Craig Calfee Finds the Critical Part

In one dreadfully long silence, near the end of the first design meeting for Project Handlebar 2.0, as I prepared to unclip from the fit cycle in failure, I could see Craig Calfee scurrying around his shop. Into the room on the right, then disappearing into the back, into the room on the right again.

He had said (and he would know), there was NOTHING, not one single bike or part manufacturer, NO ONE that made a piece of tube in the diameter we needed to make the design work.

I said nothing, just watched him criss-cross the building half-a-dozen times. Sensing that my dream of adjustable, portable, travel-ready handlebars was on life support, I sent a silent plea to the universe.

“Come on, let him find what he is looking for.  Help him find the pieces.”

He came back into the fit area, where I’d been propped on the fit cycle for the better part of two hours, the whole time watching one of his employees very patiently and very carefully add deraileurs, cables, and a set of the lightest-most-expensive-brakes-ever-made to a gorgeous bare-carbon bike.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible – the diameter we need is–”

Calfee broke off and looked at the guy building the bike.

“Where do you put leftover steer tube?”


“Steer tube.  Where do you store the cut off part?”

The look on this guy’s face made me realize the difference between a creative tinkerer (to whom virtually nothing is ever truly “useless” garbage – everything has potential) and a nice, competent bike builder (who will immediately put useless bits of steer tube in the garbage so it doesn’t clutter the work space). Obviously, the real question was, “Do you KEEP leftover steer tube?” And the answer to that one was clearly, “No.”

The futile-from-the-outset search of the workbench that ensued was kind of funny to watch, only because Calfee seem to actually BE searching for something while the bike-builder was randomly picking up items while staring at Calfee. Calfee then dove head-first into the nearest garbage can and emerged, eyes glittering like a teenager who just found a usually-locked door to be propped open.

“I think….” He scurried over to where I sat, stunned by this sudden turn of events. He dropped the 6-inch bit of steer tube into the clamp.  “Yes, perfect,” he said, looking quite pleased.

I said thanks to the universe. Craig Calfee had been struck by inspiration yet again and found the critical piece. In a garbage can. Project Handlebar 2.0 was back online and going to come to fruition.

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