At the Races with The Drifters

Zen and the Art of Cyclocross Racing has not yet been written, but if it had been, Seven’s own Brad Smith and his Drifters team might well be the protagonists. Three friends with a tent and a dream, Brad, Greg Ralich and Tony Fiandaca make an art of showing up, racing hard and having fun. There is a slack grinned style to what they do, an attitude that we think bike racing might just be desperate for. We caught up with the guys for a quick end-of-season update.

Seven: What are the Drifters trying to do? What is your evil plan? What is “drifting?”

Greg: We don’t try to do anything. We just do it. What is it? Tough to say. The indescribable only manifests itself in a singular choice moment. The moment in question is when physics says no, but your body says yes. When you lose your grip, you’re out of control, but you push harder. “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose” …Mariah Carey said that. This is the best way we can describe drifting, and occupying this mindset at every possible opportunity is what makes us The Drifters.

Seven: How is your season going results-wise? Do you care at all about results?

Brad: Results are pretty cool. Scoring points, podiums, upgrades are neat too. Definitely stoked on all of that. We’re more than racing though. The Drifters love a New England gravel grinding session or even just getting out early for a couple good turns. We like to volunteer at races and do cool stuff with our friends. We’re most interested in just getting out there as much as possible and always having a blast on bikes. We’re also super grateful to our few sponsors who believed in supporting a good time.

Greg: Mostly vanity plates, we are just really into good vanity plates. 

Seven: Who is the most handsome Drifter?

Tony: Rambo. He’s technically a drifter. The cops call him a drifter a lot in the movie and he absolutely rips that dual sport in the woods. And he’s just like crazy handsome. But, if you’re talking about the most handsome member of the team it’s Me. They call me “Mr. F” (in the first grade classroom where I am a teacher).

Seven: Brad, you ride a Seven. How is it? Fast?

Brad: I’ve got a Seven and Greg rides a bike I built him called a bRad (pronounced: be-RAD) and Tony has at one point in time owned pretty much every bike ever.

This is my 4th season racing cross and just this year I built up the Mudhoney SL and WOW is about all I can say. It makes me feel like a kid. It just feels fast and SO light. My steel bikes are awesome, but they feel a bit more sluggish everyday in comparison. Every time I get on it I just get super excited to rip!

Check out The Drifters here to follow their wacky hi-jinks and see ALL the vanity plates in greater New England.

Being World Champion – Mo Bruno Roy

You don’t get to be World Champion by sitting still. You don’t stand on the top step of that podium just by being “talented” either. And certainly, it isn’t a bike that puts you there, although we couldn’t be more thrilled that it was our bike that carried Mo Bruno Roy to the Single-Speed Cyclocross World Championship this weekend in Louisville.

The SSCXWC is an irreverent event. There are costumes. The winner gets a tattoo and a legendary golden swimsuit to receive their medal in, but it’s also a fast race dominated by seasoned professionals.

There are years of work that have gone into this honor for her. So much training. So many races, big and small. Local dirt crits. Belgian World Cup events. Lots of wins, but also lots of finishes staring up the leader board and wondering what more she could have done. Some people call it paying dues, but that’s a negative way to express what Mo has done in her career. What she has done, and what we think makes her so worthy of this honor, is live the cycling life completely. There is a level of commitment there that goes beyond showing up for races year after year or cultivating sponsorships. She brings all of herself to cycling, and that’s why we’re so proud of her and why we’re honored to work with her.

When we see Mo around town, she’s on a bike. When we see her at a race, she might be giving a clinic for new riders or doing an interview, spreading the joy of cyclocross, cutting up, visiting with friends. Cycling doesn’t so much define her as she helps define cycling in the way she lives her life. These are sorts of people you want to work with as a bike builder.

Mo is not a powerhouse. She’s the type of racer who depends on long experience and superior bike handling skills to overcome stronger opposition. Make no mistake, she’s plenty strong, but that’s not what makes her so good. She is a great cyclist, fast, canny, skilled, the complete package.

And now she is a World Champion.



11 Races in 16 Days – Mo Bruno Roy’s CX Crusade

You will notice that we don’t sponsor a lot of riders. The idea that a company who makes good bikes should pay someone to say they are good somehow doesn’t make sense to us. When we have committed to a rider, it has always been because we think they deserve support and because they will give us good feedback on what we are doing. For those reasons, we have sponsored more women than men, and more local riders than distant pros. Our closest pro partnership of the last decade has been with current Single-Speed Cyclocross National Champion Mo Bruno Roy.

Here on the eve of her 39th birthday, we find ourselves admiring the way she enjoys her racing, stays competitive and gives back to the racing community by teaching clinics and giving pointers to amateur racers before big events. She’s the sort of cyclist we’re proud to work with, the kind of cyclist we all want to be.

This was supposed to be a more relaxed season for Mo. After winning the SSCX National Championship last year, a little less travel, a little more fun and a new focus on single speed races was on the docket. But the scheduling gods and a continuing drive to race her bike meant that, clustered around New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross (GP Gloucester, Midnight Ride, Providence), she ended up doing 11 races in 16 days.

That’s a lot for an in demand massage therapist and yoga instructor, and it tells you everything you need to know about how much she loves what she does. She says of this latest bunch of events, “The level of competition has definitely been upped this season and the growth of women’s cyclocross is apparent as it is quickly becoming a sport for full-time professional athletes rather than the mixed bag of working-pros and full-timers that it has been in the past.”

Near the end of this intense period of racing, she reported “Providence weekend hosted three days of racing: single speed Friday and UCI races Saturday and Sunday. At this point my legs were pretty fatigued, but I was looking forward to the races and the opportunity to win the Golden Ticket for free entry to the Single Speed World Championships in Louisville, KY. The course was full of twists and turns and a few leg-sapping climbs, but I pushed the pace and headed into a steady lead in the single speed race, taking the win.”

Of course, we like to see sponsored riders winning races. It never hurts for people to see riders winning on our bikes, but for us there’s much more to it. The way someone like Mo conducts themselves, the way they make it look fun, the way they give back, those are the things that make us want to support racing and the people, like Mo, who dedicate themselves to going fast.

This Time of Year

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.