I’m still coming to terms with the news that Dave Mirra is gone.
When I saw the news (a friend had posted a news story) I didn’t want to click the link because I didn’t want to believe it was true.
But it was true.
And as more and more people heard the news, the internet lit up with pictures and stories detailing the impact that Dave had made on so many lives.
A number of people have said it felt like a punch to the gut to hear the news…it sure felt that way to me.
After watching his BMX career, from a kid with exceptional bike skills to X-Games superstar, it’s hard to fathom that he’s gone now far too early.
Seeing all the pictures and video on social media felt bittersweet. Remembering all the amazing things in his career, where we were when it happened and the times when we crossed paths.
For me, it took me back to the ’94 BS Finals (the Hoffman contests that predated the X-Games). I had road tripped there with friends and it was one of those BMX contests where all the big names were going off.
Dave Mirra was no exception.
As BMX Plus put it:
By watching Dave ride in practice, you could tell that there was no way he was going to let anyone beat him. Mirra lofted huge transfers, pulled a flip twist, went for a tailwhip flip, carved a tailwhip air about seven feet up and 5 feet across between two street ramps and wasted two wheels on his way to first place. (BMX Plus, March 1995)
I was snapping photos for the zine I did at the time and managed to capture Dave Mirra during the run that won him first place.
At one point in that run, something went wrong with his bike.
Not missing a beat, he grabbed Todd Lyon‘s bike (his then team-mate) and proceeded to uncork a huge flair/flip twist.
The fact that Lyons’ bike was set up like a stretched out race bike (notice the caged pedals in the pic) vs. Mirra’s freestyle setup just served to up the difficulty factor.
Seeing that moment (at about 0:12) in the video above brought that moment back in vivid clarity.
He would go on to become one of the most dominant athletes in X-Games history but as many of the stories that have been shared show, he still made time for the kids that looked up to him.
As Chris Doyle wrote yesterday in touching Facebook post:
He was larger than life and he still took the time to say a few words to an overwhelmed kid who had nothing to offer. It meant the world to me and I will never forget that day.
As I work through all the emotions of this difficult situation, I’m trying to remember the adage that we don’t honor him in mourning his death but in celebrating his life.
Still it is hard.
We will all miss Dave Mirra.
Rest in Peace Dave.