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

Henry’s Paris-Brest-Paris Adventure

HVDB_PBPWe are proud to say there were a lot of Sevens at Paris-Brest-Paris this year, and we had the chance to spend some time with one rider, Henry van den Broek, who is local to us and a Ride Studio Cafe regular, to hear about the adventure of riding 1200km.

11887916_10153581270432720_744836648985477069_nHe says, “I  started Sunday evening in the 90 hour wave at 18:30. Apart from some short stops at the controls (less than 30 min), I  rode through the night and the following day for 24 hrs until Carhaix which is 525km, just before the halfway point in Brest. After sleeping for 3 hours on a field bed in a gym, I left that night at 11pm for Brest and kept riding through the night and next day until Fougeres (921km) where I arrived with fellow Seven rider Dave Bayley Tuesday night.”

He continues, “Dave I met in the morning just after the Loudeac stop. This had been a tough morning where I felt pretty groggy and had a hard time making speed, but after plenty of caffeine and ice cream I got my mojo back. Dave continued that night for Fougeres, while I slept on a gym mattress for 3 hours and left at 4am Wednesday for the last 300k to Paris, where I arrived at 8:30pm, finishing the ride within 74hrs.”

11884668_10153581271177720_5026513863694382313_oWhen you’re speaking to someone who aspires to riding for 3 days straight, the first question is always going to be, why? Henry laughs when we ask, “Why do I do it? On the ride, I sometimes wonder myself what I am doing, but I ride for the sense of adventure, exploring, seeing new places, new landscapes. Randonneuring reduces life to its basics. You are just eating, drinking. You ask, how is my body feeling? You become your own little world. Also you can meet friends through this shared suffering. On long rides, you have a chance to meet, hang out.”

11872029_10153581271232720_4572119967679281557_oHenry only started randonneuring three years ago, encouraged by Patria and the crew at Ride Studio Cafe, and then he wondered if could even do it. 200km? 300km? 600km? Now he finds himself wondering what’s next after PBP.

“With all the preparation I had,” he says, “I was not that worried. I did 1000km in July, and PBP is not that much more. During the ride, I got more and more confident. Unlike many of the brevets I did in the season where there are typically 20-100 participants, there were more than 5000 people starting at PBP, all trying to finish. This year less then 75% percent finished.”

11937959_10153581268357720_8761148865596437124_oHe continues, “When things get hard, typically I do a check up. Hard can be multiple things, overheating, tiredness, pain, sleepiness. How are my back, my arms, my legs? Most things can be solved by eating. Electrolytes and sugar can cure most problems. Grogginess is a tough one. I had three hour sleep stops on Monday and Tuesday nights, but it wasn’t enough. The jet lag didn’t help either, flying into Paris two days before the event. Coffee was the only way to get over it. Chewing gum can help. Next time I want to try caffeine gum. You think it’s a mental thing, but that really comes back to sugar levels. Your brain is just saying it needs more fuel. This is about being in tune with your body.”

11181090_10153581270897720_68586247631590121_nIt is not every day you ride 1200km. Most who finish PBP only do it once in their lifetime, so strategizing for a ride like this comes down to the experience of the “shorter” brevets and reading about how others have handled the distance.

Henry says, “What I realize now is you have to be careful how much power you’re putting out. You have to measure your effort, not go too hard. Even 1% over your pace will catch up to you over these kinds of distances.”

Henry’s Seven Evergreen SL was built with more than just PBP in mind. This is a bike that Henry uses on group rides with the RSC club. He has done the full brevet series on it. And now that it’s fall, he’s racing cyclocross on it as well.

He says, “I love the frame. I love the versatility of it. I was always completely worn out by my old bike. This season I’m on the Seven on 38mm tires with supple casings. It’s so smooth. They roll so well. The Evergreen has a lot of clearance, so you have choices in tires. The disc brakes give you reliability in all weather. It’s very stable, too. I ride with a very light touch on the bars, so no back pain ever.”

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“I also really love the custom paint,” he adds. “So many people look at my bike and love the paint job. It’s orange from Holland. I always get attention with it, and it’s really MY bike. It has my name on it, my color, made for my body. It’s a statement. It’s me. I feel very together with the bike.”

