Signature Cycles rides D2R2 – Part 1

D2R2 Recap Part 1

What humbly began as a favorite dirt-road loop in the hill towns of Franklin County, Massachusetts around the 1990’s has quickly grown into a “bucket list” event for many cyclist worldwide. Since its official start as an organized event in 2005, the Deerfield Dirt-Road Randonnee has gained a cult like following for endurance cycling / gravel grinder enthusiasts. This 180 km event (which today offers a wide variety of shorter distances) takes place every August in the beautiful backdrop of New England’s countryside. While this calming scene paints an image of serenity and enjoyment, the actual course profile is something that creates a very different image… something more reminiscent of a bandsaw profile rather than a cycling queue sheet.

This 110 Mile loop, takes cyclist up some of the hardest climbs in Franklin Country. The ride wastes little time in showing new participants what lies in store. The first 36.5 miles alone have 6,000 ft of climbing. To put this in perspective you will cover 3/4th of the elevation of the NY Gran Fondo in 1/3rd of the distance (before Piermont) on gravel roads that at times are reminiscent of mountain bike single track.
In total participants will climb over 13,000 ft on gravel accents, regularly crest 15% pitches, and at mile 100 tackle Patten Hill, a 20% “Monster” on some of loosest gravel of the day.
Sound like fun?
Well…. it is.
While the event itself may seem overwhelmingly difficult; the organization, food stops, volunteers, and local support are something I have yet to see matched in any event we have participated in. The event, which is hosted by the Franklin Land Trust, raises money which directly impacts the local community. The Franklin Land Trust is a non-profit organization in western Massachusetts that assists farmers and other landowners who want to protect their land from unwanted development. FLT has helped hundreds of families craft conservation plans that address their financial goals, family needs, and conservation vision.
What this means is that the event is run by the locals, and as our hosts they do everything they can to make sure our experience is second to none.

Darren on one of the technical sections of the day

This year, Signature’s Justin Bagnati and Blake Bedoya, along with a few close friends, traveled to Massachusetts to participate for the 2nd consecutive year. In addition to riding D2R2 on Saturday, they chose to take the path less traveled by riding back to Justin’s home in Norwalk, CT over the following 2 days. This would become a three day journey that would cover 325 miles, 28,000 ft of climbing, and over 23 hours on the bike.
In this two part story we will highlight the event in length, the unique bikes we each chose to use for the ride, as well our favorite apparel items we chose to use for 3 day trip. We hope you enjoy the images and if you have any questions about the event, our gear, or wish to participate, please let us know and we can begin planning for the 2016 trip!

One of the scenic stretches of gravel

Day 1:

Unlike our first trip to D2R2 in 2014, we were lucky enough to be offered housing for the 2015 event. While many participants choose to camp on site or stay a local inns, having a home to set up, shower, and check over the bikes was an amazing start to the weekend.
While the 180 km officially begins at 6am we didn’t have a set time for our departure and chose to get on the road only after a filling breakfast on site. As mentioned earlier, the support  for the ride is fantastic and no where does this show more than with the food/aid stations.
As we began the ride we quickly settled into a steady pace where speed was never the main objective. We knew that this would be an 8 hour day on the bike that would total over 10 hours after our aid station stops, lunch, bathroom breaks, and the few mechanical issues that would arise through the day.
As the sun came up we quickly realized that each group we passed was filled with other hand-built bikes from around the United States and beyond. I had rarely if ever seen this variety of brands represented. Among the notables were Seven Cycles, Parlee, Firefly, Indy Fab, Zanconato, Mosaic, Course, Gaulzetti, Sachs, Serotta, 22 Bikes, Crumpton, K. Bedford, Kirk, and Bishop. I can clearly remember commenting on phenomena to which Justin simple replied: “oh yea… It’s like hand built bike prom”.

He was right.

Each bike was unique and each owner was happy to tell us about their bike, why they chose it, how long they’ve had it. These brief conversations took our minds off of the steepness of the climbs and made us feel like we were all out for a Saturday ride together. I’m often asked “what’s the scene” at events like these… My response is that the friendliness is something reminiscent of a classic car show. People here appreciate the quality of their bikes , the craftsmanship of their investment… It’s not a place you’ll have a lengthy conversation about carbon rim weights and aerodynamics.

