Click, Click, Clique(continued)
“I try not to be a bike zealot,” says Ezra, looking at his feet. “I really really try. But in my experience, anyone that has a bike that they really like—and that’s an important part—will end up riding it, and love doing so.”
He’ll find a frame for his friend, throw together some parts and hook them up with a ride just for them.
“I think it really improves your quality of life to ride a bike. It improves everyone else’s quality of life too when you ride a bike. I guess I’m just trying to spread that around.”
I met Ezra from the combination of bicycles and cameras. He’ll post photos online (www.flickr.com/photos/fastboy) of his new builds or latest finds. There’s a budding community of bike nerds posting pictures of their bikes, their routes, their lives with bicycles.
“The internet in general has made wild things possible,” says Ezra. “I’d say most of my friends at this point are people I’ve met on Flickr.”
Though not quite “plugged in” locally (Ezra admits, “I’m pretty shamefully un-connected to the NY cycling scene.”) the online connection between so many who share a love of lugged steel, fixed gears, and classy paint jobs runs deep.
“There’s a culture of people out there that really get into the entire aesthetic experience of being involved with a bike. How the thing looks, of course, but I think a little more profound than that too. People who really have a relationship with their bikes.”
That lifestyle extends beyond some nice photos and hip cycling caps, of course. Skipping the subway and riding to work counts, too.
It may be hard, but the allure of bicycles seems to have crept into the studio.
“A lot of my regular students are riding around on bikes that I built now. I guess that’s an up side.”
His girlfriend works at the same place, but works six days a week.
So many miles, so many bikes. Surely things break down. Over the years, though, Ezra has kept things rolling smoothly.
“I always took care of my own bikes in the past. I would tinker, and make changes. It’s really been in the last two years, though, that my disease has entered this new phase. The bike gang bought me a really nice two-headed Park repair stand. My Grandmother got me a massive collection of tools. Pretty soon I had a bike shop in my house. I’ve put something like 20 people on bikes in the last year and they almost all maintain their bikes in my shop. It’s like a completely disorganized bike co-op.”
Besides putting together some nice bikes and putting smiles on friends faces, Ezra has started building and selling wooden fenders. What good is a sexy bike if you’re just going to throw some cheap plastic fenders on it?
“I grew up in Vermont. Worked on construction crews as a kid. I built furniture,” says Ezra.
“At some point someone mentioned wanting wood fenders on their bike, and I thought “Shit... I could make those.” Started out just doing it ‘cause I could. Giving them away to friends. But enough people asked about buying them that I finally buckled and decided to put them out there. Business is pretty good.”
If it’s building bikes, getting friends on the road, or just entertaining cyclists online Ezra Caldwell is one of those stand up characters within the bicycle community that will keep you smiling.
Check out www.buzzgrinder.com