One of the big show highlights for me at NAHBS this year was new builder Julie Ann Pedalino. Remaining exuberant throughout the three day event and rocking blazing pink running shoes, Pedalino represented a unique energy within the context of both the new builder row and the already diverse community of builders within the larger show.
It was fitting that her “Campagnolo Best Build” Honorable Mention show bike, named Sushumna, also radiated with unique energy- despite being painted in understated gloss white. With chakra-themed brass adornments she had hand-cut with a jeweler’s saw and silver brazed onto her beautiful fillet brazed frame, Sushumna represented the culmination of her expertise and practice as an artist and craftswoman and an articulation of her appreciation of her bicycle as a spiritual vehicle. Hear Pedalino discuss her vehicle and process in her own words after the jump.
BIKERUMOR: How did you arrive at becoming a frame builder?
PEDALINO: I started my journey to frame building from a love for cycling. The more miles I put on the bike, the faster I became, and the more I connected to my sense of personal power. Who knew I had an athlete hidden within me all these years? I started to realize that I wanted to incorporate cycling into my artwork in some way, because the sense of effortless confidence and joy I enjoyed while riding bikes was something that I had struggled for years to manifest in my creative life.
In the meantime, I was lucky enough to stumble across Velo+ bike shop. They were apprenticing another woman in the basics of bike mechanics and were looking for someone to replace her after she went off to her next adventure. That someone was me – the more I showed up, the more I learned, and the deeper I fell into the rabbit hole of bike. The owner of Velo+, Vincent Rodriguez, happens to be a frame builder and it was only a matter of time before I started learning the craft. Once I got my hands on the torch, it was a done deal! Bikes are now my artistic medium, and I feel like I’ve finally come home.
BIKERUMOR: How was your first NAHBS?
PEDALINO: My first NAHBS was absolutely mind-blowing. I had a feeling that I would get a positive reaction to my work, but I never expected the amount of highly complimentary peer and industry feedback that came my way! It was also beyond awesome to meet so many rad builders, component manufacturers, and fellow bike nerds. What an amazing tribe we have! I’m so honored to be a part of it. Exciting, overwhelming, and humbling in the most wonderful way.
BIKERUMOR: Why did you choose this bike to build for the show? Why did you choose the symbols on the top tube, chainstay, and head tube of your show bike?
PEDALINO: I chose to show my Sushumna road bike because I feel that it truly represents my voice as an artist and a builder. I believe bikes are magical, and the concept behind the adornments on the frame is to really honor that idea. The brass pieces that are silver brazed along the seat tube, top tube and head tube are symbols for chakras, which represent energetic gates or nodes in the subtle body. Each chakra is associated with a part of the physical body, a mental/emotional state, and a spiritual state and are aligned along the spine on the central channel, or Sushumna. The basic idea to bring the chakras to a state of balance through meditation, breath work, and mindful movement of the body. Isn’t that awfully similar to what we do on a bike?
These ideas lead me to think about cycling as mediation and a kind of personal alchemy. As I rode my own bike and looked at others on bikes, it seemed to me that one could almost plot an imaginary line from each of major chakras to a corresponding place along the frame. Why not get a little bit literal, and turn the bike into a kind of moving mandala or meditation aid? Not only to help along the general path of personal growth, and to make an energetic connection with this thing I spend so much of my life on in such an intimate way, but also hopefully to give me a little boost in the moment during a ride. Speaking for myself, when I’m in the suffer cave and feeling the pain it’s tough to keep a positive mental outlook and say out of the spiral of negative self talk. Perhaps if I look down and see the image of a chakra I can reconnect to my inner strength, keep my attitude positive, and stay on that wheel. What you manifest is before you!
Aside from all that, I really wanted to show a small frame for a small rider with a nice component build that was race ready. Although the industry has been trying to accommodate women, I’m not sure all the progress has been in the right direction. It doesn’t always have to be pastel, pink, or have an exaggerated sloping top tube. Nor does it need to have low end to mid-range build kit. How about a sleek, elegant, classic, and dare I say it, unisex design? With a kick ass group and some stupid fast wheels? And fits well? More of that, please.
