2002 World Championships and World Cup

MaryPodiumMcConneloug recounts her European adventures with teammate/soul mate Mike Broderick at the 2002 World Championships and World Cup finals.

Bon jour!

Mike and I made it back safe and sound from our whirlwind racing adventure in Europe 8/27-9/10. We began our trip in Munich, raced in Austria, drove through the Alps, and raced in France. We could have easily spent a month over there.

World Championships

After a restless night, I awoke at 5:00 am for my race breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. It began pouring two hours before the start. “I’ll just try to be positive about it,” I thought. And so after warming up on the trainer, I lined up at 8:30 am in the rain.

From the back of the pack, I slowly made my way through crashes and the bogged masses. I couldn’t believe the number of spectators, yelling and cheering: Bup! Bup! Bup! The course soon turned into a slippery mud fest as 80 women attempted four laps.

Many dropped out and several got pulled, lapped by the leaders. I was determined to finish. My cyclocross skills came in handy when it was impossible or too dangerous to ride. My legs didn’t cramp despite all the running. I finally finished 25th, after 2:36 hours—smiling, despite the mud and my aching body.

Mike was incredible. He wrenched my bike, cooked, and massaged my cramping rump. During the race, he handed me clean eyewear and cheered me on. I couldn’t have done it without him.

World Cup Finals

We had a few days to meander over to France for the World Cup Finals. Race day turned out to be beautiful and sunny. I felt good and was ready to charge on my feather-light titanium Seven Sola. I started in the fourth row, but wasn’t worried; the course started on a long climb and had tons of room to pass.

I worked into 12th on the first lap. I settled in and passed two more women. My legs felt good climbing and I was riding the descents well. I knew I was holding my ground, though I could see the mad pack behind me. “Keep spinning up those hills, ride smooth and make no mistakes,” I told myself. I was closing in on another woman at the top of the 3rd lap. Passing her then another, I was now in 8th place with one lap to go. I stayed focused and managed to hold my spot to the finish, only 30 seconds behind the 2002 World Champion (Norway’s Gunn Rita Dahl). I was the 2nd American after Alison Dunlap’s 5th place. But my day wasn’t over.

Mike’s race began a half hour after mine ended. After washing my bike and a quick warm down, I scrambled to shower, change, and eat. I sped up to the feed zone to watch the 140 Pro men go off. It was exciting to watch, knowing the tremendous amount of dedication it took just to get there and what pain and suffering these guys were about to endure. They had five laps to complete.

The field roared by in a steady stream at first. Then gaps formed as the lead men pushed a blistering pace. The field began to dwindle as several contenders dropped out. Mike kept coming around each lap, and even though half the field was in front of him, I could see that his fitness and focus were as strong as ever. He finished the grueling race (68th) as the 3rd American in 2:15. It was a challenging and successful day for both of us.

McConneloug Makes U.S. National Team; Heads for Worlds

McConnelougVT

Seven Cycles mountain bike pro Mary McConneloug has officially been named to the U.S. National Team. The nomination came as a result of her 8th place finish at the World Cup cross country event at Mount St. Anne, Canada; she was one of only two Americas to finish in the top ten. Mary will compete for the World Championship in Austria this fall.

In a phone call to Seven Cycles the day following the announcement, Mary said, “I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I was just so excited.”

Mary is currently 6th overall in the NORBA National Championship Series. She holds 3rd overall in the NCS Short Track event.

Seven Sweeps Killington

photos by Ken Keefner

On July 28, Team Seven’s Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick took the top podium spots at the AMBC series mountain bike race “Beauty and the Beast” in Killington, VT. The course was characterized as fun and technical, with an abundance of short power climbs and fast, rooty descents. Hot, humid conditions at the start gave way to fog and even light rain, cooling racers and leaving the course fast and tacking.

In the Pro women’s race, Mary took a commanding early lead and remained unchallenged to the end, finishing four minutes ahead of second place. Mary kept up the pace by testing her power against the expert men, but she remained conservative, wanting to keep herself fresh for the upcoming NORBA National Championship Series race in Durango, Colorado.

BroderickVTIn the pro men’s race, Mike went off with a three-man break that separated from the rest of the field by the middle of the first lap. The break dwindled to two; Ben Moody and Broderick worked together to stay away. Eventually, Bill Hurley caught the two and attached on the last climb. Mike put his head down and stayed on his wheel, however. In a dramatic last moment move, Broderick got by Hurley on a hard left uphill to the finish chute.

Congratulations Mike and Mary!

