I like to call it "occupational palate cleansing". It's not that I get bored with brazing. Not even remotely. The satisfaction that comes with getting that material to flow just the way I'd like it to is wonderful. But there are periods of time when I need to step away, even just for a day or two, to renew my senses. This usually comes after a set of difficult bikes, such as the Max bikes or other bikes that require a lot of tedious fit-up work, grinding, shaping, and torch time. There are evenings when I'm working on those bikes that I feel further away from the finish line than when I walked in that morning. When the bike is in the box and off to paint, I feel euphoric and drained at the same time. I don't consider myself an artist by any means, but those are the times I can relate to artist's block. That search for inspiration for the next project is forefront in my mind. I've learned it's often best not to force things and just step away. I've had a couple of instances this past year when forcing things has led to scrap. Pretty, shiny, expensive scrap. It's a lousy situation for everybody involved.
About a year ago, I finally embarked on my journey of learning how to weld. It was something I'd wanted to do for years. There are so many incredible weldors in the cycling business. They lay down some of the sweetest beads in all of the welding world, and those beads hold together some of the sweetest race bikes on the planet. So I feel lucky to be able to pick up a torch myself and spend some time under the hood. It's my therapy. There's just something about it that is calming. It renews my senses. It cleanses my palate and gets me ready for the work ahead. And it really motivates me to keep getting more hood time and start getting more welded bikes out into the wild. After all, as my good pal Matt always reminds me, I'm not a brazer or a weldor; I'm a bike maker.