And then this happened . ..
With a desire and a new paper route, I started saving for the first bicycle I was going to buy for myself. As a preteen, it was my ticket to freedom, to flight, to liberation from the bindings of home. Ok - maybe that Hollywood voiceover was not all that was going through my mind, but once I was on that new bicycle rolling down the road, the idea of freedom and flight became a part of me. At 13, I had found my buzz, my thrill, my passion - the simple and elegant bicycle.
Throughout junior high and high school, the bicycle was the freedom to do much more than walking would give. I began working in the garage taking bicycles apart and putting them back together, helping friends fix their bicycles and reading everything I could get my hands on about this fantastic machine. Everything I did fanned the flames. Even finding a bicycle shop in College Park, Maryland (Proteus Bicycle) that had a frame building class. I wanted to attend and learn the craft. But when I asked my parents, hoping they would understand my passion, they said "No (insert you’ll shoot your eye out here)." I was crushed, but the addiction to bicycles had taken hold and my passion continued to grow.
After high school in the Virginia mountains, I enlisted in the US Navy and became a Naval Aircrew Survival Equipmentman (PR - Parachute Rigger). I was thrilled to learn many skills that would keep a pilot safe and alive. While not bicycles, it was a rush to have someone believe in your skills. Luckily, Uncle Sam felt I should be stationed in Italy. Of course, it would be torture to ride in the country that has given the world one of the most beautiful Grand Tours - the Giro d'Italia. How could I say no to that?
After completing my enlistment, I found jobs in bicycle shops in Florida, California, Virginia and North Carolina. With all that time in shops - working on bicycles, racing as a Category 3 on the road, working races as an official, as well as major one-day and stage races with MAVIC neutral support crew - I knew my addition and passion for bicycles was set for life. I knew it was time to test the waters on the frame building idea again. This time, without need for parental approval, I enrolled in welding classes at a local community college. Before finishing the classes, I was asked to start working in the aviation industry as a welder. I was a bit intimidated with all the exotic materials I was about to face, but I went in with open eyes and a smile on my face. I soon carried certifications in materials I never thought I would see - Titanium, Aluminum, Magnesium, Inconel, exotic steels and more. In the back of my mind, I was giddy know this thin material was also what the bicycle industry used. I could not have asked for a better experience.
Alas, the economy took a nosedive and I was at a crossroads. I chose to take control of my future and start building those bicycle frames that I had been dreaming about, with hopes of becoming a professional frame builder. I took most of my savings and I focused on learning the skills of elite frame building.
With the faith of many cycling friends, Dogwood Cycleworx is the result of my efforts. To be successful, I feel I will always be learning because if I'm not learning, I am failing myself and my craft.
I see bicycles as kinetic art. If it's not moving, the bicycle is failing at what it was meant to do. Simply, a bike should be ridden and enjoyed. Let it take you on a flight to new places and see new things from a fresh point of view.