David Kuch celebrates 10 years with the Community Cycling Center
When David Kuch started working at the Community Cycling Center 10 years ago, it was a windowless bike shop with holes in the floor. Considering that the organization began in 1994 as an even smaller operation with one bike stand on an Alberta street corner, it had come along way, but it still had a ways to go. David was a former English teacher who had come to Portland from Vermont by way of Colorado where he learned to be a bike mechanic. A skilled mechanic with shop experience and a history of teaching was exactly what the Community Cycling Center needed.
When structural growing pains were starting to feel like too much and David was thinking about leaving, he was offered the opportunity to run a new program that had just received grant funding. It was a job development program for potential bike mechanics from low-income communities taught from our former Vancouver, WA bike shop location. David was at a turning point in his career. “I thought – well, I could quit and leave, or I could do this thing that I love and am really good at.”
That program was cut when its grant ran out, but other programs created around that time have lasted – Volunteer night, Create a Commuter, and Bike Club. It was a crucial time in shaping the future of the Community Cycling Center. David believes the goals of that time look pretty similar to the present – seek communities in need of assistance and facilitate their empowerment.
Learn more about David Kuch:
Why he became a bike mechanic: In 1970, David moved from Vermont to Colorado. He had been teaching English at The Mountain School and was looking for work that used both his hands and his mind, and something that gave immediate results. He had always loved bikes, and after having a bad experience at a bike shop he made friends with some of the mechanics at the shop who had been thinking of leaving. They agreed to teach David what they knew and together they formed a bike co-op.
His favorite heartwarming bike shop memory: There was a young kid who used to hang out at the Community Cycling Center to hide from bullies. His dad had died and he wasn’t getting enough to eat. People gave him things to do, mentored him, and gave him food. Eventually they gave him a part-time job. He’s grown up now, in his 20s, and doing well. He has a home and a job and he and David are still friends.
Basic bike maintenance skills he believes everyone should know how to do, besides repairing a flat tire: Clean and lubricate the chain and keep the bike clean.
His favorite ride in Portland: From his house around 60th and Fremont riding on Old Columbia Highway and up Larch Mountain. It’s an impressive 90 miles with much of it happening uphill.
Congratulations, David Kuch, on being the first Community Cycling Center employee to reach the ten year milestone.
Photos by Chad Berkeley and Josh Tillinghast