Picked up Tuesday. Built Weds/Thurs. Ridden Saturday!!
Proper good. Def. not gravel, or road-plus, this is proper monster cross!! Very happy man!!
Fog swirls through the cedar trees in the fading light of dusk as frogs croak somewhere near the flowing river in the darkness beyond. I’m in Olympic National Park nestled in the Sol Duc valley anticipating the next days mixed terrain ride. An early spring adventure to mark the return of soft light giving way to vibrant sunshine that had retreated to the South for the winter.
Warmed against the 34F morning with eggs, bagel and coffee I pedal over a bridge spanning the Sol Duc river. A sleepy two-lane road winds along the river descending under the canopy of moss and trees of the temperate rainforest. Although I’m vaguely aware that this thrilling winding and rolling descent will be a climb on my return I laugh it off with a whoop and pedal harder.
Black tarmac with a double yellow stripe yields to brown squishy soil littered with decayed leaves, yellow green lichen and derailleur grabbing broken branches. I pedal on the shoulder of Lake Crescent. With a 40c tire on my Evergreen S the varied terrain is a great match. Only the creek crossings, downed trees, and a rock slide prompt me to hike.
Time passes on the trail among ancient trees and flowing waters. Salt crystals on my cheeks remind me of the summer rides to come. For now the gentle spring rain begins to needle down upon my helmet and drip off the brim of my hat. My ride is complete except for the rest I take falling back into the soft moss bed below a tree in the forest.
We received this cool photo and note from Brian B and Buddy M, a pair of Seven riders from North Carolina.
This day we enjoying a long ride and took this picture in Luck, NC. Lucky Sevens!
Thanks for building great versatile Evergreens. This week a 65 mile road ride and next week it will be a gravel ride.
Mark is a rider we’ve collaborated with a few times. He brings a lot of forethought and passion to his bike projects, and this was no exception.
This is Mark’s Expat S, monster cross bike, and some kind words, below.
Thanks again for your help (and Neil’s help) on the monster cross…”Orange Crush.” I’m still working rounding up a few orange accessories, but for the most part, she’s all built up and ready to ride ! I’m excited for future adventures!
Regarding the build, I decided to use a SRAM 1 x 11 drivetrain. A work colleague was selling parts, so I was more than happy to buy those from him! I’ve always loved Shimano parts, but I do really like the simplicity, reliability, and range of the SRAM single chain ring set-up. To support the orange theme, I used the Chris King mango headset, headset spacers, and bottom bracket (ceramic…so smooth!).
I tracked down a Phil Wood orange seat post collar. And I had the head badge powder coated at a local auto paint store. The orange flame decals are a work in progress. These ones aren’t sticking very well, so I suspect they will be short lived. For wheels, I stuck with DT Swiss hubs…so reliable and easy to service. The anodized Chris King, I-9, and Hope hubs are nice, but I’m a DT Swiss fan. The hubs are laced to DT Swiss XM401 rims and I’m currently using Maxxis Treadlite tires. The cockpit is complete with Thomson post and stem, Salsa Cowbell handlebars, and Cobb saddle.
Joe’s been on the road again. Who dreams bigger? Who seeks adventure like Joe? Here he is #evergreening Cuba over his holiday break. Text and photos, his.
Clack clatter sliding shush as they get mixed up before the round, or later the slap flourish when you put down a domino especially well played. Sounds from when I was young and sitting across of my father, he’s gone so I’m savoring this moment that we’re laughing and carrying on. Sweat coming off my elbows, bottle of Havana Club passed ‘round again. Dust midday haze heat when we rolled into town, asked after maybe something for lunch, this open sided cafeteria had run out of eggs for the pan con tortilla so we’re guzzling lime sodas instead as a break and regroup. The three guys in their 20’s saw my too long look at the white tiles, big hearts and grins like so many Cubans we’ve met, asked if I wanted to sit and play. When I got shellacked in the first round they didn’t say a thing but when it came back and I won, just raised eyebrows and cheerful teeth whistles. Linger long enough to be grateful and polite, we’ll get back on and pedal through sunshine and suspicions that the ocean is just 10k away.
Cuba of images and glimpse is chipped plaster glorious Spanish moorish buildings as if from a movie set, mazes of music, oceanside fortresses, mid 20th century Detroit curved cars, 2am salsa dancing, mojitos palm trees hand rolled cigars Fidel Castro murals. We find all of that, but riding from end to end east west we also and most of all find Cubans’ eyes glinting with reflection and pride to talk about their home and to open it a little to us.
Our route, a broken meander on the smallest back lanes, cow paths, stony hike-a-bikes, with a dose of wading and lifting sweat skin biting fly swatting. Our light fast drop bar knobby tire bikepacking rigs, January riding in t-shirts and sandals, big mileage days or cross-eyeing steep pitches. Hundreds of kilometers of rattling dirt farm roads, we’ve wild camped and set up our tents on people’s porches and in their yards and on ball fields, had water offered to us from ice filled gas cans strapped to sugar cane harvest machines. That one night 4am wide awake in our sleep sacks in a town gazebo hardly could be happier listening to the karaoke that’d been going on for hours on a Saturday night. We’ve jungle bushwhacked and sand surfed to sleep on the beach and swim in jade water cenotes.
In a month we find no singular place that is Cuba, instead fractal shards where every deeper shape contradicts the emergent ones. We know something of the history of the revolution, Hemingway’s idealized Caribbean paradise displaced, Cold War stasis or crisis communism, and we can see it on the landscape and in the impossibly flattened economy where surgeons make fifty US dollars a month and farmers make twenty five. But then there’s simultaneously something else, a lucidity and humanity in the idea—made explicit in the words of people whose daily rhythms are rural and local but for all that are also globally conscious—the idea that was told to us, we Cubans may be poor but that makes us all in this together, we help each other, no one is better than anyone else. A rancher who shares his homegrown coffee with us says that he wishes Cuba was a little more like the USA, but not too much like it.
It astonishes us every day, we’re breathless in its self aware narrative.
Back home when we were packing our gear and zooming in on maps to link together towns we assertively couldn’t find out anything about, we reveled in the sense of horizon. Our times in Camagüey and Santiago and Viñales and Havana are splendid, but in between is where we found the thick experience of just movement and days. The generosity we meet is visceral, joyful, it’s here you are in a sliver of our lives and we’ll embrace you. And after evenings in people’s homes or in roadside shacks knocking back dubiously cold Cristal beers in the company of so many, the bright smart smile and handshakes and cheek kisses has transformed us into and through friendship. Nuria, after she took us in, insisted and fed us the most elemental delicious dinner, and in the morning as we were leaving she rubbed the skin on her arms, black as coal, and she said my skin is this color and yours is different but we’re family and we can’t forget that. We won’t.
Joe Cruz is a professor of philosophy, an expedition cyclist, and an ambassador for Seven Cycles. Find his other stories and images at joecruz.wordpress.com and follow him on Instagram @joecruzpedaling.