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Being World Champion – Mo Bruno Roy Interview

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Mo Bruno Roy Red Mill kit Mudhoney PROSeven-sponsored rider and good friend Mo Bruno Roy won the Single-Speed Cyclocross World Championship in Louisville on October 25th. We wrote about it first here. We had Mo and her MM Racing teammate/husband Matt Roy in the other day to talk about the race, where she is in her career, and what she wants out of riding her bike. This is what she said:

Seven: Did you believe you could win this race going in?

MBR: I was hoping I could. I was planning to, but I didn’t realize what it would take. Single-speed racing is full of shenanigans. People hand you bourbon shots and beers while you ride, and you can take shortcuts based on your willingness to engage in the fun. At Worlds you could skip the flyover if you chugged a beer. If you were willing to throw your bike over a four foot wall and climb over after, then you could avoid running through the sand pit.

At the start this year, none of us had shoes on. We had to slide down this giant slip n’ slide and then get on the bike and start racing.

Having said all that, I raced full gas the whole time, because honestly I didn’t know what was happening. There were racers everywhere, people I knew hadn’t passed me ended up in front of me. Maybe they cut the course. Maybe they found some other way. I took the hole shot at the beginning, and Matt says I had 30 seconds at that point, but then there were all these women in front of me. My plan had been to race hard the first two laps, and then relax and have some fun, but when I realized I wasn’t in front I went 100% to the line.

Matt: Don’t forget the feats of strength the day before. The whole thing starts the day before the race. They broke everybody up into groups of 15 led by a “colonel” who took the racers all over Louisville to stuff like a 100 meter cross course, a mass start hill climb on which you could score extra points by stopping to pick up a rubber chicken. There were trivia questions. All of it scored points to qualify for the race. It was just a big bunch of strangers roving the city in search of fun.

Seven: So it’s a whacky event. How does that make you feel about being World Champion?

MBR: The thing that is so attractive to me about Single-Speed  Worlds is that there are very few rules. Ride a single-speed. Wear a costume. Don’t be a jerk. It’s just chaos, a bunch of really nice people having fun on bikes. I have taken racing seriously for a long time, and I needed to remember what it was like to have this much fun, so yes, I am totally proud of being World Champion. It also makes you appreciate the rules that govern the other elite races, that give those races structure. We complain about those a lot, but you can see what craziness takes over without that structure. I happen to be at a point in my career when I’m ready for some more craziness, so this is great for me, but I understand other people want to take it seriously. Honestly, this very well might be the highlight of my career.

Seven: This was all part of “taking it easy for the season,” but most people don’t associate World Championships, albeit whacky ones, with taking it easy. What is it you have really been trying to achieve in 2014?

MBR: World Cup racing is super hard work. You have to plan your whole life around it. There is so much expectation involved, and that ratchets down the fun level, or it changes it. You have fun, but it’s fun after you’ve finished, not right away. Sometimes it’s a long time after. So taking it easy, for me, means having fun WHILE I’m racing, actually enjoying each event, and single-speed races retain a part of the older spirit of cyclocross when events were weirder, and we were all less focused on results.

I think we need more of that spirit, and less of this sense that every race has to be pure and exclusive and elite. I have maybe been naive up until now, in thinking that bike racing was for everyone. Within the larger bike racing community we are more exclusive than I thought we were. So planning my season, I wanted to get back to a more open-minded approach to racing. I don’t think wealth should be a limiter, and that’s easy for me to say as a sponsored rider, but whether you show up on a mountain bike or need to zip tie your shifters to qualify for the single-speed race or whatever, we have to share this with as many people as we can. Honestly, if someone had suggested bike racing to me when I was a kid, there just wouldn’t have been any way, because we didn’t have any money, but cycling is really a community activity. We need to be drawing everyone into what we’re doing, and I don’t think there is any better way to do that than by making it fun, keeping it fun, and having that be our priority.

This isn’t some crusade for me to save bike racing. I’m just one person, but just like I ride a bike to work and to run errands, I can only try to be an example. As you get older, living your principles seems to become more and more important, so I’m happy with where I am and what I’m doing, and I hope it helps the communities that I live in, and either way I’m having fun, so it’s a win.

 

11 Races in 16 Days – Mo Bruno Roy’s CX Crusade

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

You will notice that we don’t sponsor a lot of riders. The idea that a company who makes good bikes should pay someone to say they are good somehow doesn’t make sense to us. When we have committed to a rider, it has always been because we think they deserve support and because they will give us good feedback on what we are doing. For those reasons, we have sponsored more women than men, and more local riders than distant pros. Our closest pro partnership of the last decade has been with current Single-Speed Cyclocross National Champion Mo Bruno Roy.

