|Rapha'd up & grinning like a loon at the prospect of riding with his friends - this is how I'll remember Dave|
Dave was 36 years old, just a few months my senior, rode more miles every week than anyone I know outside of professional cycling, and yet on Monday evening as he rode home from work his heart gave out.
It was a big heart, full of love. Love for his beautiful wife Hannah and their three sons. Love for riding bikes, whether it be the easy roll to the seaside with his boys or epic trips the length or breadth of the country. Love for good food to fuel his rides. Love for his friends, real-world and virtual. Love for taking photographs, both snapshots to share on twitter and as an occasional wedding photographer.
I was first introduced to Dave (on Twitter, where else...) by Rich a little over a year ago. Dave and some friends were planning a fundraising ride from their hometown of Sunderland to London, and were looking for places to stop for meals along the way. Rich suggested breakfast in York, and asked me to recommend a suitable venue. A couple of weeks later they turned up at my work, where Dave greeted me like an old friend and enveloped me in a big, fabulous, sweaty, lycra-clad hug.
Over the months that followed we tweeted each other regularly, and became firm friends. It was Dave's habit to take conversations off the public feed and onto direct messaging, so even the most mundane chat felt intimate and special, and we'd have many a conversation while we were both preparing to go to work so horribly early on Saturday mornings that no-one else was up & online yet. Our chats encompassed everything from what we were having for breakfast to serious putting the world (and our respective lives) to rights, though often, of course, turned to bikes and riding. I got the following message in response to asking what on earth he was doing getting up to ride at 4 am, and it goes a long way to summing up what Dave was all about:
Well a) I love mornings & b) I really love people so getting the riding out the way means I get to train sans traffic and still see people
I was fortunate enough to get to ride with Dave on two occasions, the Great Up-North Twitter Ride and the York 100. For both I was by far the weakest rider in the group, and yet I almost always had company - and often that was Dave. Hanging back and chatting while we buzzed through the prettiest lanes in the Yorkshire Dales; offering to carry my jacket so I wouldn't overheat; taking photos to record our day; and the two moments that most stand out: as Rich and I ride up out of Kirkham Abbey, we catch up to the rest of the group, who are waiting close to the top of the climb. Suddenly, Dave drops his bike into the hedge and runs, cheering, alongside us and hands me a lollipop. And a little further on: Dave and I have been riding a little way behind the rest of the group, having a bit of a heart-to-heart. We turn a corner and are faced with a long, steep climb which has me dismounting almost immediately. I suggest that he goes on without me and I'll meet him, and everyone else, at the top, but he won't hear of it, instead riding slowly, slowly up alongside me, talking to me all the way, never showing any sign that he's frustrated or disappointed that I'm walking (though I am both!) His support on that hill meant so much to me that when I found myself riding that way again a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to stay on the bike for all but the very steepest hundred meters or so I had to stop at the top to tweet him:
His reply was immediate - even in a café 100 miles away he was cheering for me:
@roadbikedave thanks for staying with me while I walked up that hill on the york100. Just rode up it, had you there in spirit, kept me going. Couldn't have done it without you!
One day I'm going to tame that hill, and I'll do it in remembrance of Dave, "cycling, strength training, coffee-drinking food-loving husband & dad of 3. striving to be a better me."
@MrsBYork woah! Serious. You're welcome and that is a good achievement mrs B. Excellent riding!! I'm having a flat white for you