Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bikes As Art, Building As An Artist

Making near sighted one-liner observations and more or less doing the blog equivalent of sitting on, is not what I like to do here. If you go back a couple weeks in this blog, you’ll notice a patch where the writing wasn’t really there. Like an attack that doesn’t go anywhere, all I could muster was a stab. It didn’t go unnoticed. One reader went so far as to post the comment “Ur blog is lame” after I poked fun at Bradley Wiggins repetitive tour interviews and compared Alberto Contador to Ryan from TV’s The Office. Touché!

I think there’s a finite amount of creative energy in my camelback. Some goes to my work. I make all the things that make you turn off corporate radio stations and listen to NPR: commercials, jingles and goofy things for commercial radio stations. It might be a step above greeting cards, maybe. What’s left over, I try to drizzle into this blog. Writing about cycling is way more fun than finding another way to convince you to trade in your clunker for a new Yaris. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay as well. I also think it’s fair to say that creative thought gets spent on building a bike. In a way, it is an art. The process is very similar. Whether it’s audio, a rhyme, paint, clay or stuff from Easton and Sram, you’ve got a bunch of parts that need to get put together in a functional, yet emotional effective way. Between work and the bike, we certainly had a bout with blog lameness a few weeks ago.

Three weeks ago, amongst snippets of cables, ferrules and dead leaves, I sat on my workshop floor for a good twenty minutes stared at the pieces like a kid with a box of 64 Crayolas. Across the room leaned an IF Planet X and a Jamis Nova both with aging Ultegra 9sp, a Jamis Xenith road bike with Sram Red, and (I am so lucky) two sets of carbon wheels, one without tires. How do I get the Sram Red on the IF, CX tires on the 2nd set of wheels, spend a minimal amount of money on cassettes and cables and brake pads while keeping the inevitable pain in the ass of having two different drive trains (Ultegra 9sp and Red 10sp) on my CX bikes to a minimum? With my hands on my chin, I stewed over needed parts and the costs, only later discovering I had smeared grease on my cheek.

Sell it. Sell the Nova. In less than a day, thanks to Facebook, I sold the Jamis Nova. Friggin’ genius. Sure it was my pit bike, but it was also aging and would be the crux of having two bikes with different drive trains. The fair deal produced enough lettuce to buy tires and a glue job for my 2nd tubular wheelset as well as purchase new cables/housing, chain and cassette to put the road bike Sram Red on the IF. It also gave a friend an inexpensive way to get back into cyclocross. With the hundred or so I had budgeted earlier to buy tires with, there might be enough to afford a carbon fork and cover incidentals. Sure I wouldn’t have a pit bike. However, traditionally I’ve only used it on average about twice a season. My wife was elated that we actually reduced the steeds in the corral. I now had the makings of one sweet cyclocross bike and two sets of sweet wheels. The first splash of color hit the canvas, and then the 2nd stewing began, along with a week and a half of non-functional bikes.

Which tires? Which fork? What gears on the cassette? With cables/housing, I should do new bar tape. What color? I sculpted. I arranged. I tried white & blue bar tape, threw it away and went with black. I went with the white saddle over blue. I tore through bins, boxes and file cabinets to find the IF sticker set that came with the bike so I could adorn the fork. I cleaned and lubed. The entire process from the first stew on the garage floor to the finished bike you see pictured took two weeks, help from a lot of friends and made at least one person post an anonymous poke.

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