The level of customization here at Seven Cycles as witnessed by our Editions of One, as well as other unique creations we’ve highlighted, can sometimes overshadow the fact that we also spend a lot of time thinking about, designing and building race bikes.
Early on here at Seven, I decided I wanted a new race bike and after much deliberation on model and material, I decided on an Axiom SL, our benchmark model and in my opinion, the ultimate evolution of the titanium road bike.
With the help of Neil Doshi in our Performance Design Team, I worked through our Custom Kit exactly as you would, in order to come up with what you see here. Seven’s Fit Methodology (SFM), a comprehensive, data-driven system resulting from a 18-year study of ergonomics, biomechanics and kinesiology, drove the process that resulted in positionals and frame geometry perfect for me. The bike is not all that different in terms of fit from the bikes I have been riding and racing for years, but the small tweaks resulting from the process are a noticeable and quantifiable improvement.
The oversized tubing selected for this bike allows it to easily achieve the UCI minimum weight of 6.8kg. In fact it is lighter than both my previous carbon and aluminum bikes. As one would expect from a bike with such massive tubes, it has an amazing amount of drivetrain and torsional rigidity, tracks solidly over mixed terrain and unimproved roads and is abundantly confident during spirited efforts, changes in tempo and hard cornering.
The paint scheme is a peak at one of the many new finishing offerings our team is working on for the coming season. To my eye it appears forceful, yet refined and elegant. I let our own Jordan Low from our Paint Department choose the colors and could not be happier with the results.
Our oft repeated motto here at Seven is, “One bike, yours.” I could not be happier that this one is mine.
Our own Rob V, taking a last spin around the shop floor at Merlin Metalworks where he had been the first full-time employee. This is roughly a year before he founded Seven, and gave us all a place to pursue our maniacal bicycle dreams.
We do NOT, as a rule, ride around the shop floor here at Seven, not because we are so much wiser and more mature now, but rather because titanium shards will flat a tire faster than you can say, “Hey, you can’t ride that thing in here!”
You also don’t need to crash a bike into a giant mill or lathe too many times, before you decide you’re safer on the road, in heavy traffic.
This is a particularly amusing photo for us, because it predates all the work we’ve committed to building Seven. At this point, Rob hadn’t even decided to stay in the bike business. There’s no telling what was on his mind as he spun around the Merlin shop floor, and conveniently, he maintains he can’t remember.
“Port-LAND,” he shouted out as he walked down the train car, “Next stop, Port-LAND.” I had never heard the emphasis on the second syllable, but the conductor was quirky so it worked in this case. The Amtrak Downeaster runs from Boston’s North Station all the way to Brunswick, ME and travels through endless woods, lakes, rivers, ocean front, and cool old New England mill towns. There is even a stop in Haverhill, MA. If we had needed a fresh pair of Ksyrium’s we might have had enough time to make a dash to Mavic‘s headquarters. Our bikes, stowed away in bike specific wheel slots in the last rail car, cost just $5 more per ticket.
Hearing the conductor, we gathered our stuff, and headed for the doors.
June 21st is the longest day of the year, and the final glimmer of sunlight faded out as we were walking in the door of our hotel. Kristin’s Campagnolo freehub is loud on the road, but in the hallway of the hotel it was deafening. The three of us caused quite a commotion. While we were checking in, a woman wanted to know where we were headed. As it turned out, she was in Maine on a bike ride too, on a quest to ride their bikes in each of the 50 states. Her name was Pat, and when she saw our Sevens she was excited to tell us about how much she loved her Axiom.
Maine, the way life should be.
We needed carbs for the morning’s ride and found them at the Local 188 in the form of a hearty paella. From there we walked to Novare Res, home to a most incredible selection of draft beers. More carbs. Portland is a town that is hard to say good night too, but we had a big Sunday ahead, and headed back just before midnight. Larabars, tubes, and pillows were divvied up, the alarm was set, and we hit the hay.