Of of the day's many rest stops

The lunch stop, which seems to never come soon enough, was around 75 miles into the day. It quickly grows to a festival like environment where everyone catches up, shares stories of their day so far, and most importantly eats their body weight in food. We all regrouped here and relaxed for about 45 minutes.
Getting back on a bike after this never feels great, but we quickly regained our rhythm on what seemed like an instant climb out of the lunch area.
The next 20 miles, while filled with the best views of the day, seemed like they were just a distraction leading to Patten Hill. While not the hardest climb of the day in my opinion, it does peak over 20%. However, it was not the climb I focused on. Upon reaching the summit riders arrive at the Little Big House. The owners/builders of the home designed everything to be oversized… The doorknobs are the size of truck wheels and the windows like billboards. The goal is to forever feel like a kid in a toy house. While the owners did occasionally look out and wave at the hoards of spandex clad cyclists in their lawn, they hire locals to cut and distribute fresh watermelon and pickle juice on the top of the climb. I can honestly say it’s some of the best watermelon I’ve had and I’ll continue to look forward to this as my favorite part of the day. Additionally we had taken a group photo here in 2014, so why not begin a tradition.

The last 10 miles involve some technical descending with one more substantial climb. They go by quickly and this is where the stronger riders in our group began to push it. We all enjoy taking pulls as long as we can or until we each fell off the pack.
Like with any epic ride, the day ends with beers, great food, tales of the day’s heroic efforts, and the best part- a swim in the local river.

Every ride should end this way!

The Bikes:

We recently received an email from our friends at Seven Cycles. In it they wrote:

We had an email from a photographer friend, based in Europe. It said, “Have been out shooting PBP (Paris-Brest-Paris) and was amazed at the number of Sevens I saw.”
Then we were researching recent posts about the New England Randonneurs’ summer brevet series, looking at results and times, and it struck what a high percentage of the riders were on our bikes.
It seems everywhere we look at the longest, hardest rides the sport offers, our bikes are disproportionately represented. We hope it’s because we can offer serious riders the exact blend of performance and comfort they’re looking for, and that few, if any, production bikes provide the sorts of features and options that make big adventures so much easier. Whatever the case (like Seven riders are just a little crazier than the general cycling populace), it feels good that the harder the ride, the more likely the rider is to choose Seven.

While in the context of brand advertisement, the above motion is not entirely surprising. However, D2R2 proved to reinforce the idea.
Justin, Darren, and I all found ourselves driving up to Deerfield, with our Sevens in tow. While each of our bikes are as different as their respective owners, we chose to leave alternatives at home. This was not planned, we were not sponsored, we were three riders who needed to feel 100% confident that regardless of the terrain, weather, or whatever the 3 day journey would bring, our bikes would be able to perform dependably and only add to our cycling experience.

Blake’s Seven Evergreen Pro

Blake's Evergreen Pro

Justin’s Seven Evergreen SL 650B

Signature Cycle's own Justin Bagnati built this very unique Axiom SL up with maximum versatility in mind. He used ENVE 650B XC wheels, Grand Bois 42mm tires, Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain with CX75 disc brakes, a Thomson stem and post, 3T Rotundo bars, and a Fizik Aliante Saddle. Igleheart custom built the fork for this unique application and added fender and rack mounts mounts to the iconic New England Segmented Fork.

In Part 2 of our D2R2 recap we will focus on Day 2 and 3 which span the additional 240 miles and highlight the Assos Offroad Rally line which we brought as our main kits for the ride. We hope you enjoy the recap and if you’d like to have us answer any of your question please send them to

A full review of the the Assos gear we used is coming in Part 2

Half a Wheel

Half a wheel can make the difference between a bad day, good day and a great day. We have all been there, staring at half of a wheel with mixed emotions.

My last two summers have been mixed with emotions when it comes to riding. Last summer I had an external Iliac bypass, which sidelined me until the spring when I got to test my new plumbing in Majorca and Girona. Four weeks after spinning mega miles in Spain, I was flying at our local Saturday club ride. Winning the sprint was more of a choice rather than a lucky possibility. I was back and felt invincible. It didn’t last long though. Just a few weeks after feeling like superman, I was exposed to my kryptonite. My right leg started to fatigue during any power efforts and my Garmin confirmed that sustained wattage of more than twenty second wasn’t feasible anymore.

