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Four Years

In two days, four years will have passed since I was struck, crushed and dragged by a 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass. The injuries I sustained navigate a scale ranging from agonizing days trying to work to, at times, a low whisper of dull aches on my best days. Six fractured vertebrae, a fractured sternum, a collapsed and contused lung, fractured ribs and a blown out right ankle and right knee. 
It happened on a beautiful Friday afternoon with unseasonably warm weather. I was making my final run from SDAT to return some filings to a company where I was their in-house messenger. I was prepared to double-up on some cyclocross races that weekend as it was the very end of the season.

This time of year is my most introspective as I review and consider what I have and have not accomplished since my accident as well as the successes and setbacks for the year. Today I've decided to take a look at what I've done in the last four years and share my favorite moments.

After a couple weeks of laying around in a back brace and neck brace I had to get out of the house and I also had a lot of help to give to Chris Bishop. I had recently purchased a wheel lacing jig from Joe Bringheli and it couldn't have come at a better time. I was lacing wheels in my back brace and neck brace without having to expend so much energy from bending down or craning my neck. It was definitely challenging because I was constantly exhausted from my body recovering. It was a really good feeling for me to get back in the swing of things to help Bishop get ready for the Sacramento NAHBS.

Instead of this becoming a bunch of rambling, I am sharing and linking the things that helped hone my skills and challenged me to continue my growth and recovery from my accident. There is definitely no particular order to these - just things I am really proud of and excited that I am a part of these projects. I could not be where I am now without the help and support of my friends and family. I can't thank them enough and think about it frequently. All photos/links to go the sources of the rightful owner/manufacturer/photographer.

John Prolly's Bishop Road Bike

I had spent my time thinking and drawing while recovering and had the opportunity to design the paint scheme to John Prolly's Bishop road bike. See John's entry here

John's Bishop road bike. Photo by John Watson.


Rex's Track Wheels

I built these for his Martini themed Bishop pista. Campy C-Record Sheriff Star pista hubs, Sapim spokes and nipples, Campagnolo Strada tubulars. I polished the bearing races and cones in the hubs as well.  See the gallery at Bishop's flickr.

Campagnolo C-Record Sheriff Star Pista Hubs

James' 5-speed City Bike

I laid the paint and built up this Bishop for the NAHBS in Denver. The wheels are NOS Campagnolo Nuovo Record high flange hubs, Velo Orange rims and Sapim spokes. The Velo Orange elk leather sew up wrap is really nice. It's time consuming but kind of therapeutic at the same time. Bryan Myers, who I learned to paint from and worked for, did the lug lining on the bike. Check the gallery here.

James' 5-speed city bike is a really fun build.

My Bishop Road Bike

This was a really fun project to work on with Chris. The style and geometry was inspired by a Rossin I had purchased years ago in Trexlertown. Chris used Kalavinka short point lugs and a really minimal fork crown that was the first thing I chose for what I wanted on the bike. This was also the last frame I have painted. It's a silver metallic base with a blue candy over top in a classic masked headtube/lug windows scheme. I love everything about this bike. Check the gallery here.

My personal Bishop road bike.

Icarus Road frame

Ian Sutton of Icarus is one of my favorite people to talk to in the custom frame builder world. There is a lot of amazing talent out there but Ian and I get along really well when we get a chance to talk and catch up. This is one of the first frames that Bryan had let me go full hands-on from start to finish. Ian does some amazing fillet work and to be able to say I've painted to builders that I respect and admire their work is pretty humbling. Ian has a knack for doing things differently and I enjoy his willingness to push his creativity. Check out the gallery here.

Icarus road frame

First Set of Boyd Ridgeline 29er/White Industries CLD+ Wheels

I had the opportunity to build some pre-released Boyd Ridgeline 29er carbon mountain bike rims to the first pair of White Industries CLD+ (Boost 148) for the Philly Bike Expo. The rims built up flawlessly and the new 48-point engagement that White Industries is using is excellent with very minimal, almost unnoticeable, drag. I wanted to highlight the rim decals by using a few white Sapim CX-Rays to really set the build off. They were very popular during the Expo.

Boyd Ridgeline 29er to White Industries CLD+ hubs

Starting my Business & Philly Bike Expo 2015

The most recent Philly Bike Expo was one I will never forget. I had finally made the venture to start my business. Chris Bishop and I split a booth for the show. I built up some really great wheelsets for people to check out and Chris had some amazing frames and bikes on display. I also gave two wheel building demos with the help of Kirk Pacenti providing the rims, and Wayne Bingham of Mel Pinto Imports providing the Miche Syntesi road hubs. I provided the spokes and labor and by the end of the demos we donated the wheels to the Charlie Cunningham fundraiser to be auctioned off. It is definitely an accomplishment I can be proud of and look forward to next year.

Probably rambling during my wheel build demo.

First Wheels of 2016

These wheels were my first for 2016 and a really exciting build. My customer, Sean, is getting a custom 650b disc all-road for doing whatever kind of riding comes to mind. Long days in the saddle or for monstercross, he wanted some reliable wheels to get him through the end without worry. These built up really well and I couldn't be more excited for him. They are White Industries CLD hubs, Pacenti TL28 650b rims in 28h and custom cut Sapim d-lights on the front and rear non-drive side and Sapim Race on the driveside. 

White Industries CLD hubs to Pacenti TL28 650b

This has been an enjoyable experience looking back through all of the galleries and albums. I am looking forward to the future work to come as well as working with and learning from more talented builders, creators and friends. As challenging as things have been- it has been an incredible journey for me. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me with any questions regarding any of these projects or any projects you have in mind!

Happy New Year!
Tommy Barse