Rodeo is a company driven along by photographs. Documenting rides with a camera started a few years before we got going and was for me motivated by the fact that I didn’t have enough time to be a stand-alone hobbyist photographer and also a cyclist, so I merged the two by always having some sort of camera in my right rear jersey pocket no matter what sort of ride I was on. It started with just my phone and the Instagram app. Then I added external lenses to the phone, then I got a gopro, then I got tired of the gopro so I experimented with various point and shoot cameras. Eventually I sometimes even lugged around a full size DSLR on a specially made strap or I brought along my small drone to try to take compelling aerial photos. Taking a photograph on a ride is not hugely challenging and it is quite common these days. “If you didn’t take a photo did it even happen?” is a common joke that has an edge of cynicism. Are we taking photos of rides as a desperate cry for attention or to brag? I’ve certainly done that at times, more often in the earlier years of my cycling photo life. But more often than not I’m taking a photo on a ride because I’m so excited about the moment or the place that I’m experiencing and I want to capture that moment for later and pass it along to others. Sharing the thrill of a ride, the landscape, and the company is a wonderful challenge to take on with a camera and most of the time I actually fail at that attempt to share. 97 out of 100 photos I take go directly to the trash on my computer. Of the three that I might keep only one has the chance of being a photo I’m genuinely excited about, a photo that has the potential to communicate through a tiny phone screen or larger computer monitor what it felt like for me to be there. I think anyone who has attempted to take and share a photo has experienced this challenge. At the peak of a sublime moment of a ride or at the crest of a hill we’re overcome with how good a moment it is and we reach for the camera. We take the photo and review it later only to be deeply disappointed that the photo captures almost none of it, none of that magic that we felt when we were THERE. But when you somehow by some miracle capture that moment and it isn’t dismembered as it filters through a lens, a camera sensor, an image processing chip, and a storage card you feel a pretty huge sense of satisfaction. That’s it! That is what it was actually like to be there! That’s a special image and in Rodeo’s case those are the images that in a large part have built this company and community.
In April of 2019 we packed up and headed to Sea Otter Classic for our first ever expo / trade show. Over the course of that week in Monterey we had such a good time showing our bikes, meeting owners and new people, and sampling the local riding. As soon as we returned to Denver we set out looking for which expo we would attend next. With such a large contingent of owners located on the East Coast the decision was made to look for an expo on that side of the country. It didn’t take long to single out Philly Bike Expo as the show to attend. Philly has been a show we’ve enjoyed reading about in previous years and the vibe always seemed upbeat and friendly from afar. We asked around a bit and our thoughts were confirmed. Everyone said that Philly was the show to be at, so we quickly registered and pinned it on the calendar.
We didn’t have a plan for what we wanted to show or talk about at Philly initially but as the show neared we started gathering our thoughts. The show’s date on the calendar coincided pretty well with the development of our next generation Flaanimal 5.0 and we set a target for having a prototype preview ready to show, and we also asked ourselves what would be cool to do with the TD3 as a concept build. Two bikes began to take shape in our minds…
Also taking shape was the design of the booth itself. After our experience at Sea Otter we left with the sense that a lot of companies are entering the gravel / adventure space to cash in on the growth and opportunity. If you’re a corporation with a primary objective to sell as many bikes as possible then that is fine but for Philly we wanted to bring a booth along that showed that we’re equally interested in bikes, culture, and community. We decided to build a booth around our library of photos that we’ve collected over the last six years of riding, exploring, and making bikes. We asked owners to send in photos as well and we combined it all into a visual backdrop for our bikes that told our story without using many words.
