Daniel Sharp – Riding Oregon’s Barlow Trail

Originally, the Barlow Road was a wagon way that skirted the slopes of Mount Hood, a way for travelers from the East to get to the Willamette Valley without having to undertake a dangerous river trip. Today it’s a rough route of 167 miles with more than 16,000 feet of elevation gain.

Photographer and adventurer Daniel Sharp took it on in the late fall, and posted some great commentary and photos for us to enjoy via his Bendicto.co site.

For example:

It’s ridiculously scenic – the barns seem perfectly weathered, every tree seems weather-beaten and sturdy. We stop for photos, snacks and skids. Not me – I’m too old for skidz I’d tear a sidewall. I’m all about the long game. Finally we reach a paved road and jog left. I’ve done a lot of rides in this area, but never these exact roads, which is cool. After the quick jog left we’re faced with Endersby Cutoff road. I know it’s a necessary evil to get to Dufur. It’s by no means endless, but it kicks up pretty good and by now it feels hot and we’re missing the altitude and the cool in the trees. We huff up the road, and gleefully bomb the backside.

Read more here and here.

Lovely Bicycle Laps the Lough

Lap the Lough is an annual cycle event around Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland and Britain. Our friend and erstwhile correspondent Lovely Bicycle recently took on this ride on her Seven 622 SLX, and the report is worth reading.

ll21She writes:

While most of the Lap the Lough route really was comparatively “flat,” by local standards, the final 5 miles featured a sustained, at times quite steep, climb into Dungannon, culminating in a cobblestone(!) section straight up the Hill of the O’Neill. While for those of us “lucky” enough to live in the northwest of Ireland, the climb was really nothing unusual (and really a rather fine way to end a 100 mile ride, if you ask me!) others were quite taken aback by this twist to the plot at the end. A few people got off their bikes and walked. Unprintable words were uttered.

For the rest of the story, click over to Lovely Bicycle.




On the Road – Daniel Sharp Goes Stampede Solo

One of the nice things about Daniel Sharp’s photographs and prose is that they don’t over-glorify his exploits. He acknowledges his miscalculations, his struggles and his suffering. Because that’s what adventure is, right? The intersection of suffering and fun?

This time Dan is riding solo near his Oregon home. His photos and excerpts from his trip journal below:

At some point you realize that a good weather window is a gift and that if you’re going to go, you might just have to go solo. I see the solo as a step in my progression with bikepacking. I did a couple hard solo rides in Arizona recently. One of them just about broke me, but that’s a post for the near future. Doing it solo allows you to ride your own pace, to leave when you have an opening in your schedule.

From the Velodirt site:

“The route itself is not to be taken lightly.  Expect lots of dirt and gravel with over 9,000 ft of climbing and some real rough riding in sections.  There are well spaced services, but inconsistent cell service.  As with all rides out this way, watch the weather for high winds and extreme temperatures.”

The other great thing about this route is its proximity to Portland. The start of the route is just 95 miles down 84 to the Deschutes River Recreation Area, where you can leave your car.

I love this part of the state. I think my first exposure to the area was photographing the Rapha Continental Dufur ride back in 2009. I fell in love with the undulating wheat fields and picture-perfect farms. I love how open and dry it is compared to the dense forest of the Cascades. But starting that climb up Company Hollow you’re reminded that it’s going to be a long day through some of the most beautiful and lonely roads in Oregon. The road to Dufur is not easy on a loaded mountain bike. There is about 1300 feet climbing in 40 miles. I kept imagining how much easier it would be on a road or cross bike.

That might be the best part of a solo trip. I stop when I feel like it. I don’t feel rushed when I want to take a photo. I stop and snap photos and eat some salami and cheese and I enjoy being the only person out there. OK, one farmer did just drive by in a cloud of dust, but just one. I kept feeling like WOW it’s really pretty desolate out here, but at that moment I’d come across another farm or abandoned building.

I’m glad to have a GPX track to follow here, since there are many roads that diverge and look just as well traveled. At one point I take what looks like the obvious turn only to check my Garmin and see I chose wrong. That only happens once, but I can see how you could get lost in here. For the first time on this trip I’m happy to have a mountain bike. Water runs down the trail and I’m having to chose lines or get stuck in ruts and the occasional field of rock scrabble. What a treat, though! It’s gorgeous and it really makes the route feel like an adventure. I’m happy it’s not all dirt roads. By the third stream crossing I’m in the zone. I stop several times for photos.

This is definitely an area that I’d like to come back to explore more. I’m still feeling like I need to push on a bit to Tygh Valley. I’d camp here, but I want to make a few more miles today and Donnie mentioned it could get cold in here this time of year and my sleep system is on the cold side, so I’ll push on. Just outside of the Wilderness area I stop to filter water for dinner and breakfast. At this point it’s all downhill and paved to Tygh Valley. A group of deer cross the road in front of me and bound effortlessly over barbed wire fence and into an empty field. Late afternoon light filters in through trees and I feel the euphoria of arriving in a new place under my own power. This is one of those moments where I feel golden. I know this is special. I savor it. I stop in an old pioneer cemetery and take photos.

I love arriving at my destination at this hour. The road is gorgeous and curves back around towards town. Tonight I’ll be the only camper at the Fairgrounds – only human for that matter. No one comes out to ask what the heck I’m doing, so I set up next to a picnic table and start boiling water for dinner and setting up my tent. I just pumped water and I’ll be able to charge my phone in the outlets, so I’m all set. I’m surprised how few cars drive by. I’m not wasted tired, but lack sufficient curiosity to venture into town, so I just set up camp, eat buffalo chili and look at maps. It was a good day.

The solo overnighter is a nice quick-fix outing. I’m pleased with my effort. Nothing crazy went down. I didn’t encounter another cyclist on route. I saw a few deer, some farmers in pickups, but I’m struck how easily it is to get away from the city and visit some very quiet parts of Oregon. Now that I’ve got a few rides under my belt, it feels natural to grab camping gear and food and get away for a couple days. This would be a great shakedown for Oregon Outback. In fact, the last 33 miles of the Outback are the same as the Stampede route. The Outback just climbs another 5000 feet over an additional 230 miles. The reason to do these ‘easy’ routes is that you build up your confidence and remind yourself of what works and what doesn’t.


Read the unabridged adventure here and see more of Daniel’s exquisite photos while you’re at it. Daniel rides a Seven Sola 29 SL.

The Bicycle Story – Mike Flanigan

Rob Vandermark (left) and Mike Flanigan at Seven.

Seven has always been a sort of collective, a group of passionate cyclists and bike builders, very much in the New England tradition. Our founders came from Merlin Metalworks, but we’ve been fortunate to be able to bring in builders from the other local bastions of craft as well. We’ve given some young builders their start, and we are always, always dedicated to the idea that the more passion and experience we can get in the door, the better our bikes will be.

So we were particularly thrilled when Mike Flanigan (Fat City, IF, ANT) came aboard as a welder. Mike has been at this as long as we have and brings so much talent and experience with him.

He was interviewed recently by The Bicycle Story, and it’s a good read for anyone interested in custom bike building. Check it out here.

Busy Hands – Seven Cycles Factory Tour

Our friends from SimWorks visited us in the fall and made this video. What is fascinating here is how universal the language of bike building can be, and how our own processes (and people) look when they’re reflected back to us.

Thanks to SimWorks and our friend Ryota for making us look so good.