Archive for the ‘Team Seven Cycles’ Category
One stubborn visa is all that keeps Zand Martin from boarding a plane to Kazakhstan, the starting point of an amazing adventure. The wait will be over soon though, and in the anxious days leading up to the visa’s arrival, Zand has been hard at work. For starters, the trip’s website and Facebook page have been created, and are now live!
Zand might be an outdoorsman at heart, but he is a gifted writer and storyteller, too. When he visited us a few weeks ago, it was apparent that he was biting his tongue to prevent all of the stories from rushing out, perhaps to avoid keeping us there all day. I doubt we would have noticed the clock, however. His stories sound like folktales. One such story involved his inland kayak traverse of the United States a few years ago. He came to a point where he could paddle no further, so he bought a $30 bike on Craigslist, built a trailer, and pulled his kayak right through Yellowstone. I’m sure the buses of tourists took as many pictures of him and his rig as they did the buffaloes that day.
To help us grasp the scale of his latest trip, Zand unfolded all of his maps on out showroom floor. Laying them out, it was obvious he is a map guy (I wasn’t surprised to see this blog post a few days later). Some of the maps were what you could find on line, others were old Russian military maps and harder to acquire. While he was talking us through the route, his enthusiasm, and smile, began to gleam. If there weren’t bikes to make, we’d be on that trip with him.
Speaking of bikes, Zand has also been using his time to familiarize himself with his Expat S. His bike is outfitted with drop bars, bar con shifters, mechanical disc brakes, and due to the weight of his gear and the unknown terrain ahead, a triple chain ring. On his rack, he’ll be carrying a tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear, a change of clothes, skis, ski boots, an avalanche probe, and camera equipment. The goal is to carry no more than 35 pounds of gear and equipment. To see what all of this gear looks like, when spread out and organized over a time lapse video, click here.
And so, our excitement grows for “Circling the Golden Mountains.” As soon as the final visa arrives, Zand and his partner will be off, and we’ll be that much closer to our next folktale.
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.
This is Dan‘s new, steel Mudhoney with a paint scheme he designed himself and we liked so much we made it one of our standard offerings. We call it ‘Antsy,’ because once this frame got to the paint team, Dan checked in on it every fifteen minutes or so until it was done.
It is safe to say Dan is the fastest guy in the building, and he built this bike to race, not just to embarrass us all on the regular Wednesday night Battle Path ride. The basic idea here was to build a light steel racer he could go hard on during the season, but would keep on the road year round. The 44mm head tube and integrated head set give the bike a modern look, and the paint feeds that same vibe.
So this is really a balance of traditional materials and design with a more contemporary aesthetic. The geometry is “American cross,” with a lower bottom bracket and slacker head tube angle. The paint scheme says, “I’m probably faster than you.” And he is.
While he was at it, he thought he’d move to a tapered fork with a 44mm head tube, and finish it out with custom decals, silver with a red outline.
We can’t vouch for every one of Joe’s design decisions on this bike, it’s his bike and no one else’s. We will say that he’s finishing closer to the podium this year than he was last year. Draw what conclusions you may.
“I really wanted to race with disc brakes this season,” Joe says, “so most of my focus has been on how the braking is different and better from my cantilever brakes. You ride so many dramatically different surfaces during a single race, the way your brakes work, from surface to surface, is a big deal. I noticed with cantis that I got pretty unpredictable results from the road to the grass to the mud. I’d pull the lever and see what happened, and then react to that.”
Obviously, that’s part of the charm of racing cross, or at least it has been. After so much talk last season about the emergence of discs, still only about 10% of racers seem to be running them, versus more traditional cantilever set ups.
Joe says, “The main difference with the discs is that they’re predictable. You grab a fistful of lever, and you stop. If anything, I am finding I can roll faster into turns and technical sections, because I know better what it’s going to take to slow down.”
The counter argument, the reason to stay with cantis, is the weight penalty. Today’s discs with their heavy calipers and rotors can add as much as a pound to your race day rig. Joe still hasn’t decided what he thinks about the added weight.
“I know the bike is heavier,” he says, “but I’m not sure that’s a problem for me in race situations. Maybe, because I can carry more speed into the barriers or the run ups, I’m less aware of carrying more weight on my shoulder or pushing it around the course.”
Whatever the case, we are building a lot more disc CX bikes this season than last. Whether those are race bikes, gravel grinders, or all-weather commuters, it’s a set up that is working for Seven riders all over the world, and we expect to see a lot more, on the road, if not on the race course.
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.