Thursday, June 17, 2010

Snag # 1

In April, my brother drove the bike down to Madison. The shop stripped the frame of the components and shipped them to my shop in Brooklyn. The plan was to use all the original components, if possible. Turns out they were all good quality and in great condition. Excellent. So far, so good.

My next task was to figure out the aesthetics. I can be pretty indecisive, which is kind of funny considering I'm a relatively opinionated person. I originally wanted to replicate the look of the original bike, same paint job, etc. However, apparently most of the paint was going to be destroyed during the rebuild, so I had to decide if I was going to repaint it the original color (gold with a reddish logo) or completely reinvent the look of the bike. I wavered for a long time but eventually decided that since I was going to all this trouble to rebuild the bike, I might as well really make it my own. It would still be an awesome tribute to my dad--a different paint color wasn't going to change that fact.

This also meant that I had to find someone to make decals to recreate Nolan's name. The shop owner in Madison said the letters were either Zipatone or Normatype (K & E) letters, which meant nothing to me. Apparently they're now considered vintage so I was having quite a time trying to find a replica. Luckily, thanks again to the internet, I found a guy out in California who makes bicycle decals, including a huge amount of vintage ones. I sent him a photo for him to work off of and he sent me a mock-up the same day--awesome. I decided I would get the decal in gold in order to pay tribute to the original frame color.

Here's the original:

And here's the new decal (blurriness only the fault of my unsteady hand, not the decal itself):

So, all that remained was to wait for the frame to be finished. My dad was coming to visit soon, so I thought it would be cool for him to be able to see the frame in its new state. I emailed the shop in Madison to ask if it might arrive soon and yes, it was almost finished! I could barely contain my excitement.

A few days later, my high came crashing down when I received the following email:

"Here are snapshots. I was about to add the final cable fittings tonight when I reviewed the papers for it.

You said 57 but I wrote 54 on the worksheet. That's over an inch difference. I'm not sure what to say at this point."

What? It took a few seconds to sink in. He cut it too small? Did I read that right? He cut my dad's frame too small. My dad's one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable bike frame. Okay, what does this mean? Oh my god, is this fixable? I don't think it's fixable. How could it be fixable?

Still in shock, I forwarded the email to my mechanic and another bike friend. I'm big on advice (a habit that my indecisive nature only exacerbates) and I definitely needed advice from someone knowledgeable at this moment. I was distraught. I know it's "just a bike", but at the moment I was sitting in the middle of my bed, staring at my laptop, tears streaming down my face at the thought of not only having maybe just lost the chance to ride this bike, but having potentially ruined it for all eternity. (...ok, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but that's why I'm an artist. This stuff just spews forth effortlessly.) Three centimeters may not sound like a lot, but ask any bike person and they'll tell you it is. Was I ever going to be able to ride this beautiful machine? Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep that night.

It took almost a full day before I had gathered my wits enough to write back and I still didn't really know what to say. I tried to convey my dismay as politely as possible and asked him what my options were. He responded immediately, saying he was so distraught that he rode home and slept on it. He said he would ship me the frame immediately and I could decide from there. So, with a bit of trepidation, I awaited the frame. Despite my now soggy spirit, I was determined to find a way to make it work somehow. It just had to.

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