Beer, watermelon, cool air, way-past-midnight tacos, are the natural ingredients to fuel the night ride. When the light fades and the dark blankets the trail, some go to bed. Others heed the rally cries to pedal. We all came looking for something – what I’m not sure – but I reveled in mystery riding at night. Rarely do I feel lost while riding a bike. When your vision is dulled, your other senses heighten, and your sense of place is muddied. Throw in good company, old + new, and you have a night rally.
We’ve been shouting about it pretty hard lately, but just in case you missed it, we launched the Flaanimal 3.0.
Straight away we started reading and listening to peoples’ reactions and impressions about what we’ve created. Some people were all-in from the start, with the first order coming in no less that five minutes after we launched. Thank you!
Other people were more skeptical. What is so great about our bike? Why should anyone pay attention? Could anyone trust our claims that a single frameset can be suitable for road biking, gravel riding, cyclocross, city riding, or trail riding?
Skepticism is fair. No harm no foul. But as I read through the comments one comment struck me.
“Yeah you can build a mountain bike with it, but is it a GOOD mountain bike?”
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.
Back in June, Nik Gilroy put out the call for a Rodeo Rally to check out some “roads” up above Rollinsville near the Continental Divide. Scott Downes joined him for the ride. And this is their account.
Scott: “Those are the best days, when the ride is the day,” one of us said to the other over burgers and beers in the late afternoon shade. That was after we’d ventured up near the James Peak Wilderness and Rollins Pass area and spent the bulk of the day riding bikes under the hot June sun, wandering up and down burley jeep roads and dead-end double track. It was a good day.
Nik: It all started with a feeling – you know that feeling – takes hold of you and you have to acknowledge it. I wanted to get out of the normal day to day, to go somewhere I’ve never been before and to try something new. This nagging feeling would not let go. I needed to go into the mountains, to ride unchartered dirt and to get away from roads worn down by a virtual leaderboards.
Scott: Up until this point, I had missed all previous Rodeo Rallies, many of which came down to me chickening out, because of fitness or fortitude. But I’d been uninterested in racing this year, bored with some of the same old riding, and anxious to do something different. And this would be that something.
The planning for the May Rodeo Rally began serendipitously back in January, when, as you might recall, I took advantage of a warm winter Colorado day and set out on a solo dirt adventure south of Denver. The beautiful route and photos must of stuck in the craw of one Matt Deviney to such a degree that he worked tirelessly on finding a way back to Denver so as to avoid the treacherous no-shoulder/pucker-inducing-death-ride segment of Santa Fe north of Sedalia, between the small town of Louviers and Titan Road. We both recon’d different routes over the ensuing months, but neither could completely pre-ride the route and were skeptical we could find a better way back to Denver.
“It’s just a recovery ride”
These are probably the most mis-used words in cycling, they are around here with the Denver Rodeo crew anyway. Yesterday’s ride was supposed to be a pleasant spin to see if “the sensations are good”, but it didn’t take long for Peder and myself to get bored and start looking for silly things to do. Every time we passed a dirt offshoot of the road we’d yell “singletrack!” and see if the trail went anywhere. Most didn’t but some did, and we hit the derping payload when we took a turn onto the North Table mountain trail system. Yes, we were on our road bikes, but more and more that makes our dirt rides more fun and we were up for the challenge of seeing where our wheels would take us.
When not exploring the mountains or on a local group ride in Denver, Colorado, the High Line canal is a go-to route for quick miles. My favorite section is south of Hampden Blvd where the trail turns to gravel and meanders for over twenty miles, south and west, around Chatfield reservoir and to Waterton Canyon.
21 January 2014
Having this week off work in January meant base miles, and as many as possible in a few short days, since the flanking weekends would be spent skiing with the family. The weather in Colorado had been very temperate the past few days, and the forecast for this day was a high of 60-65 F (15-18 C). Knowing I would not have another opportunity like this for a long while, I decided to go big on this day of days. I had gone on a long ride the previous day with Stephen and Larsen up Golden Gate Canyon and Robinson Hill, but given the temperature and time available, a ride of 100 mi (160k), or more, was in clear view. After a 68 mi (110 km) ride with 6000 ft (1850 m) the day before, a flat loop seemed wisest, but I like to climb, so I convinced myself that a little climbing would be acceptable. Climbing a little (or a lot) would open up much more interesting route options, for the flat routes around Denver on the plains are rather tedious.