Following the tragic news that broke last Saturday of World Cup Mechanic Dave Garland passing away from a suspected heart attack
while out on the trails, we reached out to some of Dave's closest friends to share their memories and experiences with him.
THE LEGENDARY DAVE GARLAND
Father, Husband, Brother, World Cup Mechanic, 4X and BMX Racer, Raver and Friend.
Written by Si Paton
You know when you're walking down the street and notice instinctively from one mile away that the kid riding towards you has their forks on backwards? Well, that is how I would explain Dave Garland, except we are talking fine, fine detail here. Ride past him in the pits and he'd be like, "you need another spacer to raise your bars", "you need a 50lbs lighter spring on that shock", "can I pop a few more psi in your front tyre?" The knowledge and wisdom that man possessed and was willing to share could have filled Wikipedia.
That said, he didn't just offer advice, he would bring out that spacer and a set of allen keys and offer to fit it for you, free of charge, explaining exactly what he was doing and the benefits to you. He wanted to help. In fact, I would go so far as to say Dave was the first person to bring World Cup professional bike set up to the everyday racer, the weekend warrior. What Dave did was the real deal, all-round bike package, full bike service, prep and spec for racing. He could take your bike and with several fine adjustments knock a minimum of one second off each minute of racing was his promise and he delivered it. That is three seconds off a three-minute track, the difference between the podium and being outside the top ten for many.
Maybe an unknown fact to many was that Dave was also an accomplished bike rider and racer, starting off in his hometown of Bristol riding with his twin brother Dan in the early 80s. This picture here is from the opening day of St. George's Skate Park in Bristol where he was featured in the local newspaper. Just look at that, 40 years ago, no helmet, no pads, concrete, tee-shirt, jeans and sending it!
Now fast forward to 2007 and Dave had spent the dark and deep winter, squirreled away with Martin Ogden unbeknown to us, training for the 4x and BMX season ahead. Back to back sprint starts in the local car parks each night meant that when we lined up against him on the start line for the 1st NPS 4X round at the 'Indoor Dream' in Sheffield, that was the last time we saw him! Dave cleaned up that year in both 4X and BMX.
The biggest highlight came at the British National BMX Championships. Lining up in the cruiser finals against riders with an average of 30 years dedicated BMX race experience, Dave was surely up against it. The gate dropped and bang, he was out in front and led start to finish. His win certainly caused an upset, stealing the Gold from right under the old guard of BMX. The controversy arose from the fact that Dave was on a mountain bike, changing gears down the start straight! Even Dale Holmes (2x BMX World Champion) had to step in to calm things down, saying surely he would have been faster if he was on a BMX!
I just wanted to say thanks for the friendship, support, memories and for those valuable seconds off each race run. Save gate eight on the start gate up there for me mate!
|This is incredibly difficult for me to write and, at first, I was not going to contribute as I wanted this article to be for the mountain bike world, but then a voice reminded me I am part of that world too. So, as Dave would say, I am turning on “FedEx Mirk” and getting on with it.|
Dave believed in me and trusted me with his company SA Springs when I moved to the UK in 2016. He gave me the confidence to develop Super Alloy Racing and make it my own. When I was in Canada, I knew very little about mountain bike suspension. I was the Senior Manager of FedEx Ground in Edmonton, Alberta. I rode bikes, I loved bikes, I even owned seven mountain bikes when we met. Dave was horrified. N+1 was lost on him - why would you want to own so many bikes when you could have one completely dialled bike that fit you like a glove?
Our love story is one of fairytales. After meeting online and Skyping for a month, he invited me to meet him at Sea Otter in Monterey. I bought a plane ticket, lied to my boss about being invited to race (sorry Jack), and took a chance. I got off the plane and that was it. Neither of us ever looked back.
Dave allowed me to see the bigger picture in all facets of life. I am so blessed that I had someone like him in my life. He was a gift in every sense of the word. Every day was a new adventure with Dave. He had the uncanny ability to make light of even the darkest day. He was my sunshine, my rock and my superhero. Every cliched thing you hear people say, that was Dave but in real technicolour life.