Here on the eve of her 39th birthday, we find ourselves admiring the way she enjoys her racing, stays competitive and gives back to the racing community by teaching clinics and giving pointers to amateur racers before big events. She’s the sort of cyclist we’re proud to work with, the kind of cyclist we all want to be.

This was supposed to be a more relaxed season for Mo. After winning the SSCX National Championship last year, a little less travel, a little more fun and a new focus on single speed races was on the docket. But the scheduling gods and a continuing drive to race her bike meant that, clustered around New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross (GP Gloucester, Midnight Ride, Providence), she ended up doing 11 races in 16 days.

That’s a lot for an in demand massage therapist and yoga instructor, and it tells you everything you need to know about how much she loves what she does. She says of this latest bunch of events, “The level of competition has definitely been upped this season and the growth of women’s cyclocross is apparent as it is quickly becoming a sport for full-time professional athletes rather than the mixed bag of working-pros and full-timers that it has been in the past.”

Near the end of this intense period of racing, she reported “Providence weekend hosted three days of racing: single speed Friday and UCI races Saturday and Sunday. At this point my legs were pretty fatigued, but I was looking forward to the races and the opportunity to win the Golden Ticket for free entry to the Single Speed World Championships in Louisville, KY. The course was full of twists and turns and a few leg-sapping climbs, but I pushed the pace and headed into a steady lead in the single speed race, taking the win.”

Of course, we like to see sponsored riders winning races. It never hurts for people to see riders winning on our bikes, but for us there’s much more to it. The way someone like Mo conducts themselves, the way they make it look fun, the way they give back, those are the things that make us want to support racing and the people, like Mo, who dedicate themselves to going fast.

Mo Pro Ready to Go

Friday, October 25th, 2013

MoProRTGNo sooner was it here, than it was here!

Learning to Endure

Friday, May 24th, 2013

DSC_7436Endurance riding is not a new segment. From the early days of cycling, riders have sought to challenge themselves by covering distances previously unimagined. But as a category within the broader cycling industry, endurance is now flourishing in a way it never has with the advent of longer, challenge-style events both on-road and off. After spending years working on rando bikes of every stripe, we are now seeing these bikes consolidate around the common experience of riders who are taking on events like Dirty Kanza, the Almanzo 100 and D2R2.

Welding Zip Tie Guides for Hydraulic Brakes

Welding Zip Tie Guides for Hydraulic Brakes

The Seven-sponsored Ride Studio Cafe Endurance Team is made up of three riders who, collectively and in massive solo efforts, will clock more miles on their Sevens this year than most folks will manage in their cars. We are deeply fortunate to be able to work with John Bayley, David Wilcox and Matt Roy. This season they will tackle Dirty Kanza, the Green Mountain Double Century, the Rapha Gentleman’s Race, the Vermont 600, D2R2 and a 1200k brevet of their own design. And events aside, almost every weekend will see these guys spending whole days in the saddle, knocking out century after century, saving up their endurance for big, fast miles on their custom Sevens.

Over-sized Head Tube Fo Jon Bayley's Axiom SL

Over-sized Head Tube for John Bayley’s Axiom SL

 

We’ve built each of them a unique, custom, randonneuring bike suited to their personal style and approach to endurance cycling. Comfort and utility get more and more important as the miles pile into your legs and light wanes at the end of the day.

Endurance Team Captain Matt Roy, a Harvard trained immunologist, rides a 622 SLX, the most technically-advanced bike on the endurance circuit.  We’ve taken some cues from Mo Bruno Roy’s – last name not coincidental – cyclocross winning Mudhoney PRO.  Matt’s 622 is by far the lightest rando bike on gravel, while still boasting the lifetime durability Seven builds into every frame.

John Bayley values versatility. He is riding an Axiom SL that can run 650b or 700c wheels. His cabling is external for easy servicing and quick adaptation. We finished his bike this week, another speed build that went together in just three days from final design to full assembly thanks to a fair amount of overtime and a group of willing collaborators on the Seven shop floor.

Taillight Prototype

Taillight Prototype

 

David Wilcox is a quiet, powerful rider, the kind of guy who can ride all day and all night without the whisper of a complaint. His bike is the most simple of the three, an Axiom S with no frills other than hydraulic disc brakes.

 

As co-sponsors, SRAM has provided the team with their new Force 22 hydraulic groups for each frame. Clement Tires has signed on as well. Working with cutting edge products makes projects like this one even more fun for us.

