UnPAved 2020: My Race of the Year

If life is, as Forrest Gump claims, like a box of chocolate, then 2020 is home to only the chocolate that nobody thinks they want. Yet, despite the funky, rancid, and downright rotten aspects of this year, this particular box of chocolates has some hidden gems. It may not have been the chocolate we had hoped for, but in some cases it has been chocolate I have truly cherished. Here are just a few of those chocolates:

Cover Photo Taken By Mark Yanagisawa

Bike racing? Never heard of her.

Cyclist far and wide have spent 2020 siting, wishing, watching, and waiting for racing. This new new landscape of cycling, one where intentions are crafted anew and every rider’s motivation have been tossed, churned and been spat out, has been a reckoning for many with competitive ambition. Some, who rode because of racing, found the year insufferable. Others, who in the past have raced to authorize the time to ride, have relished in the flexibility and creativity necessitated by the pandemic.

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Rodeo Podcast EP8: Arkansas High Country Race

On the eighth episode of the podcast, Nik and Stephen virtually catch up with Ashley Carelock and Dr. Seth Wood. They both recently competed in the 2020 Arkansas High Country Race and both set Fastest Known Time(s) (FKT). Your hosts dig into the experience the only way they know how, excitedly asking questions about what happened, like gear choices, or in Seth’s case a single gear!

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The Grandest Tour: Wheeler Peak Mountain Duathlon FKT

See a mountain, summit a mountain.

A simple proposition, but one that can entail so many different things. Some mountains are best tackled by a lightweight road-bike, others call for a machine that is a bit burlier, and some can only be conquered by one’s own hands and feet. However, every once and a while there comes a certain summit that calls for blurring the lines between those spheres of separation.

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Leadville 100 / Take Two

Leadville 100 Traildonkey

Writing the story of Rodeo is about writing a story of constant striving for new challenges and milestones. This year that striving took us back to the Leadville 100, this time with four Traildonkeys in the mix and ambitions to see how quickly we could complete the race aboard them. Taking a gravel bike to a mountain bike race is an arbitrary challenge on paper, but to us it is exactly the sort of challenge that we strive for on an existential level.

Photos by Brett Stakelin, Natalie Starr, Athlinks, and myself

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Traildonkey in CX: A State Championship win

Co CX Champs

Race photos by Kit Hunders

As the end of 2017 arrived, the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships arrived with it.

Cyclocross has changed for me over the years. A half decade ago I was so jazzed about the bike racing discipline that I couldn’t even sleep the night before a race. I would genuinely dream about it. I wanted go fast, I wanted to see if I could win. I had a pretty singular mindset.

Gravel racing is great and all, but in terms of drop bar bikes Cyclocross delivers the quickest, most intense punch in the thrills department.

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Dirty Kanza 2016

The 2016 Dirty Kanza was probably my favorite ever achievement on a bike. The significance of the event was profound for me on many different levels. To land on the podium was almost inconceivable. Racing against such a talented and fast group of riders was hugely intimidating and also an honor. Overcoming the setbacks of flats, dehydration, heat, and headwinds with a never-say-die mindset was deeply satisfying.

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Mid Season Cyclocross Musings

Words by Nik Van der W00ts, Photos by Brett Stakelin (@das_guy)

Cyclocross is a niche within a niche, but there is something I love about this high energy, gritty sport. I got started grinding my gears on the grass, sand, mud and barriers on the east coast. Some would cite this as the unofficial heart and home of American cyclocross. The days spent racing and volunteering in Gloucester and Providence were cold, muddy and certainly epic affairs. Those memories have stuck with me and often are the first that come to mind when I think of cyclocross.

After a hiatus from cyclocross (prompted by grad-school and a 2,000 mile relocation to Colorado) I re-tested the waters. I was in for a shock. The climate and terrain were unfamiliar compared with my first dirt-covered memories. Gone were the days of racing in parks with pristine grass that turned to rutted muddy lines. In Colorado if a race is on grass, it is spiky unfriendly blades. All the moisture is evaporated, leaving dusty loose conditions. Many a time I have come home from racing and felt like a miner, hacking up dust for the next few days. Some of the rugged courses tested my nerves on cantilever brakes and left my hands sore from trying to modulate my speed.

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The Five Stages of the Mount Evans Hill Climb

 

Ten years ago, when I was newer to Colorado, I naively signed up for the Mount Evans Hill Climb. I drove the course a few weeks before the race, having no idea what I was getting into. My body betrayed me with an ill-timed cold, which doubled as a convenient reason to bail on the race.

I chalked it up to the cold, but really I was just scared – of the elevation gain, the altitude, the exposure.

Most every summer since then, as the date of Mount Evans approached, I would think really hard about lining up in Idaho Springs, but could never bring myself to do it. Timing, travel, or total lack of training always seemed to be ready excuses.

Until this year, 10 days before the race, when – thanks in part to some encouragement from the Rodeo crew – I finally peer pressured myself into signing up for the 28 mile ascent of the highest paved road in North America.

I made it to the start line this time. And tried to weather the various mental stages of such a singular challenge.

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Traildonkey vs. MTB race = Win

A few weeks back I lined up for the Battle Of The Bear endurance XC MTB race in Morrison, Colorado. I was using the race as a way to get 3-4 difficult hours of training in for the leadup to Dirty Kanza, not so much with any specific race goals in sight. Bear Creek State Park is a flast, flowy, and often smooth XC race so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try something new on Traildonkey 2.0.

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