You only have one chance at life. I still am in disbelief of what came down our road. We had “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost read at our wedding in 2016. It speaks volumes to our relationship and how the choices we made turned into a life better than either of us had ever dared to dream of. I promise to not let his legacy down. I am heartbroken but I will be okay. Dave wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.—Mirka Garland, Dave's wife
|Dave has been a massive part of my life since I was 11 years old. He started helping me back when he ran the Stendec team in 2003 by supporting me with Romic shocks, soon after that I joined the team with backing from Giant bikes. |
I remember going to his house all those years ago, he had this full factory looking Giant VT waiting for me as I arrived. I did some stoppies and wheelies around the yard, I remember it all like it was yesterday. It was from that day on he began to help develop me as a rider.
Fast forward to 2012 and working together at the Giant Factory Off Road Team, it was here where Dave played the one of the most crucial parts of my journey to the top of World Cup racing. His experience helped me out greatly and we had so many laughs along the way, a day wouldn’t go by where we wouldn’t be play fighting and messing about! When I left Giant at the end of 2014, unfortunately, this meant leaving Dave, yet thankfully, a few years later we managed to get together again at Madison Saracen in 2018, it was like we’d never been apart!
One thing I will always remember Dave for was his work ethic, but also he knew when to have a laugh. No job was too small for Dave he was a pure grafter and I will always be thankful for his backing and dedication to me as a person, my career, as well as his impact on the cycling industry as a whole. You will be missed mate! RIDE IN PEACE!—Danny Hart
|I first met Dave early on in my DH MTB days around 1997 and got to know Dave for his bike mechanic wizardry and his great sense of humour and funny (to me) West Country accent.|
Dave was always someone who had so much enthusiasm about racing, riding and wanting to help you ride better and faster. He was so positive about your abilities, even if you didn’t believe in them yourself. He would always have time to fix and prepare my bike (and anyone's) totally free of charge (so rare in this industry) any time of day and genuinely was the most generous and helpful person I know.
I became good friends with Dave and ended up working for him in the off-season of 2001 / 2002 in Chester, England where he started his suspension company Stendec. I really enjoyed it, taking customer calls, details, payments and boxing up forks and shocks once Dave had finished work on them. Dave used to let me have Fridays off to train and ride. I was travelling 4 days a week over an hour each way, which was expensive and a lot of travelling and Dave had just moved into a small house in Chester city centre, so I decided to move in with him and rent a room to help share the costs.
This was one of the best winters I can remember, we had a lot of fun and laughs at work, going out in Chester on a Friday night getting drunk and eating Dave's cheese on toast and riding at the weekends. Of course, my bike was always dialled to perfection from Dave also, and we lived and talked about bikes and racing 24/7.
In 2002, it was the first time the WC was held in Fort William and Dave worked on mine, Chris Kovarik and Vanessa Quinn's bikes (all free of charge) came up to the top with us for qualifying and finals. Of course, that was Chris' iconic WC win of over 14 seconds, Vanessa got 2nd and I got a career-best 10th place, my result was totally down to Dave believing in me and telling me I could do it. He just made to want to do well as he put so much work and effort in.
I stayed friends with Dave over the years and we rode a lot together at BMX and pump tracks, dirt jumps and MTBing as Dave loved to ride all that and had a super fast BMX gate start. He was a great rider and his enthusiasm is just so infectious. Dave even came with me to Canada in 2006 when I raced the Masters DH World Championships, he got my bike sorted and paid for himself to get there and never charged me a penny, I didn’t really have any back then! I didn’t do too well in the race, think I came 6th and remember feeling like I had let Dave down.
In 2007, I started discussions with Chain Reaction Cycles about starting a Downhill race team with them and, of course, Dave was the person I went to first to ask if would he be the head mechanic. Dave agreed and I honestly would not have been able to put the team together without him. We had a great team of four riders and on our first World Cup outing in 2008 at Maribor we did amazing! Julien Camellini came 2nd, Chris Kovarik 7th, Matt Simmonds 23rd and Ruaridh Cunningham 33rd, if I remember correctly. My friend Mark Cordall came and worked for us and he learned a lot from Dave.
Dave didn’t only work on the bikes, he did everything to help me run the team - picking the van we needed, the awning, absolutely everything we worked together on. When we did National DH races and I raced, he insisted on getting my bike to the same standard as the team riders' bikes and coming up to the top of the hill with me. At the time I thought it was over the top for my level, but Dave just had that unrelenting passion to want to help you do the best you could and you felt you had to try that bit harder for him.
