All about the bike indeed.......
.....not just any bike....THE bike
Back in July 2012 i enrolled on a course at Downland cycles in Canterbury to build my very own bicycle frame.
I deliberated much over the months on what i would build, getting caught up in the 29er mountain bike craze for a while then when thoughts came of entering LEL 2013 that set the theme of the frame build...it would be an audax bike but with disc brakes. i also opted to build my own forks so that i didn't stuff up the geometry by putting an aftermarket fork on.
Saturday was the first day, it started really well, lots of stuff about health and safety and running through how to safely turn the bottles on and off etc etc. chopped up some bits of metal for welding at a later date, then Martyn the teacher explained about the tubes selected for my bike.....Columbus Spirit no less, equivalent to Reynolds 853 but some say better, i was well chuffed, although i reckoned my bank balance wasn't going to be so happy about it.
Was taught how to use a lug holder for preparing the lugs and the dremel for grinding stuff, it was all very cool, getting my hands dirty again :-)
Day 2 (Sunday) starting with a bit of geometry sorting and then almost straight into welding the practice pieces for brazing lugs....now i like to think of myself as being at least a bit mechanically minded but by the end of the week i couldn't tell you whether what i was doing was welding or brazing or what, all i can tell you is that i seem to be good enough to get the silvery bits (steel) to attach to each other with the goldy looking stuff (bronze) or champagne stuff (silver). The quality of my whatever my joining method was was good enough to get most of the front triangle together...progression :-)
Day 3 (Monday) I had progressed well and was offered lots of praise at all the right moments to keep the motivation up, so much so that i was permitted to run the brake hose internally through the top tube, very very cool. I had thought that given the shot time of the course that this frame would be function focused rather than form, this was to be the first feature which would change this thinking and would make it quite a special looking machine.
Got this all done, top tube fillet welded in and got the chain stays prepped for brazing.
Day 4 (Tuesday) checking the alignment of my back end was the first job!!!! next up was cutting and facing the headtube, this should have been relatively simple but the bronze in the weld was meaning the facing tool was really struggling so this took ages longer than it should of :-( Loads of other odds and ends to be done today like 'braze-ons' for cable stops etc, tidied up the internal cable routing but was concerned that my seat stays were not started and the frame was supposed to be finished tomorrow.
Day 5 (Wednesday) Last day for frame AAAaaarrrgggghhhh.................Martyn and Bryan (the other teacher and owner of the shop) casually asked me how i wanted the seat stays to look/terminate at the top by the seat post, the options were between a variety of "eyes" or mitre them in, i casually responded, i think I'd like to mitre them in to match the other fillet welding, well let me tell you, this is no casual affair, i had previously seen Sam (the other chap i was doing the course with) sort the top of his seat stays out in what seemed like about 1/2 an hour, I'm sure Sam would disagree, anyway the mitreing of my seat stays took me nearly all day, the last part of the day being to actually weld them in, i felt well and truly in the crap!, end of day 5, frame not finished, Bryan however wasn't concerned and reassured me that we had loads of time to finish it off and get the forks done the next day on the "fork" day, i have to say though the seat stays look the absolute dogs bollox IMHO and i am really pleased with the result and that is what will endure, not the stress of getting behind.
Day 6 (Thursday) the final day for forks and frame.
Today i had a get the Brake bridge cut and fitted, mudguard mounts on, cut, face and slot seat tube, loads of clean up and then the fork. all of the above was fitted in around the forks......but there was more, because i was fitting disc brakes an extra brace had to be made and fitted, same problem on the forks, i was slightly envious of Sam and was really feeling the pressure, he had the fork to do and he wasn't fitting mudguards, i seemed to have little bits and bobs coming out of my ears, this meant everything was a rush and inevitably mistakes would be made...and they were but correctable. The forks went quite well although some serious "calibrating" had to be done after the disc mount was added :-(. some frame checking and some cutting and facing done and it was all over.....feeeewww, time check 9:00pm Bryan had stayed on to finish it with me and it basically was finished...lots of clean up to do at home and i didn't get to drill the forks for the rim brake mount, again i could do this at home.....i was exhausted and a bit fed up when i left but as i drove home and thought about the last 6 days and what i had achieved i grinned more and more...i had made my own disc brake audax bike with internal cable routing to ride LEL 2013 on, proper chuffed, not many people can lay claim to such a thing :-)))))))
With regards to actual cycling...a bit of a disaster, i did cycle to the shop from the park and ride car park which meant i did a grand total of....wait for it.....drum roll........9 miles, yep, 9 whole miles or 15K, yer that sounds better.
Target distance 120K
Total distance achieved 15K