Mount Evans in November

Words by @kaizergilroy, Photos by @denvercx & @kaizergilroy

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.

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Mid Season Cyclocross Musings

Words by Nik Van der W00ts, Photos by Brett Stakelin (@das_guy)

Cyclocross is a niche within a niche, but there is something I love about this high energy, gritty sport. I got started grinding my gears on the grass, sand, mud and barriers on the east coast. Some would cite this as the unofficial heart and home of American cyclocross. The days spent racing and volunteering in Gloucester and Providence were cold, muddy and certainly epic affairs. Those memories have stuck with me and often are the first that come to mind when I think of cyclocross.

After a hiatus from cyclocross (prompted by grad-school and a 2,000 mile relocation to Colorado) I re-tested the waters. I was in for a shock. The climate and terrain were unfamiliar compared with my first dirt-covered memories. Gone were the days of racing in parks with pristine grass that turned to rutted muddy lines. In Colorado if a race is on grass, it is spiky unfriendly blades. All the moisture is evaporated, leaving dusty loose conditions. Many a time I have come home from racing and felt like a miner, hacking up dust for the next few days. Some of the rugged courses tested my nerves on cantilever brakes and left my hands sore from trying to modulate my speed.

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Touring Colorado on a Donkey

Phil: Brian and I have been riding bikes together for the last 10 years. Our escapades have included week long stage races in banana republics with more stray dogs and chickens on the road than actual pavement, big mountain rides in the pacific northwest, and week long training camps among the towering redwood trees and wineries of Santa Rosa, CA. Ever since moving to the front range area, I was excited about the opportunity to show him some of the roads in my new found backyard. Loose plans formulated early this summer for him to come out and suffer through the thin air, which Brian has historically not done very well with, in order to do some touring. With the promise of the unknown and adventure, Nik was also very interested in joining us for what was sure to be a great three-day trip in the high country.

Nik: Little did I know what was in store for me, it was a day full of emotions, the one that occupied most of my attention was how I felt like I bonked when the ride just begun; definitely not the best way to start a three-day tour. 

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Rodeo Rally: Rollins Pass

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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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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Traildonkey 2.0 testing

Yesterday I took Traildonkey 2.0 prototype to the trails that inspired her creation. This climb up Falcon is brutal even on a mountain bike and kind of stupid on a CX based bike, but that is why I love it. Modern MTB rigs are marvels of engineering and performance, but riding a bike like Donkey that removes all the driver aides and leaves it all to skill (and some luck) is more rewarding for me. Every trail becomes a potential puzzle to solve, especially when they are this steep and rocky. I love/hate this climb because it calls my bluffs and gifts me nothing.

https://www.strava.com/activities/291887871@rodeo-labs

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Finding, Respecting, and Surpassing Limits. CB40 MTB Race

This whole Trail Donkey project has been quite a romp, as I babbled on about in my last writeup on the subject. Now that we’ve ridden the spit out of the rigs, we have a fair amount of confidence in their abilities to convey us, under our own power, just about anywhere we point them. Beyond the typical dirt riding they’ve been seeing, Chris Magnotta notably rode his to 3rd place at the Deer Trail State Champ Road race here in Colorado. The only thing he changed from dirt spec to road spec was the tires. Chris is a bit of a monster rider anyway so we can’t go and say that a Donkey gave him magical powers, but we do think it is satisfying it’s original mission to be “one bike to rule them all”. We aren’t really kidding ourselves, we don’t think that a glorified cyclocross bike RULES other specialized road or mountain bikes in their respective disciplines, but it does road ride better than an MTB, and it does MTB better than a road bike, so we will be generous and playfully allow ourselves to keep using the title, tongue in cheek. Come at us, haters!

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The Story of Traildonkey

make them hurt

 

Traildonkey.

We all laughed when the name popped out of my mouth over a morning coffee. I was describing to Chris and Peder that I wanted to build a new cyclocross bike. My 2001 Bianchi Axis, though still a worthy steed, is showing signs of age. It still gets the job done in a standard cyclocross race, but over the last year I’ve been taking the bike places it just wasn’t built to go, and it’s struggled to keep up with my demands. I am, to a fault, loyal to my beat up old warhorse bikes. My stable includes a 2001 Yeti AS-R MTB, the 2001 Bianchi Axis, and my 2007 Felt FA road bike. I recently added the Cannondale SuperSix (which I won), but it is the exception to my miserly bike ownership. When I was a bit younger (and single) I wanted bikes that were the lightest, fastest things out there, but now I’m more pragmatic about the hardware and the true performance gains it affords. Only when I come to the end of what I think one of my bikes can do do I start looking around for a new bike.

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