Just choose the bamboo that feels right? Seriously?!
A few short minutes after introductions at the Bamboo Bicycle Club, there we were; handling and choosing the bamboo for our bicycle frames. Obviously, we were given guidance on the desired circumference and internode measurements.
This was no casual meander into the world of bamboo. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ popped into my head. The power of choice. The responsibility of knowing that what I picked will have to carry my belongings and me on lengthy voyages. Oh, the pressure..
We were snapped out of our wide-eyed reveries and hand-held through what can only be described as one of the most satisfying days I can recall. It was like being in Santa’s workshop. Measuring, marking, drilling, filing, sanding, taping… and by the end of day 1, my bamboo was starting to look like a bicycle frame.
Day 2, in simple summary, consisted of sticking all the bits together with bandage-like strips of hemp soaked in resin. Wrapping our frame joins, lovingly securing our handcrafted stems; it was creatively cathartic.
Days 3 and 4 consisted of hours and hours and hours of sanding. First with a machine, which already felt intuitive and pleasing. But then came the numerous hours of finer sanding, blemish-filling and more sanding by hand. By this point I was getting to know every nook and cranny of my frame. This is not a feeling you can get from buying a bike off the shelf. This is an intimate, loving relationship between maker and materials with a wonderfully slow, manual process.
Although I like the theory of being able to see the raw, natural joins, I wanted the lines of the frame to remain fluid and seamless. So I had the idea of painting the lugs (the joins) a nice, light shade of yellow, which I might then subtly decorate.
Cue James opening the pot of yellow that he had in stock. This was the visual equivalent of emptying a bag of sour sweets into your mouth all at once. WOW… not quite what I had in mind. After talking around the pros and cons of subtly vs boldly making a statement (and also slightly influenced by impatience and wanting to spray my frame immediately!), I decided to go for the ‘melonengelb’. Go boldly…
Days 6, 7 and 8 were spent pimping my ride. The plain bikes look fine and all, magnificent even, but I have a bit of an arty heart. And if this bike is going to be my home, my adventure companion and a huge part of my world, then I want something just a little bit different that reflects what’s important to me. (And I want some words of encouragement for when the hills are tough…)
So for now, I’m eagerly awaiting the call to tell me that all the parts have arrived and I can once again delve into the magical world of the Bamboo Bicycle Club workshop. Until then I have to busy myself with destination research and route planning…