Until this past year, when I turned the venerable age of twenty, I never took the pleasure and joy in working by yourself and for yourself.These past two weeks, I have been spending my mornings moving out and away from my old home in Berkeley and back into my childhood home in Alameda. While at the same time, I worked on an old bicycle frame turning it into a fixed gear bicycle with a road bicycle geometry. It was a nice project to build, but now that i'm done with it, what now?
In Alameda, you see more and more, amongst the younger generation, a staggering amount of those fixed gear bikes and I would bet every reader, that not one of those kids built their bikes with their own hands. Stores can offer these bikes real cheap such as the Bianchi Pista for a thousand dollars, or many department store brands are offering them as well. But I bet you, not one of those single kids with their baseball caps, tight jeans and flannel shirts, not one of them hand picked the 200 dollar rear wheel set from Peter Rich's store. The man who turned cycling into what it is today. None of them snuck off into the night, to find abandoned bicycle skeletons, to see what could be saved to build on a budget and what it turned out was quite decent. I bet not one of them knows how to adjust the handlebars, pick out a comfortable leather seat let alone know the benefits of Brooks.
I built my beauty on my own, and with the help of others for much more difficult components such as the bottom bracket and setting up the rear wheelset. I sanded the old nasty blue paint off, I primed and coated the frame myself and painted it colors I like. These kids, they'll just ride whatever mom and dad buys them. I hand chose my frame from a backyard of bicycles in Berkeley. One that had long dropouts. Unfortunately, it was taiwanese made, but the marquee was the same of my treasured English Raleigh touring bicycle.
I helped Martin move out, but one thing I saw scrawled and scratched into the cover of an old leather journal, and I still can recall is:
A man who works with his hands is a laborer
A man who works with his hands and brain is a craftsman
A man who works with his hands and brain and heart is an artist.
None of these kids work with their hands, brains or heart. Not anymore these days.