Artsy Photos: CX Frame Build, Part 6B

So last time I was at the workshop, I was pretty busy, so I wasn’t really focused on what was going on. I knew there were photos happening, but I was more interested in what I was doing than I was in making sure I looked nice for the camera. Thanks to Alex at A-Train Cycles for the lovely work.

brazing bottom bracket fillets

brazing top tube

Ongoing: CX Frame Build, Part 6

So Saturday, I had limited time to build, as usual. Unfortunately for this writer, not a lot of excitement went down during this session.

The Business

I got started with some minor cold-setting work. I knew that the frame had pulled a bit when it came out of the fixture the previous week, so this wasn’t an ugly surprise or anything. A few good shoves on the down tube while standing on the head tube, and she was back in alignment. After that, I was able to get the top tube mocked-up, the vent holes drilled in the head tube and seat tube, and then brazed the tube in. The rest of the afternoon was spent building up the fillets, and when I called it quits for the day, I had a complete front triangle.


Got my first good cut and burn on this project, finally. Slashed my thumb open on a spur of metal after drilling through the head tube. Bled all over the tools, frame, and myself. And then I burned the hell out of the tip of my nose on a hot brazing rod. You laugh, but it does happen. This isn’t the first time. Every builder I’ve confessed these things to has admitted to burning their face at least once.

Future Photos

Alex tested out his new DSLR while I was brazing, and took a bunch of artsy-fartsy shots. When he shares them with me, I’ll add them here.

Next Steps

I don’t know when my next session is going to be — I’ve got WordCamp on Saturday and the MN Ironman on Sunday.

During the week, I am also hindered by my need to tune up my road bike and clean it up before Sunday. What I will probably do soak all the flux off the front triangle tonight while I clean the rest of the house, and then find a night this week to start doing the finish work on the fillets, which I can do easily enough without access to a full workshop.

Next building session is going to be doing a final cold-set on the front triangle, and then getting the chainstays and rear dropouts done/attached.

I’m getting a bit nervous about the timeline because I need to have the bike done by the week before the Almanzo (need time to build it up), and that’s May 17th. I don’t care if I have to ride it without paint (I probably will), but man. It’s going to be a close thing.

Five Resources to Further Develop My Professional Goals

archerA good friend responded to my Feburary 28th post with five pretty legit ideas for posts, so I’m taking these cues and running with them.

1. Dale Carnegie classes
I need to look into the viability of taking a Dale Carnegie class on public speaking — it’s been highly recommended to me, and I’m very intrigued. Beyond technology- and strategy-specific coursework I’ve done, I feel that I should be trying to hone more of the subtle business skills, too.
2. A mentor
It’s been pretty rare that I’ve had someone as a boss that takes an interest in my professional goals — my current boss is one of those, fortunately, and I’m quite happy about that. In my past 16 years, only one other boss has taken the time to actively help me figure out where I’m going and how to get there.
3. The gym
Improved energy levels = improved performance. My goal is to eventually become an “every day” workout goob. Though on rest days, that’ll mean just a light spin on the road bike or a walk on the treadmill or the equivalent.
4. Medication
Last year, I was diagnosed with ADD. Crazy, huh? Well, just recently, I was prescribed medication to help solve the issue. This should help things significantly.
5. Autodidactism
I’m of the opinion that people with a broader set of skills are more employable and generally are more capable of solving a broader range of problems than those with a narrow focus of expertise. Taking a self-guided, personal interest in learning everything I can has helped my career immeasurably. Hell, it’s what started my career (self-taught in HTML, CSS, and Photoshop).

First Day with My New Brain Chemistry

Squirrel!For those of you that have known me for any real amount of time, you know that I’ve got ADD. But I didn’t know I did…and then when I did know, I didn’t want to admit it. And then when I did finally admit it, it was because it was making a mess of my life and my career. And when I got over my fear of mind-altering substances, I got on medication for it.

Today was the first day on the new meds.


So it’s time-release, so the headache I thought I was getting five minutes after taking it was likely psychosomatic. On the bus, I could feel my attention still bouncing around and was all, “Huh. Not working.” And then I nearly missed my bus stop because I was so hyperfocused on what I was reading.

And today it’s been weird — I do feel a little disconnected, which isn’t horrible, and I’m either having balance issues or I’m hyperaware of the little automatic corrections your body makes to stay upright. But those are the only side effects. Oh, and I’m still on my first soda as of 12:32 p.m., which means that I might, uh, not need to self-medicate with caffeine anymore. I think? Could also be the appetite suppression that’s known to accompany the drug.

But how does it work?

Well, so far, so good. I seem to be handling the multi-change environment a lot better than I normally do. Switching from task to task is easier, and my focus is starting to get tighter already. If I bounce away from something — like writing this post, for example — I get irritated with the interruption and go right back to what I was already doing.

