Outside the Comfort Zone

    By: Jonathan Gennick on Sep 08, 2017


    Early June found me in a motel room in Rochester, Minnesota. I was staring at the parts you see strewn all over the table in Figure 1. You see, I had decided to build my first-ever bicycle wheel. This was an effort outside my comfort zone – intimidating to contemplate, as it is for many cyclists. Yet it was the only path to what I wanted, which was to test a new tire size with my bicycle that used a continuously variable hub. No one sold the hub and wheel combination prebuilt, hence my motivation to step up to this new challenge of building a wheel by hand.



    Figure 1. My unbuilt wheel

    Most of the big leaps in my life have come about when I’ve been willing to look past the fear of making mistakes and instead rise to the challenge of doing something new and intimidating that I’d never done before. Contributing to my first-ever book many years ago was a similar challenge. Books were written by these mysterious people termed as “authors” who lived on high pedestals, and who was I to dare think myself their equal? Besides, what if I committed and couldn’t deliver?

    Fear is the problem, isn’t it? Fear of not being able to deliver. Fear of building a warped bicycle wheel. Fear is healthy when it causes us to step back and rethink an action that might damage us. It is healthy to have a good think about the possible negative result from, say, bungee jumping or cave diving, in order to make an intentional choice about risk versus reward.

    Fear is unhealthy when the risk is manageable, and our only real fear ends up being that we might be seen to fail. If I buggered up the bicycle wheel, I might have a dozen friends recommending their favorite wizardly wheel builders and chiding me about not paying a shop to build the wheel. This is unhealthy fear. Push past it.



    Figure 2. My new rear wheel in situ on the bike

    Building the bicycle wheel required an investment in tools. Are tools an investment? Perhaps they are an expense, but I like to think of them as an investment because they can be combined with knowledge to produce income, or at least to reduce future expenses. Remember Personal Oracle? Some of you might be old enough to remember, and I paid for a license and my own support contract all to help me get that first book done.

    Mistakes will be made. And you’ll be the one making them! Did you know that Nuvinci recommends for good reason that two-cross lacing be used with their hubs? I have about $80 in wrong-length spokes sitting here in a drawer as a reminder of that recommendation. I can also tell you that 90% rubbing alcohol used as lubricant to seat a stubborn tire bead might damage the paint job on your expensive bicycle rims. Such mistakes are the tuition that allows you later to speak authoritatively. Don’t fear these sort of mistakes. Push past them.

    We can often find 101 reasons not to invest our time and money and energy into something outside our comfort zone. Push past all those! Learning to build wheels opens up so many fun avenues for me to customize my and my friends’ bikes. Likewise, writing my first book yielded incredible knock-on effects. Every once in a while, set all the reasons aside and take a run at something new.


    Acknowledgement: A tremendous shout of thanks to my good friend Dave Weiner of Priority Bicycles for lending his enthusiasm and encouragement toward my first-ever wheel build. Thank you, Dave! It would not have come about without you.

    Released: September 8, 2017, 12:08 pm | Updated: September 8, 2017, 12:10 pm
    Keywords: IOUG Press Corner

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