Everesting is a ride wherein riders ride a single hill over and over until they’ve climbed the height of Mount Everest. That’s 29,032′ or 8848m.
I decided to do an Everest attempt after doing a last minute Instagram poll just throwing it out there to see if I should give it a go. 100% of you said yes. I wasn’t sure if I would do it up until this point and since this was the day before I was pretty ill-prepared.
Summer has transitioned to fall, and with the change of seasons a lot of change has also come to Rodeo Labs, even more than I had anticipated, it seems! So before we dig into any product or event news, let’s talk about the biggest news at Rodeo Labs right now:
How I tried making it to the World Championships gravel racing.
So, my buddy Jan, who used to be a world champ on the track, asked me back in May to join a gravel race in Drenthe, The Netherlands. He said, “Hey, it’s a chance to qualify for the World Championships gravel.” He had already qualified a few months earlier at another event in Limburg. To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I thought, “Why not?” So, I coughed up 60 bucks and waited for more info. It came a bit later. The Gravel One Fifty is a 150-kilometer race, and let me tell you, it wasn’t a walk in the park. I scouted the course two weeks before the race and quickly realized that 45mm tires would’ve been a good idea.
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.
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.
In 2020 I dreamt up a route that both thrilled me and terrified me. A Super Sized ride, if you will. Over the years my definition of such a ride has constantly morphed from “I wonder what it would be like to ride my bike for two hours” to their current iteration: Ambitious single day routes built around idealistic objectives. Most often the objectives are peaks, or mountain passes, or geographical features that make me feel infinitely small when I finally arrive at them. Tiny tiny person, huge huge landscape; that’s my ideal, my singularity. That contrast charges me up and fills me with the sense that I am indeed living life, not watching it pass by from the sidelines. I have a small collection of these rides among my memories. They are among my most precious adventure memories: Black Bear + Imogene, Antero, Breck Super Loop, Three Passes, Denver to Kansas, Solo 200, White Rim Solo. There might be others. There are definitely others. Each of these rides gave me equal measures fear and ultimately elation upon completion. Many took more than one attempt to finish. If I were to point at why I ride bikes in an effort to explain it to people, I would point at these experiences.
Rodeo Labs has been supporting the development of a new bikepacking event in Armenia for two years now, and the race is set to have its first edition on June 25, 2023. In this episode of the Rodeo Podcast, Stephen talks with Tom, Tatev, and Jay P about the work done thus far, the “why” of the event, and what the goals are for it. Armenia is a beautiful, challenging, and welcoming country for bikepackers and bike tourers alike, and Rodeo is proud to help support the effort to introduce this place to more riders.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.