A few friends have asked me, “Joe what have you been doing this fall?” “Are you still building bikes?” “I miss seeing pics of the cool stuff you make.” It’s easiest for me to write an update for everyone. This fall was a major shift for Graham Cycles and my personal life. I didn’t really notice till I laid it out in a list, but big things have happened to me every fall for the last few years.
August 2014 – Decided to stay in NH, Increased my role at Kroka
August 2013 – Moved from Syracuse, NY to Alstead, NH
August 2012 – Started building bike frames
August 2011 – Started working at EMA Design
August 2010 – Decided to spend the winter home working for Latitude 45 Bicycles
The best thing about reviewing this list is seeing how fortunate I have been. Working and living in great places, learning new skills, meeting amazing people, and having the freedom to pursue things I enjoy. Here’s a little more detail on the things happening with me now.
Bigger role in the Kroka community
This fall I took on a more significant work role at Kroka Expeditions. My responsibilities now include financial management, facilities work, maintaining equipment, expanding the cycling program, and driving the tractor (I really like driving the tractor). Several factors went into my decision. I needed more time working with others. It was a great chance to learn business management skills that I can apply to Graham Cycles. I missed working outdoors; while the shop is comfortable it’s still a basement. Finding the balance between Kroka work and Graham work has been tough but it’s starting to balance.
A major benefit of staying in NH was the opportunity to settle even further in the shop. I have consistently been hesitant to purchase too much equipment because of the challenges involved in moving it. With that limitation removed the floodgates opened up (a bit).
This fall I added better lighting to the shop. This is one of those little things that you don’t realize you need until you have it. However, when doing such detailed work, even small shadows and dark areas can really present a problem. I’m also getting more organized. Peg boards for tools to keep tools off the bench or out of boxes. I made some holders for dummy axles, tubing blocks, and brake tab fixtures. It’s important for things to be easy to get and put away in order to keep the shop clean (and I can’t work in the shop when it’s too dirty). A new repair stand was in order so I picked up a Park Tool Two-Sided Shop Stand. The second side will allow “guest wrenching” to happen without impeding my work. Additionally, it will be a nice space for Kroka students to learn.
The biggest new tool is a milling machine. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time, and something I feel is needed for me to build bikes in the way I want. The immediate impact of the milling machine (and some fixtures) will be to add more precision, repeatability, and speed to the tube mitering process. Long-term I hope to be able to make dropouts, unique braze-ons, and other custom bits. It should be good for some random fun projects as well.
I’m really excited about where things are headed for Graham Cycles. With these new additions, I believe I now have all the tools in place to create a really excellent build process (but there are always more tools). I expect to be sharing more functional works of art with you very soon. Back to work!