February 21st, 2013
“no joke” was the response I was looking at on my phone to a text I had sent Hillary a few minutes before. I had asked her if she was playing a practical joke on me. I was looking at two neat little bundles of spokes that she had produced from her bag before leaving for the the morning. There were supposed to be three. It would have been a pretty funny joke, had it been one, because it was already a bit of story at THAT point.. My good friend Torsten, who kindly offered to build these wheels for me had miscalculated the spoke length, because he was working with the schematics for an earlier version of the I9 classic hubs. Naturally the guys at I9 had sent me their very latest version of the hubs, but the schematics weren’t up yet. Just getting the first round of spokes had taken some calling around. At any rate, if the wheels were going to get done in time we were going to need different spokes, and those spokes were not going to have time to get to us in the mail. Luckily, NYC velo had what we needed. Hill and I had swung in quickly to pick them up on our way to a nice romantic dinner. As we walked from the shop to the restaurant, hill had offered to carry the spokes for me because she had a bag and I didn’t. Well. That fucking bag ATE some of the spokes. So it was friday morning, I hadn’t started actually sticking any tubes together yet, my brother was on his way down from VT to hang out with me in the shop for the day while I plowed ahead on the bike, and I was trying to figure out what exactly to say to the guys at NYC velo about having fed a third of the spokes they sold me to my wife’s handbag.
“Hi. Yeah. This is Ezra. I was there last night to pick up some spokes. I didn’t by some chance leave any on the counter when I left, did I? … No .. ok. Well. I’m going to need some more, I guess… yup… right.. I’m going to send my friend Torsten down to get them. He’s a big tall Swede.. Ok Thanks.”
Honestly, that’s sort of how the whole thing had been going. Things just not really falling into place as gracefully as I would hope. Murphy’s law was in full effect. I had shrugged off a UPS door tag that I got on friday for a package arriving from Chris King. “Well, I won’t have any use for that King stuff until Monday, anyway,” I thought. So I nearly had a nervous breakdown on Sunday morning when MySam said something about Monday being president’s day. Luckily for me, UPS doesn’t take presidents seriously enough to take the day off! A few times though I had asked myself, “what’s the rush? Finish it when you get back from Europe.. don’t force things.” BUT I knew perfectly well that two weeks from now when I get back from Europe, everyone would still be suffering from such a NAHBS hangover that forcing people to look at another outrageously appointed custom bike would be like handing someone a martini the morning after they’ve gone on a bender, instead of a nice cup of coffee.
In the end, it did all come together. Monday morning I got up early to braze on the housing/hose tie downs and to ream and slit the seat tube. Then I set Sam up strap polishing the frame to get it ready for Patina (Sam admits that he has a few slightly obsessive tendencies.. He strap polishes bikes like no-one’s business. This is something I wish I had discovered years ago, but then, I didn’t know Sam years ago) and I headed out on the nose bike to find Bobby, my UPS man. Seth Rosko was riding up from the lower east side with a reamer for that soup can of a head tube, Dale Lord was reading the instructions for the XX1 drive train just to see if there was anything peculiar about it (besides the obvious!), and Torsten was on his way over to take pictures of the whole event. Saint Georges was the only one with any bad news.. It was looking like the snow just really hadn’t melted in the woods, and the ride report indicated that going out there wasn’t worth the time. That wound up being just fine. We didn’t finish putting the bike together until around 5:00 and by then everyone was ready to do something else entirely.
The bike needs a little tuning. Hydraulic hose needs to be cut down, saddle adjusted.. But the quick spin around the park that I did take on it was a magic carpet ride. I’ll give a full ride report when I return. In the mean time, a special thank you to everyone who helped out – Both those who donated the parts, and those who helped in the final push to get all those parts hung from the frame. I think it’s a pretty special beast. Full gallery of photos here.
For those of you just joining us: I’ve got a pretty nasty case of cancer. Looks like I’m not going to live all that long. Riding bikes in the woods has been one of the things I’ve really turned to in the last little while to stay calm and cool. All the parts for this bike were donated by the companies that make them. There’s a full list here. When I’m no longer able to ride the thing, I will auction it off to the highest bidder, and the proceeds will go to help cancer research. Hopefully, I’ll get a season or two of riding it before that happens!
NOW.. Off to wander around Rome for the day! Meeting up with Glen and Hedi tonight for his Rome show, and hopping in a car with them tomorrow to go to Florence. It’s a hard hard life.
(this post was written under duress.. please forgive typos and generally bad writing).