Monday, May 31, 2010

Free night for a while

For the last month and a half I've been feverishly working on what my brother called, "The best birthday present ever". At Christmas I hatched an idea to give my dad a bike for his 60th birthday, which came around this past Saturday. Given that he's owned and worked at bike shops all of his adult life, I figured it might be a fitting present. I worked it out with my siblings and we ended up splitting the costs and even a bit of the production. It was intended as an English style 3 speed, complete with fenders, drum brakes, swept back handlebars and a chain guard. Of course the frame would be Bamboo, my material of choice. I started on bits and pieces of it as long ago as February, but a lot of things always seem to get in the way of building bikes. In my case, there were some setbacks when my friend TJ, who was going to weld up the dropouts for me, had his shop burglarized and all of his tools, and some of mine, stolen. I ended up figuring out some workarounds, so all was not lost, but it's always the little details that make the total project take a bit longer than anticipated.

The good thing about the project, is that I was able to farm out some of the aesthetic work to my siblings: Claire decorated the fenders with an awesome koi motif (my parents have had koi for about 12 years). Leah carved the saddle to look like a set of paisley chainrings, Ian was in charge of custom grips and final assembly, and Asa, who is currently studying in Chile worked with a local silversmith down there to make one of the most bad-ass head tube badges that I've ever seen. It was going to be HOT!

As always, I was absolutely scrambling to get things done on time. My daily rhythm for the past month has been: Go to work, come home, ride bike, go to basement until midnight working on bike, repeat. Oh yeah, sometimes we threw watching the Giro d'Italia in there as well. I finally got the bike assembled, boxed and out the door last Monday, it was then shipped to Ian in Madison, who ended up stuffing it in his car and driving it back to Ames to assemble Saturday morning. Last minute is a family specialty.

I think the results though, were pretty well received. My dad called to thank me, and for once, was nearly speechless. He just kept saying it was a beautiful bike. I think that we can call it a success.

Happy 60th Dad!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


With my new job, bike racing, working on bikes in my basement, working at Trophy on Sundays and trying to tie up some loose ends with my old work at the Clean Air Council and in the neighborhood, I've been stupid busy this past month. 6 day work weeks are not really good for my mental state, but at least I'm not bored. I'm starting to get a bit more comfortable in my office, and I'm figuring out the ropes here at the City of brotherly love, and endless bureaucracy.

I had planned a May postponement of my birthday, but that's looking less and less likely. It seems more that I'll probably just have a summer solstice party complete with some BBQ from the backyard. On the flip side, Jennifer is finally (mostly) done with her second year of school and has been busying herself domestically. She built a window box, baked some cookies and we finally built a planter for the Japanese maple that her mom bought for us when she was out last Thanksgiving. The front of our house is looking really nice with our little tree, and we'll get some compost and soil and put some plants in the window soon. This is going to be the greenest summer ever in the Mole Hole.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Working for the man...

Is an exercise in patience.

I'm learning the ropes slowly here at the City of Philadelphia. It's going to be a good gig once I figure out how to navigate the maze of departments and administrators and buildings and human resources that are contriving to confuse the hell out of me here. On the plus side, my boss is great--a nice guy with a great deal of knowledge. I've also been able to work some bicycling into my job, as I'm in charge of helping the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia with the May 21st Bike To Work Day events.

Negatives include:
-Being required to fill out and fax a separate time sheet each day, signed by my supervisor.
-Not having a building access card, which requires me to sign in daily at the front desk
-An office floor with alarmingly poor air circulation

More details as they come.