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Thread: Wade Patton Velo

  1. #1
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    Default Wade Patton Velo

    Call Me Late Bloomer

    I had some metal shop training as a part of the high-school agriculture program back in the late 70's when I was a kid. Arc welding, gas welding, brazing, cutting, and much more were a part of the larger program which also included plumbing (cutting/threading real pipes), wiring, and carpentry. We did all of this for a grade at 14-15 years of age. No one ever suggested that any one of these shop stations could also be a station in life. They were all simply a part of the self-sufficiency training deemed appropriate for farm boys in those days. I wasn't a true farm-boy, but i found the ag elective to be more interesting than any alternatives.

    College sounded like a must-do, but I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living--much less what degree to acquire. I was the first in my family to go to college, the first to have a real "career planning opportunity". I wasted that. Flip of the coin selected "Pre-law" over "Pre-med". So there, all I had to do was graduate and then get a law degree and then make a killing and have plenty of money to do the things I really wanted to do.

    So I dicked around in college, eventually got the degree and barely squeaked into law school. Law School was just as hard as they say, where again I dicked around and got the degree-eventually. I then failed the bar exam on the first go 'round. No big deal, lots of folks take it more than once and I didn't have any payments to make.

    About this time someone suggested that I had ADD. So I studied up on it. Sure enough. I then went to the shrink and got the diagnosis. We tried different pills for a while. I quickly got bored with the program as I never saw a difference, except for the hassle of going to the doc/pharmacy every thirty days (something to do with the class of the pills and regulations). Just knowing a good bit about the ADD mind helps me deal with it, and explains all those poor grades back in school. It's a constant (small) battle between multi-focus and hyper-focus, in my non-medical opinion. Both have their advantages, the trick is to be aware and to utilize the best one for the task at hand.

    Of course I had bicycles as a kid, off and on from age six right up until sixteen when i started driving motor vehicles. Then in college I found out that one of my fraternity brothers was a racer, a few more guys where "serious" cyclists with road-racing bikes. I got a bike and rode with them. Loved it. Learned about a pace line, tucking for descents, LOOK pedals, and also of dying a slow painful death. Not long after that, the fat-tired bikes began to appear at the bike shop. Got one of those and went looking for a place to ride it. Ooooh, double dirty love! That was before any real singletrack trails existed in our area. Driving to Tsali, NC was a trip to Mecca in those days. We hauled ass all over the South for good trails open to bikes back then. But I was distracted (see ADD above) by girls and golf and team sports and boats and sports-car racing back then not to mention fishing and hunting, so cycling was more off than on for a bit.

    The bikes were all of metal. And it never clicked. It didn't occur to me that folks made frames (I was distracted you know). It seemed that only big companies in far-away places with big machines and hoards of workers did anything like that-when i gave it any thought at all. If I had had any of that sort of exposure (of any small/soloist shop making frames) at a younger age, things would likely have been much different for me. Granted that I was young and dumb and all that, but I had hitched my rope to the "gonna be a lawyer" wagon and just never gave it (career/life planning) another thought. This will forevermore be somewhat of a regret.

    Things have changed. Along about the same time in the early 2000's an SCCA pal was building an aircraft in his garage. He was gas welding a bi-plane from 4130 tubing. It struck a nerve somewhere. I went out and rented an oxy-acetylene setup, for no particular purpose but to "play" with the torch and metal and "make stuff". I started practicing and making random stuff, mostly gas welding. I'm still using that same rig.

    I still hadn't put two and two together. I had studied metallurgy and fabrication and fastener specifics from books and racer-guys when working with sports-racers. I had my own cracker-box welder and even a crappy little wire-feed rig. I once spent a week patching up an aluminum john-boat for a friend (with his crappy little wire-feeder) learning as I went, having never welded aluminum before. I dreamed of TIG machines, but never got my hands on one. There was something calling me and I still didn't know it.

    I was on/off cycling throughout, but beginning to be more consistently "on". I entered a mountain bike race in 1999. I did my first century in 2001. I had gone from riding aluminum to titanium and was completing the metallic circle with steel. My first steel road bike and mountain bike were also the last off-the-peg bikes I ever rode.

    In the year of 2005, sometime after the Engagement and well before the Wedding--it hit me. The proverbial bolt from the blue. I'll never forget it. I was driving down the road by myself. What hit me was the realization that I had what it took to make frames-to get started anyway. I had some of the tools (I've always wrenched everything I've ever owned) I had some cycling knowledge (I had no idea how little at that time) and I had this crazy itch to shape metal it into things.

