Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good jelly

(if you like bikes, building stuff, or design for developing countries, click all the links!)

On this sunny day did five intrepid explorers ride from olde Cambridgeport to Carlisle to visit the honourable Gwyndaf Jones.

Not only is Gwyn one of my favourite people ever, he's also Welsh. Over lunch he recounted a story from a past visit to Wales. Apparently, there are so few Welsh names and so fewer surnames, that when our hero found himself standing in a cemetery, he had to look but two stones away to find the grave of one Gwyndaf Jones.


Spang, Daf (another Welshman who makes my list of favourite people ever), Amelia (who rode across the USA last year!), Laura and I put some food, brews and ice into some panniers and rode up the lush green Minuteman trail and then into the woods to find Gwyn at his gorgeous little house.

Gwyn has an amazing story. He worked as a BMW motorcycle mechanic once, and started one of the first super-high-end titanium racing bicycle companies, Merlin Metalworks, just one town over in Somerville MA. Today, he's a mentor for D-lab design classes, and teaches his own cycle-focused class at D-lab. He collaborates with Guatemalan bicycle-machine inventors and builders, and Indian rickshaw businesses, to name a few.

Gwyn's house is beautiful and cosy, and his workshops and store rooms packed with the most exquisite hand tools and bicycle history: old bikes, one-off crazy experimental bike frames, and beautiful (and huge) hand saws, planes, and files. We brave mosquitoes the size of bees on a little jaunt into the woods by his house, where a tree hangs with a hundred rejected Merlin frames, the steel completely rusted but the titanium pristine and shiny.

Alas, all good things do end and Gwyn took us on a lovely ride on a track through the woods on our way back to Cambridge. I'm already planning my next ride out to Carlisle.