By Stevil Kinevil
Dave Strunk and I had been friendly acquaintances since we were little kids, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that we clicked over a mutual love of skateboarding, art, photography and punk rock. Eventually, around 1988, he found himself having to move to Denver or face homelessness. Upon his relocation to the big city, he began working at a book warehouse, where he became fast friends and eventual housemates with the Dickerson brothers. Paul was the elder and the more intimidating of the two, and Mark was the younger sibling who possessed a quick wit, devious smile and infectious laughter. After a short stint of causing mayhem at the warehouse, Dave and Mark both left and pursued careers as bike messengers. Wholly immersed in a life on two wheels, it was around this time that, together, they fell headlong in love with everything related to bicycles. Whether it was trivia relating to the Spring Classics, mechanical fortitude, long meandering road rides up Mount Evans or riding mountain bikes all across the Front Range, nothing related to cycling was off-limits, and they devoured all of it with unfettered abandon. At this same time, I’d scurried off to the Bay Area, where I was engaged in a relationship with a bike culture the likes of which I’d previously not experienced, let alone even known existed. Upon returning to Colorado for the summer of 1991, I came armed with a bike and an appetite for chaos. The following three months were filled with epic rides, loud music, drugs, beer and destruction.
Sharing our house was a large guy named Pete who had a really nice Klein that he never rode and generally was committed to hanging laundry on, a little cat I only ever knew of as Buddy and a couple of relics from the Front Range punk scene: one, a giant stuffed toucan named Rompompolovich Militinskislanaslov; the other, a corduroy-jumper-clad baby-doll body with a chicken claw for one hand, a dog paw for another and a mummified calf head atop its slight shoulders, named Scruffy. They were the Flava Flav to our Public Enemy and stood guard at our domicile. Days were filled with riding our bikes any and everywhere, playing Frisbee in the park or exploring the forgotten detritus of downtown Denver, while our nights were filled with punk shows, skidding across freshly manicured lawns in an act Strunk affectionately dubbed “yarding” or exploring the trails along Cherry Creek. We had no gods or masters, and ours was an existence driven purely by fun.
With Nebraska BMX Hall of Famer Larry Woodruff added to the mix, we were a force to be reckoned with. There were hijinks galore, acid-fueled “Night Cat Missions” wherein we would mob abandoned downtown parking garages and desolate city streets, wheel-flicking derelict beer bottles into curbs, and engaging in impromptu trials sessions until we got bored or the sun finally came up. It was in the midst of these shenanigans that I learned that there were no rules to being a committed and adept cyclist. Did I need to subscribe to the type A and jockish attitude displayed by the road cyclists or mountain bike racers of the era? Not by a stretch. Was it possible to be a complete derelict as well as a physically fit and fully capable cyclist? Could I eat a handful of mushrooms at a Crash Worship show one night, then wake up the following day and discuss the finer points of why Andrei Tchmil was a superior cyclist in both ability as well as sour attitude, all the while building a better set of wheels than was available from any other mechanic? Could I justify exactly why Nick Cave’s genius was probably not to be realized in this lifetime while tearing the legs off of all comers at 10,000 feet, only to return home and happily enjoy a meal of ramen and King Cobra malt liquor? I could, I did and, in tribute to those days, from time to time still do.
Judge me if you must, but it was because of the stewardship and direction of my friends of that era that I found my way to being the sort of cyclist I not only wanted to be, but also, perhaps with hindsight as a filter, the sort of cyclist I was destined to become over the years ahead.
An amalgamation of diehard bike nerd at worst and utter delinquent at best is the most concise description I’d dare offer, and as I’m stumbling punch-drunk into middle age, it’s a badge I wear with unflinching pride.