    By this time I had been exposed to the handmade world and knew for a fact that there was a handful of cats making a living at it. Thus rang the death bell for the prospect of me ever taking the bar exam again, which had been a possibility. Surely there was room for one more cat.

    To follow ones heart he must first know himself and his heart. When it hit me, I knew I had just begun.

    I now wrap my life around the design, fabrication, racing, riding, education, advocacy, history and legacy of the bicycle. I've learned a lot. It's plain to me that I have plenty more to learn. It is a continuous process. But it's really easy with genuine motivation, in contrast to the abstraction of a degree.

    I've jumped in. I'm treading water. I'm gasping a little, but am not afraid. The day I open my doors to frame orders I'll be swimming.

    Ten-thousand thanks to all the builders, pro and amateur alike, who have contributed to my education in this field. It is a worthy cause. Thanks also to Josh (TT) and the others who have made this place (and others similar) for us on the interweb. And thanks to Don Walker for providing the great wandering annual event I like to call "The Show".

    Thanks to Richard and the whole of V/S for letting me play in this sandbox with the big boys.

    Any questions?






  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Well written man.

    I know it's early days but have you thought about what it is about Wade Patton frames that mark them out as Wade Patton frames? Having spent some time in your neck of the woods it seems to me there is a heck of a lot of creativity and a get er done spirit. Apart from the farmboy schooling what else would you say Middle Tennessee has taught you that will help you that people in other parts of the country might not have?

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Wade:

    I've been waiting for you to get smoked. You've been "moon struck" by the bug now. My condolences go out to you ;-) Interestingly, when I started I figured that I give it a try and then get a "real" job. It took a few years before I realized that I was not only "doing it" but that I couldn't quit. I'm glad that you had the realization of where your heart is up front. You'll be just fine.

    So, do you expect to concentrate in one area of bikes ... like off road, or are you going to be hitting most of he bases? How much thought have you put into preferred materials and construction techniques? Where do you think you are headed. It might be fun to put this sort of stuff down on paper (or in the cloud) and then look it up in five years. Go at it!
    Tom Kellogg
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    Steel Piste, D-A Piste, PD-7400, Concour lite, Zipp 404
    http://kapelmuurindependent.be


    Shortest TFC Member (5'6 3/4") & shrinking

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    cool stuff Wade. To take off a little on what Tom said where do you think you'll be in 5 years?

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    right on WP. we share many aspects. I guess I don't know what to ask you, I get a vibe for what you like to do, so I guess you will make bikes to do that. How old are you, Wade? - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by AntLockyer View Post
    Well written man.

    I know it's early days but have you thought about what it is about Wade Patton frames that mark them out as Wade Patton frames? Having spent some time in your neck of the woods it seems to me there is a heck of a lot of creativity and a get er done spirit. Apart from the farmboy schooling what else would you say Middle Tennessee has taught you that will help you that people in other parts of the country might not have?
    As to the frames themselves, I much agree with Tim Odonnell in that I embrace tradition and conservative design, but have no problem with new processes or techniques or even shapes once they are proven-and if there is an advantage. I'm really aligned against "model year marketing" as the auto companies and such do. That forces change where none is needed. Things are made different simply to be different, and used as a marketing tool whilst the engineers scramble around to figure a way to explain why this different thing is better. Or is it the marketing guys scramble the engineers words to make ad copy.

    I'm bringing me to the market. That's really all I can do. At this point I'm more focused on improving a rider's fitment and providing a great experience for "first timers" into the hand-made world than about a flashy frame.

    My state and region have given me great access to all levels of society and most areas of cycling. Maybe the most important thing this area has given me is this opportunity. The region is _not_ awash with builders. Seeing another handmade out on a group ride or at the trails on a busy weekend is still a rarity. There's just a handful of builders in this state and no "old guard" pros. I went to one big mountain bike race this year. Most of these folks had never seen a real live framebuilder. There were four handbuilt frames there. Half of them were mine. So I got that going for me.

    Did I cover it?
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Very cool story...fits the character. Good on you.

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kellogg View Post
    Wade:

    I've been waiting for you to get smoked. You've been "moon struck" by the bug now. My condolences go out to you ;-) Interestingly, when I started I figured that I give it a try and then get a "real" job. It took a few years before I realized that I was not only "doing it" but that I couldn't quit. I'm glad that you had the realization of where your heart is up front. You'll be just fine.

