Today is an important day around here at DC. A couple years ago I wrote a post in honor of our friend Kyle and how his life and premature passing has affected my life. I decided that I am going to re-post it every year on this date as long as I am able. It just seems like the right thing to do. For all of our new friends that read the site now, this is a little bit of DC history. For the people that have been with us along the way, it’s a reminder. Spanky was a major influence in the beginning of DC and in some ways, still is. Whether you decide to read it or not, just do me a favor. Try to find some time to ride today.
When I meet people from the DC family out on the trail, the one question I get the most is “How do you know Big Jonny and how did you end up writing for the site?”. I am reminded of this story around this time every year, and today seems like the best day to share it.
I always try to adhere to two rules when writing a post. No politics and nothing too heavy. I am going to have to make an exception here and get a little serious.
I have known Jonny for about eight years now. Before that I was just a fan of the site and only knew of BJ through our fantastic bike community here in Arizona. But I never really hung out with the man. It isn’t hard to keep tract of the years we have known each other.
Eight years ago our friend died.
His name was Kyle, and if you have been reading this site for a while you may have stumbled across his name. We were close acquaintances and riding buddies at best. I had never met his family, knew his birthday or any of the things close friends know. But the conversations we had and the rides we shared make me proud to call him a friend. He was an original member of the Drunkcyclist crew, and he was a hell of a guy.
When he passed, you could feel the sadness move through our cycling community like a tidal wave. We were grieving and we were going to handle it the only way we knew how. Ride and drink. The call went out over this web site and via word of mouth that there was going to be a memorial gathering. Leave whenever you want, ride whatever you want. Just get to the top of South Mountain. I met up with Jonny and a small group of like minded vagrants at the trailhead and we rode the National trail up the hill. We told stories of our friend and we talked about his favorite trail that we just happen to be riding on. It was never discussed but it seemed like we were all riding at a parade pace, a slow march in memorial to our fallen friend. It was one of the most memorable rides of my life.
When we reached Dobbin’s Lookout it was an amazing sight to be seen. There were people convening from everywhere. Mountain bikers coming up trails, roadies coming up the road, and non riders in their cars. I liken it to when you see one ant on the sidewalk then your eyes focus and you notice that there are now 50 ants. People were coming from all different directions as if they are materializing out of the desert.
Waiting for us at the top was Kyle’s family, a minister, and a keg of beer. The family said some words and the minister facilitated some amazing story telling. We shared stories for who knows how long. We laughed about our friend’s shenanigans and grown men cried. As I looked around at all these people that came here to pay homage to their friend, there was one common theme. He was just a really nice guy who would do anything for his friends. My thoughts turned to my own impact in this world. How many people would show up if I died tomorrow? Would anybody say these amazing things about me?
At that time, I was a broke, angry, and out of shape loser settling into my position under the bell curve of society. I was living beyond my means and talking shit like it was my job. In short, I wasn’t a very nice person.
This moment was a tipping point in my life. That evening, as I sat on a rock overlooking the city, everything changed. It may sound over simplified and cliche, but that day I vowed two things. To live my dreams every day and to just be a nice person.
Fortunately, I have kept in touch with Jonny over the years and it has eventually brought me here to you guys. If you have a DC jersey you will notice a name and some dates on the back. This has been the story of that man. If you are in AZ and find yourself riding up South Mountain road, look for the little memorial across from the ranger station. Stop and pour a little water out for the cactus that’s there. I do it every time.
Our friend was only around for a short while but his impact will be felt for a lifetime. Make time today to go ride, to think about your friends, and to appreciate life.
-Thanks for the life lessons, brother. See you at the end of my ride.
I’ll be rocking the colors today. Great inspirational post.
I needed an up lifting read today; thank you!!
cheers, kyle. he’d be proud.
Thanks, that beer i crack open later today will be for Kyle and the love of bikes, racing, and rad trails that brought us together.
“To live my dreams every day and to just be a nice person.” That should be everyones’ goal! Thanks DB.
Today you brought tears to my eyes, Dirty, and inspiration to my heart. Cheers.
…i doff my cycling cap to both you, dirty & your departed amigo…
It’s amazing how we all meet a special person in our life who leaves too soon and we keep endless memories. The best of times. It will be even better when we meet them next time around. peace.
Just lost one myself. I needed to be better about not letting life and distance get in the way of friendship. Be good out there, folks.
Spanky wore that wife beater all night long at a duo 24 hours in the old pueblo. I earned a nickname and was encouraged. and thanked, as I sat on my ass and watched two DC teams do what they did. I am proud to have been a small part of it. Thanks for the repost. Wish I had the time to ride, but I will try to find the time soon to check out the “woods” behind the school I work at to see if we can build something. I realize that a Spanky trail will be a part of it.
Room mate, team mate, cell mate, best friend
Ride on Brother
That kid ran with it. Kyle had a deep down fire that burned with an intensity few get to experience. I’m pretty sure he used up more heart beats in his shore time than most ever will. RIP KB.
Thank you to the writer of this post. It touches our hearts to know that even though we truly miss his presence in our lives, he has left a positive impact on others he connected with in his short life. Thank you for remembering our son. “Life if a Journey Not a Destination”.
@Debby and Harv – No need to thank me. It means so much to me just know you read my words. I mean every single word of it and I will post this yearly as long as I am able. We are a little family here, and we will never forget our brother. Be well.
Just read this amazing post about my brother Kyle. I can’t agree with my parents more, it is so nice to read things like this years later. It brings comfort to know he impacted other lives, as he did mine. After Kyle passed away, I got to ride in his place at the 24 race on the DC team (I may have embarassed Kyle a little) but I got to meet his Arizona family,was taught how to ride and enjoyed hearing the many stories. This is a memory that I will never forget, it meant a lot to me and was so good for the heart and healing. I appreciate you keeping him alive with the thoughts and memories. Thank you!
Watching Kyle and Abby growing was a very important part of our two children’s (Aaron & Rena) lives. To have cousins close to their ages made our visits to the Bielenbergs a very special event. It was at Deb and Harv’s that our children found out there was no Santa…they found the gifts in the garage. Kyle, did you have a hand in this. I spent some time on your mountain a year after Kyle passed. You guys are crazy but you guys definatley Rock! Belly up to the bar, you earned it.
We miss you Kyle, ride on.