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.
[photo by William Bergeron]
More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.