The beauty of the bicycle industry goes much deeper than the healthy aspect of competition, resource sharing, product development and long-time friendships.
My relationship with Co-Motion owner Dwan Shepard goes back to the mid 1990s, when his fledgling company was exhibiting at the same bicycle consumer shows as Rivendell Bicycle Works, another fledgling company I was working for at the time. Co-Motion began in 1988, making fine steel bicycles in Eugene, Oregon. The company has grown at a measured pace, and it was Dwan's quiet professionalism that prompted me to contact him in late 2002 about making a line of bikes for my family's brand, Gaansari.
Co-Motion is famous for its tandems, and its efficiencies. All fabrication and painting is done in-house, and it was an easy decision to contact Dwan about making our bikes.
Former Co-Motion employee Alan Cline was familiar with my affinity for steel bicycles, and kindly opened a dialogue in January 2003. I paid a visit to the Co-Motion factory later that month, and sat down with Dwan and Alan to hammer out the details of our Gaansari Van Cleve and St. Clair models.
But that wasn't half as fun as joining Dwan, Alan and the other 18 employees for a company game of flag football in Eugene. The grassy field was somewhat slick with mud, which didn't deter any of us from creaming each other on every play. Team building at its finest.
No, another highlight of the weekend visit was hanging out in Alan's man-cave, drinking beers and listening to bluegrass on the radio. Dwan, Alan and I bonded like brothers, which led to a fruitful working relationship.
As our brand took off, my phone conversations with Dwan were exciting and fun. I think he got a kick out of my Midwest view of the world, and jokingly nicknamed me "Freedom Bread", a play on my French heritage and reflecting the animosity the US had toward the French at that time.
But the news I received about Dwan's cancer this past weekend at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show took the wind out of my sails.
It was a bike designer's love fest in the Pacenti booth Saturday, as Kirk Pacenti, Steve Hampsten, Alan Cline (now a full time at-home dad) and I talked about Dwan's current challenge. In a split second, I didn't care as much about my responsibilities for BikeRadar in Portland; cancer is a big deal, and not only do the Co-Motion employees rely on Dwan for direction and a paycheck, so does his wife and daughter in Eugene.
Alan told me of Dwan's incredible attitude through his ordeal, dealing with chemotherapy and radiation. We talk about suffering on the bike as part of our ritual; now Dwan is suffering through something not many people can truly relate to or comprehend.
Dwan, you've influenced many people in this world, and provided much two-wheeled joy. I hope those reading this will reciprocate that wonderful energy and your body will heal soon. Our prayers are with you, friend.
If you'd like, send a card or nice note to Dwan, care of Co-Motion Cycles, 4765 Pacific Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97402 USA.