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 Queue

Maple and Pine

 

The Little Tennessee River gets backed up at the Fontana Dam forming an emerald green reservoir that has been on my mind since the beginning of summer. Along the shoreline, long leaf pine needles blanket the forty miles of single track that meander through a North Carolina State Recreation Area named Tsali.  It was there that I fell in love with mountain biking on a chilly October day, much like today, seventeen years ago.

 

Tsali was my first experience leaning into banked corners, involuntarily launching over whoop-de-do’s, and trail riding from sun up to until sun down.  Whipping through the woods amidst the peace and quiet of the natural world turned out to be my definition of fun.  That trip to North Carolina was just the start. From there I rode everywhere I could; the Smokies, the Blue Ridge, Pisgah, Monongahela, the Appalachians, the Sawtooths, Yellowstone, the Tetons, the Colorado Rockies, the Metacomet Ridge, and even Dooley’s Run right in my parents’ backyard.  No matter the location, the thrill was the same.  I was hooked.

 

After college graduation, I took a summer job leading mountain bike trips out west, and ended up staying for the year.  I can’t recall if I put pressure on myself, or felt it elsewhere, but when the year came to a close, I determined it was time to follow a more traditional post graduation path. I packed up, headed home, went back to school, and got a job.  I’m sure everyone has experienced it, but in the blink of an eye thirteen years flew by without me so much as throwing a leg over a mountain bike.  Within that time frame I gave “my” mountain bike back to my father, and picked up road biking on the side.

 

For all intents and purposes, I am no longer a mountain biker.  V-brakes have been replaced with discs.  Triple chain rings, flat bars, and bar ends are all gone.  26” wheels look out of place in the sea of 650’s and 29ers.  Judy Butter is no longer the answer to stiction.  My full finger gloves are too small.  People say “shred” instead of “ride.”  I haven’t seen a Grateful Dead sticker on a bike in years.  Mountain biking, it seems, has passed me by.

 

It took a road ride last April, in Greenwich, Connecticut to rekindle my interest in getting back on the trail.  Darren, who works at Signature Cycles and was leading the road ride that morning, was guiding us through winding hills and beautiful country side, but for the first time in a long time, my mind was in the woods.  I don’t recall how, but the topic of Tsali came up.  As chance would have it, Darren had been there too, and had equally fond memories.  We shared stories and fawned over the trails, the pine needles, and that glorious lake.  Somewhere on the silky smooth roads of Greenwich, I decided that it was time go off road once again.

 

Perhaps it’s fitting that seventeen days into October, just seventeen years after my trip to Tsali that started it all, the design for my first Seven mountain bike sits in the queue (behind all of yours), ready to build.

 

I cannot wait.

 

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