Okay, so it's been a little while since I last wrote a blog; unfortunately work has kept me pretty busy and i've been making the most of my spare time out on the bike. As some of you will already know I commute to work everyday with a few other guys that live nearby, and one of them, John, has been quietly working a way on a bike project for the last couple of months with another local chap and owner of Aurelius Cycles, Marek. Their project - to build a steel bike made to measure for John. So inevitably when John unveiled his bike build plans during the commute and invited me to go assist in the bike build I was pretty keen to get involved; there is always N+1 and this could be some bike inspiration!
The bike frame itself is pretty inspiring. John has chosen a "Columbus Spirit" steel frame which is one of three grades of frame that Marek offers at Aurelius. The frame has been chosen in size to fit John as perfectly as possible and has been sprayed in great detail to match the club colours. Naturally whilst John was admiring his finely finished paintwork I was busy eyeing up the "KVA" steel frame - a fantastic mix of polished silver steel with perfect gold weld; I think my wallet might hate me one day.
Inspection complete and it was time to build the bike, although only following a cup of coffee and a slice of the bike tribute cake John had made. Mighty fine cake! During this coffee break we were able to have a look at John's amazing postcards and sure enough back in May were the first thoughts and sketches of the Alba Bike that John wanted to build - a little bit of proof that you can buy a your dream bike after all.
All fuelled up and an inspection of bike parts complete Marek turned his focus to the build of the bike and throughout the entire process took the time to explain each individual detail from why we were building parts in a certain order to the tools we would need to have a go ourselves.
When someone with many years of experience builds a bike it's over in a flash and only took a couple of hours to go from a pile of boxes to a fully built bike. However it's not over yet - once the bike it build it's the important fine tuning that matters most of all. You can build the best bike in the world but if the gears don't shift properly you'll struggle to ride it. Of course to Marek this is a mere few twists here and turns there and we're finely tuned. If only it was that easy at home!
With everything complete it was easy to see John was itching to take the postcard bike of dreams for a spin... So we made him wait a little longer and grabbed a couple of photos before unleashing the newly named "Acciaio Rosa' upon the world! The name - a tribute to the local cycling club AlbaRosa from which the design of the bike frame was born intermingled with the Italian heritage of the frame.
It seems Marek had definitely hit the mark because getting John back inside the workshop was pretty difficult and the bike was already being earmarked for future rides, including a maiden 80 miles the following day. Even if we had managed to keep John off the bike we might have struggled to keep others away as a steady stream of club-members had visited throughout the day to see the frame that now held the clubs name so highly.
Marek has worked in the bike industry for a great many years and originally worked with the now owners of Orbit Tandems. He was kind enough to invite us into his workshop in Leeds for the day to see just how a bike mechanic builds a bike from scratch and really took us through the detail. The shop, Aurelius Cycles always has a supply of frames and I'm certainly looking forward to choosing mine one day and hopefully building a bike with Marek himself.
John has now cycled into the distance on his new bike and is yet to be brought to a halt, racking up mile after mile on his new bike.
Me? I'm just jealous... I want a steel bike now.