2023 has been a great year of bike racing at Rodeo Labs. We’ve scooped up quite a few podiums and victories between Donkeys and Flaanimals, and beyond race results it’s been great watching owners and community members line up and ride for reasons other than trying to win. As for myself, for a number of reasons this has been the year of ditching geared drivetrains and instead racing singlespeed. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.Continue reading
It has been a hot minute since I last published a Rodeo Newsletter, and there is a whole summer worth of activity to bring everyone up to speed on, so let’s get started!Continue reading
Come join us for three days of bikepacking southern backroads with other Rodeo riders the weekend of January 13th, 2024!Continue reading
I experienced a wide range of emotions after standing on the podium at Unbound. Climbing up there and fulfilling a long journey of hard work and sacrifice filled me with elation. However, it also left me with a lingering question of “what’s next?” The following four days were mostly filled with snacking and sleeping as I basked in achieving my biggest goal of the year, only touching the bike to clean it.
The 354 mile race itself left me with strange numbness and muscle tightness, which I resolved through a couple of dry needling sessions. After Unbound, I had about 3 weeks to prepare for another goal: winning at Robidoux Rendezvous in Gering, Nebraska. This would be my third time participating in this race, which aligns well with my strengths. In my first year, I came in second to Grant Koontz, and I emerged victorious last year. However, this year’s Robidoux would be different due to a new $23,000 prize purse, attracting a lot of talent in both the men’s and women’s fields. Additionally, the race would serve as recon for the first-ever USAC gravel national championship, also taking place in Gering this year.
Robidoux Rendezvous – Gering, Nebraska
Unfortunately, the Rendezvous was canceled this year due to the town being hit by four tornadoes the night before the race. While I understand the challenges faced by the locals affected by the storm, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when I learned about the cancellation. The race represented a personal setback for me, as I had dedicated considerable time, effort, and financial resources to compete at this level. The $5,000 first-place prize would have provided much-needed support for my racing aspirations. Furthermore, I was eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to compete against incredibly talented individuals, an experience that is often hard to come by in smaller fields. Engaging in head-to-head competition fosters growth and development, allowing me to refine my racing skills and strategy.
Ready to rip in ole Gering, Nebraska. The sandy ditch roads are actually a blast.
Additionally, I had conflicting thoughts about attending two other events that weekend: The Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder and the Highlands Gravel Classic. In 2021, I participated in the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, a 5-day point-to-point stage race that felt like adult bike camp. One of the coolest racing experiences I’ve ever had. The Highlands Gravel Classic was a UCI qualifier in Arkansas for the UCI Gravel World Championships. However, achieving a top 3 position at Gravel Nationals in September would also qualify me for the World Championships.
Nevertheless, maintaining perspective and balance is crucial. I fully comprehend the gravity of the situation faced by the Scottsbluff/Gering community and hold space for their experiences. While my disappointment is real, it is essential to acknowledge the bigger picture and extend empathy to those who have been significantly impacted.
The whole night was filled with tornado sirens and warnings blaring on our phones.
KowTown Gravel – Kremmling, Colorado
As soon as I returned home, I promptly registered for the inaugural Kowtown Gravel in Kremmling, Colorado, just south of Steamboat Springs. I didn’t want to let my hard-earned fitness go to waste. Unfortunately, three miles into the race, my computer informed me that my shifter battery had died. It felt like I was living in the Truman Show. At the first aid station, I took a chance and asked for a 2032 button battery, and luckily someone had one in their toolbox. Swapping that battery felt like an eternity, taking four and a half minutes. Over the next hour, I fought my way back to the front of the race, eventually joining a group of three riders, with one solo rider up the road at an unknown distance. Our group had good dynamics, with fair pulls and consideration for everyone, but it eventually splintered, leaving me chasing solo. I struggled to gauge the distance to the next rider ahead, so I imagined every blurry figure in front of me (since our course overlapped with the shorter courses) until it actually became true. In the final blocks coming into town, I came incredibly close to the winner. It was truly one of the most challenging efforts I’ve ever exerted. If you have the chance, I highly recommend checking out Kowtown next year. The route was thrilling, and the people in Kremmling were ecstatic to have cyclists take an interest in the event.
