Eddie O’Dea’s Rodeo Labs Flaanimal on the Eastern Divide Trail
Eddie O’Dea is more than two-thirds of the way through our Eastern Divide Trail, the longest off-road bikepacking route in the world. We intercepted Eddie as he passed through nearby Pisgah National Forest to ask a few questions about his trip. Find an update on his ride, and a detailed photo gallery and overview of his bike here…
Back on August 1st, 46-year-old Eddie O’Dea rolled out of Cape Spear, Newfoundland—the easternmost point in North America—to pedal to Key West, Florida, on the 5,960-mile Eastern Divide Trail. Eddie is the first rider to tackle the route in its entirety, riding a couple of sections that weren’t complete at the time and helping provide us with valuable feedback we needed to finish the route. The EDT is now nearing completion, with six of the eight segment guides published here on the site and the remaining two set to be released over the next couple of weeks. Eddie passed through Pisgah Forest late last week and I intercepted him with a surprise pizza, rode a little bit of the route with him, and grabbed some photos of his bike. Find a gallery below with a build kit and some insight into his ride.
For those unfamiliar, Eddie is fairly well-known in the ultra-endurance community, particularly on the East Coast. Day to day, he’s a professional bike fitter from Homewood, Alabama, and co-founder of the Georgia Cycling Association. But he’s better known in the world of ultra-endurance bikepacking as an accomplished cyclist who has held course records on the Trans North Georgia (TNGA), Huracan 300, and Stagecoach 400 routes.
Soon, we hope, Eddie will be the first rider to complete the Eastern Divide Trail, the longest off-road bikepacking route in the world. Naturally, being first, he’ll hold the record on the route. And even though it doesn’t seem on paper as if Eddie is going at light speed, we’re guessing that the time he sets on the route will go unchallenged for a little while. At the time I met up with him last Thursday, he’d racked up 3,900 miles (6,276km) in 53 days, averaging 74 miles (119km) per day. And that doesn’t subtract four “zero” days, one of which saw him in the hospital for over 24 hours on fluids due to a stomach bug. While 74 miles per day doesn’t seem like a blistering average, I assure you it’s a wildly impressive pace to maintain on such an incredibly long route, especially considering that he was sick for a few days and that there were several occasions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick where he had to bushwhack, backtrack, and provide scouting intel on a then unfinished and untested route. Additionally, we’re guessing he’ll speed up as he enters North Georgia and Alabama, given his familiarity with the area.
Eddie has pedaled this far on a Rodeo Labs Flaanimal set up with a 27.5 x 2.35″ tire in the front and a 2.2″ tire in the rear. Due to parts delays, Eddie only had one big ride with this bike—the Unbound 200—prior to the biggest ride of his life, so it was largely untested. That said, the Flaanimal seems relatively consistent with the bikes we’ve used to scout the route, albeit a little more on the road bike end of the spectrum. Make no mistake, this is a mountain bike route—or an ATB route if you’re getting granular with semantics. Either way, Eddie rips on this bike. After I met up with him at the top of a climb, I had to pin it just to barely stay near his tail. Here’s the full build kit:
- FRAME: Rodeo Labs Flaanimal 5.0, Size 54cm
- FORK: Rodeo Labs Spork 3.0
- RIMS: Rodeo Labs 2.0 Carbon Rims, 24.5mm IW, DT Swiss spokes
- FRONT HUB: SON 28 15
- REAR HUB: DT350
- FRONT TIRE: Maxxis Forekaster, 27.5 x 2.35″
- REAR TIRE: Maxxis Ikon, 27.5 x 2.2″
- CRANKSET: SRAM Eagle GX, Chainring: started with a 40, then 36, now 32T
- DERAILLEUR: SRAM AXS Eagle X01
- SHIFTER/LEVERS: SRAM RIVAL AXS
- CASSETTE: SRAM Eagle GX 11-52
- BOTTOM BRACKET: SRAM T47
- HANDLEBAR: Redshift Kitchen Sink, 44mm
- STEM: Redshift Shockstop, 110mm
- TAPE/GRIPS: On my third wrap
- HEADSET: Cane Creek Forty
- BRAKES: SRAM Rival Hydraulic
- SADDLE: Fizik Tundra M3 Carbon
- SEATPOST: Redshift Shockstop
- PEDALS: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
- NAVIGATION: Garmin EDGE 1040 Solar, QuadLock w/iPhone
- LIGHTS: KLITE Gravel (latest version)
- BOTTLES: ZEFAL MAGNUM 1 LITER x2
The Flaanimal is outfitted with a full suite of Rockgeist bags, as listed below…
- HANDLEBAR BAG: Rockgeist Barjam Harness
- FRAME BAG: Rockgeist Custom
- SEAT PACK: Rockgeist Mr. Fusion
- TOP TUBE BAG: Rockgeist Cache
- ACCESSORY BAGS: Rockgeist Honeypot x 2, Rockgeist Spacelink
When I asked Eddie whether he’d change anything about the bike in hindsight, he responded, “If some front suspension was an option, I’d consider it. Otherwise, I’d just manage my brakes better from the start.” Despite a nice dirt patina, the bike had just gotten a full service at a shop in Asheville and was in perfect working order when I shot it. He reiterated to me that brakes had been the only real mechanical issue. He’d gone through eight sets of pads and had to bleed the brakes four times. On a couple of occasions, the calipers were either too tight, faded too quickly after a bleed, or burned through pads in three or four days’ time. That certainly makes the case for mechanical disc brakes on a big trip like this, in my opinion. He had also cycled through three chains, two front tires, and three rear tires! And he still has 2,000 miles left to go.
Eddie himself seems to be holding up pretty well. He was in good spirits when I intercepted him at the top of Clawhammer Road, but once we got to the bottom of the descent, it was clear that fatigue was something ever-present at this point in his ride. As I was shooting his bike nearby, I noticed he had that 2,000-mile stare as he sat on the road and scarfed down nearly the entire pizza I brought him. Having just gotten back to normal after a recent trip where I rode 660 hard miles in under seven days, I can’t imagine what 53 days of 74 miles each would do to your hands, ass, feet, and brain. But he said he felt pretty good, and aside from some saddle sores early on, the only thing he had been dealing with was foot soreness after the occasional hike-a-bike. That said, he mentioned that he’d like to sleep for a few days in a row and/or head into town and have a couple of beers and a steak.
He resisted those temptations, however, and turned down an invite to stay in our spare room that night. Reason being, he’s a little bit behind schedule and he has to get back to his job and life. “Summer camp has to end soon,” he mentioned. “The [EDT] has been more challenging than I expected.” Part of that was due to the fact that he didn’t have proper documentation at the start. When he left, fewer than a third of the eight EDT segment guides had been published. I was sending him route updates after he was already off to the races. He’d done many hours of homework on resupply points, sleeping options, medical facilities, and bike shops, but parts of the map in Canada and New England changed, and a lot of his cues didn’t line up with the actual route. “I’ve been working it out as I go. That means I rarely knew what the terrain would bring each day.”
Eddie is using this journey to increase awareness of Georgia Cycling and raise funds for Georgia’s youth mountain biking non-profit. Follow Eddie on the Trackleaders map below, learn more about his ride at GeorgiaCycling.org (where you can make a donation to Eddie’s cause), and find links related to the Eastern Divide Trail in the related content grid further down.
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