After Trek bought Bontrager I worked at Giro as production shop manager, but left to ride across the country with this amazing girlfriend on a pair of custom touring bikes I’d built for the trip (that girl is still amazing—we’re married). And then I landed at Match Cycles in Seattle, working for Tim Isaac, where I built frames for Rivendell and Hampsten, and made Schwinn’s 60th Anniversary Paramounts.
In 2000 I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to work as a custom frame designer for Litespeed and Merlin, and it was my dream job. I’d do all the interface with the customer, I would design the bike and then hand it off to a guy for detailing, and he’d fill in the cross-sections and dimensions. Working like this I could do three custom bikes a day—that’s almost 3,000 frames over the course of three years, which really, really taught me a lot about fit and frame geometry. That was one of the highlights of my career, getting to design bikes for world champion triathletes and a Tour de France team—it was a real feather in my cap. Tim DeBoom won the Ironman in 2001, 2002, and I designed those bikes. And Robbie McEwen won the Australian national title and Tour de France green jersey in 2002, on my bikes. I can’t say I’m the reason they won—those guys could win on anything—but I know the bikes I designed didn’t hurt them at all. And Robbie’s 2002 bike is his favorite, which is a huge compliment.
I also started a part-time business in 2001. No one had produced a new lugset in probably 15 years—everybody used Henry James, which are terrific lugs, but they’re just plug-and-play. I thought a good lugset should allow the builder to do some carving and expressive work, that was his. So I designed my own lugs, and began supplying other framebuilders. I started with a few designs, gradually added more, and in 2003 BikeLugs.com became my full-time business, supplying custom builders with lugs, tubing, frame components and design consulting services.