Part 2 of 2 of chapter 1: by: Matthew Simpson
Alchemy “…capable of turning base materials into gold or silver…”. If you were at NAHBS-11 you entered the hall in Austin with a huge Alchemy spread of shiny crystal bike porn. Their design & attention to detail is an Austin influence. I had the chance to meet Ryan (a.k.a – Prez) and Dave (a.k.a –Sales & Marketing) in Austin at NAHBS-11. Ryan & I swapped biz talk, industry chatter without the clink of a glass, but with the common thread of craftsmanship. Dave pulled me around the country lanes of Austin by way of bike. We covered the local road jaunt without incident. He recited his days in Wisconsin as a wrench, and Austin transplant. Alchemy equates to smart guys, in a touch point of a cluttered industry with the vision of a scope shooter.
When the Mad Alchemy-Verge rider cooperative pulled together Pete S asked me to work with the builders to share the vision and see who wanted to align with the brand & cooperative mission. Ryan & Dave took my call. Life is tight. Small. Unique. Life will follow one around with repeat. I am an open book. Admittedly so. Maybe to a fault my honesty is out there, neon lights in times-square, come & get it honesty. I shared the passion, the vision and the plan in detail for the cooperative program with the Alchemy guys. Craftsmanship front & center in Mad Alchemy & Alchemy made the point non-labor intensive. It just flowed. Flowing like a freshly groomed cross course a commitment was made.
Alchemy commitment: Cross Carbon frameset for me. Ryan & Dave asked if I would ride their 2012 Alchemy all carbon cross bike (ENVE tubing: who doesn’t love these guys!). Their original commitment, I must be on it in time for the second annual Tim Johnson & Bikes Belong ride on DC. Damn. Their full carbon cross bike for me, custom fit, custom designed, freelance finish, & hand crafted in Austin, TX with the oversight of Ryan & Dave. Mid-December we finished the fitting remotely with the help of my good friends J-Spin & MattyB. Dave slammed with their move spent all the time he needed to support the to’s & fro’s of sizing. His attention to detail is part & partial I am confident to his wrenching days. Smart as shit he is, he challenged me to think ahead on every aspect. Took three reiterations to get the sizing right, we shortened the stays, pulled the bb height, and a few other adjustments and the carbon cross bike was taking on carbon like my last lap at Gloucester.
I must interject with a harsh dose of reality here. I am approaching the race age of 40. I am a father to 4 young daughters, I am a full-time working professional and I miss none of my girls events. I am an ex-collegiate NCAA men’s hockey & lacrosse player. I grew up playing AAA hockey in Toronto, the hot bed of Canada. I took up cycling from a running injury. I took up running after I was scorched from 20 years of high-end hockey. Turning to the bike at such a late age, I missed the curve. Minus local sensation Dylan McNicholas and a few outliers my late arrival to the sport meant I was average at best. Cat 2 cross & road in New England holds some water but that cup is deep and wide.
So, what right does an average bike racer have riding a full carbon custom cross bike? “It’s not about the substrate”……it’s about saddling a bike that was custom built by a builder’s hands to your ride. The barriers of shaved, hairy, roadie, tri, mountain head are all crossed when you pause to think more about the art of craft versus the sport. “I’ll spin spokes, tell jokes with good blokes” any hour with a passion filled rider regardless of any boundaries.
I have friends at Alchemy. They are brewing something special in Austin,TX. They believe in the cooperative of riders and they want their rider on their best cross bike. Their commitment to have the bike ready for the industry ride supporting Tim Johnson & Bikes Belong is only a glimpse of their commitment to the cooperative.
Next: Part 3: Alchemy: The build of base earth materials…..