We had the ghost bike installation for Dave Salovesh this past weekend, and I stood there staring in disbelief the whole time with my leg propping up my bike as I wondered when Dave would ride by to see it and what he would think when he did.
This can’t be happening.
This didn’t happen.
Unless you ride a bike in Washington, D.C., it’s quite possible that the cycling community passes in front of you largely unnoticed. But when you become part of BikeDC, your eyes open to a new community.
Ride long enough and you begin to recognize people in motion.
We all have our uniquenesses on two wheels – the tilt of the head, the way the spine slants over the top tube, how a person spins the pedals, down to the type of bike we ride and the way it’s accessorized to our personal preferences.
Keep on riding and you will inevitably find yourself at some BikeDC happening – Bike to Work Day, the 50 States Ride, Friday Coffee Club, the Downtown Breakaway. You get to know people, begin to put names with faces. Connect personalities with bikes.
You become less anonymous, as do the people around you, and the streets and spaces you ride with others are your neighborhood.
And if you are part of BikeDC, there is a big chance that you knew Dave. The man showed up for BikeDC! This super social BikeDC stalwart with an outsized personality dedicated much of his time to advocating for safe streets, and another huge chunk of time to riding around the city and hanging out with all of us.
I knew Dave from Friday Coffee Club. He heralded the arrival of the late shift, a small group that consistently wheeled up just as the rest were scrambling to the office. Sometimes he’d get there early, though, and we’d all roll out together.
I saw Dave regularly out and about, an integral part of my cityscape. At any moment, I might intersect with him. We’d exchange hellos and, if circumstances allowed, we would chat and check in with each other. I never worried about the next time I’d see Dave. There would always be a next time.
How do you want to show up in the world? I think about how Dave showed up – a ball of energy, committed to his own path while still making room for the rest of us. I’ll never forget those tights he wore to the Hains Point 100. I’m sure you remember them, too, if you went that year.
He smiled from the inside out. Not one of those lip service smiles, not Dave. When he smiled, he meant it. Originally from Illinois, I attributed Dave’s outgoing ways and friendliness to his Midwest roots. He was one of those people who brought pieces of BikeDC together. His gregariousness and social nature were a kind of glue for us.
Dave was confidence on two wheels, stridently devoted to making the world better. He had faith in the power of the bicycle. He used to ride his daughter to school every day and frequently talked about the safer streets he wanted for her. I came upon him one afternoon as he and Greg Billing were counting U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue and calmly advising drivers of their illegal activity. Totally Dave.
Like Felkerino and me, Dave and his partner Jean were also a tandem team. They rode a black coupled Co-Motion, and we rode together on a few occasions. As Felkerino likes to say, tandeming is a whole different level of effort. Not everyone can make it work as it requires many things to go well, including a harmonious melding of riding styles and personality.
Jean and Dave made it work. Jean and Dave are special people in their own right, and they were special together. I wish I had told Dave that.
Mostly, I just wish I would see Dave again. I’ve been riding through the city, looking all around, hoping he will suddently appear, like he always seemed to do.
We have so many pictures of you, Dave. So many memories of riding with you in our orbit, of spending time together.
And it is not enough. It will never be enough.
Dave, when are you going to show up so I can ask you what you think about all of this? So that we can keep the conversation going? So I can thank you for being so uncompromisingly you? So that I can feel like my broken cityscape is less broken?
Dave, what are we going to do without you?
We are all just gutted. I know he was an ardent advocate for safe streets but I will always remember him as someone who took time to listen. Who smiled. Who wore the loudest bike clothing the proudest. Who hugged me for no reason in particular, perhaps when I was looking a little hangdog. To borrow a phrase from our friend Kirstin, he was a stellar friend.
His voice is an earworm in my head. So calming.
Thanks for posting this.
Yes- all of that.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Beautifully said, thank you.
Thank you for this remembrance. DC feels empty knowing Dave won’t ride up beside me on his way to the Downtown Breakaway.
Thank you for this tribute. You expressed many of the thoughts I have about Dave, as well as how we will miss him. Now I am in tears again.
A very nice tribute.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, Mary. Beautifully written words to honor his memory.
Beautifully written. Thank you for writing this.
I didn’t know Dave but the way you’ve written this… I am sitting in a restaurant in Inverness with tears in my eyes. Maybe because it’s London in 2011 when we lost Barry Mason. No one can fill that hole, not for us who cycled with him nor for non-cycling Londoners whose city was changed for the better around them. RIP Dave. May his inspiration and example live on in all who knew him.
This is a nice tribute to Dave. I always enjoyed seeing him at coffee club. He was always great to talk to. It’s hard to imagine coffee club without him. (I am also on the late shift.) I remember Dave slowing down and riding with Nolan and me for a bit at the 2018 Hains Point 100. It may seem like a small thing but I always appreciate people being nice to Nolan.
I have never met you, or Dave, or anyone who bikes in DC, but my heart breaks for you all, especially his family. I’m so, so, sorry, Mary. Why do these things happen? I want to be a super heroine so I can stop this from ever happening to anyone again.
made me cry.
I am not a cyclist and came across this via a friend’s FB post. It’s a beautiful article – So sorry for your loss. Tragic and senseless loss.
Really sorry to read this and please pass my condolences onto Daves family & friends.
Whether we are in the States or like me in the UK we are as cyclists fraternal brothers & sisters so the loss of Dave affects us all. He was clearly a friendly man so perhaps wherever we are the next time we meet one of our cycling colleagues if we can we should wave & greet them as it’s something I am sure Dave would have done.
This is a lovely post, although of course a sad one. I googled Dave to find out who he was. One of cycling’s heroes by the sound of it. And if I may say so – your photos are all lovely. Do you know what I love about them apart from all the smiling faces? it’s the fact that all the cyclists in them are wearing such a variety of clothes instead of ALL being dressed in lycra. You all look like normal people riding bikes instead of “cyclists”!
What a touching tribute. I am sorry for your loss, for his family’s loss, for the community’s loss, and for the loss felt by all those who knew him. Thank you for sharing so those who did not can get a better idea of this special man.
Nicely done, Mary
Mary, what a great tribute! I will not compare Dave to others who have “helped lead the way”, but I am heart broken for his family, his friends, and the cycling community as a whole. Only once in a while does a man like this come along, isn’t it amazing how they can lift everyone else around them, like it is the easiest thing in the world to do? Godspeed Dave, I am one of the lucky ones who is convinced we have a soul. So, I should meet Dave sometime in the near future.