A Tale of Two Millenia, Pt 2

After extreme heat made completing the Portland to Glacier 1000km unsafe, Matt Roy had another opportunity to knock off the distance right away, back here at the New England Randonneurs Downeast 1000km on July 30th. This time things went better, and his 63hr 9min finish was the best of the 18 riders who completed it. Here is the story of his Downeast 1000km, in his own words:

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Earlier in the summer I had the brilliant idea that I could string a pair of 1000kms together with a one month buffer in between. It was my plan all along.  And when the Portland to Glacier National Park 1000km went belly up in the heat I really had to commit. The Downeast 1000km was the first event in New England greater than 600km since the demise of the fabled Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km, which was last run in 2006. The promoters, route designers and volunteers put a ton of effort in to it so I really wanted to be part of the inaugural edition.

The route promised to be amazing. Montpelier, VT to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and back.  636 miles. More than 37,000 feet of climbing.

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Day one, 4AM start, 20-or so starters headed out.  The route would head northeast towards to the north side of Rangeley Lake in Maine, crossing New Hampshire following Bear Brook to Lake Umbagog. It’s moose country. Hunting and fishing country. Amazing that Conway is only 60 miles away. It might as well be Saskatchewan.

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The overnight was at Colby College in Waterville, ME but I rolled in earlier than planned with two others.  With plenty of daylight to spare, I decided to press on with hopes of making to Bucksport, which would put me at a little over 280 miles for the day. It also meant that I had a much better chance at making to the top of Cadillac Mountain close to sunrise the following morning.

20080703550_3b2462009c_zIt seemed like a good idea at the time but I was being pursued by a nasty storm cell that periodically dumped rain on me. I pushed it for the next few hours, pulling into Bucksport where Mo met me at a motel. Soaked, tired, but pretty happy with the  day.

The next morning I pressed on to Cadillac with a fellow rider who met me in Bucksport after he got some shuteye in Waterville. We rode together along route 1 in silence. Both sleepy. In a literal and figurative fog.

Top of Cadillac. Maybe three, four other people there. Amazing. Mo picked berries on the side of the road and surprised us with them.

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Bar Harbor. Bakery. Brekky. And then, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed into the streets of Bar Harbor where the early morning quiet had vanished, replaced with bustling buses, hordes of vacationers. I saw on bumper sticker that said something to the effect of “No I’m not on vacation.”

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The highway back to Bucksport. Loud, hot, cars, trucks, RVs passing you at 65mph. Longing for the solitude of the roads east of Bucksport and back to Waterville.

20080750468_2d211dcb05_zMy original plan was to blast past Waterville, ME and press on to North Conway but the day got hot, the wind picked up and it would have been a solo death march for the balance of the day. 150 miles on day 2. I opted for a shower and a luxurious five-hour nap. I waited for a trio of friends who had made the trip up from NJ/PA. The four of us cruised under the full moon, starting at 2am. Pace was super casual but they were a blast to ride with. Plus, Mo wouldn’t have to worry about me riding solo and she could get another hour or two of shut-eye since she was meeting me at every checkpoint.

Sleeping the night in Waterville and the leisurely nighttime ride meant that we’d get into Conway at prime weekend traffic hour, and up and over the Kancamangus with the buzz of a thousand Harleys. I pushed on alone once we hit Conway. Over the Kanc and thankfully soon on the quiet roads west of Kinsman Notch.

The last 60 miles were sublime. Winding dirt and paved roads. Hardly any cars. Along the Connecticut River crossing back in to Vermont and then winding gently up along the Waits River into the golden hour. Finished around 7pm. Daylight to spare. Not much left in the ol’ legs though. A little over 205 miles to cap it off.

Here’s the breakdown:
636.8 miles in 63 hours and 9 minutes. Total riding time, 42:11. Off the bike for 18:58 for a 15.09 mph rolling average. 37,402 feet of climbing. 20,949 estimated calories burned.

