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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Risk / Reward: Black Bear Pass

The summit post of Imogene Pass.

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.

The summit post of Imogene Pass.

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.

The summit post of Imogene Pass.

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.

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World’s Worst Climb™

Shrine Mountain Road, Georgetown, CO

I’d heard of The World’s Worst Climb™ in passing comment and conversation.

There were rumors of a dirt switchbacking climb snaking up the near vertical mountain slopes that wall in the historic town of Georgetown, CO. Rumors they were though. Nobody I knew had ever done it. I think the first photo evidence of its existence may have come from Matt Deviney on Instagram. Or maybe it was a photo linked on Strava? I can’t remember.

Saxon Mountain Road, Georgetown, CO. The World's Worst Climb™

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Stoney by Donkey

It’s been a really really busy year here at Rodeo. Working on bikes, kits, forks, wheels, rallies, and the Roundup has taken a huge bite out of miles ridden. They say if you work in the bike industry then you can expect to ride less. They may be right about that but we aren’t going down without a fight. We started Rodeo because we loved riding bikes, with friends, in the mountains, and we’re going to keep doing that until our legs have no pedaling left in them. The bike industry can wait.

Monday was a government holiday so Monday was a day for riding bikes. Geoff had a new Traildonkey that he hadn’t yet fully put through its paces and he had some time to burn. He extended an invite, I accepted, and into the hills we ventured.

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Is Flaanimal a good mountain bike?

Flaanimal in action on the mountain bike trails of Ken Caryl

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?”

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Rodeo Rally // Rampart Range // Video

Rampart Rally was one of the most difficult, most incredible rides we’ve ever done. Patrick, Chris, Peder, Jacob, Tim, Michael, myself. All the usuals were there, the guys who show up time and again for the biggest things that we do as a team. It strikes me that, when boiled down, this is the group that casts the mold for Rodeo. Not everyone will ride bikes the way we do or do the things we do and that is okay, but at the end of the day when it comes to telling the story of who we are as a team, you couldn’t ask for a better crew.

Rampart Rally covered 80-100 miles each of the two days, but through conditions that we ourselves would admit were often over the top. We were each equipped with bikes that had fairly skinny, fairly slick tires, but that is where the similarities ended. Steel, carbon, road, MTB, CX, everything was represented. We aren’t biased towards Traildonkeys and Flaanimals, we love each of the bikes that showed up to tackle the course. At the end of the day on a ride like this, just showing up and pedaling until you arrive at your destination is the most important requirement. Everything else is gravy.

I couldn’t be more happy to call these men team mates. It is an honor to call them friends as well.

-Stephen