French Winter Gravel

Why did I say yes in the first place?

In January my buddy and I rode Gravelman Paris – a 350 km gravel race around Paris with start and finish close to l’Arc de Triomphe. They call it a race but that’s not really what it is. Riders can start from Thursday 5.30 am and have until Sunday 11 am to finish. A little 200 km is gravel, the other 150 km is asphalt. One rider actually approached it as a race, and finished within 25 hours, including 4 ‘inactive’ hours. He rode an average of 16.8 km/hr.

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Armenia: The Final Dispatch

Evan and Bo have wrapped up their final dispatch from their two month ride across, around, through, and into Armenia. It’s been so inspiring to follow along on this journey with them through words and photos. It seems that Rodeo and Armenia have been woven together through our experiences there, and we can’t wait to see where inspiration takes us next. In the meantime, enjoy this final post.

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Riding East With Tom

Tom and I are not alike.

He’s into obscure Welsh rock. I’m into hip hop, I think. He went to law school. I was done after high school. He leans to the left, I lean to the right of whatever left means. I don’t think he’s religious at all. If I didn’t have faith I think I’d be dead. Tom likes a very tall riding position with an absurd stem because ergonomics. I like a low, sleek position, because vanity. Tom was a pipe smoker once upon a time. I’ve literally never smoked anything, ever, not even the tires on my car. 

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Rides Of The Herd: Andrew Patra

What’s your name?


Andrew Patra


Where do you live? Were you born there and if not what brought you to where you live today?


Living in Boulder, Colorado. Moved here from New York when I was a kid thanks to my dad’s job

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What would you like to share about what you do for a living?


I work for a media company based in Boulder focusing on outdoor adventure sports!


What was your entry into cycling, and how did that ultimately lead you to owning a gravel bike?


I started cycling in college around 4 years ago just as a way to get around. I needed to upgrade my hybrid bike, with the only goal of getting a new bike with disc brakes. One of the guys at the bike shop I went to recommended looking at a gravel bike instead of a hardtail like I had planned. I wound up finding cycling quite fun while getting to class so I bought a pair of clipless shoes and some cheap kit. I evidently got really into the sport, and eventually found myself working in the industry at Rapha and meeting some of the Rodeo crew!


Do you have a go-to route that you hit when you want to have a sure-thing good ride?


Marshall Mesa and Flatirons Vista is a good mix of easy road to get there, mellow, flowing single track, and some technical rocky sections that really challenge your bike handling skills. Great pretty much all year round too. I’ve lead some folks around the loop too, and it’s a great way to get your friends into some kinda silly gravel. 


https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35913730


How do you keep cycling fresh? How do you challenge yourself?


I like to avoid planning a route as much as possible, especially if I’m in a place I’m familiar with. Less structure to the ride let’s me follow whatever road looks like it could be fun. I’ve found great trails between houses, out on the plains, and of course, a few dead ends. But it’s always fun to explore somewhere you’ve never been.


Do you like to ride alone, solo, or do you like a mix of the two?

I mostly ride solo, but I do love riding with my friends and shooting photos of them while we ride.


What is the most sketchy ride or ride situation that you’ve ever experienced?


Recently I was in Grand Mesa, very unprepared for the altitude and the rain. The only communication I had was a walkie talkie that I just had to hope was in range of my friends back at the cabin. I found myself on some super sketchy 4×4 roads where the off roaders were having issues in the mud. I had to bail out after my wheels kept getting swallowed by it, and I’m thankful it was a cooler day out, otherwise I probably would’ve run out of water really quickly and been stuck at almost 11,000 feet and a long walk ahead. It’s always ok to say “nope”!


Do you have a singular favorite ride experience?

I think my favorite ride experience was the first time I was able to climb up Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder. At that point, even the smallest hills felt like a huge challenge, so being able to check it off the first time without having to walk really boosted my confidence and helped me prove to myself that I could actually be a serious cyclist, and even consider myself an athlete. Especially since I always thought of myself as a kinda wimpy kid in high school. Goes to show that you can always work at something and get better and prove to yourself that you can do it.


What would you like to see change about cycling as a sport, a way of transportation, a community, or a lifestyle?


I’d love to see other cyclists try to expand from their boundaries. There should be more mountain bikers on the road, more roadies trying gravel, gravel riders on track bikes. Sometimes we get too in our own niche, and the best way to improve as both a cyclist and a person is to try something new. Be bad at something for a little, you can only get better.


Tell us about your Flaanimal build? How did you narrow down the incredible amount of build options into what you are riding today?

