The Pure Joy Of Fixie Dave

fixie dave

A couple weeks ago at a party, I saw Dave Nice for the first time in a long time. We started talking about the interesting nearby town of Colorado City, Arizona, and he mentioned a restaurant there, saying, “I was dating a girl in Kanab for a little while and I would stop there and eat when I rode over to see her.”

What is notable about this sentence is that each time he went to see this girl,

(1) Dave bicycled 62 miles each way, and (2) Dave rides a fixed-gear mountain bike. Dave doesn’t drive.

I met Dave back in 2006, sitting outside a coffee shop in Denver. He had the previous weekend ridden the 68-mile Laramie Enduro mountain bike race, and became the first person to ever finish it on a fixed gear. He had also pedaled his bike to the starting line, 130 miles from Denver, over the two days prior to the race.

Dave and I became friends through the weekly Sunday morning breakfast ride at Salvagetti, and I wrote a couple stories about him for different publications — at the time, he was trying to be the first person to finish the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on a fixie, which some people thought was crazy, some people thought was ballsy, and some people realized was just Dave doing what he did: ride his bike.

I met him at the same coffee shop to interview him for a story for the Mountain Gazette in 2008, and he walked in the door at St. Mark’s with a tremendous sunburn. I asked him what he had been up to, and he said he just finished a ride, and listed a half-dozen trails outside of Denver. I asked How long of a ride was that? Dave said about 160 miles. And he was standing next to me ordering a sandwich and a beer like he had just ridden his bike from a few blocks away. I of course I asked, Well, what’s the longest ride you’ve ever done in 24 hours?

Uh, 276 miles, over five mountain passes in the Front Range — but that was mostly pavement. Oh, sure, mostly pavement, I said. What did you do afterward? Slept for 16 hours, he said. Of course you did.

Dave loves all the things you love: good food, beer, bikes. He just loves his bike about 1000 times more than you do.

It had been a long time since I’d seen him, but three minutes into our conversation at the party a few weeks ago, I remembered exactly what it was I liked about talking to Dave: Mid-conversation, I am listening to what he’s saying, but I can’t hear him over the thoughts popping into my head:

I like my bike, too.

I should ride my bike more.

I would be happier if I rode my bike more.

I am going to ride my bike tomorrow.

Where is my bike? Maybe I should just take it on a spin around the block right now.

This, I think, happens to everyone who knows Dave and likes bicycles. Nobody needs to remind him that he loves his bike. It never gets neglected, never gathers dust anywhere. He rode 16,000-plus miles in 2012, went through 11 chains and burned through a dozen tires.

Since Dave doesn’t drive, a lot of his miles are commuting miles. He told me once a few years ago — when he was wearing cut-off pants and skateboard shoes — that he doesn’t wear lycra when he rides because he wants people to see him riding his bike and believe they can do it, that they don’t need to buy a bunch of special gear and clothing to ride a bike. I liked that a lot, because that’s the way he is: Not some hyper-ripped athlete, just a dude who wants to talk about good beer and good breakfast joints, and Hey, we should go ride Gooseberry Mesa or Buffalo Creek sometime. And then he goes and rides a century while you’re eating dinner, watching TV and going to bed.

Maybe Dave is trying to inspire people a little bit, if you asked him. But I don’t think he is. I think he just has a simple, but a tremendous love for the joy that bikes bring most of us, and the courage to make that the central point of his life, not a hobby or an accessory.

I like running into Dave, because he reminds me of the things I want more of in my life, but lose focus of every once in awhile. We always try to remind ourselves, Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work, and then we catch ourselves stressing over work again and pushing other things to the side to make room for it. Dave lives to ride, and he doesn’t need a sticker on his laptop or water bottle to remind him to do it.

-Brendan

[photo by William Bergeron]

Semi-Rad is brought to you by Outdoor Research.

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15 Comments

  1. Aaron F
    March 14, 2013

    Work to live, don’t live to work. Why live your life any other way?

    Great story B! Dave sounds like an inspiration that we all need to be around once in a while in hopes of reminding us how to get the most out of life.

    Glad I ride my bike to work everyday (thanks for your encouragement for making me think I could). My drug of choice of has two wheels. How about yours?

    Reply
  2. James
    March 14, 2013

    AWESOME!!

    Reply
  3. Paula Crandall
    March 14, 2013

    Fixie is amazing! I am proud and honored to call Dave my friend. He brought the love of mountain biking to me and my family. Dave came into my life and changed it for the better.

    Reply
  4. Adam
    March 14, 2013

    Colorado City and Kanab, two rural LDS enclaves finally being mentioned in some rather positive light.
    RIDE HARD!!

    Reply
    • Robert
      March 18, 2013

      *FLDS. Just clearing that bit up. Cheers mate.

      Reply
  5. Gary
    March 14, 2013

    Great article! I try to ride my Fixie cross bike 36 miles round trip to work 3x a week, but work keeps getting in the way, this is a great reminder to ride more!

    Reply
  6. March 14, 2013

    I just read a quote from Aristotle about how the goal of all human activity should be happiness. I think culturally we have moved so far away from that idea. I think a lot of people get stuck in the idea that your life is only meaningful through being “productive” so we are all overbooked with things that are supposed to make us “better” and “cooler” and we are miserable for it.

    Everyone should have a friend like Dave to remind us of what is important in life. And everyone should find something that gives them as much joy as he gets from riding his bike. Awesome post!

    Reply
  7. JC
    March 14, 2013

    I don’t wear kit either, don’t own kit, never have. It’s also Rule #18 of “The Rules”

    // Know what to wear. Don’t suffer kit confusion.

    No baggy shorts and jerseys while riding the road bike. No lycra when riding the mountain bike (unless racing XC). Skin suits only for cyclocross.

    Reply
  8. Klaus
    March 14, 2013

    Dave lives to ride, and he doesn’t need a sticker on his laptop or water bottle to remind him to do it.

    Very nice closing.

    Inspirational story indeed, however I still question anybody who rides fixies. I just don’t get it. Questionable on a road bike, but downright madness on a mountain bike ;-). Which might just translate to “badass” and “love for the sport”.

    Reply
  9. Mike
    March 16, 2013

    I may be dating myself here but remember he scene from “City Slickers” when Billy Crystal is talking to Curly the cowboy and Curly says ” the secret to life is” and he holds up his index finger? It’s one thing he says, you have to find it for yourself. The one thing that makes you truly happy. Well Fixie Dave has found his!

    Reply
  10. March 16, 2013

    I wore old canvas shorts and t-shirts during my bike tour for the exact same reason Dave does. I wanted people to see me and say, “whoa, that guy can bike tour!? Anyone must be able to do it then.” Great stuff.

    Reply
  11. Jason
    March 20, 2013

    I think I’ll go for a ride today

    Reply
  12. March 22, 2013

    Dave’s antics are a big reason I do what I do now, he’s a big inspiration – I met him when close to when I got my first Bike as an Adult, and the rest, as they say, is history. Quite amazing to “bump” into him in the Great Divide Basin. Didn’t see many other people for the next coupla days!

    Reply
  13. April 14, 2013

    This guy dates people?

    Reply

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