Henry’s Paris-Brest-Paris Adventure

HVDB_PBPWe are proud to say there were a lot of Sevens at Paris-Brest-Paris this year, and we had the chance to spend some time with one rider, Henry van den Broek, who is local to us and a Ride Studio Cafe regular, to hear about the adventure of riding 1200km.

11887916_10153581270432720_744836648985477069_nHe says, “I  started Sunday evening in the 90 hour wave at 18:30. Apart from some short stops at the controls (less than 30 min), I  rode through the night and the following day for 24 hrs until Carhaix which is 525km, just before the halfway point in Brest. After sleeping for 3 hours on a field bed in a gym, I left that night at 11pm for Brest and kept riding through the night and next day until Fougeres (921km) where I arrived with fellow Seven rider Dave Bayley Tuesday night.”

He continues, “Dave I met in the morning just after the Loudeac stop. This had been a tough morning where I felt pretty groggy and had a hard time making speed, but after plenty of caffeine and ice cream I got my mojo back. Dave continued that night for Fougeres, while I slept on a gym mattress for 3 hours and left at 4am Wednesday for the last 300k to Paris, where I arrived at 8:30pm, finishing the ride within 74hrs.”

11884668_10153581271177720_5026513863694382313_oWhen you’re speaking to someone who aspires to riding for 3 days straight, the first question is always going to be, why? Henry laughs when we ask, “Why do I do it? On the ride, I sometimes wonder myself what I am doing, but I ride for the sense of adventure, exploring, seeing new places, new landscapes. Randonneuring reduces life to its basics. You are just eating, drinking. You ask, how is my body feeling? You become your own little world. Also you can meet friends through this shared suffering. On long rides, you have a chance to meet, hang out.”

11872029_10153581271232720_4572119967679281557_oHenry only started randonneuring three years ago, encouraged by Patria and the crew at Ride Studio Cafe, and then he wondered if could even do it. 200km? 300km? 600km? Now he finds himself wondering what’s next after PBP.

“With all the preparation I had,” he says, “I was not that worried. I did 1000km in July, and PBP is not that much more. During the ride, I got more and more confident. Unlike many of the brevets I did in the season where there are typically 20-100 participants, there were more than 5000 people starting at PBP, all trying to finish. This year less then 75% percent finished.”

11937959_10153581268357720_8761148865596437124_oHe continues, “When things get hard, typically I do a check up. Hard can be multiple things, overheating, tiredness, pain, sleepiness. How are my back, my arms, my legs? Most things can be solved by eating. Electrolytes and sugar can cure most problems. Grogginess is a tough one. I had three hour sleep stops on Monday and Tuesday nights, but it wasn’t enough. The jet lag didn’t help either, flying into Paris two days before the event. Coffee was the only way to get over it. Chewing gum can help. Next time I want to try caffeine gum. You think it’s a mental thing, but that really comes back to sugar levels. Your brain is just saying it needs more fuel. This is about being in tune with your body.”

11181090_10153581270897720_68586247631590121_nIt is not every day you ride 1200km. Most who finish PBP only do it once in their lifetime, so strategizing for a ride like this comes down to the experience of the “shorter” brevets and reading about how others have handled the distance.

Henry says, “What I realize now is you have to be careful how much power you’re putting out. You have to measure your effort, not go too hard. Even 1% over your pace will catch up to you over these kinds of distances.”

Henry’s Seven Evergreen SL was built with more than just PBP in mind. This is a bike that Henry uses on group rides with the RSC club. He has done the full brevet series on it. And now that it’s fall, he’s racing cyclocross on it as well.

He says, “I love the frame. I love the versatility of it. I was always completely worn out by my old bike. This season I’m on the Seven on 38mm tires with supple casings. It’s so smooth. They roll so well. The Evergreen has a lot of clearance, so you have choices in tires. The disc brakes give you reliability in all weather. It’s very stable, too. I ride with a very light touch on the bars, so no back pain ever.”

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“I also really love the custom paint,” he adds. “So many people look at my bike and love the paint job. It’s orange from Holland. I always get attention with it, and it’s really MY bike. It has my name on it, my color, made for my body. It’s a statement. It’s me. I feel very together with the bike.”

Rapha Prestige New England

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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On the Road – 250 Miles of New England Dirt

Rob is obsessed with dirt. That is, perhaps, an oversimplification, but it gets pretty close to the truth. For years and years he thought of himself as a mountain biker, both as a racer and a committed adventure rider. Then his riding migrated to the road, but any chance he had to spin out onto a trail, even on skinny tires, he took. The dirt has always called, and his obsession has been a blessing to all of us here at Seven.

If you’re looking for a good all-dirt or mixed-terrain route to ride, Rob has it. Rob can show you trails, in your own neighborhood, that you’ve never seen before. We call this style of riding, on-road/off-road/trail, “evergreening,” and none of us was really surprised when Rob started Overland Basecamp to spread the gospel of dirt far and wide.

OB recently ran the Maneha 250, a two-day, 250 mile ramble through some of the best mixed-terrain in New England. The pictures tell the story:

Two Approaches to the Maneha 250 - photo - Rob VandermarkRiders took a couple of different approaches to the challenge. Some rode self-supported, packing all their food, clothing and camping supplies. Others took more advantage of the organization Overland Basecamp provided.

