Flaanimal is GO.

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a nail biter around the lab the last few weeks. Or if we’re really honest it’s been a nail biter since early January.

At the turn of the year we found ourselves waiting. The Lab was stocked with boxes of parts allocated to two new prototype framesets that were overdue. We nervously answered emails and tweets kindly requesting a status update on the project. We set up meetings with videographers anticipating the coming need to show what we’ve created. And still… we waited.

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Dirty Kanza 2016

The 2016 Dirty Kanza was probably my favorite ever achievement on a bike. The significance of the event was profound for me on many different levels. To land on the podium was almost inconceivable. Racing against such a talented and fast group of riders was hugely intimidating and also an honor. Overcoming the setbacks of flats, dehydration, heat, and headwinds with a never-say-die mindset was deeply satisfying.

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Rodeo Belgium, 2016. Day 1

The beauty of being a fan of bike racing is that if you have the time and will power you can stand mere inches from the legends of the sport. Or, if you’re slightly over-excited you can grab them by the butt and push them up hills as they sail by.

Rodeo visited Belgium in 2015 and had a blast, so we went back this year with an even bigger group and had an even bigger blast.

Writing up a 10 day trip to cycling’s holy land is a tall order. It could take days to compose. I don’t have days to write words, but I do have photos. Lots of photos.

It’s time to share some photos.

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The Road Not Taken

 

A poem by Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 Photos by Stephen Fitzgerald and Galen Stiglebauer / Colorado Cycling Adventures:

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Trail Donkey 2.0: My First Ride In The Wild

[Ed. Note: Barry is a former Denverite who now is part of our east-coast Rodeo contingent.  This was an unsolicited review for which he received no compensation.  Actually, I still own him for the Burrito he bought me on our last ride.]

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Trail Donkey evolve over the last year and have been eagerly awaiting the chance to actually ride one in person.  So when Twinkie offered me the chance to ride a near-production Trail Donkey on my last trip to Denver, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  I expected it to be a fun bike, which it certainly was, but in many ways it exceeded my expectations.

I arrived in town early on a Tuesday and immediately drove over to Rodeo World Headquarters.  After a short tour and a visit with Rodeo Wife & Rodeo Kids, Twinkie unveiled the goods: a 54 cm Donkey 2.0, built with a simple-yet-reliable 10-speed Force Hydro kit and a smattering of colorful yet functional parts.  As a bonus I’d be the first one to try the Donkey with an alternate wheel configuration: a set of SRAM/WTB 650b wheels shod with WTB’s newest Horizon 47c slicks.  Not quite your average build, but then again the Donkey is not your average bike!

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Prototype: Flaanimal Ti

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The Lab is a restless place. A lot of ideas get tossed around. Good ideas get made, bad ideas get dust binned.

The Flaanimal is an idea that we have been brewing on for a while. It’s roots can be traced back to the Traildonkey, Belgium, and Texas (affectionately known as Tejas). Conversations swirled then turned into action. We made a Version 1 design, tested it, then moved on to Version 2 with refinements, added features, new tubing draws, and reduced weight. The choice of materials that we use for the project has always been a point of discussion. 853? 725? 525? Custom? For Flaanimal the go-to option was always steel, but we kept saying “what if”. What if we built it out of titanium? Steel is amazing, but Ti has some special properties that steel doesn’t have. It doesn’t corrode like steel, it’s stronger and lighter than most steel blends, and it has it’s own lively feel that is distinct from other materials.

Enter the Flaanimal Ti. Flaanimal Ti is a continuation of the Flaanimal project. It uses the same geometries and basic specifications of the Flaanimal but keeps the conversation going.

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Photo Essay: The Unspeakable Ride

Some rides haunt you. You see a peak or a road out of the corner of your eye and you know that you must go and find where it goes. Until you do there will be no rest and yet when you decide to go there is also no rest. Fear creeps in, and doubt. Is it do-able? Can you do it? These are the scary rides with unknown outcomes. Yet these are the rides we most love.

At Rodeo failure IS an option. It’s OK to turn around and go home if necessary. But if you manage to press on and push through you accomplish something special. Something outside of the measurements of distance, power, calories, and altitude gained.

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Andrew, eh?

The surprising thing about Canadians is that many of them actually do say “eh” a lot. I’m not going to lie, it kind of makes me smile when they do.

Andrew is from Vancouver, BC and he also uses a fair number of phrases that I haven’t heard since moving to Colorado from Washington state. I think there is a mix of Canadian and Northwest Corner factors involved there…

Andrew has been visiting Colorado over the last week. He’s been Rodeo since… well, for a long time, so we saddled up and headed for the hills together looking to see and ride some of our very own stereotypes: Peaks, Buffalo Bill’s Grave, Gravel, and Red Rocks, that sketchy part of town with lots and lots of green buildings…

It’s always great when a Rodeoer visits from far off places. Watching them see our state through fresh eyes gives us an added appreciation for what we have.

I can’t wait to visit BC some day and ride Andrew’s roads.

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2015 in review // Dirty Kanza 200

We are only days from the end of 2015 and there are a bunch of highlights from the year that I haven’t had the time to share. I doubt I’ll get to everything on my list and I won’t be able to cover them in much depth, but I’d love to leave them on the journal for the sake of posterity.

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The first of these highlights is the Dirty Kanza 200, the two hundred mile gravel (and in our case mud) race through the roads and hills surrounding Emporia, Kansas. There is no way for me to write up this particular event quickly, so if you continue reading please remember to eat often and stay hydrated.

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A day at the races: CX Season opener

It is a funny and rare thing when everything converges. This year cyclocross season started a bit early with a season opener at Oskar Blues farm in Longmont. We’ve been a little bit quicker on our toes than last year so we already had our kits in-hand a few days before race day. On a lark I decided that I wanted to race the prototype Traildonkey as well. I’ve actually had this bike in storage since April because as a very early prototype it had a lot of imperfections in the design (which we’ve since revised and refined). I’ve been riding the Flaanimal prototype a lot lately and while I do love the bike and the feel of steel I wanted to go back and get re-antiquated with our first bike project, the one born at almost exactly the same time the team was in January 2014.

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