Sunday, August 25, 2013

The tunnel at the end of the light

Time goes by. In the words of my oldest friend who is now living on the street : " The clock doesn't stop for anyone". Yes, the clock is running and as the days, months and years go by I rarely take time to notice......except for lately. There's a milestone that I just passed ( 35 years since I first cobbed a bicycle frame and fork together ) and one that is a mere two years away-turning the ripe age of 60. Now I know that 60 is supposedly the new '40' but honestly, if you have lived 58 years your body will tell you "look, have lived 58 years and I won't lie to you about it." For the last three years I have been doing 'core work' and various yoga/pilates moves for 35 minutes every morning. I do this to counteract the raveges of cycling and standing on a concrete floor for 50 plus hours a week. If I don't do these exercises every day I will start to hurt-my back, my hips, my shoulders etc. It's just part of the job and getting older.
           This brings me to today at a time when a few years ago I felt I would have to slow down and work less because of failing physical ability. Funny how life is-current financial requirements of life, this summer its a code violation on my 'garage/accessory dwelling unit' that has made me realize that I won't be able to slow down. My home loan that I thought would be paid off by age 65 is now extended to  age 72. My father died at 73.........yeah, pretty grim prospect from my perspective. I now find myself working harder than I ever have at my job. I don't think people understand how physical building bicycle frames can be. There's a lot of filing, sawing, getting into uncomfortable positions to do all sorts of tasks. Welding gets more difficult as eyes start to lose the ability to focus. The mind slowly loses the ability to remember all the tasks and keep everything straight-particularly all the details in all the frame orders stacked up. I frequently have to phone people to double and triple check what they ordered. If I don't check, things like incorrect paint color and other avoidable mistakes are possible. I will rectify all these mistakes at my own cost in money and time-it is the right thing to do but it makes for even more work.
             So, not long ago I started to get despondent-I was worried that I would not be able to slow down, let alone 'retire' like the generation before me or like many of my friends who work other jobs. I looked at the high roof joist in my shop and thought that it would be suitable for a good stout rope-the one sure way I could get out of my dilemma. Then I kind of had a moment of clarity-what did I get into this bike building thing for ? There was only one answer for me and it was so completely stupidly simple: "To build bikes , asshole !"
             So, me-Mr. asshole figured it out......there's no end and there shouldn't be, at least not until the real end comes. This job isn't some mission sent to me from God-it is not a means to some lavish lifestyle-it is something I  like to do, want to do and continue to do-even if it hurts. I know others doing the same thing as me who are hurting a lot more than I so complaining is pretty chicken-shit in the grand scheme. Bike building is the tunnel at the end of the light - when it is over it is likely that your life is extinguished. I guess I had better shut up and keep building.


  1. I hear ya, Paul - I'm slowing down allot - I have to keep viable.
    Days off help too, like real days off where you recover......

  2. Anyone who thinks they want to build bicycles as a career should read this post.

  3. You and Steve G. posting your blogs with the same theme so close together has got me thinking. After swinging a hammer for 30+ years I can relate. The bags go on every day but it's what I do, not who I am. :)

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