BIKERUMOR: Are there other details on your show bike you’d like to touch on?
PEDALINO: Once I settled on the idea of attaching the chakras to the bike I wanted to pull in a few lotus or petal like details into the bike. The seat tube reinforcement lug offered me a great way to do that. I also added the small detail of lotus flowers as water bottle boss reinforcements. Overall, I really strived to keep a clean aesthetic to the bike so that my concept and the details associated with it would not be overpowered.
BIKERUMOR: It must have been hard to stand next to that bike all weekend without having ridden it yet. How was your inaugural ride on that bike after the show?
PEDALINO: It’s been torturous! The bike has been finished for a few months now, and she’s just been sitting there in the shop looking pretty and staying clean. Once and a while I’d get to wheel her around and I’d be like: Damn! This bike just wants to go fast! The inaugural ride was fantastic. Nothing quite beats the feel of steel on the road, so plush! The Campy components performed well also – it was a smooth, silent ride. I felt that when I kicked her into high gear I was riding a stealth bomber – so full of potential energy. I’ll be rolling with the big boys (and girls) in no time!
BIKERUMOR: What other bikes have you built? What is your favorite build so far?
PEDALINO: So far I’ve built four frames. The first two were triple triangle GT style gravel frames. I’ve put about 600 miles on frame No. 2, and boy, after riding my road bike today I feel like I’ve greatly improved as a builder! I just completed the build on my forth frame last week. It’s cross race bike for my boyfriend. The cross bike turned out to be pretty sickening! No fancy concept with that one, just a lean, fast, and kinda flashy race machine with a super bike nerd build kit.
My favorite build is my Sushumna road bike. It’s very special to me and showed amazingly well at NAHBS. Now that I’ve given her a good test ride, I’m even more in love! If I can deliver bikes like that to anyone else, I’d be overjoyed!
BIKERUMOR: You currently build in primarily fillet-brazed steel… do you have plans to branch out to other materials and processes?
PEDALINO: As an artist, I very much enjoy the process of building a fillet-brazed frame. It feels sculptural to me, and I get the opportunity to have a very intimate relationship with the frame as I massage it into (near)perfection. I have my eyes on some stainless steel right now, and eventually I’d like to try my hand and tig and work with titanium. I’m also hoping to do get more involved with bi-lam construction, lug cutting, and custom stems. On top of all that, I really am lusting after a GRS engraving system so I can get my engrave on… I’ve been seeing some engraved components from other craftspeople and I really would love to do my take on that.
BIKERUMOR: If someone gave you a blank check commission for a frameset, what would you build?
PEDALINO: Yeah, I’d love to do a stainless frame with some intricate bi-lam designs. I’m really inspired by the old masters of jewelry and what they did with line, shape and form. Think art deco and art nouveau. I’ve been fantasizing about adding enamel to my embellishments and badges as well, especially somehow incorporating a basse-taille effect. Also the engraving. I have crazy engraving ideas.
Another thing I’d really love to do is to collaborate with some of the amazing paint talent we’ve got in the custom world. And to have the ability compensate them properly for their time and work! I’d like to see how far we can take the ‘chromovelato’ transparent candy on top of a mirror polished frame idea that I started to explore with the cross bike.
BIKERUMOR: What is your big, cool, project on the horizon?
PEDALINO: My next exciting project is going to be my Dirty Kanza race bike. I’m picturing another trip-triang design with a 650b wheelset (drawing inspiration from the rando world). I’m hoping to get a little crazy with some deep custom wheels. And while my show bike was rather restrained and reserved, this one is going to be girly to the max. I’m talking hot pink paint with huge metal flake in it, 3D sculptural metal bows all over the place, custom bar bags with more bows and ruffles… maybe some over the top handlebar streamers? Who knows?? I happen to have a great support team of enablers who will surely encourage all of my wacky ideas. Build like a girl!