Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Cycle of the Seasons

The shadows are getting longer these days.

Boats vacate their slips, as cold air makes for brisk morning rides...

...and winter spirits quietly begin inhabiting the newly empty spaces.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bike Lanes of Harvard Square

I love bike lanes! It goes beyond the merely practical. Yes, they make riding safer and easier -- that's reason enough to love them right there. But bike lanes also have a subtle, quiet grace about them.

Look at these photos I took of the bike lanes in Harvard Square...

It's as if Cambridge is saying: we make a little room for everyone.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seven Cycles & Ciclismo Classico

This past Tuesday night I was invited to a reception hosted by two great Massachusetts bicycle-related companies: Seven Cycles & Ciclismo Classico. The event took place at the Seven Cycles headquarters in Watertown, Mass.

It was a dark and chilly night...

But inside all was warm and pleasant.

Ciclismo Classico is a bicycle vacation company based in Arlington, Mass. I first received their catalog in the mail a year or so ago and spent many happy hours on the subway browsing through it and dreaming about their trips. Their tours cover a range of experience levels, from the "easy" Venice con Gusto tour to the "expert" Majestic Dolomites. Each trip is led by a guide and consists of a limited number of participants. Here's the 2012 catalog that I picked up at the reception:

Really beautiful, don't you think? Log onto Ciclismo Classico's website, request that a catalog be sent to you, and have a look. I enjoyed chatting with a cyclist at the reception who went on their Norway tour. Actually, I seem to come across Ciclismo Classico "alums" all the time. On my very first event ride in Connecticut, a woman in our group wore a Ciclismo Classico jersey. I remember her saying how tired she was after riding our 22 miles through western Connecticut, which seemed odd because she had just told us all about her much-longer Ciclismo Classico ride through Italy. She must have sensed our quizzical looks though, because she soon added: "but we stopped for great food and wine in Italy, so it felt easy!"

Seven Cycles makes custom bicycles, building their frames right there at their Watertown headquarters. I'm afraid I didn't take many photos, but here are two shots I snapped of their bikes on the showroom floor:

The top frame is titanium and the bottom frame is steel. Bicycle racing fans: do you know why the steel bike is painted pink? It's a custom "Giro d'Italia" themed bike! Very cool.

Seven's frame are true works of art. Look at the gracefully curved seat- and chain-stays. And the unpainted titanium. Beautiful.

Here's the Seven catalog that I picked up on the way out (the 2012 bikes are being announced this Saturday):

We were also given a tour of Seven's small factory, which was truly inspiring. Come to think of it, maybe "workshop" is a better word. Even with its high-tech computer generated schematics, spic-and-span cleanliness, and precise machinery, Seven's old-school artistry is what impressed me most. There is no assembly line -- each craftsperson works on multiple processes in the creation of a frame, sometimes building an entire frame from start to finish. Pride in one's work, the magic of seeing disparate elements come together into a cohesive whole, and the mysteries inherent in crafting metals ... they all really come alive in this remarkable shop. In fact, there's even an anvil sitting in a corner! The artists at Seven are carrying the great traditions of New England framebuilding into the 21st Century, and that's wonderful.

So what a great evening! Extraordinary travel and exquisite bicycles ... all inspired by one thing: the quest for the magical ride.