We don’t do product launches without first telling a story. Rodeo’s products are and will always be a result of our story. So if you came here to see Spork 2.0 I hope you don’t just scroll down to the photos. I hope you stay for the story.
Daniel Schauman is a frame builder hailing from Chicago, Illinois who as history would have it was the first ever builder to buy a Spork 1.0 from us and include it in a bike he build for himself. This was 2015 which to me seems like a million years ago but is in fact not that long ago at all.
It has been a very busy year at Rodeo and that in itself has been exciting and exhausting at the same time. We haven’t quite had the time resources to plan Rallies or Roundup this year but we did kick off a weekly Tuesday night ride in Denver called Table Top Tuesdays. The rides are open invite to anyone who wants to go wring themselves out on the local roads and trails in and around Denver, Golden, North Table, and South Table mountains.
I stared up the rusty colored scree field and strained to make out the solitary post just barely peaking above the ridge line that topped it. That was the prize. That was the summit of Imogene pass, the second summit of the day, the crux of the ride. The post was not far as the crow flies, maybe only a couple hundred feet away. It felt much further, infinitely far all things considered. Our progress was painstakingly slow. The fatigue and altitude had quietly stolen away all of our spit and venom all day long leaving us with dry mouths and heavy legs. The 4×4 road surface was generously strewn with wet, coarse rock. We shuffled on our feet.
I swiveled left nervously, my eyes following the ridge line west until they found their target about a mile away. A dark wall of clouds was quickly approaching us. Only ten minutes earlier they had seemed twice as far away. The clouds didn’t move if you stared at them but if you turned away they darted closer at an astonishing pace. Now they were nearly on top of us, thumb and index finger shaped like an O, ready to flick us off the mountain.
A quick mental calculus painted an obvious picture: We weren’t going to make it. We were only a half mile from the summit, a distance that we could cover in a few minutes on a normal ride, but at 12,600 feet with steep gradients ahead of us it would take us more than fifteen minutes to cover the ground.
“What do you think?” I asked Peder, hoping he would contradict what I knew to be true.
“It’s going to hit us.” he said. So much for that. “But I really don’t want to high tail it back down to Telluride.”
A strong gust of wind hit us, a light rain along with it. If we turned around now we would fail to complete our planned loop but if we went for the summit we’d get t-boned by the storm; completely exposed on a ridgeline at 13,114 feet.
Black Friday Rodeo Rally welcomes you to ride 47.3 miles with us amid North Georgia’s Blue Ridge WMA dirt roads, forests, streams and mountains instead of hordes of pushy shoppers, fake mall Santa’s and cheeseballs and summer sausages. The route is a good mix of gravel/pave (70/30) ranging from flat and smooth to remote forest service roads. Oh, and don’t mind the little climbs up Nimblewill and Noontoola they will give you plenty of time to look within….
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.
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?”
Sometimes the best rides come together last minute. This is one of those rides. The invite went out late in the day Saturday for an early Sunday departure. I didn’t know if anybody would be able to come. I didn’t even know if I wanted a big group or not. I was heading east because nowadays east is where I go to clear my head.
Sometimes you put out a ride invite and optimistically hope that only the right people show up. The “right” people are people that want to ride about as fast as you, that don’t mind stopping when you want to.
The right people are also easy to talk to, they laugh at your dumb jokes. You laugh at their dumb jokes too. The right people consider dumb jokes to be an art form.
The right people don’t mind wind, don’t mind flats, don’t mind washboard, and don’t mind getting up early.
Tom, Josh, Geoff, and Patrick were the right people on Sunday. I’m really glad that they showed up. It was a great ride.
A lot has happened at Rodeo Labs since my first review of the Trail Donkey 2.0, but most notably for me is that I now have a Donkey of my own (and only have to borrow one from Stephen when I visit him in Denver). This week my Donkey crossed it’s 1,000 mile milestone so figured I’d give an update on how things have been going. The TL;DR version is I couldn’t be happier.
The mountains are, by default, the place that I go to for inspiration and replenishment on a bike. The challenge, variety, and beauty of rolling hills and jagged peaks can’t really be matched by anything else.
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.
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