In winter, you have to keep your eyes open. The reasons to ride can be hard to find, like forage for small animals. Mostly you operate on the faith that riding through the cold and snow, the slush and ice, the sand and salt, will have a real payoff, even if you’re not always sure, as you step out into another icy morning wind, exactly when that payoff will come.

What happens is that you suffer. The wind chaps your cheeks. You get wet in ways you never thought possible, and you arrive on the other side, sometimes unclear on whether what you just did was brave or stupid.

Of course,┬ásometimes, somewhere out on the road or trail, you get one of those transcendent moments that repays your faith, that spurs you on to ride another wind swept winter day. Maybe it’s just the tranquility of finding yourself out in the woods, maybe on the edge of a frozen pond where the trees stir in the breeze and the world slows down, or else it’s on the road with friends and someone has a good joke and you ride fast on the laughter for a mile or two.

We usually find that, as on the bike so on the shop floor. It is impossible to maintain 100% motivation year-round. Where inspiration can vary, we create systems and redundancies to be sure we are bringing the maximum attention to detail. When one of us is lit up with inspiration, the others can catch it like a cold. We pass it around and thrive off it.

But also, you never know when you’re going to paint a bike that comes out better than you ever would have hoped just looking at the scheme on paper. You never know when someone is going to build up one of your bikes in the most thoroughly beautiful way and send you a stunning photo and thank you for what you’ve done for them.

You have to keep your eyes open for these things in wintertime, or really any time, even as you have great faith in the bike as a tool and as a way of expressing your craft. This is how we stay motivated..

Bike Builders

First there is Skip who opens the shop early. He uses the pre-dawn to make his rounds, cleaning and lubing all the machines on the shop floor. He spends all his days maintaining our tools and building new fixtures. Skip is the bike builder who builds no bikes.

Next through the door is Mike or Chad. Mike is our lead machinist. He does the CAD drawings of frames that guide us as we move from tube set to finished frame. Chad hits the finishing department and tries to work his way through whatever didn’t get done the day before. He fires up the drills and fills the air with the whirring noise of things being built.

Jennifer and Rob arrive. Inventories get sifted through. Parts orders get readied. Rob sorts a stack of folders, orders for new bikes with designs from Dan or Neil already done. He evaluates their work, makes notes for changes, improvements.

The welders, Stef, Tim and Yoshi, show up. They wheel the freshly prepped tubes from machining into their own department and assemble them in the frame jigs. Gas lines get fitted to the jigs. Oxygen gets purged. Joints get tacked and then checked for alignment.

Painters come, too, Staci and Jordan. They pull primed frames from the drying booth and begin sanding out imperfections or begin masking for top coats.

In the office, the blinds slide noisily aside and Karl sits down at his desk, cracks his email to see what’s come in over night, questions from shops from all over the world. Orders get pulled off the fax machine. The coffeemaker stirs to life.

Throughout the morning, the rest of the crew rolls in, Matt and Mary, Dan and Nick and Lloyd, Seth and Lauren, Sutts. The whirring sounds rise and fall. Compressors fire and shut off, and frame-by-frame the boxes fill up in shipping.