Horses for All Courses

JohnShredThree of us showed up for this morning’s shop ride on three different bikes (while others…ahem…chose to sleep). It’s only 10 miles, but all on twisty, rooted, rocky single-track, one of those cool stretches of uninterrupted dirt that seems so improbable so close to the city, but it’s a gift we avail of ourselves year round, year-after-year.

It was just the regular Thursday morning dirt commute, but here’s where it gets interesting. One of us rode a mountain bike with 2.3s. One of us road an Evergreen with 40c tires, and the third road a cross bike with 32s. None of us was out of our league, and none of us seemed to have too much bike. Were there differences in how we performed over the varied terrain? Sure. The mountain bike was fastest through rock gardens and over roots. The other two bikes were faster on packed climbs. But it all evened out, and we all had fun.

This was one of those cool, unintentional experiments that yielded reinforcement for an idea we’ve been nursing for a long time, that the common conceptions about the “right” bike to ride in a given situation are probably not more than reasonable suggestions, and that really, you just have to ride what you love.NeilNMatty Don’t get trapped by expectations. Be led by fun.

This Is Why We Do This

WhyWeDo1It was Thursday morning. We’d met at the usual spot and rolled West, crisscrossing some trails, then turned south on the road towards more trails, and eventually to Seven.

Mike said, “This is why we do what we do. This right here.” By this point, we’d been to the coffee shop down the street from the shop and were all riding one-handed up the hill to work. The sun shone. It was cool, and we’d done 15 or 20  miles of road and trail in a lazy, pre-work ramble.

We like what we do all day, building bikes, talking riders through their designs, figuring out component compatibility, researching the new cycling trends, but none of it means much without riding.

WhyWeDo2Riding feeds bike-building, and riding the bikes we build tightens the feedback loop, so that we are so closely engaged with what we’re doing that the riding and building seem to be part of the same process. In some ways, they are. But the riding is why we do what we do, the nurturing of that feeling of freedom and adventure, and the hope that we can spread it to as many people as we can.

Cold and Dark

The sun wasn’t up when we met in the grocery store parking lot, each of us blowing great gusts of breath into cold hands. This had seemed like a good idea last night, but this was our first cold, dark shop ride of the season, and we stood there, shifting from foot to foot, trying to gather the will to roll out.

The sun filtered through the trees on the way up the first leaf-strewn climb, heat rising in our chests, until we were at the top with dumb grins on our faces. Someone said, “I must have mountain bike amnesia, because I always seem to forget how much fun this is, even though it’s ALWAYS this much fun.”

We passed a dog walker and ran into an old Seveneer, on his own pre-dawn ride. We shook hands and made small talk, and then we went on and dropped down the other side of the hill, crossing the road and the meadow and fording the brook at the wooden bridge. We’ve done this together so many times, that we know where each rock is, each overhanging branch.

Mike found a new way up to the water tower, and he promised us it wasn’t as hard as the usual way, which is a straight grind up a steep pitch. It’s a good trail to understand how fit you are. Or not fit. As the case may be.

The new way is a twisting, undulating serpent of a trail that switches back a few times, but not so dramatically that you can’t keep your front wheel on the ground. We arrived at the top huffing and puffing, but happy to have added a new section to a patch of woods we’ve all been riding for a decade or two.

From the water tower, we dropped back down, our rear wheels grabbing and sliding in the loose leaves, and snaked back through the meadow, across the road and up, and up, until we were on the verge of the last plunge back down toward the grocery store, its parking lot now morning full.

It’s hard to describe how much fun a pre-work ride like this is, except that, as a cyclist, you already know. It was cold, and it was dark, and it can be hard to get out of bed to ride a bike when it’s like that, but wow, this is Tuesday on mountain bikes in the fall. Just some guys from the shop, out for a ride. Complete perfection.

Summer Seven Style

cookout1We rolled thirteen deep, our course winding seventy miles north and west of our Watertown home. It featured a variety of classic New England highlights like olde town centres and ice cream parlors, lakes and rivers, farms and country stores, cows and chickens, hawks and herons, mountains and views. And best of all, a company picnic and camping at the finish!

It has been a big, big year for us here at Seven. We’ve worked hard. So, for the first time in years we decided to have a non-holiday party, simply for the sake of enjoying the weather, a long ride, and each other’s company.

There are several camping trips in the folklore of the company. Senior Seveneers have long alluded to these trips of yesteryear, but until last weekend, the young ‘uns could not relate.

We were excited as we left the Boston-area. We had no idea what to expect, even as pavement gave way to dirt, as we crossed into New Hampshire, as the road turned up and up and up. And when we arrived thirsty and exhausted, we found that a dedicated few had arrived early and prepped the food, grills, chairs, darts, horseshoes, and quite litecookout2rally every other amenity a party-goer could want. Our fatigue quickly faded.  Every few minutes people would arrive, by bike or by car, until every chair was filled.

photoBased on the laughter and smiles it was clear that the company, as a whole, was looking to cut loose and relax. Kids scrambled in and out of the circle. People left for short hikes and took naps in the hammock. By 6:00 there were three grills cranking out burgers, dogs, kebabs, and plumes of smoke.  Tents were set up and as the cool mountain air descended upon us, the bonfire was lit.

It carried us to midnight.

It’s no secret that we have a pretty special group here at Seven. That more than half of us rode our bikes the 70 miles (and some rode further), tells you all you need to know about who we are and what we do. These would be our sixth and seventh consecutive days together, but the only arguments we managed were over horseshoes.