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Ratio Rides: Hailey’s Rodeo Trail Donkey 3.1

After something of a hiatus, Ratio Rides are back! We love seeing where our kits are taken and it’s always great to hear our riders’ cycling stories, from commuting to completing 200 mile gravel races.

All photos courtesy of Hailey Moore @hailey.m.moore

I grew up and attended college in North Carolina but, lured by the appeal of the Mountain West lifestyle, I moved to Boulder, CO five years ago. Growing up, I’d always relied on bikes for commuting but was never into riding just for the sake of it. When I moved out West, I actually didn’t even own a bike as I was solely focused on climbing (specifically bouldering). Ironically, once here I became a bit disenchanted with the climbing scene and was drawn towards endurance pursuits. I was attracted to the solo nature of running and cycling, the flow state of moving meditation, and the ability to cover significant ground while feeling immersed in the surrounding landscapes.

Once I realized the convenience of Boulder’s expansive network of bike paths, I bought an inexpensive, converted single-speed Centurion as a commuter. In the summer of 2018—after I’d exhausted the riding perimeter around town that my (big!) single gear would allow—I purchased an entry-level gravel bike. I was soon hooked. That fall, I went on my first overnight bike tour, in December (2018) I completed my first century ride, and less than a year later I lined up at a 200-mile (320km) gravel race in Emporia, KS.  

In the years since, I’ve gotten more into racing—completing the Unbound 200 twice, among a handful of other single-day gravel races and, this past September, my first bikepacking race—but my preferred way to be on the bike is touring. Packing light enough to be able to string together long days—but without the frenetic pace and sleep deprivation of racing—while still being able to stop in towns for coffee or have slow mornings at camp, feels to me like the best balance of covering distance while still being able to fully appreciate a route. My partner, Tony, and I just returned from touring the Stagecoach 400 route in southern California—my first tour of the year!—and even though there’s fresh snow on the ground as I write this back home in Boulder, I’m already feeling excited for more warm-weather riding to come. 

As I’ve continued touring, I’ve gotten more comfortable with and interested in more technical riding (as I’m sure is the progression for many riders). In addition to singletrack, Colorado is also home to a lot of blown-up mining roads. Feeling confident on this type of terrain not only opens up more riding possibilities, but the landscapes that trails and forgotten roads pass through often hold a greater sense of discovery than a wide, smooth railroad-graded pass (though, of course, those hold their own appeal!). The desire to find a bike that was equally capable for touring on the rough stuff while still being light-and-nimble for racing was what ultimately led me to invest in a Rodeo Adventure Labs Trail Donkey. A bike that feels performance-minded at both ends of this spectrum is hard to find. The Trail Donkey was doubly appealing because it comes stock with RL’s adventure fork, aka the “Spork,” which boasts roomy tire clearance and features two mounts per blade—forks like this on a race-ready, carbon bike were even less common two years ago than they are today. 

My current set-up:

  • 54cm Rodeo Adventure Labs Trail Donkey 3.1 w/ Rodeo Adventure Spork 3.0
  • 44cm Salsa Cowbell handlebar 
  • SRAM Mullet Drivetrain w/ Force Road Shifters, Force hydraulic brakes, 42T Wolftooth chainring (though I use a 36T for touring), Eagle 12spd cassette and derailleur + Ratio 1×12 Wide Upgrade Kit
  • Hunt 42 Limitless Disc 700c wheels w/ Rene Herse Hurricane Ridge (42mm) tires being my typical daily drivers
  • Brooks C13 Saddle

While this wasn’t my original set-up upon purchasing the bike, the evolution of the build has been gratifying in that it has helped me understand my own preferences while also keeping the bike feeling well-tuned and fit for wherever I want to take it.

This bike has indeed lived up to its Do-It-All promise: from single-day races, loaded touring, long day rides, to my first bikepacking race, I’ve definitely put it through its paces. 

My training this past summer exemplifies the range of circumstances through which this bike proves its competency. With the still unuttered intention of attempting a bikepacking race, you might say my build-up started with racing the Unbound 200 in early June. Although a knee injury had prevented me from gaining the fitness I had hoped for leading up to the race, it was my first time taking the Donkey to the Flint Hills and I was really pleased with how the bike performed on the day. 

A few weeks after Unbound, Tony and I got out of town for a short Summer Solstice overnighter. Our route took us on a tour through the South Platte, a region of the state that I feel gets overshadowed by all the high passes and alpine riding opportunities in Colorado, but is by far one of my favorite areas to ride. Everyone responds uniquely to different training stimuli, but from my experience I respond best to the long-low-and-slow days, which touring exemplifies.

With sights now firmly set on lining up for the inaugural edition of the North to South Colorado Bikepacking race — a 535ish-mile (860km) ride that traverses the Front Range — I ventured back out for two solo tours in July and then again in August. My July tour centered around a multi-sport objective: riding my bike from my doorstep in Boulder to the west side of Pikes Peak, then tagging the mountain by foot before returning home. In total, the trip took me three days to cover 255 mixed-surface miles (410km) and summit a classic 14er.

My trip in August was an overnighter focused specifically on N-S, and I used it as an opportunity to recon a section of the course that I was unfamiliar with and test out the exact setup that I planned to run during the race. Shortly before this trip, I’d converted my bike to 12spd using Ratio’s adapter kit to bridge the compatibility of an MTB derailleur with road shifters and broaden my gear range. On this recon, and during the race, I was pleased to have a spinnable climbing gear without easily spinning out on the flat-and-fast stuff. The route was an unintentional 250-mile circumnavigation of the Mummy Range, with the highpoint being the Alpine Visitor Center (11,796ft/3595m), a touristy outpost at the top of the iconic Trail Ridge Road climb in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

When the race finally arrived, I felt nervous but ready. I was familiar with maybe 60-70% of the route, but more than that I felt at home in the landscapes of Colorado and that the whole of the state now felt like an extended backyard. All said and done, I was very satisfied with how the race went off. I completed the 535mi route in 3 days 11 hours and 50 minutes to finish 3rd overall, just sneaking in under my 3.5 day goal and with my only mechanical issue being one pesky flat on the third night! In addition to seeing a goal through, I think the experience’s most lasting impact has been in cementing my confidence in calling myself a cyclist.

Thanks again to Hailey for kicking off the first of 2022’s Ratio Rides, and we wish her the best of luck in her racing and riding throughout the year ahead. You can read more about Hailey’s adventures here – we highly recommend taking a look. If you have a build and a story to share, just contact us.