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13/01/2012 - Thoughts on Perfection
I've realized lately that somehow without me really noticing, I've been building bicycle frames for 25 years. Wow, that went fast! Started out with 3 years working for someone else and learning the basics, and now 22 years out on my own. Although truth be told it all really started long before that but that is another story (one I will get to though). But I'm off track here already. What I really wanted to write about is 'perfection'. You see when you build things by hand that are expensive, you often work with customers that expect and ask for perfection. The trouble with that is that it doesn't exist, or at least not in my mind. The trick I have found is to be okay with perfection not existing, but yet keep striving for it anyway; within reason. The irony is that I consider myself a perfectionist (even though it doesn't exist!!). Confused yet? The truth is there isn't a bike frame I've ever picked up, mine or anyone's elses for that matter, that is perfect. When you work with details all day, every day like I do, you develop what my first framebuilding teacher simply referred to as an 'eye'. The ability to see stuff that not everyone else does. Simple things like, is it straight? is it flat? is that edge sharp? does that curve flow as it should? Once you develop that 'eye' then it becomes a great tool, but it also can become your nemesis. You're always seeing this extra stuff and it can drive you a bit crazy if you don't keep it in check. Like that last seat lug I used where the one side was just a hair higher than the other. Like the mitres I put into those fork blades this week and how impossible it was to get them perfectly centered because of the tapering tubes. And like our toaster at home that has a tiny dent in it that I'm sure bothers no one but me! The mind works in mysterious ways, or perhaps it's just mine? So please, pretty please, next time I'm building you a frame and you ask for it be perfect, know two things for sure: 1) It most certainly won't be - because that doesn't exist, and 2) I'll be driving myself around the bend regardless of whether you ask or not, trying to get it perfect. Thanks. Chris Dekerf.
 
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