Filed In: Process

Riding in Circles

October 18, 2019   |   Chris Blandford

Two things of bicycle-note happened recently.

First:

Last Saturday, I rode over to the Chris King Open House. For the non-nerdy, Chris King makes very nice parts--here in Portland--for very nice bikes. Each year, they invite a handful of professional custom bicycle builders to display a bicycle showcasing new King products. They also serve beer and give a factory tour--that whole deal.

The style of bike that was being shown at this year’s event wasn’t really my thing. Lots of gravel bikes and road bikes and mountain bikes. Bikes made for bike rides. Which is great, but--again--not where my interest lies. I’m as bike nerdy a person as one will ever meet, but these types of events help to remind me that my bike nerdiness is confined, really, to a small niche within a broader, more widespread nerdom.

I can’t remember the last time I went for a bike ride. I ride my bike every day, but an actual bike ride? In a big circle? For no other point than pure enjoyment or exercise? It’s been years, I’d guess. I like riding bikes from here to there. To and fro. In lieu of walking or driving or e-scootering or roller skating, but that’s it. To the hardware store. To get groceries. To go down to the coffee shop to write a blog post for boring little blog. I suppose the rides--technically--go around in a circle, but there are intentional stops along the way. I ride slow, and get passed by lots of bike-ride-bike-riders. Sometimes Mathilda is squirming about in the bucket of our cargo bike on the way to (or from) school, but otherwise I’m nearly always alone.

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Filed In: Process

Those Types of Bikes

October 11, 2019   |   Chris Blandford

I learned last week that UBI’s Portland campus is shutting down. That’s a shame; I enjoyed my time there more than just about any two week stretch I’ve had in recent memory. My family and I live in Portland in small part because of the experiences I had while attending UBI. My interest in building a bicycle led me to that school. Spending two weeks surrounded by Portland bike nerds made me realize that I wanted to be one, too. And so here I am. The news is unfortunate, but not all that surprising. Even a couple of years ago, I figured it might be time.

I’ve read it written--more and more, in fact--that the handmade niche of the bicycle industry is dying. I certainly can’t argue with that. Even in my short time of paying attention to such things, I’ve noticed waning interest. “Framebuilding”--as it’s called, I guess--isn’t what it used to be. Not compared to thirty years ago; not compared to ten years ago. What was once a 70’s-era trade became a 2000’s-era craft and has now been relegated to 2020’s-era… something else. If I was, or had goals to be, a professional custom bicycle builder, I’d be worried--wondering what the future held. Thankfully I’m not, and I don’t, so I needn’t be.

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Filed In: Process

Bridge

October 04, 2019   |   Chris Blandford

It’s been over a year since I’ve written anything for this spot. Not sure why, really. I’m still as enthusiastic about these bicycles, photos, and words as I’ve ever been. It’s not a case of writer’s block (or builder’s block) either; I have a million bikes to build and photos to take and stories to tell.

Might be my general apathy. Possibly my perfectionist paralysis. Maybe a combination of both, which is a frightening thought. Not sure.

There’s something about fall, however, that screams building bicycles and holing up in my little workshop to write and to edit photos. The leaves falling seem to induce motivation. And so here I am, back to not make promises I likely wouldn’t keep anyway. I’m going to try something new. Fewer long-form essays and stories and more regular posts and updates. I’ve updated my website to reflect that desire to keep a regular journal. Hopefully function follows form on that front. The completed bikes are now on their own, in galleries; the stories and posts will go in this spot here for as long as I can muster.

On that note, I’ve been getting a few questions through Instagram about process (both bike-related and photo-related), and so I may put together some task-oriented posts as well. How-to type stuff. I’m not a professional anything, but I can certainly describe how I go about things in my limited space, and with my underseasoned experience.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. No promises.

Now then, let’s catch up.

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