This week a head and heart thing came out of plain nowhere and ended up on my doorstep. And I didn’t have the tools in place to deal with it. I was vulnerable in ways words can’t explain. Disagreements are one thing. This was different. I wanted to let it go, but found myself revisiting. Did I feel this way because I was misunderstood? Because my message was lost in translation? Because it was a situation I couldn’t control?
Just as the swallows return to Capistrano, or the Torah is read on the High Holy Days, I have a tradition. Whenever my years at the bench are divisible by forty, I pause. It’s 2013. For the first time in four decades I’m examining my work and myself. This may help me understand what happened.
I make my bicycles for others to enjoy. Since there’s no tree that these fall from, and since I don’t import frames and relabel them, and since I like my solitude and choose to work alone, there is a wait. Folks find me, do some research, and we have a dialogue. A commission may follow. And then they wait. According to my opinion it’s just that simple.
What I make reflects what I use, what I like, what I know, and how I want to spend my day. The bicycles are all are similar yet different. And even when I try to make two alike, they aren’t. They may be made to order, but they are mine, made for others. The color choice is always the client’s, but decisions about what goes where are mine. They’re made from the same metal, and have the same fittings and appointments. When I change something, it’s incorporated into everything going forward – until the next edit. Function and beauty. If I’m not happy with how something works or looks, I’ll make a change.
I design bicycles to work and feel a certain way. To make this happen, specific dimensions are chosen and must complement each other. Some are also selected to place the client in an efficient position. People come in many shapes and sizes, and with different routines, fitness goals, and levels of flexibility. If someone has limitations which dictate that changing my specs in order to accommodate them will compromise the ride, I have to say no. There’s always a give and take. I may be the most inflexible of all since I can’t be all things to all people.
I’m comfortable being opinionated and allowing others access into my world. It’s my world. But just as I’m uncomfortable letting others rearrange my bicycles to suit their needs, I’m bothered if I think they’re trying to do the same with me.
Hey – It has taken me forty years to write this. Thanks for listening.
Josh, Chuckers, and e-RICHIE