Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Be careful what you don't ask for...

I think most bicycle framebuilders are folks that felt a strong desire to pursue the craft , as if it was the thing they most wanted out of life. I wasn't one of those-maybe for the first few weeks but after the reality of how hard it would be to earn a living at it sunk in , I was pretty much a hobbyist for the next nine years. I even quit for a time when my girlfriend at the time broke up with me and ordered me and my torch out of the apartment forever. I moved to a place where there was no room for a shop so all of my tools went into storage for nearly two years . I had only built about eleven frames so I was still in the beginner stage and blundering my way through for the most part. Little did I know back then what would later be my daily duty for the bulk of my working life. I would like to think that my motivation to build bikes was steadfast and unwavering since the start but I admit that I got discouraged and it fell from the top of my list as a job I could endure. Now that I have been at it fulltime for over twenty-one years , I have come to the conclusion that I always had what it takes to be a framebuilder , not that I am proud of the fact. What I see as necessary components for a potential career framebuilder are the following : # 1, A love of bicycles and riding bicycles , even if you can't ride for one reason or another. # 2, an inability to work for anyone else in any capacity other than framebuilding.# 3, A healthy dose of low self-esteem and need to make folks happy with what you can build so you can get kudos and not feel so absolutely loathsome of yourself for a minute or two.#4 , Some not-so-buried wishes to prove to people in your past that you could indeed amount to something-essentially put it back in thier faces , all those doubters.....pretty much everyone in your highschool. #5 , A need to confront an inanimate pile of metal and turn it into an elegant machine-this comes from your inability to deal with society and social situations comfortably. #6, The desire to have a job that not only skirts the need to conform to adulthood, it literally prevents the transiton. So........what I am saying is that to be a framebuilder needs to be an outcast , a bit of a psychological sicko , incapeable of earning a living in a more conventional profession , and last but not least-immature,insecure and for the most part an emotional house of cards. With these traits it is no surprise why a lot of us do not see eye to eye on what we do and get in to stupid little arguments about details that most people wouldn't even waste a fart on. And so it is, my profession-not what I chose in the beginning but I choose it now , after all....I'm fully qualified.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Look out, comes the UBI class of 2009.

Once a year I go up to U.B.I. ( United Bicycle Institute) and teach a framebuilding class, the steel tig welding edition. It's debateable wheather or not there will be room for all or any of the graduates of this program but with the talent in this group it is certainly possible that some of them will be in the next generation of bike builders.....all, no doubt will build more frames. Attending a class at U.B.I. is perhaps the best way to get your feet wet in the world of cutting and welding bicycle frame tubing. Taking my class is a good way of finding out what over 20 years of framebuilding as a job will do to your selection of off-color jokes and musical choices. This class survived it all and I didn't have to finish a weld on a single frame-something unusual in such an accelerated course. You want my opinion ? ...These guys rock !..I think you have it .