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And Fun Was Had By All

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The 26th edition of the Seattle Bike Expo was a weekend dedicated to bikes and the people who love them. Over 7000 people attended the event to check out bike-related goodness galore. Seven Founder Rob Vandermark was one of the featured speakers at the show. He gave a presentation on the subject of “Customization Beyond Fit” and had the chance to answer a lot of one-on-one questions afterwards.

Listening intently at the Seattle Bike Expo

Attendees were able to check out a number of Sevens on display in Cascade’s Bicycle Studio’s booth.

Cascade Bicycle Studio at the Seattle Bike Expo

All the hard work Cascade Bicycle Studio put into their booth paid off!  A panel from Seattle’s Bicycle Paper singled out their booth as best one in show and awarded the Seven retailer with this year’s Class Act award. Congratulations guys!

Cascade Bicycle Studio is a Class Act at the Seattle Bike Expo

After the Flood

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Flood1It’s funny to be writing about a flood after we’ve just written about a major snow storm, but the two are not wholly unrelated. The weekend after the storm, temperatures plummeted here, as they did in most of the country, and the heat in the vacant space above our office stopped working. Pipes froze, burst, and then unfroze, which lead to a prolonged rain shower down here where we work.

Flood2So, we sustained some damage. The better part of this week thus far has been dedicated to figuring out which of our computers are salvageable and attempting to dry out our space.

The damage will be hard to quantify. We will replace equipment, and that will have a dollar value attached to it. The building management’s insurance will cover those things. For once, a flood/fire/alarm didn’t originate with us.

The bigger and less quantifiable harm will be in lost research, smudged notes and lost reference material. Living in modern times, we all marvel at how dependent we have become on technology, but an event like this one points out how dependent we still are on old-fashioned pen and paper. To borrow a phrase, for a custom frame builder, the pen may in fact be mightier than the torch.

Flood3The key, we understand, in these situations is to find the positive, and of course, there are many. First, we learned a lot about the elasticity of our systems. Bike production didn’t stop, just because the front office was incapacitated. Second, we were forced to rid ourselves of a lot of stuff we no longer needed. When you’ve got your head down, building bikes, dreaming up new products, trying to navigate the world as a small company, you seldom take the time to clean out the old. Now the old is out, and we have room for some new.

Finally, the flood did a great job of flushing cool, old stuff out of the corners, reference books that have influenced our thinking, old photos of the team when we were younger, and prototype parts, the constructive failures of past projects. All of it has us thinking differently.

Sometimes you don’t want to start over, but starting over is valuable nonetheless.

Summer Seven Style

Friday, August 16th, 2013

cookout1We rolled thirteen deep, our course winding seventy miles north and west of our Watertown home. It featured a variety of classic New England highlights like olde town centres and ice cream parlors, lakes and rivers, farms and country stores, cows and chickens, hawks and herons, mountains and views. And best of all, a company picnic and camping at the finish!

It has been a big, big year for us here at Seven. We’ve worked hard. So, for the first time in years we decided to have a non-holiday party, simply for the sake of enjoying the weather, a long ride, and each other’s company.

There are several camping trips in the folklore of the company. Senior Seveneers have long alluded to these trips of yesteryear, but until last weekend, the young ‘uns could not relate.

We were excited as we left the Boston-area. We had no idea what to expect, even as pavement gave way to dirt, as we crossed into New Hampshire, as the road turned up and up and up. And when we arrived thirsty and exhausted, we found that a dedicated few had arrived early and prepped the food, grills, chairs, darts, horseshoes, and quite litecookout2rally every other amenity a party-goer could want. Our fatigue quickly faded.  Every few minutes people would arrive, by bike or by car, until every chair was filled.

photoBased on the laughter and smiles it was clear that the company, as a whole, was looking to cut loose and relax. Kids scrambled in and out of the circle. People left for short hikes and took naps in the hammock. By 6:00 there were three grills cranking out burgers, dogs, kebabs, and plumes of smoke.  Tents were set up and as the cool mountain air descended upon us, the bonfire was lit.

It carried us to midnight.

It’s no secret that we have a pretty special group here at Seven. That more than half of us rode our bikes the 70 miles (and some rode further), tells you all you need to know about who we are and what we do. These would be our sixth and seventh consecutive days together, but the only arguments we managed were over horseshoes.

 

 

The Next Generation

Monday, April 1st, 2013

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Every year, for more than a decade now, Neil Mansfield – a very longtime friend of Seven –brings his metal working students from Assabet Valley Technical School for a day in our shop. At this point, Neil can usually conjure up stories about the start of Seven and his old friends here better than we can.

A group of about 20 13-15 year-olds joined us for a Q&A with shop manager Matt O’Keefe, lead welder Tim Delaney, head machinist Skip Brown, and our graphic designer Skunk who talked about the intersection between welding and art. We followed that with an extensive factory tour.

It’s always a joy for us to see young people getting excited and curious about what we do. Hearing Neil talk to his students about a possible future where you can have a job that allows you to work in a field creating something you love reminds us that we are doing something not everyone gets to do.

Fondo Manilla

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Boeing777

Seven is lucky to send bikes all over the globe. Our international family is one we grow and make connections with, despite culture and language barriers. Recently, our Philippine partner, George Carag from VeloCity Cartimar/DaDa Sports, sent us a series of photos from the Fondo Manilla Anniversary Ride.

The Fondo Manila Team has been hosting rides and tours throughout the Alabang, Cavite, and Tagaytay areas. The team is always searching for new and innovative ways to spread the joy of cycling to revive the camaraderie and bonding brought by the collective passion of its enthusiasts. All riders are welcome to these fully supported rides.

