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!