Snowward Bound – The Four-Season Sola 2×2

We look forward to a good snowfall, especially one that sets up overnight leaving a fresh, untouched blanket in the local woods. Having just released the Four-Season Sola 2×2, we were anxious to get it out into some “conditions,” and our New England weather obliged.

We opted for 27.5″ x 3″ tires and our Seven Adventure Bar. Snow riding calls for keeping your weight back and balanced over the wheels. This was a heavy snow and the temperature was high enough that what was on the ground had a high ice content. We didn’t let that bother us, snaking in and out of familiar trails made entirely new by sagging of branches and obscuring of rocks.

The bike was flawless, a perfect match for the pristine pre-dawn. Rides like this both exhaust you and recharge your batteries at the same time.

On the Road: Dan Sharp’s Bay Ridge Hot Lap

When adventurist/photographer Daniel Sharp is short of time, he just concocts short adventures and invites some friends along for the ride. This time he’s on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, actually a series of connectible trails that circumnavigates the San Francisco Bay. It stretches north Napa and Marin and south to San Jose.

What makes this trip so cool, in our eyes, is that it doesn’t skip the ugly parts. Put another way, Dan and his friends engaged in the urban parts of this route, too. The Bay Area is a part of the world that serves up a lot of natural beauty despite its overall population density, and in some ways the reward of those views is enhanced by pounding the pavement from the city center to see it.

Here are some of Dan’s always-inspiring photos, and some brief prose about the trip:

They say the hardest part of any adventure is getting out the door, especially this time of year when in the Pacific Northwest rainy days start to outnumber sunny ones. For this, my fourth adventure of this project, the hardest part was choosing a route and finding a crew that could take time off to do a ride.
The word “ambitious” became the buzz word whenever we mentioned the route and our planned time frame. I took that to be a euphemism for crazy or just plain stupid. Well, if that’s the case then maybe this is a 3-day fastpacking trip within urban boundaries. Why get so hung up on terminology? Let’s just go ride mountain bikes around the bay and see what that’s like, so that’s exactly what we did.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail is not a classic bikepacking or endurance mountain biking route, not yet. According to the website, the first ridge trail segment was dedicated in May of 1989. Existing trails were quickly added and it opened 100 miles in 1990 and 200 miles in 1995. As anyone that’s ever ridden in the Bay Area knows, land access is tricky and the 300th mile wasn’t added until 2006. Today the Bay Area Ridge Trail boasts 350 miles of trails. A quick look at the interactive map reveals the reality that to complete the route, one will have to link dirt trail with plenty of pavement.
The thrill for me was to see just what quantity and quality of trails are available in the Bay Area close to major urban areas. In past trips I had gotten to ride roads in the Marin Headlands, several trails near Fairfax, Weir’s ranch in Novato, UCSC and Soquel Demo Forest near Santa Cruz. But those were day trips of proper trail mountain biking. This was going to be a unique trip in the sense that it would be more like a fast-paced bike tour, half on dirt roads, some singletrack, and plenty of grinding out road miles through urban areas. The reality is that this route is its own thing – it’s urban mountain biking that you can link together sections of trail and we discovered without too much difficulty.
In the end we enjoyed the company of hosts and having beds to sleep in every night. We were able to recover well before getting out and attempting another ten-hour day in the saddle.
To read way more about Dan’s Bay Ridge adventure, check out his site.

In the Still of the Night

Here in the northern hemisphere, daylight savings and the tilt of the Earth on its axis are depriving us of sun-out riding time. Whether we like it or not (we like it), we are all clocking more miles in the dark. Luckily, over the last few seasons high-powered lights have become more and more affordable, so not only do we feel safer, but we also have enough light to engage in adventures both on and off the road.

It is easy to look out a dark window, especially after the temperature starts to drop, and think your cycling season is over. What we know is that on the right bike, with the right lights, a whole new season is just beginning.


Top photo above by Kirk Tegelaar. All other photos by Seven’s own resident vampire night owl Rob Vandermark.

Off Road with Mike Bybee

Like most of our favorite riders, Mike Bybee brings an enthusiasm to cycling that makes other people want to ride bikes, too. So beyond the fact that he’s an accomplished bike packer, travel photographer and all around outdoors dude, he was a pleasure to collaborate with, and we think the bike we built him came out all the better for it.

Although he plans to ride his Seven on all Seven continents (yes, including Antarctica), we checked in with him for an early review only a few weeks after he had taken delivery.

Seven: Why this bike?

Mike: The Seven Sola SL is a great compromise between ultra-butted and straight tube frames. The craftsmanship is absolutely top-notch, and I knew that working with the designers and builders personally would insure that the bike would be tailored to me, not simply cobbled together to reduce discomfort.

With a goal of singletrack bike based travel and setting wheels on all seven continents, compromises have to be made. Seven Cycles did a great job at making sure the bike was as light and nimble as any dedicated dedicated all-mountain bike while still giving me the comfort, durability and carrying capacity to spend weeks on the bike without resupply.

Seven:  How does it measure up to your expectations?

Mike: Seven Cycles has blown me away entirely. The bike weighs barely more than the standard spec, despite being built for exceptional ruggedness. The innovative design of the rear rack means that I’m able to carry a full load without it interfering with the brakes or relying on a convoluted series of adapters. The welds and craftsmanship are top notch, and the bike is the most agile 29er I’ve ever used – far better than the competition. It handles better than any bike I’ve ridden in its price-range, and with a fit and form that blow them all away.

Seven: Where are you going to take it?

Mike: Immediate term, it’s making its way across Arizona. Early 2015 it’ll be in Utah and New Mexico, and preparations are underway for a tour of Norway’s remote bike trails as well. Travel is being arranged for Iceland, Europe, and Australia in the coming years, with a trip to a research base in Antarctica already in the works.

For more of Mike’s amazing photos, check his blog often for updates on his off-road travels around the globe. We are hoping to post more of this thoughts on bikes and adventuring here, too.