technical trails along Massanutten Ridge in George Washington National Forest, Northern Virgina.  I had a fleeting vision of something completely irrational and illogical.  In short, an Adventure.

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