“I Miss Riding in Traffic”

So what’s Dean Eyre doing here?

He’s taking the job of finding the right bikes for people really seriously – and having fun doing it.

Eyre is the owner of Cadence Cycle at 508 Wood Street, in the centre of downtown Whitehorse. Yes, it used to be Phillipe’s Bicycle Repair but since January 2010 Eyre is the new owner, and he’s a natural at it.

When I step into the shop to introduce myself a half hour after the shop officially closes, I’m passed by a customer on the way out and Eyre eyeing the bike he is still working on.

Eyre didn’t start out owning a bicycle shop. Before this he was working full-time in the Yukon’s theatre and film industry. He has been involved in just about every area – design, writing, production, even acting on occasion.

The bike shop kind of happened by accident. He had engaged Phillipe Leblond to do some work on a Longest Night production. In the course of working together, Lelond offered him a summer job. Theatre is not so busy in the summer, so it made sense.

During his second summer, the shop came up for sale and Eyre and his partner Nicole Bauberger decided to take it on.

Last summer was their first season owning the shop and they continued the tradition of mixing art and cycles with Bauberger spending a month in the shop as an artist in residence. This year there are plans for Catherine Alexander to set up her metal art workshop at the shop.

Eyre says that owning a bicycle shop is not so different from working in theatre.

“It’s kind of like a big set design – with limited space and a lot to put into and do in it.”

The cycle shop has a season, with a beginning and an end – just like a play – and there is also a lot of people- and money-management.

The people are his customers and Eyre is committed to them.

“Some people – all they need is a $500 bike. It’s morally wrong to fob off a $1,200 one on them. In the long run, you win and that’s emotionally satisfying.”

It’s important to Eyre that Cadence Cycle is making a contribution to the city. It’s an active little hub for people downtown.

“There are 10-15 regulars who just come in and hang out at least once a week.” Visitors come to the shop to rent bicycles at $35 per day for a more relaxed way to tour the city.

“I like bikes,” he says. “I think they are one of our better human inventions.”

Eyre’s love of bicycles is not new. He tells me he often rents a bike when he is in Vancouver because he misses riding in traffic – a love earned from a year being a bicycle courier in Montreal.

“I used to love riding St. Catherine Street in rush hour.”

Vancouver, he says, quickly gets boring – not as busy, but too dangerous because people just follow the rules and don’t look out for cyclists. Montreal is different – there are no rules.

Eyre took the courier job after having ridden across the country from Vancouver, with a side trip to Haida Gwaii thrown in for good measure.

He arrived in Montreal with a bike and the need for a job. It worked. He still has the bike – he points it out as one in the middle of a pile of about eight bikes leaning against a fence beside the shop.

“Those are all my bikes,” he says.

Does he miss the theatre?

“Not really,” he says. “There’s still a lot of challenge here.”

He’s also not really gone. He is working on his sixth play now, a production called Wake and Bake, a teen drug play commissioned by the Health Promotions branch of the Yukon Government for performance in Yukon schools, and still does the odd bit of work here and there, mostly in the shop’s off season.

Eyre’s tip for riding in traffic?

“Cars can smell fear. Take the space you need and you won’t give off that aura.”

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