I expect for the first month of this, I’ll be posting about it semi-regularly. It’s interesting when you mess with your brain chemistry for positive effect. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1: It’s been almost ten hours since I took the pill and I think I just hit the end of the time-release. I feel like I ran into a brick wall — headache, loss of focus, sudden desire to consume caffeine again.

Scenes from a Weekend

  • Discovered I made a pretty fundamental flaw in the front triangle of the CX/gravel crusher frame. If it were for a client, I’d be starting from scratch. Since it’s for me, and it doesn’t render the bike unrideable or unsafe, I’m going to stick with it. No, I’m not going to tell you the mistake — it’s too goddamned embarassing.
  • Kate and I did some serious cleaning and re-org in the garage this weekend, in preparation for our garage sale in May. We were already listing stuff online to get rid of ASAP, and our neighbor came over and bought some things. As she walked away, Eddy started freaking out and yelling, “Daddy! She’s taking our stuff! She’s taking our stuff!”
  • We booked ourselves a North Shore getaway for June — we’re headed up to Thunder Bay, Ontario, for a week of cabin living. Pretty excited about that.
  • Did a ride with the Burley behind me. Stiff winds, recovering from a chest cold, and hauling 65 pounds of toddlers behind me in a Burley made for slow going, but it was still nice to get out there and put some miles on the legs. The weather’s gorgeous all week, but with the various appointments we have going, I won’t be riding to work until Thursday (so I’m going to do that and Friday, too).

Mistakes Were Made: CX Frame Build, Part 5

The project continues…slowly. So Saturday, I only had a three-hour window in which to accomplish that which needed to be done with the CX frame. The goal was to get the whole front triangle brazed and filleted together. In the end, after fine-tubing my miters some more, I got the two main substructures (Seat Tube/BB and Head Tube/Down Tube) all joined together. And I made a pretty fundamental mistake in the frame — it doesn’t render it unrideable or unsafe, so I am just going to run with it. Had I been building this for a client, it would have required a restart from scratch. And a lot of swearing.

I’m remaining positive about this little turn of events, though — why? Because things like this were why I decided to spend the next few years honing my craft. I need to make mistakes…so that I can learn from them. Right? In the end, it’s embarrassing, sure, but the chances of me doing it again are much reduced (and part of why I need to keep embracing that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach). It’s not even noticeable to the layperson at first (or even second or third) look. So c’est la vie. Fuck it. Onward and upward. We’ll kick it’s ass next time.

Next Time

Vent seat tube and heat tube, put in the top tube. Build the fillets. Align front triangle. Start prepping the chainstays, if time permits.


Pretty well fucked. If I have this thing for the Almanzo at all, it will be with unfinished fillets and without powdercoat. Again: c’est la vie.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Money Makeover: April 2015

Welcome to the return of the Money Makeover posts…I’ve decided to go bimonthly on these because, well, we’re not making much progress lately.

Starting in the hole: $74,000. (Includes the fancy new minivan.)
Current debt load: Unknown to me. I should have a better idea of this. Ugh.

Step 2: Debt Snowball

We’re still stuck on the one final credit card. And I foresee us being stuck there for awhile — we’re trying to save up to buy a house, after committing to spending another year in Chaska. Seems reasonable to me. Our current situation is tough on Kate (being extremely far away from all her friends), and I’d like to be closer to the city, too (even if it means losing my awesome-long bike commute).

Emotional State

3/10. Meh. We went into this program with the best of intentions, and right now it feels like we’re never going to get ahead. And that kinda sucks. To be fair, we haven’t been living super-frugally, either. We’re going to get out of this hole, dammit…it just might take a little longer than planned. In the meantime, I’m exploring some ideas, including the possibility of a second job at a few hours per week, and snagging some freelance work here and there to help get the bills paid.

Five Resources to Further Develop My Personal Goals

archerA good friend responded to my Feburary 28th post with five pretty legit ideas for posts, so I’m taking these cues and running with them.

1. Therapy
Because everyone should deal with their shit in the past that’s impacting their present and their future. I wish I’d done this years ago. I’ve got a great therapist that I click with and it’s definitely helping.
2. Having a System
I’m reading a book by Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) entitled, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and it’s got some interesting views on goals versus systems. It argues that people who are successful aren’t good at chasing goals but that they have a system in place that allows them to create the most gain from their actions. It’s a pretty novel idea, and I like it.
3. Physical Fitness
Being in shape is definitely helping with my personal development — I feel more balanced mentally and emotionally as a result of my workouts.
4. Books/The Library
Autodidactism for the win, bitches. I posted a link about becoming an SME. You should check that shit out.
5. Practice
It makes perfect, after all. I need to start actually working toward the things I want to be better at — training for cycling, writing like a fiend, etc. Planning practice sessions and then executing on them = important.