Joe Cruz in Croatia

Another missive from our buddy Joe, adventure cyclist/philosophy professor, this time from Croatia. Beautiful images. Good words. All his. All adventure. Read on.No place is a unity, not if you’re open and look to learn something even from small things. In riding in Croatia, then, we didn’t find it to be one place. But the diversity was macroscopic, ranging over the thick parts of culture and movement and affect. In a single day we might pack up our gear from a woodland camp, take lunch dockside in the swirl of festive Europeans on holiday, clinking white wine glasses and bobbing yachts as backdrop. We might then climb on rutted tracks between centuries old stone goat fences up through half abandoned villages—cherry and apricot trees twisting in brightness—to pedal with our hearts in our throats through uncleared landmine acres, then sit at mountain camp with grinning Croatians sharing their stew and bread and stories. The next day we’d drop down off the ridge again.

Our hours were that kind of glorious haphazard fabric, unexpected warp and weft. The only constant was Homer’s wild northern sea, the Adriatic, always in sight or at least its suggestion.

Another evening after a restaurant dinner, the owner talks about her family’s olives, how when growing up in the era of Yugoslavia she used to drink olive oil as part of becoming strong for gymnastics. She doesn’t say so, but her voice suggests that it’s also a metaphor. With the sun a few fingers over the horizon, we pedal to a late ferry to Krk. When we reach the island, it’s plenty dark so our headlamps go on and we ride onto a dirt track, looking for a camp spot. The riding is rugged, dry. Demanding though buoyant. Water will be hard to find for these coming weeks. We’ve learned to spot the wells, low stone chimney looking blocks with an iron lid. Looking down at our reflections, the rain water is placid in the catch, three meters down. We lower an improvised pail, a cut in half soda bottle with a long length of wire. Jack carries the wire coiled on his saddle bag, I carry the bottle strapped on my front roll.

Later we feel the accumulation of ascent, scaling passes into a cracked plateau with the white gravel track disappearing before us deep into Velebit National Park. There’s a feeling of remoteness that we didn’t expect: from towns and people, of course, but also from the recent history of this region, as if the crags are trying to be a sanctuary from memory. For the first time on the trip we’ve had to put on our jackets against chill and a greying sky.

In total we ride a mix of demanding mountain bike track, dirt roads, asphalt that remains new in the way that only sunny warm climes can allow. We sweat and bend our shoulders against the sky, exalt in long descents and sometimes push our wheels up through thorny brush to emerge into expanse. We visit a Croatia that’s wilderness, that’s jumping accelerating commerce, that’s nearly silent alleys. We stop at the Nikola Tesla museum to have our arm hairs stand straight up near the big coil. We ride around holes in the tarmac where we can’t tell if they are from heavy truck tread or from shell fire twenty-five years ago.

Croatia unfolds to us and our days there are far too few.

Joe Cruz is a professor of philosophy, an expedition cyclist, and an ambassador for Seven Cycles. Find more of his words and images at joecruz.wordpress.com and on Instagram @joecruzpedaling.

The King and Us

We (and our customers) are in the very fortunate position of being able to choose what parts we put on our bikes, so it’s no surprise that we choose to work with companies who share our passion for quality, durability, and simplicity.

Chris King Precision Components has made bicycle components since 1976, focusing on those same principles. Like us, they take a ground up approach, engineering and manufacturing their own bearings, specifically for bicycles, right in their own factory.

Over the years, we’ve seen their headsets go from frame to frame. We’ve seen hubsets survive jarring crashes and seemingly intolerable conditions. These are parts that have carried their riders to   Tour de France podiums and World Championships in the dirt, but they also go on Sevens every day. We are proud to work with Chris King and put their headsets, bottom brackets and wheelsets on our bikes.

When you make good things for people, things that last, they reward you with loyalty. King has earned that sort of loyalty over their 40 years in the bike game. A touch of color pressed into a head tube or that distinctive angry bee hub sound lets you know you’re riding with a King devotee. It’s a loyalty born of those bedrock beliefs in value, quality, and performance, values we share and deliver with every bike.

1000km on the Seven RedSky S

We delivered Woody’s RedSky S in February of this year, via Adam and Saj at Get-a-Grip in Chicago. We received this photo, just this morning, which suggests Woody and his Seven are getting along pretty well.

He wrote:

Rode my Seven for the Great Lakes Randonneurs 1000k last weekend.  We were allowed 75 hours, completed it in 65.  Had decent weather, just one huge storm on Day 1 to contend with.  Great roads, terrific variety of terrain, and great support from the GLR volunteers.  My bike handled great.  Bombing hills, cornering with speed, bouncing across gravel sections—all good. 

Thanks,

Woody

Bikes and Art

People sometimes say our bikes are worthy of hanging on walls, that they are art, which is a nice thing to say, but makes us feel a little uncomfortable. In our minds bikes are tools, transportation, toys, etc. They should look great, if you can manage it, but we want people, first and foremost, to ride them. A lot. Which is rather hard to do when they’re hanging on a wall.

Imagine our surprise when Rhys W sent us this photo. It’s of his wife and her Seven Mudhoney SL, which she rides a lot, but also hangs on the wall.

He also wrote:

Seven. BEST investment ever for me.

Buy a Seven, ride it, and then you will understand.

Rhys

A Night to Feel Lucky

It was a night to feel lucky. We worked late, in the city, talking bike building with a small group of interested cyclists over pizza and cooler full of cold drinks, one of those nights where the conversation just flows, bike people talking about bikes, none of us in any rush to be anywhere else.

When we finally packed up and left the sun still hung above the river, gauzy cloud muting it and giving it color. People ran and walked. Sailboats cut and darted on the water, and cyclists pedaled past in every direction.

Probably every night is a night to feel lucky, but last night, as we wound our way back down the river and out of the city, struck just the right note, the right scene, the right pace, the right temperature and distance, everything falling into place in just the right way.