In the early 1900s miners and donkeys roamed the high peaks of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado in search of gold and fortune. In 2019 we took our Traildonkeys (and a Flaanimal) up those same hills in search of a fortune of a different kind: That consisting of great views and friendship.Continue reading
It is storm season in the Delta.
Every spring here in the fertile flatlands of northeast Arkansas, with the planting of the cotton comes the yearly dance with satellite storms. For any cycling enthusiast, these storms provide a dynamic setting for any adventure. One minute, blue skies line the horizon and the wind is at your back. The next moment, you make a right-hand turn and get slammed by a 20 mile per hour cross wind with a blueish grey shelf of clouds barring down on you like an airborne grim reaper.
Last Monday, I experienced this challenge myself out on a recovery ride with my little brother. As we wheeled out of the driveway in our 900-person town of Wilson, Arkansas, blue skies were overhead and the omnipresent wind which has ruined many days was nowhere to be found. Only after we left the town of Wilson and entered the endless expanse of pan flat cotton fields of the Delta, could we see the dark clouds on the horizon. Tully – my little brother who tends to actually think through things – questioned our choice to head towards the storm, but I refused; I wouldn’t be scared away by some angry clouds. The skies above us were bright and my good energy would not be stopped.
Tully and I bumbled along the rutted county road that lead north of Wilson to the town of Marie, cracking jokes and enjoying the fresh air. Yet, up ahead what had been a distant dark cloud had slowly morphed into a panoramic display of stormy fury. Lightning cut through the blackening background as thunder rolled off of the clouds that were beginning to bare down on us. As we turned away from the storm, a little trickle of fear started to wiggle its way up my spine. Over my left shoulder sat our house under the distant cluster of trees and water towers while over my right shoulder sat a cloud that only seemed to grow. As the sky began to turn green and our impending doom became clear, we made a quick left onto a rutted gravel road and pointed our wheels home. We were off to the races.
Whether it is the lack of competition in my life lately, or the lack of anything at all, the impetus of the fear of the storm was the only spark I needed to get the proverbial competitive juices flowing. For the last two-ish months I had been without competition for the first time I can remember. From rec soccer, to cross country skiing, to the last half decade on the bike, my life has been dictated by how far I was from my next start line. At first the void of races was a relief, a change of pace I wasn’t familiar with. Then, as the days became weeks and the weeks months, I began to feel stuck..Stuck in a house I have never lived in, stuck a thousand miles away from where I want to be, stuck with more schoolwork than I knew what to do with, and stuck without the tether that had anchored me for years. I even tried to write a post for this journal multiple times only to be foiled explaining the very “sticky” situation I just described.
Everything was just…off.
Yet, as I took off down that gravel road with my brother in tow, that stuck feeling evaporated into a euphoric smile on my face as forgotten adrenaline pumped through my legs. In the face of the roaring wind that gathered behind us and spits of water that hit my arms, I was giddy with excitement and joy, bouncing wildly down a dirt road covered with baseball sized stones. In the distance was a lonely tractor shed which served as the only possible shelter for miles. With the house still four miles away in an ever-darkening distance, the metal roof and its many ton John Deere cotton farming machinery would have to do as our race with the storm moved to its critical phase.
As I was sitting under that tin roof huddled behind a ten-foot-tall tire, I could help but thinking how fun that little race had been. I had to be present, focused, and powerful instead of living a life where time was at a standstill, yet also seemed to be slipping away constantly. In the week since that ride, I have felt much better on and off the bike. Although races still may be many months away, my little race with the storm gave me that feeling of carnal exhilaration that I’ve been missing. Going forward, I am going to be chasing that feeling. Maybe not the same fear of a possibly life-threatening storm barring down on me, but feelings, nonetheless.
This is a story from that time we went to a bike race but there was no racing to be found. Little did we know this would be our last chance to ride together for a while. Even though our racing plans were derailed we were still able to ride together. We’re super grateful to have these memories from this weekend. Looking back over them makes us even more excited for the day when we can ride together again. We love you Croatan Buck Fifty and we will see you in 2021.
Mid South was the first outing for the Rodeo Labs Pro Gravel team and what a race it was. The course lived up to its reputation and the competition was fierce. Jonathan Baker had amazing ride to 3rd overall on his TD3. Recap by Jake Aisenbrey.Continue reading
This Journal entry was sent to us by Jason Riddle. We’ve invited our community to send in submissions for the Journal in an effort to keep telling stories and showing our collective excitement for cycling even during this Covid epidemic. If you would like to send in a journal entry please do get in touch through our contact form.
This morning I approached the tenth tee feeling slightly guilty. Last night I had told my buddy I was staying close to home today. I wanted to give my wife a day to chill. She had been entertaining our daughter, walking our dogs, going to the grocery stores and farmer’s markets, while I spent most of the weirdest week ever working at the shop. But this morning she said “It’s going to rain the next two days, you need to get out.”
What an awesome partner.
So out I get. To play bikes, not golf. Living on an abandoned golf course makes for a nice way to start a multi surface ride. Cart paths, maintenance roads and deer trails are welcome amenities these days (and the overgrown sand traps provide some nice jump lines).
My Flaanimal and I cover most of the back nine, ducking off the course to exit the neighborhood. Up an overpass and into our small town, we are headed for the gravel roads surrounding Bull Run Mountain.
Things are unusually quiet, even for a Sunday morning. The churches are empty, the cafe is closed, but the town cop is out. We roll by the small bike shop I’ve wrenched at for the last few years. Not yet open, I wonder how busy the boys will be today. I wonder if I was right to stop going in during business hours. I wonder how long we will stay open.
I hit a section of singletrack that eventually leads to gravel and immediately head for my favorite road, ready to get lost in a long rolling descent. It’s perfect, I push, screaming through the washboard so fast my bouncing eyeballs lose focus of the surface. I want to go harder, risk a bit more, but I suddenly remember what’s going on in our world…
So we dial it back and begin to make our way back home to my family and my dogs. Town is still sleepy but there are already people waiting for the shop to open. Again I begin to wonder.
What did it take to go from already busy dad / husband / bike company guy to someone who is prepared to bikepack across Morocco? Here how the last three months looked to me.Continue reading
I’m in the air right now. Denver to Dallas, Dallas to Madrid, Madrid to Marrakesh, Morocco, Africa.
By Logan Jones-Wilkins
Ah, nothing like the chirping of alligators in the morning.
A chorus of those spooky songs called out from all directions as I rode down a desolate gravel road about 30 miles west of Palm Beach, Florida. I was searching for a suitable place to take care of my pre-race pee before the 5AM start of the Sugarcane 200.
By Logan Jones-Wilkins
Staring down a 200-mile bike race is scary. REALLY scary.
Staring down a 200-mile bike race in January is just plain old silly.
For me the Sugarcane 200 will be my maiden odyssey into the wild world of gravel racing. I am excited for the challenge ahead, however, I really don’t have many wise things to say going into it. I know next to nothing about the competition, except that Ted King is one grade-A certified fast dude. I know next to nothing about the course, except it is longer than long and flatter then flat. Lastly, I know next to nothing about nutrition and tactics, except I need a lot of food and even more patience.