As the night and day wore on, they all seemed to agree that it really was a fixie-friendly route, and next year would be a fixed year.
In the meantime, I had started lusting after a new belt-drive fixed gear bike.
Ride Studio Cafe has definitely figured out how to hook me. They just get me to take a bike out for a test ride. I will eventually buy one or two. Yes this is part 2 of Franken-bike.
After testing that belt-drive bike in fixed mode last summer, I had to have one. Near the end of the test week, after repairing a puncture, I noticed that my hands were clean. Then after fixing a flat on our disk-equipped tandem, I made a similar comment about having clean hands, and somehow decided a disk-equipped belt-drive fixie would be great - for clean hands. Well, if you read the diverged post, you know that I eventually designed the most versatile do everything bike imaginable, but then came to the conclusion that it was just a bit over the top, and really wouldn't be perfect for anything. So I ripped the spec sheet in half and made two bikes - one the Honey All Roads bike with gears, chain, derailleurs and disks that would tackle all my favorite dirt road climbs and descents, and the other, based on the Seven Café Racer, a simple lightweight belt-drive fixie, with enough clearance for cushy tires, and a special configuration for hill-climb races. And while the goal is to try to keep it light and simple, I could add fenders and lights and bags for the odd brevet or Flèche. Giving me loads of time to get it set up, my Seven Cycles belt-drive fixie was delivered a week before this year's Flèche!
|The belt is one piece, so the frame has to come apart.|
|More details to come on the hill-climb configuration in a future post. I chose a 4 bolt crank so I could use small or medium size front pulleys|
|One of the things I was most impressed with last summer was the ease of saddle swaps on the Seven seat post. Budget-be-dammed, I had to have that seat post.|
|RSC has told on me! The standard model is the Café Racer, but clearly mine had to be a Café Loiterer. I was the only rider so invested in the team name!|
|The bike even came with a homing device, so I would always be able to find coffee!|
|To get it into Flèche mode, I added fenders, bags, and lights, along with lots of reflective stuff|
|I swapped in my generator wheel, and installed a brand new B&M Luxos "U" light, with the ability to charge/run my GPS during the day - more on this light in a later post.|
|Seven modified a chain-tensioner to work with the fender/rack eyelets. It sure is nice to have Seven Cycles right down the street!|
So armed with a brand new bike, practically covered in magic-faerie dust, I was Flèche-ready. Sadly all the former Misguided Angels bailed this year. Young families come with obligations, and getting away for not just the event, but all the training can be tough. That knocked out Norm and David. Then Dena, apparently confused riding fixed, with being fixed, or maybe she was just was so envious of Norm and David's young families, that she decided to start one herself! Well, I'm happy for her. Really. No I am. Well, maybe jealous that the little dude will be getting the attention I used to!
Fortunately Gary and Chris, with whom Dena and I rode the first half of Green Mountain Double last year, had contacted us earlier in the year to ask about riding together on a few events this season, like the Flèche and GMD. At the time, Dena was coy about her impending motherhood, since she hadn't yet broken the news to me. Still, we both responded enthusiastically about riding with the lads, although possibly to soften the blow later, Dena mentioned a few potential conflicts, like a possible move. Dena's rotten husband can't find a job locally and may be dragging her off to Madison, Wisconsin of all places. Still I knew this wasn't to happen until many months after the Flèche, so I wasn't worried until that day I got an email with an attachment. It was a sonogram! Let me just say that if this is how you are going to tell your best friend that you can't ride a Flèche because you are pregnant, that you should include a note to swallow before opening the attachment. It took me several minutes to clean the coffee spray off my phone!
Anyway, this made us a team of three. We tried to find a fourth, but maybe the prospect of riding 262 miles on fixed through night and day, just didn't help us with the recruiting. That's OK. Three is enough for a team.
I tried to tweak the route a bit to get rid of the busy highway in NH from last year, and make use of the shuttle to get across the river between Portsmouth and Kittery. Amazingly it added mileage to stay closer to the coast, so I cut out some distance by having us finish a few miles shy of Portland. I also made a critical error in picking some busier roads around Boston. But I've gotten ahead of myself.
First order of business was to get to the start, which involved a very urban ride from my place in Watertown to the Ferry Terminal downtown. Oh, I was suddenly reminded how bad this was last year. It was the most stressful part of the whole ride! But we made it in time, got our tickets and boarded the ferry. Gary and Chris live way out in Western Massachusetts - well, actually near I-495, which to us city folk is the same thing. I commend them for coping so well with the city traffic and chaos at rush hour!
|We survived the ride in to the ferry terminal|
|Bikes are secured on the ferry|
|First control for Café Loiterers|
|A little nighttime riding!|
|The disadvantage of being ahead of schedule is your control may not yet be open|
|Fortunately we found a 24 hour CVS a short ways away - with an awesome breakfast!|
|Temps rose inland, but it was still a bit chilly near the coast|
|Chris and Gary|
|The 22 hour control at Seed and Bean in W. Kennebunk, ME|
|Response to the question of would I do this again next year. This was my eighth. I now deny this conversation ever took place!|
|Not a sign you see very often|
|We took in lots of dirt along the way, including a section with lots of washboard in the dark near Plymouth. The Eastern Trail in Maine was sublime!|
|Fenders did a great job warding off any precipitation|
|Café Loiterers complete|
|Final distance. 421.4 km!|
|On the way to brunch|
|Parking at brunch. The bikes near the pole don't need locks!|
Our multi-modal ride was completed with a train journey back to Boston and a final bike ride home.
The Flèche is my favorite event. You ride as a team, working together for a common goal. You get to pick your start time and route and places to stop. We made the most of multi-modal travel - bike, ferry, bike, shuttle, bike, train, bike. We had all sorts of roads: busy urban, busy bike path, quiet main roads, quiet bike path, quiet suburban, washboard dirt, quiet urban, hidden bike path bridges, busy urban, scarified just-the-day-before pavement, busy beachfront, flat roads, steep hills, dirt roads, dirt bike path and paved bike path. We had great coffee shops, closed coffee shops and, amazingly, no clerk seemed shocked when we asked them to sign our cards. The brunch was fabulous. The camaraderie from my teammates and the other teams was wonderful. I will be back!