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.