Daimeon Shanks

DAIMEON SHANKS

A few people who worked with him were asked to use 1 word to describe him best.... 
Meredith Miller, professional CX racer used "multifarious".  Professional mechanic Dusty Labarr chose "intelligent" whereas professional MTB racer Stephen Ettinger described him as an enigma. 

Wether it was in the pits at a mountain bike or 'cross race, on the track at Evelyn Stevens’ Hour Record, on TV fixing a mechanical from a car at the Giro D'Italia or in the pictures of the new Feed Zone Table Cookbook; if you have been following cycling in the last 15 years, chances are you have seen or heard of Daimeon Shanks at least once. 

After talking to many different people, the general consensus in describing Daimeon was well resumed by Stephen Ettinger when he said: " He legitimately might be the most interesting man in the world; just when I think I have him pegged, he surprises me. There is just never a dull moment with him." 

Daimeon, commonly known as Daimo, is a staple of American Cycling. Twelve years and thirteen pro teams later, as he recently announced his decision of leaving the cycling world to pursue other personal goals, we decided to ask "the most interesting man in the (cycling) world" a couple of questions regarding the last decade of his life to better understand the impact he’s had on the biking community. 

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How did you start being involved in cycling? 

My first involvement came way back in ’94 during high school on the Oregon coast... I was lucky enough to have attended a school that had a mountain bike club and a teacher that was a passionate cyclist and really introduced me to the sport as a whole. In fact, my first race ever was a cyclocross race. 

I feel like we see you everywhere; Noosa Pro Cycling Mechanic, Evelyn Stevens' hour record mechanic, Stephen Ettinger’s personal mechanic, building bikes for a few world class triathletes…How are you so connected? What is your favorite discipline and why? 

Gosh, I reckon I’m just lucky to have so many connections. A lot of it is due to things that I’ve done outside of working for pro cycling teams (and I’ve worked for quite a few!) such as the writing I’ve done for VeloNews, my bike shop, and just personal connections. Being in Boulder helps, for sure, more than any other place I’ve lived there’s a confluence of world-class athletes from many different disciplines. You can’t throw a rock in the whole foods without hitting a pro cyclist.

As for my favorite discipline, hands down, no question it’s 'cross. Having a good mechanic is so integral to a pro ‘cross racer’s success, it really feels like you’re part of their success… although that’s a double-edges sword, sometimes you can f*ck things up pretty good, too.

Photo courtesy of Daimeon. 

Photo courtesy of Daimeon. 

I think you are also the owner of Service Course? What is that business and how did you start it?

Former owner! I started The Service Course with Nick Legan in 2010, but shut it down at the end of May this year so I could enjoy a summer off before starting a new career…

The Service Course was a unique little bike shop, we didn’t sell bikes or softgoods and focused solely on providing professional level service. Myself and the mechanics that worked for me have all worked for pro teams at various times and we really found a great niche business, one that worked particularly well in Boulder. Pro service is the last thing that you still can’t buy on the internet and we capitalized on that. In fact, they’re are now a host of new businesses across the country that are based on our business model. 

Photo by Wil Matthews. 

Photo by Wil Matthews. 

I know you speak a few languages and have spent a good amount of time in Italy. Why were you in Italy for so long? 

So that actually is only tangentially related to cycling… my undergrad degree was in Romance Languages so I studied for a while in Italy and have an affinity for that nation. Really the only cycling work I’ve done in Italy has been the Giro d’Italia.

For someone who has been in the cycling world for over 12 years, what do you think were/are the best days of cycling in North America? 

For me personally, the US Gran Prix of Cylocross that ran between 2008-12 was the pinnacle of the North American cycling. Having one, large series really showcased North Americans and drew great crowds and great fields. The disjointed, semi-linked US pro structure we have today is really a poor, poor substitute and really discourages our Canadian friends up north from coming down to our events.

In your opinion, what is/was the best equipment innovation ever (the thing that made your life easier as a mechanic and that everyone should have on their cross bike)? 

