Rodeo Labs Podcast EP.2: The Corral

For the second episode of the Rodeo Labs Podcast we had a little huddle and talked about what’s been going on lately here at The Lab. One of our goals with this podcast is to give a bit of an unscripted peek behind the curtain and show more of the behind the scenes of what we do.

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8 movements to prep for adventure

Words and images by Curtis Hall of Bare Fit Life

With the roads more open and my gym closed, I’ve been riding more, lifting less and finding all the kinks in my armor. My lower back”s a little achy, my hip flexors are tight, that spot right behind my knee is wanting to lock up and some old shoulder injuries are starting to talk to me again. These kinks usually stay below the surface thanks to my normal coaching/training schedule, but thanks to activities shifting, I’ve had to get creative in my daily movements to keep these issues at bay and have worked the following exercises into my daily regime to stay strong for my outdoor cycling adventures.

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Victor’s 5.0 / GRX 800 2x

It’s been quite a marathon over these last few weeks getting initial Flaanimal 5.0 framesets landed, built, coated, and shipped. We’re still in the heat of it as we speak. This GRX 800 2x build shipped out today and we had enough time to grab some photos before it did.

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First 5.0 delivery / Production update

It’s Friday so it’s time for a Flaanimal 5.0 update. You’re looking at the first complete customer build bike which for us is a monumental milestone. Chris was the FIRST build order on Feb 15th and we’re so happy to get him his bike in that order. Thanks for hanging in Chris, we know you’ve been excited and you’ve been absurdly patient. Chris actually moved a lot of parts from his 3.0 Flaanimal to this 5.0 platform. It’s quite a bit more capable and a lot lighter as well!

GENERAL PRODUCTION UPDATE:

Not many frames have arrived yet. We’re in FedEx and shipping broker hell. We have tracking numbers but also tracking “exceptions” which means “WTF” in Fedex speak. We’re working on it with intensity + finesse (which means you can only nag so much then you have to just wait for people to do their jobs).

Final finishing on the frames has proven to be quite labor intensive. Twice this week we’ve said “make it more perfect” and knowingly caused delays. We hate to do it but there is no option. QC is QC.

20 frames will arrive when FedEx sorts their stuff out


70 frames will ship to us around the 7th.


More frames will ship to us around the 14th.


More frames will ship on the 21st. The rhythm is basically one air shipment per week.

ANY FRAMES NOT PRE-ORDERED prior to Tuesday the 28th will be shipped via ocean which has a 4 week transit time. We expect to see those frames mid to late September. Do we love that? No! But we’d rather deliver the facts now than apologize that things are late in September.

We are very aware that we are well past our estimated dates on Flaanimal 5.0. We’re really sorry about that and we know that some people feel really let down by that. The offer always stands: If you can’t or won’t wait for your bike we get it and can refund you. Rodeo is super solid financially and we don’t spend pre-order proceeds before we deliver the order to the customer.

Our big ask is this: if you are not canceling your order please don’t call or email asking for an update on your bike. Everyone here is 100% busy working on builds and logistics and we’ve spent quite a lot of time in the last few weeks answering phone calls and emails from people who understandably want an update. But we’re to the point where we are simply a small company and have finite hours in a day and we need to spend those hours on the production / fulfillment side more than the email / phone call side. We realize that we’re making a huge ask here. We’re asking people who made that first big deposit of trust when they ordered to almost write us a more or less blank check or trust. We realize that’s a big ask, but we’re asking anyway. If you ask around about Rodeo you will find that our customer service and follow through track record is absolutely excellent. We’re committed, we care a ton, and we’re going to get these bikes out to their owners.

Thank you!

-Stephen Fitzgerald / Founder

Video: Jay Petervary’s Arkansas High Route TD3

Jay Petervary gear breakdown

On his way back home to Idaho after his @arhighcountryrace bikepacking race Fastest Known Time (FKT) @jay_petervary stopped by The Lab and offered to do a VERY thorough part by part gear breakdown on his Traildonkey 3. Well over a decade of ultra distance racing and bikepacking experience go into Jay’s decisions on how to set up his bike and we had a great time nerding out on fine details and thinking about how we will tweak our own bikepacking setups now.

Almost no detail of this build has been spared in this video but somehow we may have edited out Jay’s tire selection. He used the Panaracer SS semi slick tire for this effort.

The Tahoe Twirl

The Tahoe Twirl is a deceptive beast- short in mileage but long with rocky technicality, it packs alpine summits and long, sweeping fire road descents into a literal breathtaking package and puts a big fat lake and a Cabela’s right in the middle of it all. The Tahoe Twirl is a beast. It’s no spring fling and no two-step shimmy. This one you plan for, pack for and train for. This one, you need to make an effort to come and see.

So naturally I threw all caution to the wind and showed up without looking at the route and with whatever was left in my truck. I’m off navigation duty this week, so I’ll bring an extra camera battery and settle in for some mindless pedalling. Ben and I chocked this up as a rest week and the finish line for getting my project car on the road and to Lake Tahoe in time. We spent two weeks burning quarts of midnight (and motor) oil to finally show up late, miss the rally location, and start hours behind the others we’re meeting up with. Hard on the gas out of the gate- What’s a vacation.

