Storm Racer

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.

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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. 

Flaanimal 5.0 // Production update

Let me start with my intro:

Hi Y’all. How’s everybody doing? That’s an absurd question of course. The world is crazy right now. But that is also a question we also get a lot from all of you:

“Hey guys! How’s it going at Rodeo? You hanging in there?”

I definitely appreciate people asking and checking in. For the record Rodeo is doing well. We’re here, or more accurately we’re not here, we’re mostly working remotely whenever possible but we are “here” in the abstract sense of the word. And yes, we are actually doing well. Not so much in the breaking sales records and taking over the bike industry sense of the phrase. Rather We’re doing well because we seem to be weathering the circumstances better than most, and it seems that the community of owners and customers that we’ve built in the last six years is in fact still ordering bikes and generally supporting what we do. For that, and on behalf of all of us at Rodeo, I say a very heartfelt Thank You! We are so grateful to still even now be able to do what we love to do for a living and we couldn’t do it without your trust and support.

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Rodeo Labs on the Bicycle Media Podcast

Where do Donkeys come from? Where does Rodeo Labs come from? How do we know if our bikes are good? Why are there so few reviews of our bikes out there? What types of customers do we try to collaborate with? What makes Rodeo successful? @_bicyclemedia_ just posted a podcast with Rodeo’s founder Stephen Fitzgerald where we talked through these sorts of questions and other topics from our history. Look up the podcast on your favorite podcast client like iTunes or Spotify or it is embedded here below for easy access.

Audience Series: Floral Traildonkeys


It may not feel like it but spring is coming! With it leaves and flowers are about to return, and not a day late! In our call for audience inspiration @natalierstarr responded “floral print!”, but she wasn’t very specific about WHICH floral print. We’re glad she wasn’t! As soon as we started looking at floral patterns we knew that one pattern wasn’t enough. We needed ALL THE FLOWERS. So here they are. We roved the web for these patterns and whipped up some fantasy Donkeys that can hopefully help brighten any mood. Happy spring to y’all!

If you would like us to create a custom painted Traildonkey 3.1 or Flaanimal 5.0 for you please get in touch. We’re happy to oblige and collaborate.

Short Film: We Love You Croatan Buck Fifty

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.

To Richmond, With Love

            Today’s journal post is a bit different. As I sit here in Wilson, Arkansas, I keep reminiscing on what I am missing back home in Virginia. I decided to take a slight step away from the bike and putting a greater focus on places. I hope you enjoy!

Caught somewhere between history and modernity, Richmond, Virginia, sits on the banks of the rocky James River in grungy splendor that is hard to match. With a history stretching well beyond the confines of this nation’s past, the city is colored by one generational rejuvenation after the next layering on its own personality to the city and its streets. What’s left is a scrambled beautiful mess of buildings, art and people interlaced amongst the gridded streets and cobblestone alleyways of the city.

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Mid South podium for Rodeo Pro Gravel

Jonathan Baker Mid South

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.

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“You Need To Get Out”

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.

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3/22/2020Haymarket, Virginia


     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.


Stay well.

J

@riddlewithnoanswer

A Smoky Sunday Morning Coming Down

Even the darkest of rooms have doors.

In these darkest of dark times, it is easy and obvious to see the sadness surrounding all of us. Every aspect of our lives has slid into a fearful state of uncertainty. Concerns that kept me up three weeks ago haven’t crossed my mind since I packed up my college dorm last Thursday, saying a premature goodbye to a place that really became home.

Yet, despite all that has transpired – and that will continue for many days to come, these last couple of weeks have brought me some truly incredible experiences.   Just as the weight of uncertainty has crept in to crush my spirit, life has given me a taste of joy that shows why it is so important we as a worldwide community do all we can to come through this preserving as much of our collective spirit as possible.

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Production / Covid updates

Let’s talk product status. Communication with our customers is a top level priority as we navigate present circumstances. Read on to see where we are at as of 3/20 on various projects:


1. We’re still working. This week the office has been either completely remote or visited one by one per necessary tasks like mechanical work and shipping. We haven’t been ordered to do this by law, we’re just being careful. We are only accepting visitors by appointment.


2. We are small so we are agile. Customer service is easy to manage remotely if need be. Builds are already done by a single person and he can take his operation mobile if need be.


Rodeo labs frameset production is done in Taiwan which has handled the current challenges arguably better than any other country so here’s an update on our main products.


1. Flaanimal 5.0: on schedule still for late April / early May as stated on the pre order page. Scaling from prototypes to production had some unique challenges but we stepped up our game to meet them. We had planned on CNC machined sleeved head tubes for instance but we changed to multi axis laser cutting for volume production. Have you ever seen a multi axis laser precision cut a steel tube? It’s awesome. #humblebrag


3. TD3.1 is about 2 – 3 weeks delayed from initial mid march estimates and this is due to forks, not bigger issues. Once forks are ready frames and forks go to paint together and then 3.1 is done.


3. Spork 3.0. We are getting more emails and questions about this lately from retail customers, bike shops, and builders. We had planned to do small batches of forks so that we could prioritize and ship forks and bikes quicker but had to pivot and produce in one large batch at scale for the sake of production partner efficiency. Scale saves production costs and we had to cooperate with our partner on that. Making bikes is a business but it’s also about relationships. Spork 3.0 was due mid month but we think it will be end of month / first week of April before we receive the first batch of retail forks. All things considered that isn’t far off!


Could any of this change? Yes. The world is so unpredictable right now. Outside factors could affect us. But even if that happens we will troubleshoot and push forward in any way that we responsibility can. We’re committed to our customer and we are excited about what we are contributing to the world of bikes. We’ve added our global Covid 19 information to our Policies page for easy access. We will keep that page updated as necessary.


Questions? Fire away!