As a mechanic and a racer, thru-axles and disc brakes. It’s amazing it took so long for CX to catch up to even the most basic mountain bike technology.

As a racer, I sometimes feel like the mechanic is my “big brother”. I feel like our mechanic is so much more than a mechanic. I go to him when I need advice or when I’m bummed out about a race and need to be comforted or when I want to goof around or to celebrate. Do you feel like you’ve played that role to some racers,  too? 

For sure. Stephen and I first started working together when he was on the BMC u-23 mountain bike team and that’s developed into way more than a rider/mechanic relationship. I think I’ve played, maybe not a positive role, but definitely a role in the development of a lot of young guys as they were coming up through the ranks.

I can definitively say that Alex Howes would not be the rider he is without me. But I won’t admit that’s a good thing...

Daimo and the Noosa Pro Cycling team. 

Daimo and the Noosa Pro Cycling team. 

Why did you decide to leave the cycling world? What’s next for you?

It was time for a new challenge! I’ve worked in one way or another in cycling for the last 15 years and have done pretty much everything I’ve wanted to do in the sport… I’ve worked extensively on pro circuits, I wrote a book (Essential Bicycle Maintenance and Repair), I’ve owned a profitable bike shop, there’s not much left for me to do. 

So I’ve recently began law school at the University of Colorado where I plan on studying international human rights abuse and war crimes prosecution.

I think you’ve done a couple of races yourself. Will you keep racing a little bit?

Absolutely. But pretty much exclusively ‘cross, that’s what I love about ‘cross, you can be as unfit as a turnip and still show up to a race and have someone to compete with. 

Funniest thing you’ve witnessed in the pits or tech zone? 

When I was working for Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld, one of our riders, the Swiss national champion Christian Huele, took umbrage to some perceived sketchy tactics employed by Zach McDonald and promptly put him into the fences right in front of the pit. That was pretty funny. 

Best job you’ve ever had? 

I’d say my first year working for Slipstream Sports (the team now known as Cannondale-Drapac) in 2006 - back then we were called TIAA-Cref and it was just a great group of guys, many of whom are still close friends. Will Frischkorn, Danny Pate, Brad Huff, Mike Friedman, Mike Creed… just so many awesome dudes. We were young and good looking. 

Daimo and Will Frischkorn. Courtesy of Daimeon.

Daimo and Will Frischkorn. Courtesy of Daimeon.

Favorite memory/moment of you career in cycling? 

Watching one of my best friends, Stephen Ettinger, win his first XC national championship in Pennsylvania… I couldn’t have been happier. 

Daimo and Stephen Ettinger. Photo of Kenny Wehn. 

Daimo and Stephen Ettinger. Photo of Kenny Wehn. 

Favorite race?

To watch would be Paris-Roubaix (duuuuh), but to work it’s the Giro. Great food, great racing, and Italy is just lovely.

What will you miss the most about being a mechanic? And what will you miss the least?

Not gonna miss the travel days. I will figuratively miss everything else. 

Any advice you would give to someone who wants to become a professional mechanic? 

Never, ever, ever leave off for tomorrow what you can do today. It’ll bite you in the ass.

Anything else you would like to say? 

I appreciate you asking me to do this! Hope your ‘cross season goes swimmingly and everyone realizes there’s a Daimo-sized hole in the pit this fall. 

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With his great sense of humour, his incredible dedication, amazing work ethic and his entrepreneurship, he will for sure be missed by many in the cycling industry. Nonetheless, I am sure that everyone who worked with Daimo, or anyone who just hung out and had a chance to chat with him at some events will say the same thing; that we were lucky to spend some time with him, learn from his experience and have a good laugh with him! 

Thank you for all you have done in the sport and thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us through this interview. Good luck in your next chapter, Daimo. We have no doubt it will bring you success! 

Photo by Kenny Wehn 

Photo by Kenny Wehn