Fit Cycles: For Exercising Patience

The long silences were worrying at first. Each time I explained a new feature, a new idea for Project Handlebar 2.0, I was greeted with……….quiet, contemplative silence.

And each time, just as I was becoming certain I’d finally come up against the thing that would make my dream of box-able, carry-on handlebars impossible, Craig Calfee, the Creative Genius Carbon Fiber Tinkerer, would scratch his head, and say very slowly, “Well, hmmm….I’m thinking we could…okay….what we could do is…..”

As he talked his way through another solution to the challenge I offered, it dawned on me: Craig Calfee was thinking eighteen steps ahead. He was, mentally at least, well into the details of the fabrication process.

I, meanwhile, was still sitting on a fit cycle (in my jeans, no less) with a few random pieces of aerobar in my hand, debating whether it would actually come together into something usable.

At some point, probably an hour and a half into the first design meeting, I realized that if I just threw out an idea or a constraint or a concern – kind of like those air fresheners that automatically belch scent into a room – and then waited…..in silence……he would eventually come up with a solution. But I had to be quiet and patient. Some of his ideas we quickly rejected.  Some of them we slowly accepted. All of them were clearly inspired. By what, I wondered.

Possibly too much exposure to fancy adhesives and drying-accelerants. In the case of the driftwood bike, inspiration was literally picked up off the beach outside their office. (When the huge metal door rolls up for UPS deliveries, you can hear the crash of the Pacific Ocean.)

Or, perhaps, maybe, inspiration is inevitable when you tend to solve problems by attacking them from the angle no one else is using, and happen to have a deep reservoir of technical experience. Of course, it might be something else altogether.

Even the quickest glance around the Calfee Design HQ, will leave you inspired to try something new, to experiment.  Everything – bamboo frames with hemp-wrapped joints, custom painted collapsable-for-travel tandems, the Stealth Bike (which they call the “Prototype Aero Bike”) – is immediately beautiful and totally unique.

If you have more time (say, two hours?) to linger on the fit cycle, will you notice not only that there’s a box on the shelf behind you that reads “Customer Name: Greg Lemond.” You will also notice that the remnants of experiments – some grand successes, some less so – litter every nook and cranny of the building.

These remnants came in handy for Project Handlebar 2.0 – in fact the critical components were all leftovers from Projects Something Else.

The detritus of Craig Calfee’s creative innovation – in its various stages and iterations –  left plenty for me to consider as I sat there waiting intermittently for him to return with 22-grams of purple-iridescent airplane glue, or fine-tuned handholds, or the hot glue gun. (“I don’t think this will get too hot on your skin. Probably.” Thankfully, it did not.)



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