Thursday, 31 March 2011

Good-Bye 'Blueskies' ...Hello Blueprints

A couple of days ago, Seymour Blueskies packed up his things and went home with a very nice couple. I bid him farewell as I fondly recalled our times together.

From the start, my intent had been not to keep the vintage Trek, but to learn what I could from it, then move on to explore other bicycles. It was around this time that I recognised having two categories of bikes: a few that I "truly owned" and others that I considered transient and experimental. But experimental for what?

It took me some time to acknowledge that I was "seriously" interested in bicycle design, and acquiring the Trek last summer coincided with that realisation. I began to learn about bicycle history and frame geometry in a more systematic manner, to formulate ideas about the relationship between form and function, and to apply my previous training (in psychology and neuroscience, as well as art and design) to the realm of bicycles and cycling. I realised that the reason I keep acquiring more bikes, is not because I necessarily want to own them personally, but because I want to try out new ideas and to learn new things - then share the results with others. I enjoy the process of conceptualising a bicycle, then bringing about its existence and the result being successful. Now if only there was some way to do that over and over again, without ending up in financial ruin or with a hoarding disorder... Oh, I know: I could design bikes for other people.

After saying good-bye to Seymour Blueskies, I stopped by to see Bryan at Royal H. Cycles - with whom I am now collaborating on a bicycle. How on Earth did that happen? Well, funny story... You see, in this post about a month ago, I expressed a desire to try a bicycle with traditional randonneuring geometry (à la Jan Heine), and received some suggestions as to how this could be accomplished. There wasn't an easy way; these bicycles are rare. But one idea was that I could design the bike myself - and an intrepid reader was prepared to commission just such a bicycle from Royal H should I feel up to the task. And so here we are. The plan is that I come up with the specs, we discuss, Bryan builds, and we'll see what happens.

As this project begins and the Bella Ciao project nears completion, I am filled with nervous energy and self-doubt all around. I know my weak points: I am not an engineer and I am not a framebuilder. But I am perceptive and increasingly knowledgeable in other ways that are essential to bicycle design, and I do feel that I can collaborate with others to create something special. It's possible that I am over-reaching, that it's all too soon. But life is short and you never know unless you try. So I'm trying.


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