Old trucks = big headaches

Day one is messy and makes Ben and I worry about the next four. We all make lame progress, and our fifth drops out not feeling well after looking at all the climbing left ahead. We run into two bears while looking for camp that night. We carry the search into the night and find a clearing and a cross to camp under. We all start praying for better fortune and go nervously bear hang our food- Tahoe supposedly has the highest concentration of bears in the US and our cans of chili smell delicious…

Day two reunites the split group and brings awaited time for introductions and shop talk. The most interesting part of this ride is the eclectic group trudging through it all. We have Ben and I, Arjun, and Logan. Ben just returned from two months bikepacking through Patagonia, and we’re just now getting time to compare notes and swap stories from our long trips the past year. His bike has deep scars and his beard is long and shaggy still from 2,000 miles in the dirt. We catch up too with Arjun, who is now diving deep into bikes after graduating. In college he bought an old Bianchi with down tube shifters and after a short 20 mile ride to the Marina, decided he wanted to ride from San Francisco to LA. Arjun went to San Francisco not knowing you had to put air in bicycle tires and planned on figuring it out along the way. Since then he’s bought a touring bike and he and Ben rode around Iceland last summer. Now, he’s planning on seriously mountain biking for the first time.

Arjun? I like him. I like his can-do mentality and off the cuff approach to bikes. He’s strong as an ox and smiles all day long. Ben asks him about his gearing the first day and Arjun laughs. “I can actually answer that now!” I smile like Palpatine and feel the electricity in my fingers. Welcome to the dark side…

And then we have Logan- an engineering student from UCLA whose previous cycling experience is a short ride to the beach on a cruiser and a couple short mountain bike rides in the neighborhood. Logan’s never worn Lycra, never been bikepacking and has 0 miles in the legs. He bear hangs with a plastic grocery bag and bungee straps his sleeping bag to his dad’s old mountain bike. He wears Converse low-cut sneakers and a heavy backpack and pushes through new terrain and distinct, novel challenges excitedly and ambitiously. Logan likes descending and catches on quick. Climbing? Does anyone truly love climbing? Is it still that necessary evil? Logan argues the necessity and we push high into the mountains. It’s only day two and we’re already scratching 8,000 feet.

This day brings markedly slow progress to start. I’m just having fun doing circles riding a loaded bike again and wondering why I’ve spent 20 years in California and 0 days in Tahoe. The beauty here- the magnitude of it all is so epic. It slows the pedals and boggles the mind as ski resort after ski resort come into view. Tahoe? Oh so amazing. A perfect companion to get out of town and decompress after getting humiliated by the truck.

We finish the day with a swim in a reservoir and I fly-fish a small stream we camp by. I find a couple bites on a midge but I’m too tired to react to anything. Oh wait this is a fishing story. I caught a dozen and they were all 15 pounds or more. You should’ve seen ‘em!

The riding starts to blend together. Long days of pedaling strung back to back are like throwing an entree in a blender. A lot of it tastes like spaghetti sauce, but every once in a while there’s a chunk stuck in your teeth of sweet, smooth singletrack with an epic vista off to the side or a fast fire road into town. I grab some photos when the occasion permits and a loud “YEWWW!” when it doesn’t. The rest of the spaghetti sauce is still so damn good too. And it pairs so well with that heavy bike that rides all noodly. This right here? This is my heaven. A noodly bike and mountains of epic spaghetti sauce with good company and nowhere but ten miles down the road to be. Signed stamped and sealed- Life is better this way.

Ben and I split off onto the route extension. We feel good and are both starting to remember what the wind in the hair feels like as it blows us towards more mountains and chunky, brutal descents. I’m two years past fit but always down to sit low and push hard pretending I still can. We find a flow and start covering serious miles. We’re only interrupted by a couple river crossings we take our shoes off for. It’s an interruption like in a crit when there’s a big crash and 10 riders go to the hospital and you sit up and reconsider life except it’s way better in literally every single way. I debate pulling the fly rod back out but axe it in favor of a long lunch stop on a big rock and we look out at the flats and listen to the wind. It’s a much different pace here than the back of a crit.

The next two days everything changes. We go from cool mountains and pretty views to truly epic climbing. We climb seemingly endlessly for the next two days and dance with 10,000 feet on exposed peaks and race down long, flowing single track. It cascades down mountain sides with beautiful jumps and berms and creeks and I start crying at one point it’s so fun and so beautiful and so right. The loaded bike takes it all so well and I want this final descent to keep descending until I die. Two groms on downhill bikes tow me in to a jump line at the bottom and I send 10 foot tabletops on my loaded gravelbike and the descent almost does last until I die. We regroup and race the fading light back to the cars pedaling hard and screaming at how much fun those past five days just were and it’s over just like that.

Logan, dirty, exhausted and blown-out smiles when I ask him if he’ll ever go bikepacking again. This has been an absolutely brutal introduction to the sport, and I’m unsure if he’s scared off or ready for more.  

“Oh totally. But maybe an easier route next time.”