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MM Racing Matt & Mo

The Places We Go

Friday, August 21st, 2015

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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

A Tale of Two Millenia, Pt 1

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

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To say that Matt Roy and David Wilcox failed to complete their first attempt at a 1000km brevet this summer in the Pacific Northwest would be technically true, they did not ride 1000km, but so oblivious to the circumstances and outcomes as to be ridiculous. Most of us can’t even conceive of riding 1000km (621 miles), and doing so, as Matt explains, requires a process of understanding how to break down the mileage to begin with.

19247665074_9c447a23c9_z“Anyone who’s done a full brevet series (200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km) knows they come in palatable chunks. There’s a natural progression, and brevets are designed to be finished as the season goes along, March through August,” he says. “I had done the training, the series, so you get that confidence that you can do the next distance, which eventually adds up to 1000km. I never start with my computer set to countdown from 620 miles. I just break it down and know that I’ll have a mental reset at each checkpoint.”

The week of the PNW 1000km event an historic heat wave swept across the region, visiting temperatures north of 110F on the roads of the long route.

“At the start,” Matt says, “we thought we had it. Temps were peaking around 104F, but it’s dry heat, probably equivalent to the 80s here in New England, so we thought it would be tolerable. We never thought we’d encounter the heat we did, but it became clear midway through the first day. When the heat came it was complete, like you’ve never experienced, and the roads are all really exposed. There was no shade even to change a flat in, and I thought we might be in trouble.”

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Normally, brevets are self-supported. Riders need to manage their own equipment, food and liquid. That first day Matt and David rode from 5am to 1:30am the next night. Around 10pm they received a text from one of the promoters that just said, “Good luck, guys. You’re the only ones still riding.” At that point, Matt’s wife, Mo, began to follow the pair by car packing water bottles with ice for them to carry in their jersey pockets and nylon ice socks to drape over their necks.

19683766099_fc8736f0d1_zThey were on their bikes at 8:45am the next day, and it was already 98F. With 86 miles to the next checkpoint they calculated they had 8 hours to get there. Stopping as they were, every 20 miles at first, then every ten, for Mo to restock them with fluids and ice, they made the checkpoint in 8-and-a-half hours.

“We were riding fine,” Matt says, “probably holding to about a 15mph average, but the day just ticked away from us.”

 

After two days they’d covered 350 miles. They sat in a Taco Time restaurant and assessed the situation. They’d missed the checkpoint closing, and the math on the ride to the next check suggested they’d have to ride straight through to Whitefish, MT in 27 hours.

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“We did that practicality check before we did a safety check really,” Matt says. “Then we said, ‘This looks dumb.’ None of us ever stops anything. This is what we do, but we were all just trashed, even Mo from worrying over all the things we were doing to keep moving.”

19682358400_fb49cdcc8c_zSo they got in the car and continued the trip just as they would have, along the route, but with stops at creeks to swim. They visited Glacier National Park. They saw friends in Missoula.

Matt says, “Listen, we didn’t make the 1000km, and that’s disappointing on some level, but we’re happy with how it worked out. We had our adventures, which is really the point. That’s why you undertake these things. The riding is important, but it’s not everything.”

In part II, Matt tries again, this time back home in New England.

All images: Matt Roy

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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New Bike Day

Friday, May 1st, 2015

BradfordNewBikeDayNew bike day is a special day, even if you spend all day, every day building bikes. Our own Bradford Smith, Drifter extraordinaire, built himself a new bike a few weeks ago, and he’s got that little kid gleam in his eye ever since.

Never one to dream small dreams, Brad’s idea was to put together a machine he could race cross country on, and by “cross country” of course we mean literally across the country. The Trans-Am Bike Race leaves June 6th from Astoria, OR and ends in Yorktown, VA.

Here he is the night of final assembly in the MM Racing service course with good friend Matt Roy, master mechanic and cross-country racing accomplice.

And here is the bike below, ready for a shake out ride, packed for travel. Stay tuned for a lot more updates on this particular adventure.

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