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Being the Wilcox

September 1st, 2015 by Seven

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Everyone loves David Wilcox. For such an unassuming guy, soft-spoken without being shy, no hint of nervous energy or burning drive, this is strange. The Wilcox, as he’s known in bike circles, has a reputation for two things, incredible strength on the bike over distances that most of us wouldn’t even consider rideable and incredible generosity with his time and his experience. Call it a quiet charisma.

19249448273_0d50c3d68d_zA former co-owner of Boston’s legendary Broadway Bicycle School, the Wilcox has most recently been managing Rapha’s Mobile Cycling Club, and that experience, traveling the country, working events and continuing to be his usual self has spread the legend of The Wilcox far and wide.

Even as he has maintained a grueling travel schedule for Rapha, he has continued to chalk off the longer rides in the brevet series, including the Vermont 600 where his freewheel stopped spinning with 90 miles to go. He pedaled those last 90, non-stop, without taking his feet off the pedals once.

DSC_0044When asked what keeps him motivated to keep riding, to keep putting up big rides, he says simply, “For me it’s really just about getting out, seeing, exploring. How far can I go? I lived in Boston for 10 years, but when I come back to visit I find new parts, even now, only minutes from where I lived. That’s what gets me on the bike. What’s on the next street?”

He continues, “A lot of what I do qualifies as Type 2 fun. At the time, you want it to be over, but the next day it was great. Seeing the sunset and sunrise in the same ride is amazing. It’s a special opportunity when  you can do that.”

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Those lucky enough to ride with The Wilcox will tell you how strong he is, but also how even-keeled he stays even hundreds of miles into a ride. He says,  “The only time I recall being on edge on the bike was during the second Green Mountain Double Century. We were ripping down Green River Road at twilight, and I was on the end of the paceline, so I’m not sure how it happened, but I hit a pothole so hard it destroyed my front wheel. I think I was just scared and a little angry, and I said, ‘Ok, guys, we need to slow down a little,’ which we didn’t really do.”

19249438853_c9de68915d_zAsked where his calm demeanor comes from he says something we hear a lot of randonneurs say, “When you encounter problems on the bike, they always have solutions. Usually, when you’re struggling you can eat or drink, and that gets you back to where you need to be.”

In typical Wilcox fashion, David is not inclined to chase achievements. For example, a high profile recent even, Paris-Brest-Paris is for many randonneurs the ultimate achievement, but The Wilcox isn’t interested. “A big part of it, for me, is social,” he explains. “A big ride can be a kind of shared hallucination. I don’t look forward to doing that kind of thing by myself, but with my friends it’s a great experience. At the same time, doing something like Paris-Brest-Paris isn’t attractive for me, because it’s like you do it just to say you did it. I’m more inclined to go on adventures with my friends. I’m not knocking PBP. It’s just not for me.”

Soon The Wilcox will leave the road, swapping his job with Rapha for a more settled position with his friends Jeremy and Julie at The Athletic.  “I’m excited to be in one place for a while,” he says, “to race ‘cross and maybe even to train a little bit for it rather than just pulling stuff out of my suitcase, confirming I have everything I need and then racing two hours later.”

Rapha Prestige New England

August 31st, 2015 by Seven

IMG_1109We left Seven in the late afternoon after a long week of building and riding bikes. We drove west on Route 2 to where 91 shoots north into Vermont and arrived at our campsite after dark. The manager had gone home for the night, and it took us a little while to figure out where to set up, but we did eventually, eating some pre-made burritos and laying down for a quick night’s sleep.

IMG_8154In the morning, we drove up to Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlett and signed in for the ride, all of us a little nervous about what the day had in store. Our friend David, from Rapha, plied us with espressso and we got our act together as quickly as we could. The Prestige is not a race, but each team has a departure time, so we needed to depart.

IMG_8172Vermont is beautiful. We all knew it was beautiful, but it was nice the way the frenzy of the morning gave way to quiet roads and dazzling views. We all woke up a few miles from the farm and settled into our rhythm, working together, enjoying the scenery.

It turned out to be one of those great days on the bike for each of us. No flats, good food, cool weather, good packed dirt and fast paved descents, it was a great route, and we were all as strong as we could have hoped to be. It was classic Evergreening terrain, hilly, some of it paved, some of it not. 116 miles and 10,500 feet of climbing.

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(L-R) Performance Designer – Greg Marchand, Production Mgr – Matt O’Keefe, IT Guy – Jake Bridge, Tool Shop Mgr – Skip Brown

Vermont never disappoints and the folks at Rapha put on quite an event. Back at the finish just over 8 hours later, we sat down to a gourmet meal before repacking the van for the long drive back to Watertown, getting in after midnight, exhausted but happy.

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In Japanese

August 27th, 2015 by Seven

IMG_0258Without so many passionate cyclists, so many good people all over the world, there is no Seven. When we started out, we guessed that we could send bikes to every continent (and have), but that doesn’t happen without people who believe in what we do.

Cycling is a thing that transcends language and culture. In fact some of our strongest partnerships are with people we can’t carry on a normal conversation with. They understand what we’re trying to do, and we understand what they want. Sometimes having to simplify your communication actually improves the end result. That has been our experience anyway.

This week we received these photos of our latest brochure, translated into Japanese. It’s both surreal and deeply satisfying, and we are grateful to our friends at Simworks for making it happen.

On the left, the Japanese version, on the right, the English.IMG_0257IMG_0260IMG_0259

The Sevens of D2R2

August 25th, 2015 by Seven

D2R2, the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee, is the sort of event that challenges a rider, not only to ride great distances and climb what seem like endless New England hills, but also to come up with a bike that will meet all its challenges for traction, comfort and speed. With up to 180km of mixed-terrain and as many as 10,000ft of vertical gain, this is no small challenge. Every year we love to look around and see the bikes, and it seems that each year we also see more Sevens.

We might be uniquely suited to building this style of bike. We saw Axiom road bikes modified to take wider tires (and a flat bar) like the one below. We saw Mudhoney CX race bikes, and we saw Evergreens aplenty, our purpose built mixed-terrain bikes.

Here are just a few of the Sevens we saw at D2R2.IMG_1050IMG_0996IMG_0999IMG_1007IMG_1004IMG_1061

The Places We Go

August 21st, 2015 by Seven

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Because we build our bikes one-at-time, for their riders, we don’t have to manage an inventory of anything other than raw materials. That allows us to build the bikes riders want instead of trying to guess what they want or trying to convince them to buy what we have already built.

The challenges our riders have been taking on this last year really bring home to us how the way we do things allows our customers to lead us forward, to take us where they want us to go.

Mike Bybee rode from Arizona to Canada on his Sola SL bike-packing rig. Brad rode across the US, from Oregon to Virginia on his Evergreen SL, set up for loaded randonneuring. We rode in Yorkshire and on the Isle of Man. Matt Roy and David Wilcox attempted a 1000km brevet in the worst heat wave the Pacific Northwest has seen in decades. Daniel Sharp rode the Oregon Outback. Seven was at the Mt.Evans Hill Climb, in the Pyrenees and at Dirty Kanza. Sevens have been ridden through the night, through two full centuries, around Lake Michigan, through Paris and over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

Sometimes we shake our heads in wonder at all of it. What ends up happening is that, as much as guide Seven riders through the process of designing their bike, they guide us through the world of cycling. They show us what is possible and change our own ideas about what a bike can be.

Image: Daniel Sharp