Makeshift podium at KowTown Gravel. We had to find a “teammate stand in” for 3rd place.
The remainder of the season includes the following races:
- FoCo Fondo in Fort Collins, CO on July 21
- SBT GRVL in Steamboat Springs, CO on August 20
- Gravel Nationals in Gering, NE on September 9
- The Rad in Trinidad, CO on September 30
- Big Sugar in Bentonville, AR on October 21
If you’re reading this and planning to attend any of these events, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram. I would love to meet up for a ride, grab a beer, or discuss all things bikes and racing!
Rowdy rain ruts out Red Feathers north of Fort Collins on the FoCo Fondo Triple Dog Dare course.
Grief brought my life to a standstill. At first, I didn’t know who I was anymore: whether I would be able to continue nursing, and, if I did, what that would look like. After years in the ICU, years during the pandemic, and then finally watching my father waste away on a ventilator, work was a constant trigger point.
What I also knew is that I don’t do well when I’m not moving. I decided to take the leap and try travel nursing out in California, which was the last place I had really felt like myself. The year prior I had worked at the clinic in Yosemite National Park and it had been life changing. I had fallen in love with the West coast, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and backpacking. I wanted that energy back again.Continue reading
All of the warring voices in the four walls of my skull have agreed to a holiday ceasefire, presumably sitting around a campfire, listening (semi-ironically) to the Psychedelic Furs as I stand quietly behind the starting line of a 350 mile bike race. The race director’s voice drones on as the corral grows fuller and I begin feeling increasingly veal-like. The new-wave kumbaya holding my anxiety at bay is quieted by the voice above, “blah blah blah… can you believe that they paid for this, folks… wah blah wah mud blah rain blah paint stick blah”.Continue reading
When you’ve been living in a place for ages, it’s easy to overlook its charm. Growing up just a couple of hours outside Emporia and spending most of my life in Kansas, I couldn’t fathom why people would travel from far and wide to race on seemingly dull and unchanging roads. But then, amid a grueling nearly 25-hour journey, a realization hit me like a lightning bolt. As I pedaled along the ridge, the undulating emerald hills stretched for miles while ominous thunderclouds loomed above—a quintessential Kansas storm rolling in to welcome me back. There was nothing to do but smile and hope it wasn’t too harsh. Soon, a refreshing 30-minute drizzle came to my rescue, and I found myself grateful for the momentary respite from the heat and electrified by the surrounding beauty.Continue reading
Written, shot, and ridden By Benjamin Carpenter
Changing plans is an enevitable element of life I find myself in constant confrontation with be it the weather, my body, my family or my work life. It’s a constant flux, and maybe probably for good reason. Change keeps me on my toes, and constantly adapting, but the same is true about bikepackng, or any long ride that covers many miles in a prolonged amount of time. Dealing with change and adapting is how I flourish.Continue reading
Lucas Clarke’s Unbound 200 single speed ride had us speechless, and the numbers tell the story impressively:
- 1st place Singlespeed 200miles.
- Fastest 200 mile singlespeed time in the history of Unbound.
- First singlespeed to break twelve hours.
- FIRST athlete / bike, period, through the mud to the first timing point.
Update: Luke took his bike to 2nd overall at this year’s XL, and we couldn’t be more proud of him and his ride!
This year, I will be going back to Unbound to race the 350 mile XL. I chose the XL because I have history racing ultras out of Emporia, Kansas and I think the format of less than 24 hour ultras is pretty exciting. It requires a ton of focus and persistence. Last year, I was signed up for the XL and made it through 185 miles. A couple of weeks before the race I had to get stitches on my elbow and was on a wide variety of antibiotics. It really messed with my stomach and I wasn’t able to eat like I wanted. I’ve put in a lot of work this season getting prepared, both physically and mentally. I think I have a pretty strong chance at the top step. My bike setup is second to none and one of my favorite, unique builds.Continue reading