The Seven Crew Knocking Out John's Axiom SL Rando Special

The Seven Crew Knocking Out John’s Axiom SL Rando Special

 

The Endurance Team sponsorship allows us to explore and experiment in a new and interesting way because these guys will tell us, in the space of one ride, what we might take months of research to learn on our own. Endurance riding pushes bikes to their limits and tests the effectiveness of different component integration strategies. The needs of the long-distance rider also push us to design and integrate practical solutions into each build, the details, big and small, that make all the difference between success and failure.

 

Crafting Carbon

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

IMAG1565We have covered steel and titanium in recent posts. Now it’s time to talk carbon fiber.

Our approach to carbon fiber is fundamentally different than the one taken by most production bike builders, who focus primarily on the lightness and stiffness of carbon. While those are both positive characteristics of the material, we believe, in any rider-specific bike, they have to be balanced against the needs for the bike to fit properly, handle well and last a lifetime.

Though we are sometimes perceived as exclusively a Ti frame builder, we are working with carbon fiber every single day and have been for many years. We have, at this point, built thousands of custom carbon and Ti/carbon mix frames. Carbon fiber is a material we value highly for its aforementioned lightness and stiffness, but also for its natural vibration dampening characteristics. So whether we’re building an all carbon Diamas, or a mixed material machine like the 622 SLX, we always focus on why carbon belongs in the design, and then work to maximize its benefits.

There are two basic types of carbon tubing that we work with. One is round carbon tubes, like the ones we use in our Elium line, the 622 SLX and the Mudhoney PRO. These tubes are built to our specifications for diameter and wall thickness. By mixing and matching a wide array of round carbon tubes, and mating them to titanium lugs, we can tune the stiffness and handling characteristics of mixed material bikes in much the same way we do with our all Ti frames.

The other type of carbon tubing in heavy use at Seven is shaped. Just as we have an array of round carbon tubing, we also keep a significant selection of shaped tubes on hand for use in our A6 carbon line. While the outside diameter and appearance of the tubes remains constant from model to model, the wall thickness varies, altering the performance characteristics of each tube.  Cut, mitered, wrapped and bonded in house, our shaped A6 tubes give us complete customizability of fit, handling, and road feel (within the range of possibility for carbon).

 

 

Mud and Elegance, Grime and Grace – Ali Engin

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Ali Engin’s photos of athletes in motion are elegant and graceful, even under the most grim and grimy circumstances.  His photo of Seven-sponsored rider Mo Bruno Roy dashing up a set of stairs against a vast blue sky, surrounded by onlookers, captured the dramatic tension of top-level cyclocross so well we decided to make a poster of it.  To us, his image says it all about the essence of racing cyclocross;  painful yet exhilarating, terrible but beautiful.

Ali’s pictures always make dramatic and dynamic use of light. Colors burst through his lense. His unique style sets him apart from many other talented photographers working at our favorite events, and we were lucky to be able to work with him on this project.

Check out more of Ali’s photos at his website:

http://www.alienginphotography.com/

The Birth of Mo Pro 2.0

Friday, December 7th, 2012

A few weeks ago, Mo Bruno Roy returned her original Mudhoney PRO prototype. Affectionately called the Mo Honey PRO, that bike was the test case for the bike that became the production Mudhoney PRO, the bike that customers all over the world have ridden over the last season. Mo’s original was put together with hand cut and filed lugs, and she raced it hard this season so we could know more about our basic design assumptions, and to gather experiential data for the second iteration, Mo Pro 2.0, of this race-specific machine.

During our debrief with her, and with her mechanic/husband Matt Roy, we noted a few big, necessary changes. First, Mo wanted to change her riding position. She wanted to come forward, and up a little. To do that, she needed to make some component changes, and to maintain the handling she prefers after those changes, we needed to adjust the geometry. Easy enough.

Next, she wanted more tire clearance at the chain and seat stays. The original prototype was built with tight tolerances for racing, but we learned that just a little more mud clearance would be better. That presented a unique challenge, because Mo’s frame is small. In order to get the clearance she wanted, we experimented with a single-bend, butted seat stay designed specifically for carbon bonding. That little bit of bend gave us just what we were looking for, and it represented a step forward for the super thin stays we’ve been working with for Mo’s race bikes. The complimentary chain stays required 20 separate operations in initial machining. This is serious stuff.

In the past, we’ve built bikes for Mo that could be adapted to multiple purposes. A little attention from her pro mechanic husband would convert one of her race rigs for road training. Not this bike. Mo runs a somewhat unique crank set with 34/44 chain rings, and her seat/chain stays are optimized to work only with those rings, coupled with a 32mm tire. This is as race specific as a bike gets. It’s a bike for now, for winning races.