The forecast called for a day in the 70s, and the sunlight pouring through the split in the curtains promised to deliver. We shoved off a little past 7:30. Our hotel was at the bottom of Congress St., and while we rode up it, we joked that it might be the biggest climb of the day.
The entire ride, from Portland to Salem is about 115 miles, and over the length of the trip we’d climb a total of 1,200 vertical feet. A right turn on State, and a right on Congress and we were leaving Portland via the windy and windy Casco Bay Bridge. There was a 5K road race in South Portland that morning, and the entire bridge, on the southbound side, was bumper to bumper. We sailed past and made no friends in the process.
The Eastern Trail, an abandoned rail bed that has been turned into a hard pack, multi-use path, runs for 65 miles from South Portland to Kittery and was the highlight of the first fifth of the ride. The twenty mile stretch on our route may as well have been a nature preserve. Ponds, streams, salt water marshes, vernal pools, and woods outlined the path from the moment we got on until we departed near the town of Wells, ME.
We headed east until we hit the coast, then south. Moving from the serenity of the Eastern Trail to the touristy beach communities is a dramatic change, but both are fun places to ride. We rode from one Olde New England town to the next, and discussed which old houses we like best.
My favorite part of the route, prior to lunch, was Shore Rd., in Ogunquit. Crashing waves on the left, houses that belong in fairy tales on the right, and a freshly paved road that follows the shoreline down the middle, Maine didn’t disappoint.
Making the transition from Maine to New Hampshire easy was the beautiful, newly refinished Memorial Bridge, and the promise of burritos once we crossed the border.
The bridge basically funnels traffic into Dos Amigos Burritos, and we didn’t resist the pull. Timing worked well as we were all hungry, the sun was at it’s peak, and the benches at Prescott Park were clear. Portsmouth represented the half way point of the ride, and while we weren’t setting a land speed record, we were in good shape to make it home before sunset. We sat for a bit, watched the boats, and devoured lunch.
The remainder of the ride, into Massachusetts, featured a few miles of ocean front views. To ensure our legs stayed fresh to the finish, we pulled over in Newburyport, MA for coffee and a brownie casserole.
At least that is what I would call a brownie that was so full of walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut. It hit the spot. 25 miles later, we reached our destination point, the Old Spot in Salem, MA. As you already know, it’s hard to beat a long day in the saddle.
For an “easy” 117 mile route, P2S as we call it, it’s hard to top. How does your favorite century stack up?
Peter B., from the UK, visited us last week for a factory tour. When he got home, he sent us some incredible pictures from the routes he’s ridden recently. He writes:
“Thank you for showing us round the Seven production facility recently (calling it a factory doesn’t seem quite right). We both enjoyed the visit and found it very interesting.
The first picture was taken a few weeks ago at the top of Hardknott pass. It’s not a long pass, but it’s steep, around 30% in places. We had to walk a bit of it! The descent is also pretty interesting if the weather is wet, fortunately it wasn’t when we went over it. It was on a ride called the Fred Whitton Challenge, which is 112miles and includes around 3900m of climbing, and goes over most of the steep passes in the English Lake District, many of which are 20 to 25% climbs. If you’re interested, you’ll find some information about this ride and also the Raid Pyraneen on the web.
The others were all taken on the Raid Pyreneen, which I did last year. That goes Coast to Coast along the Spanish / French border from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The basic route is around 720km with 11,000m of climbing and the objective is to complete it in under 100 hours. Due to some passes still being snow covered from the west side, we actually did 755km and 13,100m of climbing. The first picture is the Col D’Aubisque:
The second is the Col de Tourmalet (which was closed from the Aubisque side, so we had to go down to the valley, round the mountain and up from the far side).
I can’t remember the name of the last one, but it’s a nice picture so I thought I’d chuck it in. This ride goes over a lot of the big Pyraneen Passes many of which appear regularly in the Tour de France. They go up them (and down them) quite a lot faster than I did!