Saturday, December 8, 2007

Twisting Nipples

The act of building a bicycle wheel (or any spoked wheel, for that matter) is somewhat spiritual, somewhat zen. There is a symbiosis between the parts and the builder; a hoop of fragile aluminum, a machined heart, a bundle of bent wires with threaded ends, and a crusty human of questionable morals. With care and attention these parts suddenly transform into a solid, lightweight (relatively speaking) balance point for the rest of the assembly. And if building a wheel seems sublime, riding that wheel adds exponentially to the feeling.
To ride, to comprehend the physics that keep you aloft, to have had a direct hand in the physics involved. The only thing better is to build a set of wheels, sign them, and then see them again, years later, when they come through the shop for a tube or minor truing.
If I knew I could pay the bills, I would willingly take a year off to do nothing but build wheels.

"Light, strong, cheap; pick any two." - Keith Bontrager

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