    So, do you expect to concentrate in one area of bikes ... like off road, or are you going to be hitting most of he bases? How much thought have you put into preferred materials and construction techniques? Where do you think you are headed. It might be fun to put this sort of stuff down on paper (or in the cloud) and then look it up in five years. Go at it!
    Thanks Tom! It was a thrill to meet you at Richmond. I give you full credit for making our favorite great lumbering oaf (TT) look good on a bicycle. I really don't know. I'll just have to go with the orders (not taking yet) and see what develops. As much as I love mountain biking, I spend way more time on the road and really love the simplicity and elegance of a well-executed road bike. At the same time I'm enamored by the ride of a well-executed hardtail and the abuse that they must endure. Then there's this 'cross thing still developing here. I've never swung my leg over a genuine 'cross bike, but I have punked around my 'cross course on an atb. I'm building a 'crosser next. I truly expect to do a blend of those three, with some occasional commuter/tourer-type stuff. That's most of the bases eh? As wonderful as steel is, I do know that someday I'll tool up for titanium. I've owned one ti frame and enough components to know that I want a shot at that stuff.
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    cool stuff Wade. To take off a little on what Tom said where do you think you'll be in 5 years?
    Thanks Jonathan,

    Yes, I do write stuff down-plans, goals, projections. Sometimes it takes me 5 years to find where I wrote it. I am organizationally challenged too.

    In five years I'll have a list of orders, will lead rides from my shop, will be racing atb and 'cross, exhibiting at NAHBS and maybe a regional, much more efficient and organized, making a few trips each year to see my friends around the country and ride and fish in different places.

    Exactly what I'll be favoring to build or technique to employ will simply be a function of experience to come.
    Last edited by WadePatton; 09-11-2010 at 12:03 PM.
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post
    right on WP. we share many aspects. I guess I don't know what to ask you, I get a vibe for what you like to do, so I guess you will make bikes to do that. How old are you, Wade? - Garro.
    Thanks for checking in Steve. I'm 44 and I'm going to be an effbee when I grow up. If it becomes about me and my likes then of course my build list will look a lot like yours, but I'd really like to get some sleek road machines out there too. The 'cross thing may also get interesting as I'm located on 12 acres quite suited to mud n' blood.
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by CyclesNoir View Post
    Very cool story...fits the character. Good on you.
    Thanks Rick. Nothing to hide, we're all people and honesty has always been my policy.
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    That's a pretty good write-up, Wade. So how many have you built and what kind of bikes have they been? Any big revelations/setbacks you care to comment on? Also, what's the mistake you learned the most from?
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    I'm curious how you are learning the fabrication part- not just the sticking of metal, but the ways to do it to get a bike. Internet, builders, etc?

    Any thing brewing at the moment?

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by edoz View Post
    That's a pretty good write-up, Wade. So how many have you built and what kind of bikes have they been? Any big revelations/setbacks you care to comment on? Also, what's the mistake you learned the most from?
    My road bike was the first. Glenn started a thread here during the process. (I'll look that up) It's a peggo-richie-issimo bike with Groovy paint. I was experimenting with fitment on my previous roadie (with frame building in mind). It was initially mind-boggling what 2 degrees of sta and the resultant setback could do for me. I built the new frame around that setback and saddle height. It worked(s) gorgeous. Revelation one: once you build one, you'll never see a frame the same as before. Revelation 2: Only builders, designers, and to some extent, fitters really get the total interconnectedness of the frame. These other conversations where one or two aspects are discussed in a vacuum make no sense. Mistake: setback, yes, I dialed the "setback" but I neglected front center. I came this (holds up two fingers separated by a smidgen) close to making that one too short. I wouldn't want to deal with any _more_ overlap. Setbacks: personal and familial stuff that lots of folks have to deal with. I'll not whine about it.

    The last one was my traditional sized hardtail mountain bike of True Temper. Brazed that bad boy, and when I say bad... It's sound but ohmygosh it's a bit rough next to the roadie. Just the two, nothing scrapped but practice joints yet. 'Cross is next. Drew it up all night the other day...might have missed, will know soon enough.

    My most glaring setback is that I'm coming from the ground up and have no day job or savings to support the capital outlay. I bought a building, stuck my tools and a combustion heater in it, work out of it, but have yet been able to finish the building (with stuff like insulation, wiring, electricity, and a driveway). Call it poor financial planning and bad life decisions like (co)buying a commercial property (with a loan) for a start-up biz (see divorce) just before real estate begins to tank. (nor whining, it's just an effing fact).