Not riding with the “A” group wasn’t an option. I didn’t have the energy or the desire to find a new group of riders that would tolerate my idiosyncrasies on the bike. After getting medical confirmation that my right leg had only 60% blood flow, I elected to get angioplasty to reopen my artery, so I can rejoin my group of comrades on the bike.



Ten days have passed since the procedure and today’s club ride was going to be the test. My last few rides had me off the back or dropped before the serious climbs even were in site. Today’s goal, get over the climbs and hopefully finish with the group. Continue reading

Where Does Your Bike Sleep?

We all have to find the right spot to store our bikes when we’re not riding them and depending on where you live and the logistics of your space, bike storage can require a bit of creativity.

Whether you’re a city flat dweller, have a 3 car garage, or need to navigate stairs to get your bike on and off the street, you want a safe and easily accessible location so nothing discourages you from getting your bike out on the road.

Do you have a cool storage system or DIY solution? Does your bike sleep in your bedroom? Do you hang it from the ceiling? Do you squeeze it into a closet? We want to know – Where Does Your Bike Sleep?

Send us a photo and description of your bike and we’ll share it in our Signature Cycles #wheredoesyourbikesleep album. You can upload your photo directly to our Facebook wall or send us an email at . Please include your name, a description of your bike and anything else you’d like to share about your personal bike storage solutions.


Winter: An argument for the “All-Road” bicycle

Sunday Ride at Lake Welch
Let’s face it, this winter is never-ending!
I feel I can safely speak for everyone when I say, I’m ready for Spring.
Here at Signature, our road bikes are either collecting dust in the corner of our homes, or the look like they’ve been dragged through a war zone, covered in mud and salt.

Our beautiful Parlees, Passonis, and Gurus are sitting on the sidelines, like high-performance sports cars, garaged because of this weather. So what are we left with to ride? Well, that’s an interesting question, lets introduce our “other” bikes.

This past year, Justin and I decided to go “outside of the box” with our next builds, and began to explore all the interesting technologies the industry had to offer; including disc brakes, hydraulic options, electronic shifting, and more. The result; two bikes that didn’t quite fit the mold, however turned out to be everything we could ask for in this winter weather.
Continue reading

On the Mend, Phase II: Back on the Bike

For the backstory on this post by Paul Levine, follow this link.

I have sat on many starting lines in my cycling career, from crits to road races, to European etapes, to countless club tours. I have never been as anxious and nervous as I was today, starting the Saturday morning Hump ride. The unknown is always worse than the known, and I had no idea how my body was going to perform. This was truly the first day of the rest of my cycling future.

Today was two months since my final operation, of four, to bypass my external iliac artery. The day after the last operation I was challenged to use a walker for fifteen minutes. I moved on quickly to a cane and then went sans cane five days later. My thoughts were would I ever be able to ride my bike again and if so, would I be able to ride with my same group at the Saturday ride. I thought about the Hump ride for two months and visually road the course figuring out the best way to effectively stay in the group with the least amount of effort. We all know that no two rides are the same and the dynamics of the ebbs and flows of the pace is determined by several unpredictable factors. The best I can plan for would be to be aware of my redline and use my energy sparingly. Considering that I have been off of a bike for three months, I had no idea if I had any matches to burn. The strategy to ride with the “A” group was a crap shoot, hence the butterflies in my belly this morning.

Continue reading

Hector Picard Round Two



In July of 2011 we had the pleasure of working with the I Will Foundation athlete, Hector Picard. Designing a bicycle for a double arm amputee presented some interesting challenges that we were excited to tackle. A blog post detailing the unique solutions to overcome these challenges for his first bike can be found here. This past May, misfortune struck Hector when his custom bicycle was stolen from the back of his car in Florida.
A collaborative effort between Signature Cycles, the I Will Foundation, and generous industry partners got Hector back on the road as soon as possible.
Thanks to Seven Cycles, Shimano, Zipp Speed Weaponry, and the I Will Foundation,  Hector was able to get a replacement bike made so that he could get get back to riding.

Life is Strange, Make the Most of It


I have many unique and exotic experiences that I want to accomplish on my cycling bucket list, developing external iliac artery occlusion wasn’t one of them. The symptoms started on July 4th during a three hour ride with our club. I had just returned from Sweden the day before and felt great during the first half of the ride. I spontaneously lost all power in my right leg and wasn’t able to recover for the second half of the ride, barely being able to pedal back to my van. The power meter was my base line monitor for quantifying  my output based on effort. The first half of the ride I was putting out 275-300 watts with moderate effort, the second half I couldn’t put out more than 120 watts without going anaerobic. I justified the sudden loss of power with jet lag.