We had so many funny laughs on the team with Dave, we laughed, argued, shouted at each other, took the piss out of one another and Dave put up with me and my stubborn ways. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to work alongside, he truly was a great friend, and work colleague. The best! At the time I never appreciated him as much as I should have.
These past few years, Dave and I didn’t spend as much time together as he was working with other great athletes like Danny Hart, who he always loved helping and many other top riders. I now realise I missed him, we were only chatting on the phone a week ago to organize going testing with Elliott Heap and he seemed just as eager and excited as when we first started the CRC team all those years ago. I was really pleased we were going to be working together again and spending some time together. I miss Dave's enthusiasm and commitment.
Reading people's nice messages about Dave, it's not just me he helped out and made a huge difference to peoples lives in bike riding and racing, he just really wanted to help. When I heard the news on Saturday from Dave's wife Mirka, I was deeply shocked and confused, I couldn’t believe it. Since Saturday, it's all I can think about, its really hit me hard. I guess I never told Dave how much of an impact he made on my life, how much I loved having him as a friend and I wish I could spend more time with him and just go for a ride. I'm gonna miss you my friend.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Dave's wife, family, daughter Niva and all his close friends. He made a huge impact on the sport of mountain bike racing and don’t think he will ever be replaced. You were one of a kind Dave. Rest in Peace mate.
|I first met Dave as the mechanic at CRC when I was privateering my way through some World Cups Great friends Matti Lehikoinen, Chris Kovarik and Claire Buchar were on that team so I spent a lot of time with them all. He'd finish wrenching on their bikes then always sneak me in to make sure I could ride and race well. Without him, I wonder if I would even have made it through some weekends. But it wasn't just me, he did this for anyone and everyone he could. I'm sure more than I know will pipe up and say 'yep, me too'.|
I laugh when I think about Dave because he really got our (Claire and I) weird, quirky sense of humour. Dave got it. He'd jump right in and be a part of stories. He loved Schinken, the trivet chicken that traveled the WC's, and was just as upset as us when he was stolen (and THAT is a whole other story but if you know, you know!)
But overall Dave cared. He really cared. I mean, he even cared about a trivet in the shape of a chicken! And this last year it has been more apparent than ever as he and Mirka stepped up, from across the world, and supported me through some really tough times.
I will forever be thankful for Dave, as many of us will. I look forward to laughing together again, and until then, rest easy my friend.—Katrina Strand
|I started working with Dave back in the Giant days when I was still racing downhill. It goes without saying what an amazing mechanic he was, but as a person, he was a lot more. I’ve never met anyone with the enthusiasm of Dave when it came to racing the bicycles, his passion for the sport was unrivalled. But as a character, he’ll leave an even bigger hole in the pits. |
Apart from his knowledge, it was good to work with Dave cause he was so f*ckin' funny. I mean the banter was always sharp, harsh, and relentless, in a good way of course. All delivered in that unmissable West Country accent.
A few years after I’d quit professional racing I got the opportunity to race again in a tongue in cheek ‘comeback’ show for RedBull. It was an amazing weekend at Antur Stiniog. Dave was back on the spanners bollocking me every step of the way and loading me up with more info than I could ever understand. I watched it the other day when I heard he was gone, nothing has made me laugh and cry that hard at the same time, love ya Dave, you’ll be missed my friend.—Rob Warner
Dave appears at 1:00, 1:49 & 4:24
|Dave - somehow he managed to balance being one of the most skilled and knowledgeable mechanics, with being open, friendly, and always willing to give advice to the younger mechanics. Although you knew his understanding was far more advanced than your own, he never let you feel that way. |
His unquenchable thirst for racing meant you were as likely to see him helping out a random privateer as you were to see him wrenching on a bike with the number 1 plate, and this eventually led him to develop Stendec Data systems, in his never-ending effort to make riders faster, and help other mechanics continue to learn.