In early March of this year, the team commemorated its one-year anniversary by hosting a weekend of cycling on the best roads of Baguio: the Fondo Manila Baguio Series. Baguio was the chosen venue for having the highest point in the Philippine highway system, making it a befitting location to literally celebrate Fondo’s “A Higher State of Cycling.”

A group of Seven Cycles bikes were present and participated on this beautiful three day journey. Seeing the bond that this ride created between people proud to ride our bikes makes an impression on us here in snowy Watertown, MA. The places our bikes get to see is a testament to our philosophy that custom is possibility: bikes have no barriers or borders.

Fondo MaNiLa

 

george 7400 ft

 

 

gang sign

Video – Green Mountain Double Century 2012

Friday, February 15th, 2013

DSC_5703The Green Mountain Double Century is a singular sort of endurance event. The 2012 version was 215 miles, 80% on dirt roads, with 26,500ft of climbing. There is a time cut off of 40 hours. Theoretically, it is a race, but such is the challenge that many ride just to finish.

The inaugural event, in 2011, saw about a dozen riders start, and only four finish. Three of them were from the Ride Studio Cafe Endurance Team, John Bayley, David Wilcox and Matt Roy. They finished in just short of 19 hours. The 2012 version saw the RSC team, all on Ti Sevens, “win” the overall again, shaving three hours off their previous best time. These guys are all randonneuring legends who keep raising the bar for the endurance cycling community. We were incredibly honored to have them all on our bikes.

Natalia Boltukhova of Pedal Power Photography, who shot most of our Love to Ride brochure as well as the photo above, traveled with the winning team in both 2011 and 2012, putting together this photo set and this video, which captures the brutality  (and humor) of the event beautifully.

 

Gran Prix of Gloucester CX II – Photos by Matt O’Keefe

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

 

Seven at the Kearsarge Klassic

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

In addition to Quad Cross Team Seven Cycles was also to be found at this weekend’s Kearsarge Klassic Dirt Road Randonnee. Here is Seveneer Jake Bridge‘s report on what is becoming another classic New England event.

Ever the sucker for long rides on dirt roads, I drove up to New London, New Hampshire for the inaugural Kearsarge Klassic Dirt Road Randonee, a benefit for the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust. The New Hampshire Cycling Club did not disappoint me. The route was pure New England wild goodness: stone walls, covered bridges, wild turkeys, brutal climbs, and exhilarating descents.

In the first few miles I met up with (read: was passed by) team member Jason DeVarennes, as well as Seven tandem pilots and local superheros, John Bayley and Pamela Blalock. We rode the rest of the route together as an impromptu Seven team.

And the support! There are times on a long road when nothing much is better than an ice cold coke. Or, sometimes, a freshly picked New England apple. Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or a chocolate covered McVities biscuit. Or potato chips. Or homemade chili. Or a brownie. The amazing volunteers at the Kearsarge Klassic had all this covered.

Good roads, good company, good food, good cause. See you next year at K2R2!

-Jake B.

Seven at D2R2 2012

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Matt & Susi’s Tandem

 D2R2, or the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee, is an annual event on the Seven calendar. Not only does the ride support the Franklin Land Trust, an excellent cause, but it also takes in some of the sweetest back roads and sweeping vistas in New England. It is both brutally hard and magically compelling. For some of us, it is the most difficult thing we’ll do all year, but we sign up over and over. It’s that good.

This year we had Seveneers riding the 100k (Matt and Susi on their Ti tandem), the 115k (Mike Salvatore), the 150k (John Lewis on his Axiom SL) and the 180k (Jake Bridge) routes, and of course we saw more Seven riders on each of the courses, some on road bikes, some on cross bikes.

John’s Axiom SL

As a randonee, D2R2 is not a race. It’s a challenging group ride. It requires cooperation, camaraderie, resource planning, group navigation and a lot of hard work. It is not unlike running a bike company.

And of course it’s all smiles and tall tales back in the food tent after the ride. All the descents were gnarlier and the climbs were longer and we came that much closer to crashing, as pulled pork and mac n’ cheese and Rice Krispy treats disappear in the feeding frenzy.

Jake, who did the long route, has the best story. Two miles into the ride his rear derailleur came apart. The lower pulley and its bolt flying free across the road. Only able to locate the bolt, he road back to the start area, cased the parking lot for any charitable soul with a spare pulley, FOUND ONE, installed it, and hammered back out onto the course, doing the entire 180k of dirt and mayhem on a cobbled together drive train.

Matt and Susi cut two hours off their 100k time from last year. Susi says it’s because they stopped to chat less. Matt believes they still stopped to chat too much.

An event like D2R2 can sustain you for a year. It will leave you with much to think about, climbs you could have handled better, gearing choices that seemed right at the time, and it will send you searching for long stretches of dirt road to conquer, if only to recapture that feeling of being out in the middle of no where, on your bike and flying.

 

Seven in China

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

We just heard from our good friend William Ko at Shenyang, our Taiwanese partner. He recently returned from a two-week trip to China where Shen Yang organized an exhibition and race.

It is always interesting (and thrilling) to see our bikes in distant locales. Through great partnerships, like ours with Shenyang, we have consistently been amazed by what our brand can mean to people all over the globe.

Today, when so much of the import/export traffic seems to be one-way from China to the US, it is particularly cool to know that we can bridge the gap between our cultures just by doing what we do, which is bike building.

William has put a lot of work into promoting high-end cycling, both in Taiwan and in China. He is as passionate as we are about what we do, and we’re lucky to have him represent us. In 1997, when we were just setting out on this adventure, we dreamed of sending bikes to all seven continents. It’s part of why we chose the name Seven to begin with. To see these pictures now is humbling in all the very best ways.

It tells us that we’ve achieved much of what we set out to do, but also that the opportunity to build great bikes for people is even larger than we initially believed.