Maneha 250 Unofficial Pit Stop - photo - Rob VandermarkThis unofficial pit stop belies the quality of the food served throughout the event, which was catered by Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, NH. They also hosted the campsite and provided the stunning evening view…for those who got in early enough to see it.

Abandoned Narrow Guage - Matt O., Brad S. - photo - Rob VandermarkHere, our very own Matt O. rolls through an abandoned narrow-gauge rail bed with Brad on his wheel. They both rode unsupported.
Oh Look, Another Hill - Brad S. - photo - Rob Vandermark
One of the most charming (and unavoidable) features of our New England topography is the endless, punchy, rolling hills. The Maneha 250 has a climbing profile like a heart patient’s EKG.Strategy Before The Sunrise - photo - Rob VandermarkSunrise breakfast and strategy session at the campsite, a pretty great way to start day two.

The Smile Train - Matt O., Cris R., Dan S., Roger C. - photo - Rob VandermarkMore Sevens rolling by this abandoned freight, go ahead and ask Rob how he found this spot, likely riding around in the woods in the dark.

Read more about it on the Overland Basecamp site.

 

 

On the Road – Velosmith Bicycle Studio

Partnerships are important. We do our best work with shops we work with a lot. On Saturday we were at Velosmith Bicycle Studio for the launch of a special collaboration, the Moselle. Tony Bustamante, of Velosmith, once worked here at Seven. When he opened his studio, we immediately began working together on gorgeous custom bikes for his customers. It is a partnership in the truest sense of the word where we use our shared experience to do increasingly difficult, but gratifying, work.

 

And now the culmination of all that effort arrives in the form of the Moselle, a bike Tony designed specifically for Velosmith and only available there. The Moselle is a straight gauge titanium Swiss Army knife of a bike, disc-equipped and set up for wide tires. It can group ride on the road. It can explore double track. It can happily roll down the trail, and it can commute in all weather. The finish is a subtle, bead-blasted river theme that mixes shine with matte to create a signature look.

 

 

For the launch, our friends from SRAM came out. The Moselle features their new CX1 drivetrain and Force 22 hydraulic brakes. The first bike was built for Velosmith team racer Eric Drummer, who will mix cyclocross with longer gravel events, like Dirty Kanza, to showcase everything the Moselle can do. At the end of the night we sat with Tony’s father Alberto, a legend of the Chicago bike world, and he shook his head wistfully looking at his son’s creation. “We can do anything now, can’t we?” and he smiled, and that alone made our visit to Chicago worth making.

 

 

Company Picnic Recap

Our company picnic and camp out took place last weekend and, as always, proved to be a fun opportunity to relax, and to appreciate the wonderful group we have here at Seven Cycles.  Harrisville, NH, was the perfect destination with the leaves already a brilliant red and the air cool and crisp.

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Some rode their bikes from Boston the morning of, including two who pedaled up on a beautiful road route complete with climbs, views, and a heavy duty collision with a chicken.  Another two chose an off road path, and over the course of a hundred miles never touched pavement outside of an occasional street crossing.

Others met in Harrisville and rode a mixed terrain loop, where it was learned that in New Hampshire, a rail trail is very much a trail next to rails, yielding a Stand By Me vibe for a portion of the ride.

A Knight without Armor
A Knight without Armor

A few took advantage of the local single track and couldn’t resist the fun of using the cable ferries to cross the Nubanusit Brook midway through the ride.

When you can't ride through it...
When you can’t ride through it…

No matter the route, the ride reports were the same, all smiles.

When the wheeled fun began to die down, people made their way to the host site.  Homemade chili, Pete’s mastery of the grill, and award winning brownies from Mayfair Farm were on hand and available throughout the afternoon and well into the evening.  There was music and laughter, and before long, two glowing fire pits.  We had planned for cold, but the fires were powerful enough to keep us warm long into the night, so long as we kept our feet close to the heat.

Tents popped up, or in some cases, were assembled by a team of five utilizing duct tape, splints, and a five year old’s knife.  Cobbler was introduced to much fanfare.  Before long everyone was around the fire cracking jokes, sharing stories, and genuinely enjoying each other’s humor and company.

Some hang, others set up tents.
Some hang, others set up tents.

As the hours passed, people drifted off and headed for their tents, the wood-stove warmed barn, or the house.  A few dedicated fire goers stayed up past midnight, with only the most uproarious laughter carrying through the tent walls of those who wished they had the will power to stay up long enough to have heard the punchline.

Plenty of Heat
Plenty of Heat

Crickets, frogs, and birds filled the morning airwaves, and as soon as people began to rustle, coffee was made.  No alarms were set, but people woke up early anyhow.  Awaiting them, a most picturesque, mist covered swamp.

Morning on the "swamp," as seen from a bivy sack.
Morning on the “swamp,” as seen from a bivy sack.

It wasn’t intentional, or even needed, but sitting around a camp fire and camping out is a fun way to make a big group of co-workers feel like one big family.  We’d be seeing everyone the very next day at the factory, but it was still hard to say goodbye after such a fun weekend.

Packed up.
Packed up.