I'm laying in bed and hear what seem to be monstrously sized raindrops smashing against my roof and the leaves of nearby trees. I'm feeling particularly grateful for two things: 1) I got out for a short but fast ride this evening and 2) I didn't get caught in the rain on my new road bike (it hasn't seen rain yet, but I'm pretty sure it won't like it). I'd planned all day to bust out for a ride but I didn't actually get to it until shortly after seven. That part was totally OK because I love cresting Mt. Tabor at close to sunset, but today I was racing to get out and back before the rain. I was definitely doubting my decision when I left the house as the wind was starting to kick up and smelled like rain. It wasn't a case of 'if', but rather 'when'. Defying increasingly ominous skies, I took just enough time to grab a burrito on my way back. I felt the first tiny droplets a few blocks away from home then ate on the porch, bike safely away from the rain.
Riding a little more has me feeling much better than a few posts ago.
In case you haven't yet heard: the United Bicycle Institute (UBI) is expanding to a North Portland campus on NE Shaver between the well traveled North-South couplet of bicycle boulevards Vancouver and Williams. Started in 1981, UBI offers classes from hobbyist maintainance to professional mechanics certifications as well as frame design and construction, boasting some very well recognized guest instructors. Citing proximity to an international airport (PDX), the City of Portland's aggressive approach to attracting cycling industries, the city's "vibrant cycling culture", and a "very active and creative community of custom frame builders", owner Ron Sutphin called UBI's expansion to Portland an obvious choice.
I took a frame design/construction class at the original Ashland campus back in 2002, which set me on the path toward Sprout Cycles. The first frame out of the Sprout shop was finished just less than two years ago. Yes, it actually took me five years to put the money, parts, tools, and space together to build what you've come to associate with Sprout Cycles -- and I still feel like I need more of all of the above.
I'm particularly excited because the school is planning to, "expand its curriculum with more specialized seminars and industry-specific training aimed at working mechanics and framebuilders." It's hard to keep up, but at last count it seems like there were about 20 framebuilders in Portland proper (and roughly another 10 in the rest of the state). The push to organize has really only come over the last couple of years. That push took shape largely in the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association (OBCA), which brought you the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show in '07, the Oregon Manifest in '08, and promises a newer, cooler format for Manifest '09. Having a year round physical location for builders to cross paths and talk will be a definite boon. Beyond any direct benefit to me, I'm excited to see yet another indication that Portland is becoming a framebuilding hub with international renown.
My advice? Start saving -- both for your class(es) and for all the tools you will know you NEED afterward.