In New England, where we live and work and ride, the winter can seem unkind to cyclists. Snow falls, the roadways shrink, and the melt-freeze cycle makes ice a constant hazard on paved roads and dirt trails alike. Oh, and it’s cold.
Having said all that, there are few things we look forward to more than pedaling through the first snow, or cresting frozen climbs in our local woods, the air perfectly still in among the trees, everything quiet. Winter gives you those peaceful moments in ways the other seasons never quite manage.
It’s funny the way, in summer, we can find ourselves out riding at all hours. Late sunsets help, early sunrises. Winter compresses the active part of the day. We get home after work, and the day feels over, just because it’s dark. For us, that makes it all the more important for our health (and sanity) to get out on the bike as much as possible. It’s the endorphins, but also the inspiration that riding provides.
Naturally, we take it a bit easier this time of year. We cut back on the distance, tone down the effort. Our bodies need time to recover. Winter gives us permission to do that. In many ways, it’s easier to appreciate riding in this mindset, because we’re unplugged from goals. We’re not trying to be fast. We’re not trying to go far. We’re just pedaling.
And for those who want to continue to test their mettle, the cold offers ample opportunity. Temperatures here the last week of the year were most in the single digits, but day-after-day the Seven crew came rolling through the door, some with ice in their beards, but all with a smile on their face.
This is Lenny, one of the more extraordinary cyclists you will meet. He is not the fastest, not the strongest, but he has something that few others have, a preternatural persistence that has produced prodigious results. His story, in his own words, below.
In May 2003 I took ownership of my Seven Axiom serial # 5103J14. I had ridden 55 lifetime centuries to date and planned to ride my new Seven with the goal of reaching the 100 centuries mark. In July 2003 I rode my 1st on it CRW Climb to the Clouds for the 4th time.
Well fast forward 4 years to July 2007 and I hit 100 century mark with my 45th one on the Seven. It was a tri-tate century route from my house in MA up along the NH coastline into Maine and back for the 10th time. When I hit mile 100 I stopped and sprayed 100 on the road with my water bottle! So I revised my goal to ride 100 centuries on the Seven and this past July and the mission was accomplished! In fact it was the 24th time I did that century.
Well I’m not a bike racer or world traveler on the bike but a proud owner of my Seven Axiom. In fact all the Seven centuries were done on New England roads. I have 36,750 miles on it to date averaging over 2,800 miles per year. Two were double metrics the 200K Boston Brevet and Seven Hills Wheelmen’s Tour of the Quabbin.
Anyway just a very satisfied customer letting you know!
We’re riding home with our lights on now, the sun’s narrow slant on the horizon hinting at colder days to come. Our New England autumns tend to be wet, so suddenly tires are getting wider and fenders are appearing. It’s a good thing. We enjoy this riding just as much as our summer spins. The woods are a different proposition in the dark.
Cyclocross season is on, Seveneers leaving early for mid-week races, coming in on Mondays with tall tales of the weekend’s exploits. To hear us tell it, we could easily finish 2 to 10 places higher in every race, but for that one guy who crashed in front of us, or the spectator who leaned too far over the course tape. Some, of course, are just hecklers. You don’t heckle a friend while they’re building a bike, but during a race?
Our customers are dreaming up winter commuters, or better still, they’re riding a different hemisphere than we are, tuning up for a road season we can hardly imagine, stuck in the bubble of our own climate.
Back on the shop floor, the heavy, summer air has slipped out the back door. The mornings are cool and quiet, and the late afternoon light is beautiful streaming through our tall, frosted windows. We are building as many bikes now as we did all summer, and that is good, too.