I came home that day, felt tired and discovered that I couldn’t walk more than fifty yards without going anaerobic, creating a limp with my right leg and I needed to stop walking until my leg recovered.  Fast forward past my ten days of visiting eight specialists trying to determine the cause of my sudden weakness. The conclusion to the cause of the intermittent claudication was an occluded right external iliac artery . I needed a bypass of the artery. I vetted out Dr. Ken Cherry , vascular surgeon at UVA who has done more of these external iliac artery bypass operations than any other surgeon in the country, most likely the world. He was quick to accommodate my request to have him do the operation and we scheduled surgery August 1st.

The plan was to take the Amtrak down to UVA on Tuesday July 31st, meet the doctor and his team and get the pre-op tests Wednesday, surgery on Thursday and back home on Sunday. A nice tight schedule to get what typically is a routine operation, from the best in his field, done with time to spare for a short recovery and check over period  before we headed home.

Things went sideways quickly. I won’t bore you with all of the details, and can’t remember most of them anyway because I spent the next ten days in either a drug induced state or was in so much pain my endorphins didn’t have time or detail on their priority list. I spent most of that period in what I would consider survival mode. My baseline thought was if any human being could deal with this pain, I should be able to endure it. I have many clients and friends who have gone through much worse than what I went through and was drawing strength from them. Thank you Matty Long for being run over by a bus, I thought of you often.

Continue reading

Signature Cycles Hosting Auction to Support Mountain2Mountain

Signature Cycles Greenwich

Thursday July 20th from 6:00 until 7:30

galpin in afghanistan


Come join us for an auction to raise money for Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit dedicated to creating voice and opportunity for women and children in conflict zones. The two projects running in 2013 include Mountain2Mountain’s ongoing work supporting women who dare to ride bikes in Afghanistan, and Strength in Numbers, a project that launch this summer with its first mountain biking camp in Breckenridge for young women that have survived gender violence.

In 2014, the documentary film Afghan Cycles will premiere covering the fight for Afghan women, and the courage that they’ve shown in daring to race bikes.  The film was shot in Afghanistan with Let Media and proceeds will benefit Mountain2Mountain and its continued work to support the development of women’s cycling in Afghanistan.  Strength in Numbers will also extend its reach to several more camps in more locations to build an army of women that can change the world!

The goal of our auction at Signature Cycles is to raise funds for this summer’s Strength in Numbers camp and the creation of the Afghan Cycles documentary. All of the proceeds collected will go directly to the projects. Some of the items being auctioned will come from the sponsors of Mountain2Mountain and will include goodies from Alchemy Bicycle Co., Osprey, Skratch Labs, Primal Wear, and more. As a bonus, the founder of Mountain2Mountain, Shannon Galpin, will be at the event acting as emcee, and we’ll be screening some sneak peeks of footage filmed in Afghanistan.

An Evening with Tyler Hamilton


Signature Cycles Greenwich
Thursday, May 16 from 7 to 9pm

Please join us for an evening with Tyler Hamilton, former teammate of Lance Armstrong and author of “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs”.

The evening includes a presentation by Tyler Hamilton, followed by a candid question and answer session.

Tyler Hamilton was once one of the world’s top-ranked cyclists. In 2012, he released his memoir, a riveting journey into the heart of a never before seen world, the stark choices that went along with his decision to compete at a world class level, and his complicated relationship with Lance Armstrong.

This is an RSVP only event so please email by Thursday, May 9th if you plan on attending.

Signature Cycles Greenwich Weekly Group Rides


It’s that time of the year again when people are putting away their trainers and taking their bikes back out into the daylight. We think this is a great time to remind everybody of the two weekly group rides that we lead from the Greenwich studio.

Our year-round Saturday ride departs the Greenwich studio at 9am. This moderately paced 27 mile ride features 1900ft of climbing and averages 15-17 mph as it rolls through the hills of back-country Greenwich. A map of the route can be found here.

On Wednesday nights, our Women’s ride leaves from the Studio at 6pm. Four time New York Masters State Champion Lori Hoefer leads this delightful romp through some of Greenwich’s finer roads. This women’s-only ride requires a road bike and averages 20-25 miles at a 14-15 mph pace.