Bicycling.com: Seven Titanium Stem

by Joe Lindsey

Weight: 158 grams (120mm)
Sizes: 1-1/8-inch threadless only; custom rise and reach
Colors: Brushed titanium; custom paint available
Buy it if: The idea of a fully custom titanium stem appeals to you.
Forget it if: You put more emphasis on the performance/cost ratio than anything.
Contact: 617/923-7774

StemSmallIf you’re not familiar with Seven Cycles, here’s a quick rundown: the company makes steel and titanium bikes and are the only bike maker fully immersed in the idea of mass customization: the creation of each and every frame as a distinctly original unit, but built with the same standardized processes to ensure quality every time. No two Sevens, not even two titanium hardtails built for 5-foot-9 riders, are alike.

That design philosophy extends to Seven’s line of components, which at this point includes stems, seatposts and mountain bike handlebars. The Seven stem, built from 3Al/2.5V titanium, is a custom job only—any rise, any extension length, road, mountain, whatever. The only caveat is theadless inch and an eighth steerer only—no quill or 1-inch models. It’s not cheap, but the Seven stem does dispel some of the theories about titanium stems, like they’re noodly.

You can choose from three stiffness levels: S1, for riders under 140 pounds, S2, for a stiffness approximately the same as a good aluminum stem, or S3, for big riders or those who want the stiffest stem possible. I chose an S2 mountain, 120mm, zero-degree rise stem and it is an exceptional piece of equipment.

The S2 proved plenty stiff for my needs, even with a pair of torque-happy 23-inch wide riser bars. It steers well, installed easily and the quality is top-notch. Weld passes are smooth and even, and the stem, like the company’s frames, arrived with a note identifying its welder and polisher—Seven’s way of noting pride of workmanship and accountability. And it comes with a lifetime warranty.

For 2002, Seven is looking into offering a detachable faceplate mountain stem, which would alleviate the only concern I had with the stem: the older single-bolt clamp wasn’t as friendly to install riser bars with. It worked with most risers, but some 2-inch rise models with a sharp bend weren’t easy to pass through the clamp. The Seven is exorbitantly priced; more so than a stem has a right to be. But this isn’t about having the lightest or the best performance on the dollar—there are lots of good stems for much less than this. The Seven is about having the best, and like their bikes, if you want to pay the price, you’ll get a great stem.

Pro Cycling Magazine: Seventh Heaven

By Robert Millar
Pro CyclingOh no, I thought, not another American titanium bike made from 3AL-2.5V tubing. Is this the only material for custom-built frames they have in the States? I haven’t been too impressed by the past few efforts we’ve seen in the procycling office. Sure, they all look like they will last a lifetime, but the claim that they were race bikes seemed a little dubious.

Why do I say that? They were all missing that little bit of character and liveliness that separates the pedigree racer from the boring plodder. Where was the stiffness and the rapidity of reaction that you need when racing? They had plenty of built-in comfort, but it seemed to be at the expense of the handling. The Seven Axiom in 3AL-2V titanium tubing looked like it was the chief culprit, a little too soft and a little too bendy to give bite to the all-important bike reactions. So, I admit I was a touch dubious of the people at Seven’s claim that the material wasn’t to blame—it’s what you do with it that gives the frame its characteristics.

A visit to the Seven website then threw up a vast array of questions on what I wanted from my custom-made titanium frame—which quite frankly I’d never been asked before. They served to explain what Seven could do to in order to achieve your ideal bike.

All the possible characteristics of a frame are separated into categories, which are marked from one to 10, then the different materials used to make frames are shown somewhere along this scale. Whatever kind of frame you are used to riding, be it carbon, steel, titanium or aluminum—this series of scales gives you the opportunity to figure out what you like and dislike about your bike and see how different tubing can affect those values.

It really is quite simple and effective in the way it allows you to program the traits that you want into your Seven frameset with a minimum of knowledge about frame materials and how they give different ride qualities to a bike. The Seven Custom kit works it all out for you, puts easy-to-understand numbers on all the important parts to help you figure it out and then asks a few more questions which will confirm your exact needs.

So what did I ask for? “A titanium frame which rides like oversize aluminum, please.” Yeah right, as if that’ll be possible is what I was thinking, and you probably are too, but hey, they say they can do it…

Previous experience of people asking what you want, then doing what they wish, has taught me to take the “custom” claims with a pinch of salt. But while I gave them the dimensions for my frame, the style, type and choice of frame would be theirs. In the event, they got back to me only once, concerning the bottom bracket height which would apparently be 5mm higher than they normally use—due to the rear triangle length and tire-clearance issues—but other than that I never heard a thing questioning my judgment.

Pro CyclingWhen the bike arrived a few weeks later, at first sight, it looked very much like a typical titanium frame, sloping top tube, curved seat and chainstays, straight carbon forks. Nothing was openly radical in the design.

