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Stop me if I’ve already told you this story………..

October 15th, 2013

When I started this blog in 2009 it was my first and given that I had saved up a lot of things to say…..but over the past year or so I’ve felt like I had less to say here and that this space was being neglected. In some ways I feel like I still have much to say but also feel like I’ve said a good bit of it before. I picture the older married couple with the wife cringing as her husband launches into a story she has heard a thousand times before and I don’t want to be that guy.

I’m also reminded of something I read years ago. I’m a big Elvis Costello fan and I was reading an interview he’d done after the release of his second album. The interviewer asked why the second album had so much less anger and angst in it and why he seemed to have so much less to say. Elvis responded saying that he’d had more than 20 years to save up for the first album and only once year since. In my own humble way I feel the same way.

With that said I would like to pull a few blog posts out of the archives and repost them over the next few months. I looked through the blog and pulled out a few posts that I’d like to share once again and realized that none of them are photos of new bikes but instead are stories or ideas that I remember fondly and give me a good feeling. I have not chosen the selected posts because I feel they are in any way significant or because I like the words, but instead I just like the posts for what they are.

The post below was originally put up in July of 2009 and tells the story of a late night at the old Serotta Middle Grove factory and some stuff a few stupid kids did. One thing I did not tell in the original story was that ‘Chief’ might have been one of the most gifted natural framebuilders and fabricators I’ve ever known. In most cases he was the smartest and most skilled guy in the room and at the same time had the knack of being one of the funniest. Chief is a good man and hope he is doing well. Last I heard he was making carbon fiber parts for cars but that was many years ago. Chief taught me as much as anyone about framebuilding and also gave me some serious lessons in how life really works. I wish I could buy him a beer this afternoon.

Thanks again for reading –

___________________________________________________________________

Boys will be boys
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
I was having a conversation the other day with a fellow framebuilder and the conversation turned, as it often does, to some of the stupid stuff that happens in a production frame shop. Whenever you get a group of 20 to 40 year old boys together for long hours silly stuff seems to happen. Our conversation reminded me of an event I can actually share with others.

I started work at Serotta in October of 1989 and was over the top excited about landing the job but frankly I was let down by what I saw when I arrived. Not that anything was wrong but it was just that my expectations were out of line with the reality of a blue-collar labor production shop. I somehow expected that there would be serious men in lab coats using high tech laser guided tools and in reality is was shirtless guys with smokes hanging from their mouths using machine tools made during the second world war. Not to say that these guys weren’t extremely skilled because they were. I just expected it would look different.

With this in mind – I’d been working at Serotta for only month or so and was looking forward to building a Serotta for myself. The factory was in a converted split-level, cinderblock school building in the middle of nowhere and the production shop was in the basement while the offices were upstairs.

One day I stayed late to work on a Serotta for myself. A co-worker and new friend nicknamed “Chief” offered to stay and help me with my bike. We worked in earnest for a few hours and then our attention spans got very short and we started doing stupid stuff. Using seat stays as gun barrels we found that we could put push pins into them and shoot them like bullets all the way across the shop using compressed air. We were amazed that they would actually stick into the wall from 50 feet. Then out of nowhere Chief says, “watch this” and walks over to the wall where there was a piece of pipe sticking out from the wall. The pipe was used at some point as a rack for holding who knows what but at this point it was little more than a foot and a half of water pipe hooked to the wall with a pipe flange. Chief goes to the pipe with his oxy-acetylene torch in hand and while wearing a devilish grin opens the gas valve on the torch and sticks it in the end of the pipe filling it with the acetylene. I had no idea what he’s going to do but it was all in the name of fun – what could go wrong?

After a very long time filling the pipe on the wall with gas Chief tells me to stand back and he lights his torch. With the torch lit he swings it past the open end of the pipe and then all hell breaks loose. A huge BOOM comes from the pipe shaking the entire building and rattling the windows. The pipe, along with a large chunk of the cinderblock wall it was mounted to, falls to the floor. We just stare at each other in awe. We were both surprised by how big the explosion was. While standing there not knowing what to do we hear rushed foot steps coming down the stairs from the office above. Oh shit! We thought we were the only ones in the building. The door from the stairwell opens and Ben Serotta comes running into the shop.

Now I’d only been working there for a short time and was still in my probationary period and could be fired without warning. I really loved this job and seeing Ben burst into the room made me sure that I had just lost it. Ben looks around the room to see the two of us standing there trying to look normal, Chief with a lit torch still in his hand. There was no tell-tale smoking gun, only a piece of pipe on the floor surrounded by chunks of concrete. Ben says something like “what the hell was that”? I turn to Chief hoping that he has an answer and he doesn’t disappoint. “What are you talking about?” says Chief. I can’t believe it. Chief is going to pretend nothing happened? The whole damn building shook and all he can say is “what”? At this point I’m sure I’m fired and I’m going to have to find a new job and explain to my friends and family how I lost my dream job. Ben and Chief go back and forth with the obvious stuff – “Didn’t you hear that!” followed by more “Whats?”

Ben walks around the room and doesn’t notice the pipe and concrete on the floor and realizing that we are going to hold the line and continue to play dumb he finally tells us to go home and heads back up the stairs. Once we hear his footsteps going up the stairs we can’t contain it any longer and we both start laughing uncontrollably.