My Flaanimal started as the most basic GRX build you could get when preorders opened. I was pretty bummed that I graduated in 2020 so this was my consolation prize, on a college budget. I wanted a bike that I could throw around and not worry about. Big rock in the trail that I hit? Oh well. Fell off the rack in my garage, no worries. It has a bunch of metal parts, big 700×45 tires, Silca titanium cages and a Silca X RCC frame pump (everyone deserves a treat) and of course the awesome steel frame. Bikes are meant to be ridden after all, and scratches just mean that the bike is personalized. 


Is there anything you would like to change about the frameset or the way that you have it built?


I plan on keeping this bike for years to come, so the best part about it is that there will always be something that will change on it. But the frameset will stay the same throughout, though I may get some custom paint on it to give it a bit of a refresh when the time comes.


Any final thoughts, observations, or points of inspiration that you’ve had as a cyclist or a person that you would like to share?


I’ve met so many cool people just because they stopped to talk about my bike or the fact that they’re also owners of a Rodeo or they ride too. There’s such an awesome community in cycling, and bikes are a great way to make friends, see cool places, and push yourself farther than you ever thought you could. 


Do you have any social media / strava profile that you would like to share if people want to follow along?


You can find me on Instagram at @andrewpatra!

White Rim solo on Drop Bars: a Flaanimal Ti adventure

White Rim on Flaanimal Ti

Utah’s White Rim Trail seems to be enjoying a bit of a popularity boom in recent years thanks in large part to repeated attempts to set new Fastest Known Time records by a non-stop stream of world class riders. While those efforts are incredible from a human achievement point of view they don’t resonate much with me as it relates to my relationship with this beautiful and incredibly unique part of the world. I come to White Rim with slower times in mind, and with thoughts of long miles spent undisturbed by life’s complexities.

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Georgia Rodeo Rally Recap // Black Friday 2019

This past week sure was a good time with little work, many family and friends, lots of good food and a bunch of riding. Being Thanksgiving and a time for family traditions, we at Rodeo Labs have a southern tradition of our own, the Black Friday Rodeo Rally. This tradition started a few years ago between Jeff Thayer and me looking for an escape from Thanksgiving activities, the need for being outdoors and training miles for the upcoming Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Series.

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Travis’ TD3 ElektroDonkey

 

Travis is not a guy who moves impulsively on things. When we met him in 2018 at Belgian Waffle Ride he just like us had traveled there from Colorado. He recognized the Rodeo kits that we were wearing and struck up a conversation. He had been watching online and knew all about what we were up to. We rode the bulk of BWR with him that year and made plans to reconnect in 2019 for some riding in Durango. In the mean time Travis kept watching what we were up to and set his eyes on eventually adopting a Traildonkey. He didn’t do it quickly though. Every month or two he would ask about a detail or compare some notes on how he would build it. Eventually he ordered up the frame and made a special request. He wanted us to create an homage of our 2015 Elektrobunny kit on the frame. Elektrobunny is a kit we only made and released once, so you really had to be paying attention to even know that it existed and more so to remember it.

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Blaise’s TD3 full custom build

A couple of years ago we built a lovely Traildonkey 2.0 for Blaise. At the time it was easily the nicest Donkey we had built. Blaise kitted that bike out with XTR Di2, Easton EC90SL cranks, Rodeo 2.0 wheels, and pretty much all of the other nicest things he could find.

Blaise hammered his bike and rode it to its maximum through some pretty brutal, wet East Coast conditions. We’re not entirely sure how many bottom brackets he killed while riding the bike but suffice to say it was a lot.

Cut to two years later. Blaise’s TD2 found a home with a new owner and he came back to us looking to up the capabilities of his gravel bike with a TD3 build. This time he wanted to personalize more so the first task was to design a personalized custom paint layout for the bike. We weren’t in a rush because we were waiting for SRAM to make AXS Eagle and AXS Red parts available separately. Blaise requested some unique colors outside of what is being done in the mainstream these days so we pulled these colors from a photo of the sunset that he sent over.

 

The first draft of the layout was nice, but Blaise asked that we extend the design to the inside of the downtube and rear triangle. The completed design ended up here:

Blaise requested a few extra personalized details on this paint, one being his kid’s initials on the top tube near the head tube, and the other was to nickname the bike Trailwonkey in a nod to it’s Washington DC home. We sent the naked frame across town to Altitude Composites for paint and he executed the design wonderfully.

 

Next up: The build. AXS parts arrived as did a whole bunch of other generally lovely components. One of the most interesting things about AXS builds is how easy the bikes are to put together. The only lines that need to be routed are the brake lines and that makes these bikes a dream for Sheldon to have in the build stand.

The complete bike is a thing of beauty and before sending it off we were sure to cover as much of the frame as possible with custom cut 3M frame protector. Word on the street is that Blaise is pretty hard on his bikes…