Today is the last day of class at UBI. The students have spent the last two weeks learning the process of brazing a bicycle together. I think everyone is pretty tired by this point, and the bikes are mostly finished. The only thing left for most of the students is the final reaming, facing and chasing of threads, and then whatever finish filing they want to do.
They're tired, but I think most everyone is excited and relieved, feeling like they've accomplished something. Oh, and they have. They've earned it. It's kind of like having a baby. You spend a lot of time, sweat and energy making something that was once only an idea into reality. And there it is, right in front of you. You can sit back and look at it and you know every little detail very intimately; each brazing success and blemish and the places that everything worked out exactly like you wanted. You know all the things about it you like, and you probably have a list of things that, if you could do it all over again you would do differently. And all of this leads you directly into thinking about the next bike you want to build.
Building bikes is fun. It's a lot of work, and there are a million little details that you have to remember, but it is very satisfying to use your hands to make something as cool as a bike, and to then be able to build it up and ride it, to test out your work. And for me, teaching this class reminds me that the fundamentals are essential, and it freshens the idea that bike building really is fun. Not that I've ever forgotten this, but when I'm buried in "the business" of bike building rather than actually filing and brazing, sometimes the fun of it is overshadowed by the stress of small business ownership. Teaching a class and watching people light up as they get to the end of constructing their own bike, when they stick the wheels in and stand back admiring what they've done, a small internal grin of complete and genuine satisfaction -- I see this, I feel it, I know it. It's an awesome thing. Where else in life are you going to find that? Very gratifying.
These guys should definitely be proud. They've done good work. They stuck with it all through the difficult parts, and now they've got a new bicycle, built by their own hands, built specifically for them.