100 Centuries

This is Lenny, one of the more extraordinary cyclists you will meet. He is not the fastest, not the strongest, but he has something that few others have, a preternatural persistence that has produced prodigious results. His story, in his own words, below.

Hello,

             In May 2003 I took ownership of my Seven Axiom serial # 5103J14. I had ridden 55 lifetime centuries to date and planned to ride my new Seven with the goal of reaching the 100 centuries mark. In July 2003 I rode my 1st on it CRW Climb to the Clouds for the 4th time.

Well fast forward 4 years to July 2007 and I hit 100 century mark with my 45th one on the Seven. It was a tri-tate century route from my house in MA up along the NH coastline into Maine and back for the 10th time. When I hit mile 100 I stopped and sprayed 100 on the road with my water bottle!  So I revised my goal to ride 100 centuries on the Seven and this past July and the mission was accomplished! In fact it was the 24th time I did that century.

Well I’m not a bike racer or world traveler on the bike but a proud owner of my Seven Axiom. In fact all the Seven centuries were done on New England roads. I have 36,750 miles on it to date averaging over 2,800 miles per year. Two were double metrics the 200K Boston Brevet and Seven Hills Wheelmen’s Tour of the Quabbin.

Anyway just a very satisfied customer letting you know!

Lenny

The Places We Go

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Because we build our bikes one-at-time, for their riders, we don’t have to manage an inventory of anything other than raw materials. That allows us to build the bikes riders want instead of trying to guess what they want or trying to convince them to buy what we have already built.

The challenges our riders have been taking on this last year really bring home to us how the way we do things allows our customers to lead us forward, to take us where they want us to go.

Mike Bybee rode from Arizona to Canada on his Sola SL bike-packing rig. Brad rode across the US, from Oregon to Virginia on his Evergreen SL, set up for loaded randonneuring. We rode in Yorkshire and on the Isle of Man. Matt Roy and David Wilcox attempted a 1000km brevet in the worst heat wave the Pacific Northwest has seen in decades. Daniel Sharp rode the Oregon Outback. Seven was at the Mt.Evans Hill Climb, in the Pyrenees and at Dirty Kanza. Sevens have been ridden through the night, through two full centuries, around Lake Michigan, through Paris and over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

Sometimes we shake our heads in wonder at all of it. What ends up happening is that, as much as guide Seven riders through the process of designing their bike, they guide us through the world of cycling. They show us what is possible and change our own ideas about what a bike can be.

Image: Daniel Sharp

A Tale of Two Millenia, Pt 1

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To say that Matt Roy and David Wilcox failed to complete their first attempt at a 1000km brevet this summer in the Pacific Northwest would be technically true, they did not ride 1000km, but so oblivious to the circumstances and outcomes as to be ridiculous. Most of us can’t even conceive of riding 1000km (621 miles), and doing so, as Matt explains, requires a process of understanding how to break down the mileage to begin with.

19247665074_9c447a23c9_z“Anyone who’s done a full brevet series (200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km) knows they come in palatable chunks. There’s a natural progression, and brevets are designed to be finished as the season goes along, March through August,” he says. “I had done the training, the series, so you get that confidence that you can do the next distance, which eventually adds up to 1000km. I never start with my computer set to countdown from 620 miles. I just break it down and know that I’ll have a mental reset at each checkpoint.”

The week of the PNW 1000km event an historic heat wave swept across the region, visiting temperatures north of 110F on the roads of the long route.

“At the start,” Matt says, “we thought we had it. Temps were peaking around 104F, but it’s dry heat, probably equivalent to the 80s here in New England, so we thought it would be tolerable. We never thought we’d encounter the heat we did, but it became clear midway through the first day. When the heat came it was complete, like you’ve never experienced, and the roads are all really exposed. There was no shade even to change a flat in, and I thought we might be in trouble.”

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Normally, brevets are self-supported. Riders need to manage their own equipment, food and liquid. That first day Matt and David rode from 5am to 1:30am the next night. Around 10pm they received a text from one of the promoters that just said, “Good luck, guys. You’re the only ones still riding.” At that point, Matt’s wife, Mo, began to follow the pair by car packing water bottles with ice for them to carry in their jersey pockets and nylon ice socks to drape over their necks.

19683766099_fc8736f0d1_zThey were on their bikes at 8:45am the next day, and it was already 98F. With 86 miles to the next checkpoint they calculated they had 8 hours to get there. Stopping as they were, every 20 miles at first, then every ten, for Mo to restock them with fluids and ice, they made the checkpoint in 8-and-a-half hours.

“We were riding fine,” Matt says, “probably holding to about a 15mph average, but the day just ticked away from us.”

 

After two days they’d covered 350 miles. They sat in a Taco Time restaurant and assessed the situation. They’d missed the checkpoint closing, and the math on the ride to the next check suggested they’d have to ride straight through to Whitefish, MT in 27 hours.

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“We did that practicality check before we did a safety check really,” Matt says. “Then we said, ‘This looks dumb.’ None of us ever stops anything. This is what we do, but we were all just trashed, even Mo from worrying over all the things we were doing to keep moving.”

19682358400_fb49cdcc8c_zSo they got in the car and continued the trip just as they would have, along the route, but with stops at creeks to swim. They visited Glacier National Park. They saw friends in Missoula.

Matt says, “Listen, we didn’t make the 1000km, and that’s disappointing on some level, but we’re happy with how it worked out. We had our adventures, which is really the point. That’s why you undertake these things. The riding is important, but it’s not everything.”

In part II, Matt tries again, this time back home in New England.

All images: Matt Roy

New England Randonneurs Overnight 200km

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Riding 200km is difficult, and it seems to add a needless degree of difficulty to do it in the dark, but if you consider that the next distances on the randonneuring calendar are 300km, 400km and 600km (not to mention the 1000k), at some point it is helpful to inure yourself to riding in darkness.

Last weekend, our resident randonneur extraordinaire Brad, fresh from this exploit, took on the NER 200km overnight brevet.

“Everything is funnier in the dark,” he says. “At 2am, what keeps you going are the ridiculous things people say and dreaming about your next snack.”

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Leaving at 9pm on a Saturday night, this 200k, sent riders out onto quiet roads and brought them back in around 5am, just in time for breakfast. Of the 14 randonneurs who participated, three were prepping for this week’s 1000k event, and a few were tuning up for the granddaddy of them all, Paris-Brest-Paris.

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Where Does Performance Really Come From?

bxs_CDThere is this idea that, to perform really well, a bike has to be hyper-stiff, and/or the rider has to get into a maximally aerodynamic position, as if either of these characteristics, alone, yields speed.

In the last few weeks we’ve received dozens of photos of Seven riders taking on challenges like the Trans Am Bike Race, 600k brevets, the Green Mountain Double Century and Dirty Kanza. As a percentage, Seven is disproportionately represented at these events, which is to say, you see a lot more of our bikes at events that require maximum performance from racers and riders. And why is that?

Torsional rigidty, drivetrain stiffness and aerodynamics can all be good things, but in our experience they have to be balanced against fit and comfort. If the rider isn’t comfortable in his or her “aero” position, it won’t be possible to generate big power. If a rider isn’t comfortable on the bike, it will be exponentially more difficult to cover big distance.

When the chips are down and things like fit and comfort come to the fore, a custom Seven shines, because we seek those balances in all our designs. Peak performance, and peak fun, too, don’t come from shorthand answers to design questions. They come from thoughtful design, carefully chosen materials and a rider-specific approach.