The Drifters at the Maneha 250

Our own Brad Smith and Matt Masuzzo, bike builders, riders, all-around cool guys gave us the low down on a local event, the Maneha 250, that just celebrated its second running. Brad and Matt rode, as they often do, with their team The Drifters.

All words by Matty and photos by Brad below:

HsAzkvuCyJ9deaopZ33cXGLStDMOovfUWLd8WE2dYZgc9uAxqiuCIRG-8bz4p-elcyFRqg=w1627-h775When I first learned the details of the Maneha 250, it quickly made its way towards the top of my ride bucket list. It’s certainly a singular event, unlike anything I’ve ridden before. The concept is straightforward enough — 250 miles of mixed terrain riding over the course of two days with roughly 14,000 feet of climbing. However, the content and execution of the route planning is what really sets the Maneha apart and makes it so unique. It’s definitely a maximalist approach to riding, as our tires seemed to touch every possible type of surface within New England.

0m_1GuRRm105SLBdBTL56x_vdCe_F-g36KwREKk7PdhSizZ9IRjBn8lB5eQuetoomg_xqQ=w1627-h775We left our respective homes at a time of day normally reserved for third shift security guards. Around 30 riders met at the start location, Ride Studio Cafe to sign in, and following a quick breakfast and round of coffee, groups started slowly rolling out around the 6 a.m. Grand Depart.

After some compulsory group photos, our team of three followed suit. We began the day on a long stretch of familiar gravel that often serves as a pre-work dirt commute. The morning sun was out in full effect and seemed to backlight all of the newly formed foliage along the path. The first 30 miles or so was a twisty-turny mix of mostly suburban hobo trails, the type you forget are practically in your backyard and beg to be explored and connected with bits of quiet paved back roads. From there we headed into some more secluded singletrack that wound through several town forests. Just as we were almost out of gas from a punishing climb up a lengthy rock garden, we were met by the affable sag wagon driver Mark, who supplied us with mini cokes and a cornucopia of gels, bars, and homemade rice cakes.

TPFp0JvcvMN3SM9HwsFmE7SVpH3r-8qW2AKE3EShJ735pRHSfBdo2UGPirxM1yxUVrQr2Q=w1627-h775The sun was starting to beat down as we continued on towards the New Hampshire state line. As we crossed into Granite State (official home of the vanity license plate) the ride took on a completely different feel. Rough single and double track gave way to peaceful gravel farm roads and rail trails. We stopped at mile 90 for a bonk break, quickly recovered and set our sights on the Mayfair Farm where we would be camping and feasting. The last few miles of Day 1 were a blur of steep yet smooth dirt roads, screaming legs, and some helpful locals offering friendly encouragements like  “You’ll never make it up that hill!”

SQfSZG1gOp_VO9ve_FieFxDlFLr6gIUX68KVCEiwtvj8daiNF4ljQimCODJil9WFyuCvlw=w1627-h775Once camp was set up at the farm, everyone began helping themselves to an amazing spread of food and drinks. We all swapped stories from the day as riders continued to pull into camp after nightfall.  Following some obligatory s’mores and fireside beers, we zipped up our tents just as the first few drops of rain began to fall.

ooOGVQGRdOwBreE6dB4b1B5QF-DDsB4dFw_vPvmQuI3aBj0VEUVnNieGPYXgMbJShX7lgw=w1627-h775The next morning we awoke at dawn to get another early start and head back towards Boston. Day 2 promised to be an overall descent and there was rumor of a possible tailwind to provide a little extra help to get us home. We started on similar dirt roads to those that had been so taxing just 10 hours earlier. Unfortunately for us, they hadn’t flattened out overnight in spite of the steady rain. It was decidedly chillier than the previous morning, even more so when cruising down some of the long gravel descents as we made our way back into the great state of Massachusetts.

The majority of the second day rolled along much quicker than the first, even when we hit some bone-rattling singletrack in the northern portion of the state. Throughout the day we were met by the support van offering cold brew and snacks to keep us going. The rural landscape and vanity plates began to fade away as we entered the familiar exurbs of Boston where it seems an appreciation for the quirky charm of having a personalized slogan on your license plate is lost. 

eQ80jQTPhw3njcYYwaZrQjo0DwcdDN96iqBEO21qtKwat4EZIOLOF4vXPuixpRi6vRHZSA=w1627-h775By now I had figured out that any paved sections that promised a straight shot to our destination were off the table. The last leg of our journey was spent on overgrown MTB trails, a bike path or two, and a few wetland boardwalks for good measure.

Our team finished up the Maneha 250 in good spirits, a little beaten up but proud of the ground we had covered in under 48 hours. It was an incredible two days of riding on a route that epitomized what is quickly becoming a new standard of a truly memorable ride — the type that emphasizes ambitious mileage, less traffic, more dirt, great food, and somehow manages to be both physically exhausting and overwhelmingly fun at the same time. The Maneha 250 may be checked off the bucket list, but luckily it found a new home on the annual “essential rides” schedule.

The Drifters ride our Evergreen series of mixed-terrain bikes.

The B-Team

IMG_4156Don’t be fooled. The B-team is fast. They see themselves as a more casual alternative to the young guns going hell for leather, but each of them is fit and fast and formidable in their own right.

They are Matt, Jenny, Roger, Cris, and Dan, aka Dancing Roy.