We opted to build for cantilever brakes, too, but only because race ready, drop bar, hydraulic disc brakes aren’t quite ready yet. Again, we wanted to build her the optimal race bike for right now, not a bike with compromises for future adaptation.

The final design hurdle we chose to address was toe overlap. Conventionally, a frame this small would have some overlap, and through the years, this was always something Mo was comfortable with, even though we offered to do away with it for her. This time out, we made some adjustments to the geometry to eliminate it, and that gives her more confidence in the technical sections of the cyclocross courses this bike was meant to destroy.

A lot of work went into pre-build design on the Mo Pro 2.0, and that led to a marathon build session that lasted long into the Friday night before Mo’s first race on it, on the Saturday. Seven Production Manager Matt O’Keefe did the final machining on this one himself, before handing it off to Staci for the rock star decal treatment.

As ever, our sponsorships are aimed at exactly this sort of collaboration. We built the original bikes to prove a concept we wanted to bring into production. After building the first generation prototypes, we then designed all the fixturing we would need to do the same design for customer bikes. In turn, the fixturing informed the accuracy and evolution of the second generation bike, which taught us about new ways to manipulate thin stays for small builds. It’s this thread that connects all our design and build work and allows everything to move forward, and to be able to pursue that thread with the input and participation of pros like Mo and Matt makes bike building fun. It reminds us why we do this.

Another solid reminder came in a Christmas tin a few days later. Her feedback on the bike itself is exactly what we wanted to hear, that it combines the best of her first Seven race bike and the first generation Mo Honey PRO. That confirms that we’re listening, and without listening you can’t build great custom bikes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building for a pro like Mo or someone who will never race a day in their lives. The process is the same. Listen to what the rider wants. Apply everything you learn to everything new you want to do. Keep building. Keep iterating. Occasionally, just occasionally, stop to eat the cookies.

Matt made a cool time lapse video of the build that you can see here. And we were also fortunate to catch the eye of the Velo News staff at our very first race. Emily Zinn did a photo gallery of the project for their site here.

 

 

When Prototypes Come Home

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

When you build prototypes you expect to see them again. As the first iteration of an idea, they are the canaries in the mine of innovation, and, if all goes well, when they return they bring back a load of valuable information with them. We now have Mo Bruno Roy’s elite race bikes back after they’ve been flogged hard on mud, grass and sand the world over. One is her Mudhoney SLX . The other is her Mudhoney PRO, known as the Mo Honey PRO when we first built it. Now we’ve done a debrief on what worked and what could have been better, and, as always, it’s time to get back to work.

Grand Prix of Gloucester Cyclocross

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Finally, some mud. Also known as the New England World Championships, the GP of Gloucester is part of “holy week” in our local cross world, and this year we had what some might call perfect cross weather, gray and drizzly and a little bit raw.

The Grand Prix of Gloucester is considered one of America’s best cyclocross races, and it was well attended by riders and racers from all of the country and the globe. For Seven Cycles this is a hometown event and our bikes could be found in nearly every race category throughout the weekend. From factory employees in the amateur categories to our sponsored professionals in the men’s and women’s UCI Elites, our Mudhoney’s were ridden hard and fast through the perfectly wet and muddy conditions featured in Gloucester this weekend.

The course was classic Gloucester; it opens with an uphill stretch of pavement through the start/finish, winds up past the beer garden steps and then dives down into muddy off-camber chicanes.  There were barriers (of course) and wide-open power sections through the grass.  Gloucester has one of the steepest and meanest loamy rocky run-ups in cross where anyone who is really running is a lot fitter than me.  There were deep mud holes and ever-changing slippery lines twisting through the trees, and day two featured a sand section that crosses the oceanfront beach at Stage Fort Park.  Spectators could watch the race and catch some amazing views of this classic New England seaport from atop a giant rock – a prominent feature in the park and a major attraction for the young ones in the crowd.

The UCI Elite women’s race featured no less than four women racing on our bikes – nearly ten percent of the field and three of them were top-ten finishers this weekend.  Mary McConneloug posted 5th and 8th place finishes, and Mo Bruno Roy was 11th and 4th.  Overall this was an outstanding weekend of racing for Seven Cycles.

- Joe W.

Current Work – Mudhoney Pro – Custom Blue

Friday, September 7th, 2012


Our Mudhoney PRO in a custom blue, painted to match a ’72 Chrysler Baracuda