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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!


Rapha Prestige New England

Monday, August 31st, 2015

IMG_1109We left Seven in the late afternoon after a long week of building and riding bikes. We drove west on Route 2 to where 91 shoots north into Vermont and arrived at our campsite after dark. The manager had gone home for the night, and it took us a little while to figure out where to set up, but we did eventually, eating some pre-made burritos and laying down for a quick night’s sleep.

IMG_8154In the morning, we drove up to Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlett and signed in for the ride, all of us a little nervous about what the day had in store. Our friend David, from Rapha, plied us with espressso and we got our act together as quickly as we could. The Prestige is not a race, but each team has a departure time, so we needed to depart.

IMG_8172Vermont is beautiful. We all knew it was beautiful, but it was nice the way the frenzy of the morning gave way to quiet roads and dazzling views. We all woke up a few miles from the farm and settled into our rhythm, working together, enjoying the scenery.

It turned out to be one of those great days on the bike for each of us. No flats, good food, cool weather, good packed dirt and fast paved descents, it was a great route, and we were all as strong as we could have hoped to be. It was classic Evergreening terrain, hilly, some of it paved, some of it not. 116 miles and 10,500 feet of climbing.


(L-R) Performance Designer – Greg Marchand, Production Mgr – Matt O’Keefe, IT Guy – Jake Bridge, Tool Shop Mgr – Skip Brown

Vermont never disappoints and the folks at Rapha put on quite an event. Back at the finish just over 8 hours later, we sat down to a gourmet meal before repacking the van for the long drive back to Watertown, getting in after midnight, exhausted but happy.


What to Bring When You Ride Across America

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015


We had a lot of people write to us asking what Brad took when he rode across the country last month. It turns out that a lot of our riders are serious long distance randonneurs and bike-packers, two groups who are constantly scrutinizing every bit of food, clothing and equipment they haul on their adventures. So we asked Brad to give us the scoop on what he took, when he raced the Trans-Am Bike Race.

He said:

For a ride like this that takes in so many climate zones over such a long period of time, it is almost impossible to prepare correctly. I think the eternal question is what to bring. What do you need and what can you leave behind.  I went with what I felt comfortable with having and knowing that, if something went wrong, I could fix it, or take care of it. There was the question of how often I would use the things I brought. If I didn’t foresee using them in the space of 24 hours did I really need them? I thought about that and decided having some little extra things would go a long way.

Looking at it now, with 4400 miles behind me, I can see what I could have done without, but I am totally happy with what I went with, too.

I didn’t bring much cold weather gear and got through two mornings 30s by layering up and riding until the sun warmed me. Cold nights I would do the same for sleeping. There were a lot of hot and sunny days, so sun coverage became more important overall than warmth, lots of sun screen and sun sleeves. I knew trying to ride with a killer sunburn would just be miserable.

I worked off a Garmin GPS, but having the maps to cross reference was great. Being able to see what is ahead of you for services gave me nice peace of mind, except when that one store was closed or, even worse, not there anymore.

IMG_2543Getting back to the question of what to bring though, here is the detail on what I packed:

2- Sea-to-Summit 5 liter dry bags.

1- Revelate Designs Viscacha saddle bag

1- Ortlieb handlebar bag

In one of the Sea-to-Summit bags I packed sleeping gear: Nimo bivy, Nimo Astro Insulated Lite Pad, Sea-to-Summit pillow, merino wool sleeping liner.


IMG_2534In the other Sea-to-Summit, I packed odd bits: two spare tubes, patch kit, brake pads, chain quick links, wire connectors, shrink tubing, small first aid kit, soap, baby oil, tent spikes and repair kit, cables for charging, spare batteries, and zip ties.





IMG_2532In the Viscacha Saddle Bag I packed clothing: 3 pair socks from the Athletic and Rapha, two kits, Rapha rain jacket, Rapha brevet vest, Rapha long sleeve brevet jersey, Ibex long sleeve merino wool base layer, Ibex wool cap, Drifters bandana, 1 t-shirt, 1 pair running shorts, 1 cap, 1 pack towel, 1 tube, 1 toe strap, a spare tire that i gave away,  and my Spot tracker.


IMG_2528In the Ortlieb handlebar bag, I packed the stuff I wanted instant access to: snacks! maps, sun screen, sun sleeves, camera and charger, multi tool, chain breaker, chain lube, knife, spork, full finger gloves that I lost trying to dry them off from the humidity in Missouri, tooth paste and tooth brush, a tube, a pen, a notebook, matches, external battery charger and wires, and some pennies I found.


Of course, the bike is worth mentioning. I rode a Seven Cycles Evergreen SL with a SRAM Red 22 group, Velocity Aileron rims, Son 28 generator hub front and Velocity hub rear, 700×28 Ruffy Tuffy tires, Super Nova E3 front and rear lights, Brooks Cambium saddle, Thomson stem and post, FSA bars, Garmin 1000, Time ATAC pedals, 3 King Cages and water bottles.

New England Randonneurs Overnight 200km

Thursday, July 30th, 2015


Riding 200km is difficult, and it seems to add a needless degree of difficulty to do it in the dark, but if you consider that the next distances on the randonneuring calendar are 300km, 400km and 600km (not to mention the 1000k), at some point it is helpful to inure yourself to riding in darkness.

Last weekend, our resident randonneur extraordinaire Brad, fresh from this exploit, took on the NER 200km overnight brevet.

“Everything is funnier in the dark,” he says. “At 2am, what keeps you going are the ridiculous things people say and dreaming about your next snack.”


Leaving at 9pm on a Saturday night, this 200k, sent riders out onto quiet roads and brought them back in around 5am, just in time for breakfast. Of the 14 randonneurs who participated, three were prepping for this week’s 1000k event, and a few were tuning up for the granddaddy of them all, Paris-Brest-Paris.