Jenny says the team’s philosophy is to “take care of each other and ride steady on the roads, save your energy for the trails, be shark-like at stops, except when we opt for a sit down, waiter-serviced lunch.  By a waterfall.  Martinis optional.”

IMG_4089The team came together on last year’s Maneha 250.

Matt explains, “By chance we ended up riding together at last year’s Maneha and we became the “B-team.” We all knew each other and had individually ridden with each other at times, but never as a group. The 4 of us Cris, Roger, Dan and myself really just ride well together, have fun, support each other, and I feel that we all make each other better riders. Jenny rode with us at this year’s Wintertide Ride, and it was clear that she would be a great addition to the B-team. She may be the strongest of the group. She is super positive and never shows any weakness. Basically she raises us all to B+.”

IMG_20160515_194459Roger adds, “The B-Team formed by accident and was bonded by shared work and suffering. Finding a group of people who can ride well together is hard. Finding a group of people who inspire you is harder. Finding both of those things by chance during a long  hard ride is statistically hard to imagine. But there it is. That is how the B-Team formed.”

You won’t find many photos of Dan from the B-team’s adventure, because he broke his pelvis on a training ride with the rest of the crew. Not knowing how badly he was hurt, the team kept riding after his crash and visited a bar or two before it became clear he needed medical attention.

IMG_4141When you speak with them, what becomes clear right away is that the ability to put a brave, even humorous, face on the darkest moments is what makes them such a good team.

Cris backs that up, saying, “Regardless of how deep into a ride and tired we are, this team lights up when it hits the trails. Things get rad and fast and flow-y. And everyone seems to ride even better because no matter whose wheel you are following, it’s picking inspiring lines and going fast.  With Matt being our super ace in this respect.”IMG_20160515_193631At this year’s Maneha, Matt says, “A highlight for me was actually a low moment. I was suffering through some “dark miles” about midway on day one, wanting the group to ride ahead, and I would solo it in. The team was not having it, dragged me to lunch with sit down table service by a waterfall in some old mill town. It was just what I needed to get some gas again and finish with the group. It was a longer break than anyone but me wanted to sit, but it was 100% about getting us to the line together. On day two I found my legs and I hope that I re-paid the favor.”

IMG_4146It says something about the B-team that Dan, walking with a cane, followed them online, texting in for updates, and then met the others at the overnight stop for dinner and beers.

Roger says, “Bikes introduce you to the most amazing people and places.   That is my take on the B-Team.”

Matt’s Maneha 250 – In Photos

Last week we told the story of the inaugural Maneha 250. This week we bring you more from that event, because it was just that good.

If you were to call Matt O’Keefe, our erstwhile production manager and bike handling guru, a visual storyteller, he would likely guffaw in your face, because he’s modest, and at root, he just likes to take pictures. He’s also a hell of a bike rider, and so, when we received his trove of photos from the Maneha 250, we had to share them. Matt makes 250 miles of self-supported, off-road riding look as good as it gets. If these don’t make you want to ride your bike, then you don’t like to ride bikes.

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Matt (right) with Seven bike builder Brad Smith.

 

 

On the Road – 250 Miles of New England Dirt

Rob is obsessed with dirt. That is, perhaps, an oversimplification, but it gets pretty close to the truth. For years and years he thought of himself as a mountain biker, both as a racer and a committed adventure rider. Then his riding migrated to the road, but any chance he had to spin out onto a trail, even on skinny tires, he took. The dirt has always called, and his obsession has been a blessing to all of us here at Seven.

If you’re looking for a good all-dirt or mixed-terrain route to ride, Rob has it. Rob can show you trails, in your own neighborhood, that you’ve never seen before. We call this style of riding, on-road/off-road/trail, “evergreening,” and none of us was really surprised when Rob started Overland Basecamp to spread the gospel of dirt far and wide.

OB recently ran the Maneha 250, a two-day, 250 mile ramble through some of the best mixed-terrain in New England. The pictures tell the story:

Two Approaches to the Maneha 250 - photo - Rob VandermarkRiders took a couple of different approaches to the challenge. Some rode self-supported, packing all their food, clothing and camping supplies. Others took more advantage of the organization Overland Basecamp provided.

Maneha 250 Unofficial Pit Stop - photo - Rob VandermarkThis unofficial pit stop belies the quality of the food served throughout the event, which was catered by Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, NH. They also hosted the campsite and provided the stunning evening view…for those who got in early enough to see it.

Abandoned Narrow Guage - Matt O., Brad S. - photo - Rob VandermarkHere, our very own Matt O. rolls through an abandoned narrow-gauge rail bed with Brad on his wheel. They both rode unsupported.
Oh Look, Another Hill - Brad S. - photo - Rob Vandermark
One of the most charming (and unavoidable) features of our New England topography is the endless, punchy, rolling hills. The Maneha 250 has a climbing profile like a heart patient’s EKG.Strategy Before The Sunrise - photo - Rob VandermarkSunrise breakfast and strategy session at the campsite, a pretty great way to start day two.

The Smile Train - Matt O., Cris R., Dan S., Roger C. - photo - Rob VandermarkMore Sevens rolling by this abandoned freight, go ahead and ask Rob how he found this spot, likely riding around in the woods in the dark.

Read more about it on the Overland Basecamp site.