On Assignment Dispatch 3: Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey

I wrote recently how I feel like I’m using this bike ride from Milan to Armenia as a dress rehearsal for the ride around Armenia. I’m excited and nervous and desperate for everything to go right for us when we’re there. I want to fall in love with Armenia more than any other place I’ve ever been. The history of the land there makes me want to go and just give it a long, aching embrace. I’ve done research and thought about it and now that we’re here, in the final stages of transit, riding a train across Turkey and only a couple days of pedaling from the border, that excitement is ready to burst. But this dress rehearsal is not yet over, and unlike an actual dress rehearsal this ride has been very much real and unscripted. The last 3,500 kilometers have been an adventure indeed. 

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On Assignment Dispatch 2: The Balkans

This is the second dispatch sent in by Evan and Bo from their ride across Europe to Armenia, on assignment for Rodeo Labs.

The Balkans. Have you heard of them? Can you point them out on a map? The Yugo and Burek and Rakija. Do you know how important these things are to modern day Europe? Have you heard of Tito? A leader, peacekeeper, hard nose, and uniter of nations that stood up to the US and the USSR during the ColdWar. Six weeks ago I knew none of it. In my advanced placement world history classes I never heard the slightest whisper of it. But these mountains and nations stood in our way between Italy and Armenia, so through the Balkans we went. 

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On Assignment: Venice > Armenia. Dispatch 1

Note from Stephen: In late May may dad, who lives with my mom in Armenia told me that the country was overly ripe for exploration by bike, and that Rodeo should put on a bikepacking race there. I was at first skeptical. If the riding there is so good why haven’t I heard more about it? But after I flew over the country in 3d on Google Earth and looked at some of my dad’s photos I was convinced that further exploration was at least necessary. The only problem was that it is quite difficult, nay close to impossible for me to get there any time soon. As life would have it Evan Christenson had just finished a bikepacking tour of the the Baja Divide with his girlfriend Bo Shan. Evan was looking for what was next in life and was in no mood to settle down for anything mundane. In nearly no time at all the idea hit me: Perhaps Evan and Bo could be sent ahead to scout the country and report back? I pitched the idea to Evan, and then Evan pitched me back a more rounded out concept. It was decided that Rodeo would create its first ever On Assignment For Rodeo Labs project, and Bo and Evan would be the first to undertake an expedition such as this under such a title.

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Georgia Rodeo Rally – Del Rio Road trip

The summer heat is upon us at Georgia Rodeo Rally and we know to beat the heat one must take your gravel rig to the mountains and gain some elevation. Fortunately for us an oasis appeared – our Rodeo family up in east Tennessee, George and Clint have invited us to come to their neck of the woods near Hot Springs, NC to wrassle some gravel and climb some mountains – Snowbird & Max Patch. Of course, we could not refuse. We accepted their invitation and give you the Georgia Rodeo Rally – Del Rio Summer Field Trip.

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Georgia Rodeo Rally – Vogel Springs – May 15

If you are in the Georgia vicinity or within distance of the drive we highly recommend the Georgia Rodeo Rally events that one of our O.G. Rodeoers Mike Smith has been putting on and hosting. Mike is super passionate about community building and puts on these terrific, challenging, and inclusive rides to which all are welcome. He often builds multiple courses per event so that people can dial in the challenge for themselves. Even if you aren’t in the local area it is worth keeping an eye on the Georgia Rodeo Rally Facebook group as he has ideas for expanding the territory of where the rides take place and he is working on ideas with partners as well. Check it out and sign up here.

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Passing the torch: A Kokopelli Trail do-over

Kokopelli Trail Bikepacking

Kokopelli trail for a second time? How did we get here? Rodeo has such an unpredictable trajectory. All it was ever intended to be was a way to bikes with friends. That was the start of it in 2014. A half dozen people said “if you’re starting a bike team I’ll throw my hat in”. Everyone in the first days of it all knew each other. We were all just friends here in Denver, road racing, mountain bike racing, cyclocross racing, group riding, and goofing off. It was all very simple for a hot minute, right up until the point when Rodeo went crazy and dismantled my predictable life. I have been overwhelmed ever since. It has not slowed down. It has not even for a second gotten less complex, it has only gotten moreso. A team became a community, the community became a larger community, and then it became a bike company. It’s been an incredible ride, one that I am very grateful for, but quite often I miss the simplicity of the early days of what we were doing: The just riding bikes with friends part.

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White Rim solo on Drop Bars: a Flaanimal Ti adventure

White Rim on Flaanimal Ti

Utah’s White Rim Trail seems to be enjoying a bit of a popularity boom in recent years thanks in large part to repeated attempts to set new Fastest Known Time records by a non-stop stream of world class riders. While those efforts are incredible from a human achievement point of view they don’t resonate much with me as it relates to my relationship with this beautiful and incredibly unique part of the world. I come to White Rim with slower times in mind, and with thoughts of long miles spent undisturbed by life’s complexities.

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The 2020 Playlist

Music and bikes are life savers. Pair them together and even the worst of times can be the time of your life. Nothing has made this clearer for me than the last twelve months. Through it all, the pairing of riding and music has truly transformed my year into unquestionably the best year of my life. Without these rides, and the soundtracks that accompanied them, I would have a diametrically different assessment of what this year has done for me.

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