Thursday, September 13, 2012

Martin's perspective...

Gday all.

It’s with great pleasure that Rody has let me write a guest post on his blog following my visit to Groovy Cycleworks.
My visit began by competing at 331 Racing’s Manatoc Experience. At the race site, my wife and I met with Rody for the first time, Rody was easy to find, I could hear him before I saw him, as he didn’t need the PA to be heard.
Race time rolled around, Rody had kindly loaned me a 29er Groovy bike for the race, it was a joy to ride (not the first loaner bike I’ve had from Rody, I might add), though I was paranoid that a fall may cause damage to the bike and/or lush paint job.
The race was fun, I never crashed, and probably managed last place in the Expert class.

Pic courtesey of Logan at
Handley, Martin BVR 2012 Expert 35 – 44 9thplace 02:52:01.46

Because of the humidity it took a good half an hour for the water to stop pouring out of my body.
I couldn’t help but compare this relatively ‘local’ race to some of the larger (and smaller) races which I’ve participated in over the (many) years in various parts of the world. I was impressed by the quality of the event, while still remaining very friendly, with volunteers who were more than happy to make the experience good for everyone who attended (not just the racers). The prize table was easily the biggest I’ve seen, and all this for a race with around 200 entrants, all for an entry fee of about a third of what I’d pay at home. This is what mountain biking racing should be all about.
Shorty after the prize presentation (which is worthy of a blog post on its own due to the unique wit that Rody applied to it), we made our way to Groovy Cycleworks HQ. The hospitality shown by Christi, the kids and the dogs was like no other I have experienced, we instantly felt at home.
Later that evening Rody and I spent a little time in the shop, where I caught first sight of my frame. It was a pretty cool experience, made even better by the fact that the frame isn’t finished quite yet. I do know a little about manufacturing and engineering, so I was looking forward to getting my hands dirty in assisting Rody progress the frame.

Next day Rody and Kalten took me for a spin around Vultures Knob, I can’t say that I’ve ever ridden on a trail built on an old landfill site, and I probably wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been told given the extensive flora and fauna. It’s a great circuit, over an hour of almost continuous singletrack, with almost every trail feature you could imagine, including a huge suspension bridge and sections where product in the landfill was being exposed on the singletrack.
Around noon, we were back at the shop to continue work on the frame (Rody had already been working on this from before dawn). Being in the shop with Rody was a pleasure, to see first hand the effort and care which Rody applies to the frame, it makes waiting on a long build list worth every second, I tried to assist Rody, with some pre-assembly work, but just hanging out in the shop talking about life, bikes and the world, was a real pleasure.
At about 11pm in the shop I was getting a little hazy, and I truly can’t remember what aspect of the frame Rody was working on, or what I was supposed to be doing. Shortly after midnight we called it a day and agreed to be back in the shop at 5am.
I never slept much, as I was still trying to get over my jet lag, so getting up to assist Rody at 5am when on vacation wasn’t a big task. As I walked up to the shop, Rody was already on the tools, picking up where we left off the night before. I spent much of the morning in a haze, trying to fool myself that I was helping, while Rody continued actual work on the frame.
Rody suggested that I go out to ride at the Mohican state forest, even though it was a wet morning, with a concrete sky, I was keen to sample some more riding as we had less than a day left in Ohio. A 24 mile ride sounded like a perfect distance for a morning ride. After being in the saddle for a touch over 3 hours, I struggled to recall another ride I’d done which had contained so much singletrack, I’d reckon about 90% of this trail was singletrack. With a nice balance of climbing and descending, mixed in with endless contouring along gullies and hillsides, it made for fantastic riding. The lush canopy which covered much of the trail, kept me pretty much sheltered from the constant drizzle, and the track also benefitted from this, with hardly any wet sections of trail.
Back at the shop at around noon, Rody had completed all of the fabrication on the frame while I was out riding. Next step was the finish for the frame and fabrication of the fork. We spent much of the afternoon and evening on finishing. Although the frame will be the first Groovy for a long time without any paint, I was stunned just how much time and effort it took to create the finish for the frame. I actually managed to take an active role, working the bead blaster, etching in the graphics. Once much of the finishing was complete, we took the frame into the spray booth. Under the bright flouro lights my novice finishing skills were exposed, as the finish was patchy in areas. Rody and I both agreed that it could have been better, but we had a deadline to meet to have the bike complete by the next morning for our departure. I decided that I would live with the finish due to my lack of skill, and I wouldn’t expect Rody to fix this, as he had already made a super human effort to get this far, and had sacrificed more family time on my frame that I deserved to receive. I’m sure deep down, we both wanted the perfect finish to match the effort which had gone into the fabrication of the frame.
We started to assemble parts onto the frame, soon we ran into a minor fit problem with crank spacers, necessitating machining some new ones. This was the catalyst for Rody to take stock of where we were at. We decided that our unspoken plan of working through the night to complete the build for our departure at 9am was not going to happen, and if it did happen, then the quality of the build would almost certainly be compromised. At around 1am Rody estimated the hours required to complete the build, there was at least another 20 hours left to meet his satisfaction. While we discussed arrangements for the bike to be shipped on to me once complete, my mind considered the commitment of a 20 hour day continuing to build a dream bike.
Next morning Rody explained to me his plan to complete the build, this included making good the frame finish which I made a mess of the day before, I was really happy to hear this.
I’m sure it’s been written elsewhere, but Rody is a high energy guy, with a zest for life that I’ve just not seen in anyone before, his holistic approach to all things bike related is amazing, time consuming, successful, and it brings so much joy to so many folk.
I’d like to thank the following people who made this experience possible:-
Christi - for working invisibly behind the scenes to make it all happen.
Kalten – for taking visitors riding and introducing Jacinta to scratching (DJ style).
Emily – for eating all the Tim Tams.
Rody –for having a vision to make dreams come true and all a whole lot of goodwill towards us.
Jacinta – My wonderful wife and life partner, who encouraged and supported me through this whole journey, including travelling uber long haul despite being 3 months pregnant.

And, in case you were wondering what this is all about, here’s a sneaky peak.

Thanks for stopping by,


Meriwether said...

Super sweet build Rody! Martin is a lucky dude.
Any chance you'd divulge which bender you use to get that type of seat tube bend? Can a JD-squared pull that off or is it a Di-acro thing?

Rody said...

Meriwether...just a home made ring roller. I've posted pics of it before on MTBR and V Salon in bending threads if you care to look. A JD2 and Diacro will not give you the variable roll out to match the wheel diameter.

Meriwether said...

Thanks Rody, of course I found the post with pictures on mtbr AFTER commenting. Thanks for the repeat.
I'm impressed you can get such a smooth transition from the straight upper seat tube section to the curved lower!