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On the Road – Daniel Sharp at Oregon Outback

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Daniel Sharp and his Benedicto crew have been at it again. This time taking on the Oregon Outback. We find that the best thing to do with Daniel is to get out of the way and let his words and pictures tell the story, so we’ll do that. This isn’t nearly the whole story or all the pictures, just an excerpt.

I think I was nervous about the Outback. I didn’t sleep well for an entire week leading up to it. My mind was wound up with to-do lists and what-if scenarios. I had managed some good hard 60 to 70 mile road rides, but hadn’t done much fully loaded. What about the Bay Area Ridge Trail? That was 300 miles in 3 days, but that was six months ago and we packed light. What if I implode on day one?

dsharp_outback-26230001I think it’s funny that we went to great lengths to ride Amtrak down with the group. We stayed at the hotel where everyone departs, but when it comes close to “Grand Depart” time, we decided to head out a half hour early to “beat the pack” and avoid traffic. We had a 7:30 pm reservation at the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Not to be missed, they say. 30 ounces of steak, they say. Someone said if you want to catch your dinner time on day one, you’d better leave early.

dsharp_outback-26270023We roll out into cattle country and promptly flat at mile 43. You just have to give into these occurrences and help out as you can. We triple-team the flat change. Someone gets out the fresh tube and pumps it. Steve checked the casing and found a crazy little razor sharp sliver of stone protruding. We remount and keep rolling through cow country.

dsharp_outback-26300016How do you calculate the difference between pedaling a road bike with just two water bottles and minimal tools and a 50-pound loaded mountain bike? If math was your thing, I’m sure you could produce an equation, but I know what it feels like in my legs and in my mind.

dsharp_outback-26210023Our rollouts were pretty silent affairs. Nobody yelled “rolling out in five minutes.” You just silently stuff bags and fill bottles until it looks like everyone is ready. I like that unspoken group mind sometimes. Rolling out in the rain and chill is a bit of a somber affair that feels more like duty than a party.

dsharp_outback-26220012My right knee started to hurt at this point my mind started wondering if this was a trend, or just a momentary thing. Pavement turned to dirt, which led us to miles of descending. So much descending that you have to stop and rest and keep pedaling just to stay engaged. At this point we meet up with Bear Creek and things just get greener as we approach the reservoir. One last killer climb, though before a killer descent to the reservoir.

dsharp_outback-26270003Prineville was a turning point in our Outback. Mileage-wise we had completed 225 miles of the 363. Having completed two days was a huge boost in confidence. At this point, it felt like our bodies were adapting to the work and rhythm of bike by day camp by night. We started to get a feel for how much food we needed to pedal all day.

dsharp_outback-26330021I just keep making little goals. Just make it to that tree. Just make it to that rise up there. At some point the pure climbing gives way to rolling terrain, so good-sized climbs alternate with healthy descents.

dsharp_outback-26220017“Rise and shine cowboys – time to hit the road and pedal those bikes” yells a local woman cruising mainstreet at 6 am. She inspects a falling handrail on the vacant hotel and mutters something about how someone needs to get on these repairs. I think the hotel looks pretty good considering it was built in 1900. I read that the hotel shut its doors in 2009. At 7am one of the Outback riders rings the large bell next to the City Hall.

dsharp_outback-26220009And that’s it. No finish line, just the Deschutes River flowing peacefully by. We jump in and it’s bracing. It feels good to be done. Cold water feels amazing and it was the first shower I had in three days…I don’t think I really doubted I could do the Outback, I just maybe thought it might be harder…and maybe it would have been with different conditions.

Daniel rides a Seven Sola 29 SL.

Find the whole story and all the photos at Bendicto.co.

2015 Green Mountain Double Century

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

We had a number lunatics friends at the Green Mountain Double Century this weekend, including our own Jake Bridge, and close friends of Seven Matt Roy and John Bayley. This annual event is one of the great challenges on the New England ride calendar, the brainchild of Sandy Whittlesey. It’s the big brother of the hyper popular Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee, held each August on some of the same dirt roads.

Jake, Matt and John all finished this year, if only to prove they are better people than the rest of us.

Here is Jake’s report:

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Jake’s Rolling Self-Portrait

The most brutal day on the bike turned out to also be incredibly pleasant, laid back, at times even relaxing. The route was 210 miles, over 20,000 feet of climbing, and mostly dirt roads. Even starting at 4am, everyone knew there was no hope of meeting any reasonable deadline. We weren’t making it back for dinner. We weren’t making it back before dark. Maybe, we thought erroneously, we’d make it back by midnight. It would be foolhardy to crush any particular hill, with so many yet to come. With no deadlines, no KOM’s, no town line sprints, we settled in to enjoy the company, the roads, and a  beautiful day in Vermont’s Green Mountains. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant, sipping tea and lemonade and swapping stories while waiting for sandwiches and french fries.

Don’t get me wrong: it was plenty brutal, full of long monstrous climbs. Shortly after dark, the cue sheet warned, “terrible climb”, and we climbed, terribly, 1000 feet in the next two miles. Headlights told us where the edge of the road was. Taillights up ahead told us where the top of the climb wasn’t. The early part of the day had been marked by expansive technicolor views and jovial conversation. By the end the views had shrunk to illuminated patches of gravel and the conversations were mostly internal.

And, then, somehow, it was flat again. A few easy miles along the green river, frogs hopping out of headlight beams, and we were back where we started.

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You might have read, last week, about Matt Roy’s last attempt at the GMDC. Spoiler alert: it ended in the ER. This year went a bit better for Matt.

He says:

18217310123_6e7509ff06_zTurned out to be a good day after all. It was a last-minute decision to toe the line with the rest of the GMDC crew but I had been staring at the course profile above my desk for over a year now, pinpointing the exact spot where my hand came off the bars and I flew into the gutter. It meant that I would be tackling the course without a support car and without a team by my side but it also meant I could ride without pressure or expectations (my own, more than any one else’s). Happy with how the day went.

Here are some of Matt’s photos, which suggest, it was a good day (and night) for riding 210 miles.

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The Lost Double Century

Friday, June 12th, 2015

16951858348_4af545ea43_mOur friend Matt Roy is no stranger to the Green Mountain Double Century. He owns individual and team course records for the annual event. Last year he was out on the course, gunning for a new best time, when things went wrong. He crashed. His buddy Dave Chiu had been following along, taking photos, but Dave wasn’t there when Matt crashed near the end, giving himself whiplash and gashing his elbow to the tune of 16 stitches, which might also be a course record in its own right.

Now, nearly a year later, we are looking back on the images Dave and Matt released, and, as is usual with Dave’s photos, they are stunning.

Check them out here. Check out more of Dave’s work here.

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On the Road – 250 Miles of New England Dirt

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

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.

 

 

Ricardo’s Sola S

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

This is our friend Ricardo’s Sola S, delivered through Bikestage in Madrid. Ricardo opted for a 142×12 thru axle rear end for his bike, and the final build came out very clean and spare. The bead-blasted logo gives it that touch of class, too.Ricardo_SolaS