Many years later, my job being secure, I told Ben about this over a beer. To my surprise he didn’t remember it. How could he not remember it? He tells me so much stupid stuff happened over the years that it all blended together in his mind. The thing I think of when looking back on this time was just how devoted these boys were to making the best bikes on the planet. It was a singular focus that we all shared. But we were boys and in their free time boys do shockingly stupid stuff.

Dave

Pearl Clear.

September 26th, 2013

I can tell you that shooting photos of a white bike is hard………..and that pales to making a white bike ‘pop’ when you paint it. In this case the owner wanted subtle and ‘pop’ and the pearl clear really makes it happen. I did my best to show the color in these photos but frankly I fell short. If you could see this in the sun……..oh my.

I love giving JB a canvas where he can show off some and this bike is going to look great with its new grayish Shimano build kit. A big thanks to JB and to Miss M for having me build the ‘canvas’ in the first place.

Dave

20-10 Anniversary Gathering Photo Galleries.

September 26th, 2013

It’s been about two weeks since the 20-10 Gathering and we’ve culled the photos taken by ourselves and others and created a gallery that we hope give those who couldn’t join us a feel for what it was like……….and for those that were there some shots that will remind them of a fun weekend in Montana.

We couldn’t be more pleased with the event and it has us thinking about doing something again in the future. I don’t think we will want to wait another 10 years so we’ll have to come up with some kind of excuse.

Thanks to everyone who came to the gathering, to Carl and Loretta Strong and of course to Karin for making it happen. Without the hard work of these folks and others it would have never been more than idea over beers with Carl a long time ago. So thank you all very much.

You can find a link to the 20-10 Gallery on the home page or you can follow this –

http://www.kirkframeworks.com/gallery_anniversary2013.html

Dave

What’s old is new again.

September 12th, 2013

This is a JK Special X that I built for a well known industry guy and I’m excited for him to get it built up and on the road. He wanted to pay some homage to the days when I built the team bikes for the Coors Light team back in the early 1990′s at Serotta. It was fun for me to get it back from JB and see just how loud those colors are……….were……….are. maybe this bike will start a new trend of early 90′s colors. It would certainly help with visibility on the road.

It being JKS X the owner is going to have some real fun on the bad back roads in Utah and have his own little Belgian spring classics rides. Should be fun.

Dave

The Cobbler’s Shoes.

September 9th, 2013

For some reason framebuilders often ride the most beat up stuff that looks like hell. Well this bike was that way until just days ago when Joe Bell took my paint scheme and made it come true in real life – thanks JB!

Dave

Behind the Curtain.

September 4th, 2013

I’ve been very busy these past weeks making the donuts as I like to say…………in other words I’m chained to the bench making bikes. In this case i’m not really showing off the bikes because they are a surprise to a certain degree being the ten 10th Anniversary bikes. The bikes are coming along very well and I’m having a great time fussing over them. The photo below is of the brake bridge used in the 10th A bikes – 10 dots for 10 years – I feel so clever!

Karin and I (mostly Karin to be honest) have also been working hard on preparations for the 20-10 Gathering we are hosting with Strong Frames in only about 10 days now. most of the big stuff is done and now it’s time to focus on the details. if you are thinking of coming and not RSVP’d please do so ASAP so we can make sure we are set for the dinner.

Back to the bench for me – more soon.

Dave

20-10 Weekend Ride.

August 28th, 2013

One of my favorite local rides is up and over Jackson Creek Road. Up until about 7 or 8 years ago this road was dirt and when it was paved there were a lot of happy cyclists in the Bozeman valley. Jackson Creek Road takes the rider up from Bridger Canyon Road and over a low pass that then spills down into the rolling land between the Bridgers and the Beartooths and the views of both a stunning.

The event is coming up soon so please join us for some good rides and food and some wonderful company.

See you soon.

Dave

Batman part II.

August 15th, 2013

I’m doing my best to resist using the term ‘Ka- Pow!’ (you need to be of a certain age to have this make sense – ask your dad if necessary) but what can you do when you have a race bike for Batman.

The owner of this bike is in Switzerland and most likely didn’t have Batman in mind when he chose the paint but that’s what come to my mind when I see it. Cool ride any way you cut it.

Tomorrow it goes into a box and heads to Europe. Safe travels.

Dave

Frameworks Photo Galleries.

August 13th, 2013

A good while back Karin and I decided to change the layout of our photo galleries to make them easier to navigate and less cluttered. So some changes were made and we thought all was fine.

But all wasn’t as fine as we’d hoped and the reorganization just made it more difficult to look at the body of work from the last 10 years. This prompted a recent change to the galleries that have the most current bikes at the top along with some featured bikes and then some archive galleries lower on the page grouped by year.

In looking through them I think you’ll see that if nothing else I got a better camera and started to learn how to properly use it. I think you’ll also see a subtle shift in the way the bikes are made over time as well as the colors and paint schemes used to clothe them.

I just wanted to be sure everyone got a look at the updated gallery set up and to let you all know that we will be adding more years to the archives soon as time allows. So click on the ‘Photo Galleries’ link on the left and take a look.

Thanks so much for looking.

Dave

What Batman might ride.

August 9th, 2013

Closing out the week with this deep, deep, black JKS. Next week it gets a Super Record kit and then it’s off to Switzerland. Have a great weekend!

Dave