    It gets to grow most organically this way.
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Estlund View Post
    I'm curious how you are learning the fabrication part- not just the sticking of metal, but the ways to do it to get a bike. Internet, builders, etc?
    Yes, internet, builders, books. Joinery is the simpler of the two, but it's the one everybody is going to see. I pic up plenty from simple photographs. I mine FNL for oohs, aaahs, and ahaas.

    You know how you can watch a movie three times and you'll always pick up new stuff or different angles in the second and third viewings? That's how I look at the pics that you and Tom and Dazza and the rest post here. Don't think I didn't see the note on the wall or that identification mark on your tool or the dog at your feet either. as the language folks say: full immersion yo.

    Any thing brewing at the moment?
    Lugged Columbus 'crosser as well as insulation and gravel installations for the workspace. And the 'cross course--going through the swampy woods and (semi-dry) pond this year.

    Did that cover your inquiry?
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by WadePatton View Post

    To follow ones heart he must first know himself and his heart. When it hit me, I knew I had just begun.
    If everyone knew this the world would be a much better place. Congrats Wade. I always enjoy reading your comments here in the salon. Continued success!!! Now a question - what was the biggest boost to your confidence as a framebuilder starting out???

    Jayme
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    wade:

    very interesting, but like so many of your fellow builders in smoked out ---- you had the courage or deeeeep desire to create a f baun's "wizard of oz" in your life. you followed yo yellow brick road, not being cought up in the role of the tinman/lion or scarecrow.
    at the same time, how would you relate to or know if this was no longer in your heart --- can you or could ya let it go...
    very hard for ronnie to change role in late years --- hell, next time round "my secret idd" always wanted to be a forest ranger or wildlife naturalist --- just didn't have the balls to do it first time round ..

    much health and success to you my friend..

    "thank you velo and pals/buds," smoked out is a PhD in pyschology with friendship ..

    ronnie
     

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayme View Post
    If everyone knew this the world would be a much better place. Congrats Wade. I always enjoy reading your comments here in the salon. Continued success!!! Now a question - what was the biggest boost to your confidence as a framebuilder starting out???

    Jayme
    Thank you Jayme. I'd have to say that getting the rider (me/my) position so right and improving nearly every aspect of the handling of the bicycle beneath me was huge. And it helped me get an instant grip on the most major parameters of bicycle handling. It's both more and less technical than one might imagine. Again I have much more experience to gain in that arena, but look forward to it. Now I'm learning how to take my road position and tweak it into my atb and 'cross positions, which should translate quite handily into doing the same for others. It is one of the biggest differentiations we have from production, so it must always be properly attended to.






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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by WadePatton View Post
    Did that cover your inquiry?
    Yup- thanks!

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    Default Re: Wade Patton Velo

    Quote Originally Posted by ron l edmiston View Post
    very interesting, but like so many of your fellow builders in smoked out ---- you had the courage or deeeeep desire to create a f baun's "wizard of oz" in your life. you followed yo yellow brick road, not being cought up in the role of the tinman/lion or scarecrow.

    ronnie
    Hey Ronnie, interesting analogies-but isn't there a little bit of Tinman, or Lion, or Scarecrow in all of us? It might be said that the levels of which or each (character) we embody contributes to our personal challenges and accomplishments. At some point in our naivete it is easy to say "Look at Ronnie, he's got it made," and pretend that some divine force is beating you down to never "have it made" whilst Ronnie and his ilk spit into the wind and have money trees sprout up in response.

    When we move beyond that point of development we begin to know that Ronnie, and pretty much any one else enjoying a modicum of success, has paid his/her dues. And more importantly that dues will be paid, usually up front. (insert SteveP reference here)

    I still have a few hurdles to cross before I'm really running the race--or waltzing the yellowbrick road atro.

    As to the other tack of your comments: If there comes a point where I must take another path, then I would hope to find something else in the same arena--as others have done before me. If that were to come to pass, I might look into becoming a fixture or component maker (as DF and CK did). I'm a hands-on guy. I'd never be happy making drawings and looking at finished product without the gritty part in-between. That is another love I have for this gig. We can use simple "outdated" tools and techniques to produce equipment that has no real rival. Being good with the file is as important to me as being good with the lathe (not that I have one yet).

    The hardest question in that question is would I give up metal or bicycles first. I don't know. I don't want to know. Hopefully we never find out.

    That reminds me. I need to get a start of bamboo going here...
    Last edited by WadePatton; 09-11-2010 at 10:15 PM.
     

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