Bicycle Frame Building Workshop in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is hosting a ‘build your own’ bicycle frame building workshop from Jan. 6-10th, 2014 in the evenings.  I was told I’m the first to sign up, which I find remarkable considering the low cost of entry here which includes materials and shop time for 5 evenings of hands on instruction.

Description:
Ever frustrated by riding a bike just not shaped well for you? Ever tempted to try and build your own frame, but not sure where to start? This is the class for you!
In this class, students will learn how to build their own bicycle frame from steel tubes, using lugged construction. They will learn about bicycle geometry and handling, and what configurations are typically applied to what kind of riding applications. They will learn the basics of fitting a bicycle frame to a rider, and how to set up a bicycle frame jig.
You will come out of the class with an unpainted steel roadbike frame set up for fast city riding, commuting, or touring, It will accept caliper brakes and 28.6mm threadless headset. Extras (handlebars, seat, pedals, and wheels) are totally up to you!
Class Goals:
Students will leave the class having built their own bicycle frame, fitted specifically for them (or for the person of their choice) from steel tubing. Students will learn about fabricating structures made of thin wall tubing, and about brazing techniques.
(Outside the scope of this class, but highly recommended:  build up your bike. paint your name on the side. ride it around. impress your friends.)
Prerequisites:

No previous experience required.

So yeah.  I mean, for like $700 all in including the materials, this is an insane deal.  The instructor is Paul Carson who is  an engineer by training and metalworking enthusiast.  Go to their website and contact Jenny Walsh.
Some photos are here from a previous ‘build your own’ workshop:

Pak Beng, we hardly knew ye (misadventures in Laos)

We thought we had left the beaches behind in Thailand. We were wrong:

The 2 day slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang has been described as “a floating backpacker ghetto” (thank you Wikitravel, our new favorite source of pithy travel advice). It’s a pretty apt description for a boat crammed full of Europeans smoking constantly and drinking copious amounts of Beer Lao. There were a few Lao but I think it’s rare for villagers to travel that far and for shorter trips they take motor powered canoes.

It’s dry season and the river was low; running down some minor rapids we hit bottom pretty hard and bent the rudder. We docked near a small village to check out the damage to the boat. Curious children ventured over and went into paroxysms of glee when shown their images on a digital camera. The rudder was bent pretty bad and a second tourist boat flagged over. Just when we had all squeezed on, it was decided that there wasn’t enough daylight left to make it to Pak Beng, where we were supposed to stay the night.

Instead both boats ended up sleeping on the beach/on the boat (the boat was less comfortable but marginally warmer as it actually gets chilly overnight this far north). The children’s parents descended to give us succor in the form of ramen noodles and more beer Lao. Meanwhile the boatmen attempted to bang the rudder back straight over an open campfire (unsuccessfully, as it was far from hot enough; we got a replacement boat in the morning).

Needless to say it was epic. However, it did breed some traveller camraderie. I practiced my Spanish with some Spaniards and a Peruvian and sang some Serge Gainsbourgh with some French Belgians with a guitar. Mark drank some varnish-smelling Whiskey and Coke with an Irishman and a South African woman who disliked Americans (but not all of us). Plus, the scenery was nice, and as we discovered later on a twisty turny and bumpy overnight ride to Ventiane, buses are something you want to avoid in Laos. Except tonight we’ll be hopping on another one for the 24 hour ride to Hanoi! Let’s hope the Pho is worth it.