I’m not afraid of a good life changing resolution. I thought I should tell you that at the onset of this post. Every now and then I find myself in the mood to write a new years resolution that quite honestly often comes from the most optimistic corners of my imagination. Sometimes I succeed, at least for half the year, and sometimes I leave the resolution abandoned on the first day. My resolutions are rarely trite and regardless of whether I’ve seen them through or abandoned them, I’ve enjoyed the experience. In recent years I’ve lined my resolutions with the calendar not for any particular reason other than it’s easier to keep track of them and the beginning of the year seems as good a time as any.
1. Fall in love with cycling…again. Simple, right?
2. Do one comedy stand up show (inspired by “I’m Leaving You”. Look it up. It’s funny).
I’ll address the first because it’s the most serious. Literally.
It’s not that I’ve fallen out of love but over the course of the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of living my dreams—becoming a wheel builder, opening a shop that we hope inspires and educates, and learning everything there is to know about wheels and wheel design. In fact, I’ve attacked this mercilessly. If there is something to learn about wheels, I want to carefully consider it, understand it, mull it over, second guess it, take it to my engineer friend, test it myself, and then decide how it will fit into the repertoire of information I already have–All for the love of riding.
In the course of all this busyness I’ve managed to collect a fair share of dust on my bikes—yes I’m aware of the irony. I started the business because I love riding and exploring and it’s the part of my life for which I spare the least amount of time. But you can see from the paragraph above, I’ve been busy.
I should tell you, though, that I also love learning. I absolutely love it. My visit to Reynolds, and in particular spending time with Paul Lew, along with the time I spend learning with David Browning (an engineer with Altman Browning), and learning from poetic wheelbuilders like Ric Hjertberg is invaluable and well worth the concessions I’ve made. Where I am today with my understanding of the wheel is certainly not because I was born knowing. But, I digress.
Despite my love of learning I have given up my love of riding–almost a complete trade. While I love learning about aerodynamics, metal fabrication and construction these things have come at the cost of my love for the very thing that pricked my curiosity. So this year I am going to defy the laws of small business ownership and throw myself mercilessly at my bicycle(s). You’re likely to see me working with Russell Cree at Upper Echelon, riding Saltzman on a rainy Monday morning, doing a Velo Dirt ride or you might even see me racing cross this year…the possibilities are endless and that’s just what I like about this years resolution.
I encourage the same for you. Come to talk to us about wheels, about getting faster, about building stronger wheels, about aerodynamics, or about spoke construction and tension. We love that—we’ve dedicated our professional careers to these very matters. But we hope you’ll also come and talk to us about what you love about riding your bike and we hope that it continues to bring you joy.
And to briefly address the second resolution: It’s going to be a complete disaster but at least I’ll be laughing.
We simply wish you the best New Year and the most gratifying year of riding. We’ll see you when you stop into our shop or out on the road…
Lately we’ve been getting e mails from wheel-a-holics everywhere saying they will be able to get new wheels if “Santa” is nice to them. We thought we would help. This letter is a note to the “Santa” in your life and can be edited to fit your needs or simply used as is. We put some suggestions in red. Results may vary.
It’s absolutely unfair if you think that I’ve been running this shop all by my lonesome for the last few years. The truth is, I’ve had help. Like any small business owner we rely on ourselves as the biggest asset and then, if we’re so lucky, our partner. I’ve been so lucky to have a partner, Alex, who is willing to do a lot of behind the scenes happenings like becoming a master book keeper, box breaker downer, and emergency wheel lacer. Like I said, I’m lucky.
But I’m also lucky to have two awesome
employees co-workers who have diligently helped make this business shine and it’s about high time you met them.
Meet Dan. He’s the reason the shop looks sparkly clean and I have my sanity. Dan also bundles spokes for our team of builders so that we can reduce the time it takes to lace wheels. Dan loves talking about hair bands and rock n’ roll. He’s been working with us since July of 2011.
Meet Jason, “First lieutenant” and stellar wheel builder. Jason is a perfectionist which is almost required when it comes to wheel building. Jason has been a part of our studio since July 2011.
I’m pleased to report that my three Sugar wheel sets remain round, strong and beautiful. All of the configurations roll perfectly despite being put through the paces on my daily, year round commute, brevets and self-supported tours. In each case, I thought I knew exactly what wheels I wanted, but the subtle recommendations and build considerations you offered have proved ideal and admittedly better than what I came up with prior to planning with you. Thanks for your expertise, careful craftsmanship and keeping me in fine wheel sets.
This is a story that is awesome. Yup, it’s just that simple.
Last week this was posted on Bikeportland.org. It was a story about a woman whose awesome wheels were stolen from her bike. This set an awesome chain of events into action. The head of marketing from this company read the post and decided to “Get the wheel in motion” by donating awesome parts. He contacted this little wheel company to build the wheels and together we got this company to donate tires. At the end of the day this awesome thing happened and we all got a commuter rolling again:
Sometimes the hours get long when you’re building a business with uncompromising ideals and quality. That’s just how it is. But, it never stops us from playing a role in our community and investing in the next generation.
Every Wednesday morning, throughout the summer, the Community Cycling Center brings a group of youngins through the studio to learn about what I do as a wheel builder. Every week the questions are different and every week I hope as they leave my studio that they are inspired to follow their dreams.
This week, I got a note of appreciation from a parent. It meant a lot to me and I’d like to share it with you here:
My daughter came by your place today with her community cycling ctr camp group, and she hasn’t stopped talking about the visit. She even volunteered to patch my flat tonight. Just wanted to thank you for playing such an important role in inspiring future bike girls!
I was insanely inspired by a female plumber named Denise and throughout the 3rd grade I wanted to be a plumber. Today my admiration is sprinkled throughout the industry and engineers, in general, are the “Denise” of today. My hope is to always remain inspired to learn, to grow, to extend myself beyond what I’ve thought was possible.
Any chance we have to inspire the next generation of cyclists, mechanics, inventors and innovators we take it with gratitude.