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Seven Racers

Secretly, in the Night, Summer Fell

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


On September 23rd we passed the autumnal equinox, that magic moment when the Earth’s equator passes the center of the sun and night and day are of roughly equal length, depending on where you’re standing. A hot, humid end to the summer helped the fall sneak in under our noses.

But then cyclocross season started.

The races leading up to Holy Week (the twin weekends of GP Gloucester and the KMC Cyclocross Festival in Providence) were mainly dusty affairs as riders rode fast over dry fields, trying to remember how to dis- and remount their bikes. Perfect conditions at Gloucester more or less guaranteed that this weekend, in Providence, will be racked by torrential rain, the cheerful gift of Tropical Storm Joaquin.

What does it all mean for a New England bike builder?

First of all, it means we are busy, that we have been busy, to let summer slip into fall without really noticing. Sure, there has been in uptick in ‘cross bikes, in mountain bikes and in the ubiquitous Evergreen, as folks begin to put road season to rest, but it’s funny the way, when you build bikes for specific riders, the various categories blur together and the larger trends in what you’re doing escape you.

The late season warmth has left most of the leaves on the trees and the trails clear. As always, the time to ride is now. This is the lesson of every season, everywhere.

Carl’s Twin Mudhoneys

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

It’s cyclocross season. You can tell because all your CX racing friends are suddenly frantic about getting their bike(s) prepped and spending weekday mornings riding around public parks in slow circles, climbing off and jumping back on. Our friend Carl is readier than most, or at least his bikes (our Mudhoney SLX) are, based on this picture he sent us last week, just in time for New England’s “Holy Week” of CX races, including the GPs of Gloucester and Providence.

Ride fast everybody!


Being the Wilcox

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015


Everyone loves David Wilcox. For such an unassuming guy, soft-spoken without being shy, no hint of nervous energy or burning drive, this is strange. The Wilcox, as he’s known in bike circles, has a reputation for two things, incredible strength on the bike over distances that most of us wouldn’t even consider rideable and incredible generosity with his time and his experience. Call it a quiet charisma.

19249448273_0d50c3d68d_zA former co-owner of Boston’s legendary Broadway Bicycle School, the Wilcox has most recently been managing Rapha’s Mobile Cycling Club, and that experience, traveling the country, working events and continuing to be his usual self has spread the legend of The Wilcox far and wide.

Even as he has maintained a grueling travel schedule for Rapha, he has continued to chalk off the longer rides in the brevet series, including the Vermont 600 where his freewheel stopped spinning with 90 miles to go. He pedaled those last 90, non-stop, without taking his feet off the pedals once.

DSC_0044When asked what keeps him motivated to keep riding, to keep putting up big rides, he says simply, “For me it’s really just about getting out, seeing, exploring. How far can I go? I lived in Boston for 10 years, but when I come back to visit I find new parts, even now, only minutes from where I lived. That’s what gets me on the bike. What’s on the next street?”

He continues, “A lot of what I do qualifies as Type 2 fun. At the time, you want it to be over, but the next day it was great. Seeing the sunset and sunrise in the same ride is amazing. It’s a special opportunity when  you can do that.”


Those lucky enough to ride with The Wilcox will tell you how strong he is, but also how even-keeled he stays even hundreds of miles into a ride. He says,  “The only time I recall being on edge on the bike was during the second Green Mountain Double Century. We were ripping down Green River Road at twilight, and I was on the end of the paceline, so I’m not sure how it happened, but I hit a pothole so hard it destroyed my front wheel. I think I was just scared and a little angry, and I said, ‘Ok, guys, we need to slow down a little,’ which we didn’t really do.”

19249438853_c9de68915d_zAsked where his calm demeanor comes from he says something we hear a lot of randonneurs say, “When you encounter problems on the bike, they always have solutions. Usually, when you’re struggling you can eat or drink, and that gets you back to where you need to be.”

In typical Wilcox fashion, David is not inclined to chase achievements. For example, a high profile recent even, Paris-Brest-Paris is for many randonneurs the ultimate achievement, but The Wilcox isn’t interested. “A big part of it, for me, is social,” he explains. “A big ride can be a kind of shared hallucination. I don’t look forward to doing that kind of thing by myself, but with my friends it’s a great experience. At the same time, doing something like Paris-Brest-Paris isn’t attractive for me, because it’s like you do it just to say you did it. I’m more inclined to go on adventures with my friends. I’m not knocking PBP. It’s just not for me.”

Soon The Wilcox will leave the road, swapping his job with Rapha for a more settled position with his friends Jeremy and Julie at The Athletic.  “I’m excited to be in one place for a while,” he says, “to race ‘cross and maybe even to train a little bit for it rather than just pulling stuff out of my suitcase, confirming I have everything I need and then racing two hours later.”

The Places We Go

Friday, August 21st, 2015


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


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.”


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.


“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