Thank you Dave Garland, it will be some time before we even realise what we have lost.—Nigel Reeve, Canyon Factory Racing mechanic
|My Dad was truly one of a kind. He was a caring and loving soul, witty at the best of times, which I know everyone loved about him. He always pushed me to my full potential from a young age and I will forever be grateful, I definitely wouldn’t be the girl I am today without him. A part of my heart and soul that can never be filled has gone with him. I'm so proud and happy he made such an impact on many people's lives so I will always try my best to make him proud with everything I do. I know a day won’t go by without him crossing my mind. I will always love him and I will miss him greatly.—Niva Garland, Dave's daughter|
|I only spent the 2018 season with Dave, however in only a year, he became a character I’ll never forget. Looking back now, I only have good memories of Dave, many I’ll never forget and some have me bursting at the sides with laughter when I’m reminded about them. That is the best way to remember him, an all-around great guy with a serious passion for helping riders achieve their best. A very influential figure for many young riders as they started their career’s in the UK. Always happy to provide advice, guidance and share his knowledge where possible. Not many have single handed-ly done so much for our sport in Britain. For that we are grateful. Cheers, Dave!—Matt Walker|
|Dave was a great guy, we had the best laughs with Nigel Page on the CRC Intense team. More times than not we were in tears of laughter! I think he was also ahead of the time as a mechanic, one of the things he'd do for me is to loosen my spokes from the factory so the wheel would flex a little more to gain more traction in the corners. A damn legend we will miss!—Chris Kovarik|
|I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years working, travelling and witnessing the antics with Dave on the CRC Intense team. He was a true legend, both as a WC mechanic and as a human being. He helped so many riders over the years, from the biggest names in the sport to struggling privateers alike and he contributed so much knowledge and progression to the sport. He had a pure passion for racing, mountain biking has lost a really important guy.|
We've also lost a great character. I feel so lucky to be able to have so many memories of Dave that make me smile at the very least. Most of them make me burst out laughing! I'm glad to have known you Dave and thank you for your hard work, patience, support, success, laughs and adventures around the world.—Claire Buchar
And be excellent to each other.
RIP Dave. I never met you but you were the first person who custom tuned a shock for me and you were super helpful and patient on the phone. Always stuck with me that.
Simply, on bikes, we have more in common than not.
There were MANY more days like that one, and i and a good few of my mates got to know the brothers fairly well. It wasn't hard to gravitate and admire Him and Dan being a little bit older and in the know, about pulling off a trick, a new place to ride, or slightly iffy part deal, in fact i think i bought my first pair of skyway tuffs off him, if i remember rightly.
As kids do, we all moved on and did that unfortunate thing of growing up, and i lost touch with Dave, but If there's a good memory i have of my youth on a BMX,(and thankfully that was most of the time) he's probably in it.
It's no exaggeration to say Dave was one of a very few, responsible in a rather large part, for my lifelong love of all things bike. His love of them was plain to see, and was seriously infectious. Clearly that stuck with him all his amazing life, and it's heartening to see i was just one of what must be thousands, he imparted that infection on too.
That's QUITE a legacy, and i doubt you'll find many on earth that get to leave one quite like it. You can count yourself rather blessed if you had spent any amount of time with Dave.
For those that will miss him most, Niva and Mirka, all his other family, and his closest friends, you have my deepest condolences for your loss.
After that Dave fixed my bikes , I have worked on his house & he came & rode some of my local trails,
Just wanted to say that He was always happy to help you in way he could...!
His work ethic was ridiculous, I remember being a few races into the season and thinking that the workload was just too much, race weekends were often 6AM to 11PM days, it was only when i stopped to think about it that i realised we had finished on the team bikes hours earlier, Dave just had an endless stream of other riders who’s bikes he worked on too, I just mucked in and helped out where I could. He wouldn’t say no to anyone, no matter what they needed, or when they needed it. I had some of the best times travelling the world with Dave and the whole CRC team, and i wouldn’t have met half the people i did, if it was’t for the fact Dave had such a huge heart and everyone in the pits always called in to chat to him. He really was a one of a kind, and will be sadly missed. My thoughts go to Niva and Mirka.
Dave was awesome. He set my SX Trail up for a trip to Whistler back in 07, I’m I'm sure if he hadn’t sprinkled has magic over my bike, the trip wouldn’t have been has good, and he’d serviced numerous sets of forks for me over the years.
He’ll be sadly missed !!
Till the next time pal ????????
I had some great times with Dave, the Vigo WC was one of many bonkers trips.
RIP , the world really is a C##T right now.
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