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Thread: Second Chance

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    Default Second Chance

    Over the last few years Iíve developed a passion for steel bicycles. I love that despite the technical advances bicycles have seen over the past century, many manufacturers (including some of my favourite builders) are still creating beautiful two-wheeled machines out of this timeless alloy.

    At the end of 2019, I decided to enrol in a frame building course. I had some unused vacation at the end of the year, and was keen to learn more about how bicycles were made. So, I drove down to Rifle, Colorado for two weeks of instruction under Koichi Yamaguchi. During the course, I discovered that I really enjoyed creating something with my hands ó not something I do in my regular job.

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    When I returned home from the course, I knew I wanted to build more frames. I had (and have) no intention of making any kind of business of frame building ó strictly a hobby that I can chip away at as time permits. So, I started tooling up my shop, and ordered a few tube sets and frame building parts. Now I just needed to figure out what I would build, and who I would build it forÖ.

    ***

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    In January 2020, my dad had a pretty serious heart attack. He was playing recreational hockey one Sunday evening with some friends, and stepped off the ice when he didnít feel well. He was off the ice for longer than expected, so one of his teammates went searching for him, and found him sitting on the floor of the dressing room. Dad said he thought he might be having a heart attack, so they called an ambulance for him. Right when the ambulance arrived, Dad tipped over and went into full cardiac arrest. The paramedics brought him back with the defibrillator, and then rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. He went into cardiac arrest 2 more times that night ó once in the ambulance and once in the hospital.

    Our family was all pretty scared that night ó we didnít know if Dad was going to make it or not. At 59 years old ó with a wife, 3 children, and 5 grandchildren ó it was too early for him to go. By some miracle ó and with a little help from the local paramedics and the talented staff at the Royal Alexandra in Edmonton ó Dad was given a second chance at life. The blockage was cleared from his left anterior descending artery, and a stent was inserted to restore the flow of blood.

    While Dad was in the hospital, the doctors told him that if he wanted a long life, he would have to make some lifestyle changes. Specifically, he needed to improve his diet and start exercising regularly. I knew that Mom would be all over dad on the dietary improvements (sheís been ruthless), but I wanted to support him on the fitness element. What better use for my first set of steel tubes than a bike for my dad?

    ***

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    Over the next few months, I worked away on the design and build of Dadís frame. Dad was part of the process too ó he came to visit a couple times while I was working on the frame. Weíd go out into the garage to cut, file, and braze those steel tubes into something that would eventually resemble a bicycle. I showed Dad the methods that Koichi taught me in his class ó or at least the methods I could remember. Much of the time I was just floundering about the shop. I spent a lot more time than I expected working on tasks I thought were simple. Turns out the learning curve was steeper than I had falsely concluded it was during the two weeks while I was in the incubator of Koichiís classroom. Itís a lot harder to find answers to your questions when you donít have direct access to the master. I learned a lot though. I expect Iíll still flounder about the shop for my next build, but perhaps Iíll flounder a bit lessÖ.

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    The tangible (and obvious) outcome of the building process was the bicycle. But during the process, something else developed as well ó my relationship with Dad. Iíve always been close with Dad, but I believe this endeavor made us closer. Dad would call, often daily, to ask, ďany updates on the bike?Ē. Iíd send him pictures of the process, and he would reiterate how eager he was to ultimately ride it. We also learned more about each otherís characters. Iím a perfectionist. Dad is more selective about which areas to demonstrate perfectionism. When he was in the shop, heíd look over my shoulder as I was checking the angle on a mitre, ďThatís great, Nick. Close enough.Ē But it wasnít. When Dad would go to bed, and Iíd spend another two hours mitring the tube to the tolerance I was seeking. I wanted this bike to be perfect for Dad. He deserved it.

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    ***

    Well, I finished the bike. Turns out it isnít perfect ó but itís solid; everything is straight; and it rides really nicely. And most importantly, Dad loves it. So Iím happy with the result.

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    Nick Graham

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Included a few more pictures of the bike and specs below.

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    Frame: Columbus SL
    Fork: Columbus SLX, built by Condor
    Gruppo: Campagnolo Centaur
    Wheels: Formula hubs laced to Ambrosio Excellence rims
    Cockpit: Condor Strada
    Seatpost: Condor Strada
    Saddle: Brooks B17
    Paint: Kevin Cuffley
    Nick Graham

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    I love this.
    elysian
    Tom Tolhurst

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Quote Originally Posted by false_aesthetic View Post
    I love this.
    Thank you!
    Nick Graham

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Having just been through what your father went through (on a bike ride on Fatherís Day no less), I can assure you that the love and care you have shown your father means more to him than you can ever imagine. I love the whole thing, but especially the heart with ďsecond chanceĒ in it. Fantastic job, and the best of health to our dad.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    THAT is one cool story.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    This is a beautiful story.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    You are a good man.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    This is the best thing on the internet this week. Great job, Nick. The bike, as you say, may not be perfect. But I disagree-- it is perfect. Well done, sir.

    Bill Bryant

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Quote Originally Posted by bill bryant View Post
    this is the best thing on the internet this week. Great job, nick. The bike, as you say, may not be perfect. But i disagree-- it is perfect. Well done, sir.
    x100

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Bryant View Post
    This is the best thing on the internet this week. Great job, Nick. The bike, as you say, may not be perfect. But I disagree-- it is perfect. Well done, sir.

    Bill Bryant
    Agreed—as one might say, imperfection is perfection...

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Second Chance

    This is great. Nice job.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Thank you all for the feedback!
    Nick Graham

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Lovely story Nick, and great to see you using an optical table as a reference plate.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Quote Originally Posted by nick.graham View Post
    ...Turns out it isnít perfect...
    The bike will never be perfect but that story is. Inspirational, to say the least. Thank you for sharing.
    Rick Stubblefield

    If the process is more important than the result, you play. If the result is more important than the process, you work.

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Quote Originally Posted by nick.graham View Post
    When Dad would go to bed, and I’d spend another two hours mitring the tube to the tolerance I was seeking. I wanted this bike to be perfect for Dad. He deserved it.
    I must be chopping onions...

    Serious win there. Best thing I've read in a long time.
    DT

    http://www.mjolnircycles.com/

    Some are born to move the world to live their fantasies...

    "the fun outweighs the suck, and the suck hasn't killed me yet." -- chasea

    "Sometimes, as good as it feels to speak out, silence is the only way to rise above the morass. The high road is generally a quiet route." -- echelon_john

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Wow, everything everyone else said plus, this made my day! That is a fantastic looking bike, great job-the backstory just adds to the appeal! Immensely I might add.
    Bikes rule!

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    I’m just gonna echo the positive vibes being sent your way.
    Jason Babcock

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    Default Re: Second Chance

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Bryant View Post
    This is the best thing on the internet this week. Great job, Nick. The bike, as you say, may not be perfect. But I disagree-- it is perfect. Well done, sir.

    Bill Bryant
    Still the best thing on the internet this week too.
    Dan in Oregon

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Second Chance

    I really enjoyed this, Nick. Thanks for sharing a great story.

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