Horses for All Courses

JohnShredThree of us showed up for this morning’s shop ride on three different bikes (while others…ahem…chose to sleep). It’s only 10 miles, but all on twisty, rooted, rocky single-track, one of those cool stretches of uninterrupted dirt that seems so improbable so close to the city, but it’s a gift we avail of ourselves year round, year-after-year.

It was just the regular Thursday morning dirt commute, but here’s where it gets interesting. One of us rode a mountain bike with 2.3s. One of us road an Evergreen with 40c tires, and the third road a cross bike with 32s. None of us was out of our league, and none of us seemed to have too much bike. Were there differences in how we performed over the varied terrain? Sure. The mountain bike was fastest through rock gardens and over roots. The other two bikes were faster on packed climbs. But it all evened out, and we all had fun.

This was one of those cool, unintentional experiments that yielded reinforcement for an idea we’ve been nursing for a long time, that the common conceptions about the “right” bike to ride in a given situation are probably not more than reasonable suggestions, and that really, you just have to ride what you love.NeilNMatty Don’t get trapped by expectations. Be led by fun.

On the Road – Bob Kruger Grinds Oregon Gravel

When you finish a bike, put it in a box, put that box on a truck and send it out into the world, you never know what kind of adventures it’s going to find. We built Bob Kruger a Mudhoney S last year with our good friends at Cascade Bicycle Studio in Seattle, and, like so many of the cyclists we admire, he put it to good use as a cyclocross race bike, a bad weather commuter and finally, as a mixed-terrain explorer.

Bob’s gorgeous photos and prose from the Gorge Roubaix Gravel Grinder below:

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Last spring I was looking for a new bike. I had a number of intended uses for this bike: commuter, cross racer, gran fondo and all around performer. I wasn’t looking for a plastic race bike, nor a heavy city bike. This bicycle needed to look great, take a beating and come out the other end looking just as good. It needed to perform well 365 days a year for the next 30 years. That’s a big ask.

I found the perfect bike. It was a Seven Mudhoney S. Although I thought it was perfect throughout last autumn’s cross season and a winter of commuting, I verified it this weekend at the Gorge Roubaix Gravel Grinder.

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Throughout the day I was continually reminded of how much I loved my Seven Mudhoney. The 28 mm Continental 4-Seasons performed spectacularly both on the treacherous gravel descents and fast paved sections. The CBS-built Hed Belgium + Chris King hubbed wheelset was bomber and rolled smoothly and perfectly throughout a day where many, many large rocks were hit. The Mudhoney S’ titanium frame was solid with zero chatter or skittishness. The gravel and rocks we encountered didn’t even faze the polished titanium’s shine. The Avid BB7 disc brakes gave me a massive amount of confidence and between that and the solidity of the bike I had no fear descending rough gravel at 35 mph for extended periods of time. While others complained of numb hands and feet, I experienced none of that. I couldn’t have been happier with how my Mudhoney performed over those 85 miles.

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That night I rinsed the dust off, lubed the chain, screwed on the fat PDX fenders and was ready for the rainy Seattle commute the next morning. In the fall I’ll pull my Contis, install my fat tubeless CX tires and try to win some old man Cat 3 races on this Mudhoney. I’m serious about riding this bike for the next 30 years. I’m sure it will look better than I do in 2045!

Bob Kruger is an Environmental Scientist who grew up in Skagit Valley, Washington and currently resides in Seattle. All of his energy is focused into family, friends, work, travel and being active outdoors, in that order and often together. His outdoor passions include cycling, skiing, golf and being on the water.

See more on this ride here. There is also a great video from the event here.

A Bike for All Seasons

We’re at a funny spot in our local cycling season. After record snow and cold, we are beginning to see more sunlight and significant melt. Many of us have been riding our Evergreens all winter with studded tires, which are good for keeping you upright on icy surfaces. You don’t go fast with studded tires, but arrival at your destination is more likely. We have had fun riding through snow storms, through cold snaps, over icy trails and slick roads. The time has come, maybe, to think about switching back to an everyday tire, like a 32mm file tread.

It was in contemplating that change, and ultimately deciding that we have more ice in front of us, that we realized the value of the Evergreen.

In the summer we ride dirt roads, trails, gravel, pavement, really any surface, on the Evergreen, with tires that range from 25mm road tires to 40mm all-terrain rubber. That range of options for tire selection is a real game changer. Add on top, the effectiveness of disc brakes in foul weather, and you have a bike that will go almost anywhere, at any time of year. We highlighted this bike’s versatility in a post a few months ago, but since then we’ve ridden it in some of the heaviest weather New England has seen in more than a century.

Now, as we contemplate converting back into something like spring riding mode, it is amazing to think of all of the places we’ve ridden our Evergreens over the last year, and how good they are at just about everything. They might just be the most versatile bikes we’ve ever built.

Evergreening Your Commute

Just for the sake of argument, assume you work at Seven.

This is metro-Boston. The morning commute can get pretty hectic in our narrow streets, bumper-to-bumper cars idling or worse, racing from one light to the next. But  the woods are never far, and the area surrounding the Seven shop features several concentrated woodlands, conveniently crisscrossed with trails.

It is possible to approach our factory by road, and really you have to, to get all the way here, but if you are willing to ride a little extra (we are) and you prefer your commute as car free as possible (we do), our Evergreen turns out to be a good tool for achieving maximum solitude with minimum headache.

With the leaves falling like rain, you enter the woods one town over, in Belmont, and snake along behind the Audubon center and then down a trail at the back of a cemetery.

Single and double-track feed into and out of each other then. You startle a deer. You watch for large stones jutting up through the ground cover. You ride some stuff that might normally want a mountain bike, but you’ve got disc brakes and skill so you roll on.

It’s all fun, and you find it hard to believe you are actually going to work. Then again, you’re going to Seven, so more bikes await. You are winning.

There is a mischievous feeling that comes over you as you leave the woods to rejoin traffic. The drivers look at you askance, as if to say, “Where did you come from?” They’re all drinking luke warm coffee and wondering how late they’re going to be. No deer. No double-track. No fun.

Of course, the reverse commute, in the dark, presents an entirely different challenge, the kind that focuses all of your attention in a cone of light just in front of you. The grind back up the leaf-covered hill is maybe better under those conditions, because you can’t see how much more you have to go. And funny how the deer you startled in the morning, returns the favor in the shadows off to your right near the top of the hill under cover of darkness.

The over-sized meadowlark burrowed in the grass near the cemetery nearly sends you into cardiac arrest, too, but what point is there riding in the woods if you don’t want to commune on some level with nature, right?

So that’s how you do it, Evergreen your commute. Your route may vary. You may or may not encounter deer, but as long as you’re committed you’re sure to find an adventure worth having.

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.