For the Traildonkey 3.0 that we brought we wanted to do an out of the box build in a way that we hadn’t previously built one before so we worked with Fox to spec out an AX 40mm front suspension fork. A PNW Coast dropper / suspension post in the back provides 40mm of travel in the rear for a balanced feel. We asked Archer Components if they could build a drop bar specific version of their D1x wireless shifting intermediary. This allowed us to combine TRP Hylex RS levers with a Shimano XT 12 speed drivetrain which would otherwise not be do-able on a drop bar bike. Exile Designs created special matching frame bag / top tube bag / and Fannie Packer with custom printed local Table Mountain Topograhy on the main panels. The finished bike is pretty bonkers and started a lot of fun conversations. How far can a gravel / adventure bike go before it becomes a mountain bike? That seems to be a recurring question these days but to us it doesn’t even matter. Bikes are bikes. To us pushing the Traildonkey 3 platform about as far as we could was a blast, and the eventual owner of this bike is going to have quite a party when they throw their leg over it. (This bike is now available for sale, but with a GRX drivetrain instead of the pre-production Archer prototype shifting. Shoot us a note if you are interested)
By the time Philly arrived we were extremely excited to preview the Flaanimal 5.0 prototype and we barely finished the frameset in time. It was built only 24 hours before the show just like those hot rod shows that I’ve seen on TV. I always wonder why everything comes down to the wire on those shows if they know that they have months to prepare for the show but now I get it. Developing a bike is difficult to begin with but developing a bike and trying to get it just right in time for it’s public debut is another level of difficulty entirely. This new Flaanimal we showed at Philly is a bike we are extremely proud of. We’re advancing the core Flaanimal feature set by integrating creative solves for tire clearance, strength, and weight and we are not leaving behind the adaptability that the bike was originally about in the process. If you’d like to read the full exposition of what is new with Flaanimal 5 then head over to the exclusive preview that they have posted here.
Flaanimal 5 will be available Q1 2020. The bike we showed is just a preview and we are making final tweaks and locking specs as I type this. I couldn’t be more excited to show the final product when it is ready.
Thanks to all the people who came out and said hi at Philly Bike Expo. We loved visiting the city, shaking hands, talking bikes, meeting Rodeo owners, and sharing what we do. See you in 2020!
I remember seeing this ride pop up on Nick’s Strava in 2018. Phantom Canyon? Where is that? Out of nowhere he took off on a bike ride with some friends and came back with a huge load of beautiful images and a ride title to the effect of “So beautiful my eyes hurt”. I got that sort of bike envy that we all get when friends go off and do awesome things without us.
I was pulled out of my morning reverie by a text from Peder – “Evans today. Interested?”
After a week of Thanksgiving gluttony, some singletrack shred, soaking in hot springs and live music, my palette was satiated, but I felt guilty at my weekly mileage total of 15.5. With no group ride intel for Sunday, I figured maybe I’d do some solo adventure. I would find more singletrack and laugh while descending something that would greatly benefit from a dropper post.
Yesterday was sketchy. Not “this is fun!” sketchy, more like shaking-when-I-got home sketchy. There was something unusual about the snow that fell in Denver this week. I think the combination of quantity and the consistently frigid temperatures combined to make it more treacherous than I’ve ever seen. It was extremely dry snow but simultaneously as slick as snot. After a hand full tense slides and maneuvers of I probably should have turned around at mile 10 and cut my losses, but the allure of Cherry Creek State Park when it is covered in a layer of white perfection baited me on.
Sometimes as a cyclist there is a particular ride that calls your name relentlessly. For some it’s an almost mythic European climb like Le Alpe D’huez, for others it could be a right turn onto a dirt road that they’ve never had the chance to take. Over the last year one ride has been calling my name like a record stuck on repeat. That ride is Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah. I had ridden it once a number of years back and the experience left me laughing at the hysteria and fun of the place. It was unlike any ride I had ever done. Slickrock Trail is almost completely without peer on planet Earth. The frozen dunes of sandstone take on forms that seem drawn by Dr. Seuss. The way it undulates up and down begs you to explore every nook and cranny. The traction of the rock surface is like velcro, and it would seem that there is no grade too steep to climb so long as your legs can spin the cranks. If you aren’t up to the challenge you can just as easily stall out and tumble back down the hill (or cliff) to whence you started.
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.
No time for a full race report right now, but Patrick Charles stuck around after his morning race to shoot the 11:45 races and hopefully get some cool Rodeo action shots. He also got some cool shots here and there of the other races and racers. It was a great day for Rodeo, thanks to the promoters and all of the other racers and teams out there yesterday.
“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.