 

 

Being the Wilcox

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Everyone loves David Wilcox. For such an unassuming guy, soft-spoken without being shy, no hint of nervous energy or burning drive, this is strange. The Wilcox, as he’s known in bike circles, has a reputation for two things, incredible strength on the bike over distances that most of us wouldn’t even consider rideable and incredible generosity with his time and his experience. Call it a quiet charisma.

19249448273_0d50c3d68d_zA former co-owner of Boston’s legendary Broadway Bicycle School, the Wilcox has most recently been managing Rapha’s Mobile Cycling Club, and that experience, traveling the country, working events and continuing to be his usual self has spread the legend of The Wilcox far and wide.

Even as he has maintained a grueling travel schedule for Rapha, he has continued to chalk off the longer rides in the brevet series, including the Vermont 600 where his freewheel stopped spinning with 90 miles to go. He pedaled those last 90, non-stop, without taking his feet off the pedals once.

DSC_0044When asked what keeps him motivated to keep riding, to keep putting up big rides, he says simply, “For me it’s really just about getting out, seeing, exploring. How far can I go? I lived in Boston for 10 years, but when I come back to visit I find new parts, even now, only minutes from where I lived. That’s what gets me on the bike. What’s on the next street?”

He continues, “A lot of what I do qualifies as Type 2 fun. At the time, you want it to be over, but the next day it was great. Seeing the sunset and sunrise in the same ride is amazing. It’s a special opportunity when  you can do that.”

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Those lucky enough to ride with The Wilcox will tell you how strong he is, but also how even-keeled he stays even hundreds of miles into a ride. He says,  “The only time I recall being on edge on the bike was during the second Green Mountain Double Century. We were ripping down Green River Road at twilight, and I was on the end of the paceline, so I’m not sure how it happened, but I hit a pothole so hard it destroyed my front wheel. I think I was just scared and a little angry, and I said, ‘Ok, guys, we need to slow down a little,’ which we didn’t really do.”

19249438853_c9de68915d_zAsked where his calm demeanor comes from he says something we hear a lot of randonneurs say, “When you encounter problems on the bike, they always have solutions. Usually, when you’re struggling you can eat or drink, and that gets you back to where you need to be.”

In typical Wilcox fashion, David is not inclined to chase achievements. For example, a high profile recent even, Paris-Brest-Paris is for many randonneurs the ultimate achievement, but The Wilcox isn’t interested. “A big part of it, for me, is social,” he explains. “A big ride can be a kind of shared hallucination. I don’t look forward to doing that kind of thing by myself, but with my friends it’s a great experience. At the same time, doing something like Paris-Brest-Paris isn’t attractive for me, because it’s like you do it just to say you did it. I’m more inclined to go on adventures with my friends. I’m not knocking PBP. It’s just not for me.”

Soon The Wilcox will leave the road, swapping his job with Rapha for a more settled position with his friends Jeremy and Julie at The Athletic.  “I’m excited to be in one place for a while,” he says, “to race ‘cross and maybe even to train a little bit for it rather than just pulling stuff out of my suitcase, confirming I have everything I need and then racing two hours later.”

The Places We Go

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Because we build our bikes one-at-time, for their riders, we don’t have to manage an inventory of anything other than raw materials. That allows us to build the bikes riders want instead of trying to guess what they want or trying to convince them to buy what we have already built.

The challenges our riders have been taking on this last year really bring home to us how the way we do things allows our customers to lead us forward, to take us where they want us to go.

Mike Bybee rode from Arizona to Canada on his Sola SL bike-packing rig. Brad rode across the US, from Oregon to Virginia on his Evergreen SL, set up for loaded randonneuring. We rode in Yorkshire and on the Isle of Man. Matt Roy and David Wilcox attempted a 1000km brevet in the worst heat wave the Pacific Northwest has seen in decades. Daniel Sharp rode the Oregon Outback. Seven was at the Mt.Evans Hill Climb, in the Pyrenees and at Dirty Kanza. Sevens have been ridden through the night, through two full centuries, around Lake Michigan, through Paris and over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

Sometimes we shake our heads in wonder at all of it. What ends up happening is that, as much as guide Seven riders through the process of designing their bike, they guide us through the world of cycling. They show us what is possible and change our own ideas about what a bike can be.

Image: Daniel Sharp