The presentation and apparent craftsmanship were what you would and should expect at this price level—simply immaculate. Everything was smooth and shiny and placed where it ought to be for optimum performance. These little details show that these guys mean business: super stiff CNC-machined drop outs made from stronger 6-4 titanium are engraved with the Seven logo; there is a composite liner inside the seat tube to stop the post from seizing when the oh-so-smooth Seven seat clamp is done up; the badge on the head tube is laser-cut stainless steel and every cable guide is perfectly applied. The welding is beautifully done, no ifs or buts, every joining is a piece of art. The front forks are a Seven exclusive, carbon steerer with an inner alloy sleeve, polished aluminum crown and straight carbon legs which are round in section just like every other tube used in this Axiom frame. In fact, according to the Seven info, they use exclusively round section tubes in all their frames whatever the material—titanium, steel or carbon fiber. It seems an odd choice at a time when every man and his dog seem to be producing an array of multi-shaped tubing to build a frame. Claims to build the stiffest, lightest, fastest bike just add to the confusion, but at least you can’t say that you don’t have any choices nowadays.

Pro CyclingThe first choice I made—before I even set off to ride the Axiom—was to remove the SLR saddle, a static twiddle of the pedals confirming that this piece of equipment is definitely not for me. It was way too hard and flat—so I nicked the saddle and seat post out of my own bike. I didn’t have to fiddle with my saddle to get the right position as it lined up perfectly, confirming that the Seven guys had got the seat angle exactly as I asked for. This was the first piece of really good news—they had done as they were told with the dimensions. The second came after just 20 seconds of riding when I had to endure the first disturbance in the road surface, the frame reacted with a very un-titanium-like rumble mixed with a bit of harshness and plenty of vertical stiffness from the rear triangle. Excellent, just as oversized aluminum would have done.

Pro CyclingOut of the saddle and up the hill that greeted me everyday when I set off, the negative titanium thoughts were completely banished. This Seven feels exactly like fat alloy tubes have been used; in fact, it feels eerily similar to the Rex Pro I had from Principia last year. Same stiffness from the drive train, same rigidity in the main frame and the same level of comfort or rather lack of it when potholes appear. I was very impressed. If it wasn’t for the fact I could look down and see the satin-finished titanium tubes looking back at me I would have believed it was oversized alloy.

The front forks must come in for a special mention—they might look a bit funny but the performance from them is as good as I have ever used. They have just the right amount of flexibility to deal with harsh bumps but the stiffness out of the saddle is remarkable and the feedback from the front tire is really nice. You can feel exactly what the rubber is doing under all circumstances. The front of the bike when placed under pressure, be it sprinting, down-hill braking or fast cornering, feels as reassuring and confident as Mr Pinarello offers on his Vola forked Prince frames, which is high praise indeed. As a whole, the bike feels like the front from a Prince or a Cannondale CMD 6 has been attached to the rear triangle from a Principia—you can’t get a more aluminum feeling than that.

Pro CyclingI rode in the wet, the dry, the cold and the miserably freezing and it never once gave off a hint of bend or flex that the titanium construction usually would have. The geometry and the dimensions were exactly as I had asked for, I so I felt instantly at home on the Axiom, nice neutral steering with plenty of feedback from the tires, excellent traction out of the saddle, super stiff head tube and forks, I loved every reaction that came from the bike. Even on the crap days, it was still enjoyable to ride!

Equipped with the Campagnolo 2002 Record groupset, the equipment was irreproachable. A few grams shaved off here and there did not affect the quality of the equipment at all. The Campag Neutron wheels are simply an update of the previous Neutrons, with black alloy spokes replacing the old stainless steel ones in the never-ending search for weight reduction.

Pro CyclingFitted with Vittoria CX tubulars, they provided all the response, liveliness and resilience that you could ask for from a set of wheels that is strong enough to deal with all but the most extreme of road surfaces. Furthermore, Deda Newton oversized bars, in the classic round shape with matching stem, were perfectly comfortable and flex free, despite all the best efforts that I could put through them—due to that massive head-fork combination of the frame.

So, at just 7.25 kilos, here stands a machine that can—and will—do just about anything you want it to, on just about any road surface you can imagine and it has all the options. Fit, finish, performance and durability.

Specifications

Frame: Argen™ double-butted titanium 3AL-2.5V
Forks: Seven carbon
Groupset: Campagnolo Record
Bars: Deda Newton 31.8
Stem: Deda Newton
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR
Seatpost: Campag carbon
Headset: Chris King
WheeliresIRES: Vittoria CX TT tubulars 21 mm
Vairables: 53-39 chainrings, 11-23 cassette, 172.5mm cranks

Dimensions

Seat Tube Length: 460mm
Top Tube Length: 550mm
Whellabse: 578mm
Front Centers: 575mm
Rear Triangle: 410mm
Fork Rake: 40mm
Weight: 7.25kg (16Ibs)
Price: $2,595 frame only

Conclusion

Mission accomplished as far as the Seven is concerned. I asked for the performances and feelings of a fat alloy frame and that is exactly what I got, 100% correct with no compromises. That the frame producing this is made from 3AL-2V titanium is all the more impressive and leaves me in no doubt that everything they claim they can do with this material is entirely believable.