What to Bring When You Ride Across America

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We had a lot of people write to us asking what Brad took when he rode across the country last month. It turns out that a lot of our riders are serious long distance randonneurs and bike-packers, two groups who are constantly scrutinizing every bit of food, clothing and equipment they haul on their adventures. So we asked Brad to give us the scoop on what he took, when he raced the Trans-Am Bike Race.

He said:

For a ride like this that takes in so many climate zones over such a long period of time, it is almost impossible to prepare correctly. I think the eternal question is what to bring. What do you need and what can you leave behind.  I went with what I felt comfortable with having and knowing that, if something went wrong, I could fix it, or take care of it. There was the question of how often I would use the things I brought. If I didn’t foresee using them in the space of 24 hours did I really need them? I thought about that and decided having some little extra things would go a long way.

Looking at it now, with 4400 miles behind me, I can see what I could have done without, but I am totally happy with what I went with, too.

I didn’t bring much cold weather gear and got through two mornings 30s by layering up and riding until the sun warmed me. Cold nights I would do the same for sleeping. There were a lot of hot and sunny days, so sun coverage became more important overall than warmth, lots of sun screen and sun sleeves. I knew trying to ride with a killer sunburn would just be miserable.

I worked off a Garmin GPS, but having the maps to cross reference was great. Being able to see what is ahead of you for services gave me nice peace of mind, except when that one store was closed or, even worse, not there anymore.

IMG_2543Getting back to the question of what to bring though, here is the detail on what I packed:

2- Sea-to-Summit 5 liter dry bags.

1- Revelate Designs Viscacha saddle bag

1- Ortlieb handlebar bag

In one of the Sea-to-Summit bags I packed sleeping gear: Nimo bivy, Nimo Astro Insulated Lite Pad, Sea-to-Summit pillow, merino wool sleeping liner.

IMG_2534In the other Sea-to-Summit, I packed odd bits: two spare tubes, patch kit, brake pads, chain quick links, wire connectors, shrink tubing, small first aid kit, soap, baby oil, tent spikes and repair kit, cables for charging, spare batteries, and zip ties.

IMG_2532In the Viscacha Saddle Bag I packed clothing: 3 pair socks from the Athletic and Rapha, two kits, Rapha rain jacket, Rapha brevet vest, Rapha long sleeve brevet jersey, Ibex long sleeve merino wool base layer, Ibex wool cap, Drifters bandana, 1 t-shirt, 1 pair running shorts, 1 cap, 1 pack towel, 1 tube, 1 toe strap, a spare tire that i gave away,  and my Spot tracker.

IMG_2528In the Ortlieb handlebar bag, I packed the stuff I wanted instant access to: snacks! maps, sun screen, sun sleeves, camera and charger, multi tool, chain breaker, chain lube, knife, spork, full finger gloves that I lost trying to dry them off from the humidity in Missouri, tooth paste and tooth brush, a tube, a pen, a notebook, matches, external battery charger and wires, and some pennies I found.

Of course, the bike is worth mentioning. I rode a Seven Cycles Evergreen SL with a SRAM Red 22 group, Velocity Aileron rims, Son 28 generator hub front and Velocity hub rear, 700×28 Ruffy Tuffy tires, Super Nova E3 front and rear lights, Brooks Cambium saddle, Thomson stem and post, FSA bars, Garmin 1000, Time ATAC pedals, 3 King Cages and water bottles.

bRad Across America – FINISHED

18718024464_bf9bacd64c_kToday, we are very proud to say that Brad (bRad) finished the Trans Am Bike Race in 25 days 10 hours 31 minutes. 4406 miles. Astoria Oregon to Yorktown Virginia. Average miles, 176 per day. See previous reports on his progress here, here, here and here.

This is/was the ride of a lifetime, and Brad managed it with zero mechanicals and not one flat. He pushed through all the fatigue, kept his daily mileage up, and crushed it.

We’ll follow up with a full trip report and some insight from Brad into what it takes to race across the continent, but for today we’ll just say that we are so, so proud and happy for him.

bRad Across America – Almost Home

When last we visited our young hero, he was barreling through the Mid-West, spinning ever closer to the end of the Trans Am Bike Race.

Kentucky offered up climb after climb after climb. And dogs. Lots of chasing dogs. But that’s America, right? On into Virginia he rode, until today, in sight of Yorktown, and the finish. Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion, and in the meantime, enjoy some photos from the road.19005435270_69660e7bb2_h19077456410_2262dad92c_h19106011230_ef6824843b_h19078916629_de2961192f_h19268920481_2085e4097c_h

On the Road – 250 Miles of New England Dirt

Rob is obsessed with dirt. That is, perhaps, an oversimplification, but it gets pretty close to the truth. For years and years he thought of himself as a mountain biker, both as a racer and a committed adventure rider. Then his riding migrated to the road, but any chance he had to spin out onto a trail, even on skinny tires, he took. The dirt has always called, and his obsession has been a blessing to all of us here at Seven.

If you’re looking for a good all-dirt or mixed-terrain route to ride, Rob has it. Rob can show you trails, in your own neighborhood, that you’ve never seen before. We call this style of riding, on-road/off-road/trail, “evergreening,” and none of us was really surprised when Rob started Overland Basecamp to spread the gospel of dirt far and wide.

OB recently ran the Maneha 250, a two-day, 250 mile ramble through some of the best mixed-terrain in New England. The pictures tell the story:

Two Approaches to the Maneha 250 - photo - Rob VandermarkRiders took a couple of different approaches to the challenge. Some rode self-supported, packing all their food, clothing and camping supplies. Others took more advantage of the organization Overland Basecamp provided.

Maneha 250 Unofficial Pit Stop - photo - Rob VandermarkThis unofficial pit stop belies the quality of the food served throughout the event, which was catered by Mayfair Farm in Harrisville, NH. They also hosted the campsite and provided the stunning evening view…for those who got in early enough to see it.

Abandoned Narrow Guage - Matt O., Brad S. - photo - Rob VandermarkHere, our very own Matt O. rolls through an abandoned narrow-gauge rail bed with Brad on his wheel. They both rode unsupported.
Oh Look, Another Hill - Brad S. - photo - Rob Vandermark
One of the most charming (and unavoidable) features of our New England topography is the endless, punchy, rolling hills. The Maneha 250 has a climbing profile like a heart patient’s EKG.Strategy Before The Sunrise - photo - Rob VandermarkSunrise breakfast and strategy session at the campsite, a pretty great way to start day two.

The Smile Train - Matt O., Cris R., Dan S., Roger C. - photo - Rob VandermarkMore Sevens rolling by this abandoned freight, go ahead and ask Rob how he found this spot, likely riding around in the woods in the dark.

Read more about it on the Overland Basecamp site.

 

 

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.