Meet the Most Extreme Bike Commuter in America

It’s hard not to call Dave Kingsbury, Vice President of New Product Development and Research at New Hope Natural Media and former Senior Strategist with Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, the most extreme commuter cyclist in America, though he would never call himself that.

As a matter of fact, for Dave, there’s nothing “extreme” about his daily commute, which finds him descending almost 3,000 feet from the foothills above Boulder, Colo. to his office downtown via paved roads and various mountain bike trails he’s linked up. For Dave, his commute, which winds through forests and meadows, is a simple matter of sanity.

As a year-round cyclist, Dave has been met with every conceivable riding condition, from rain, snow and strong winds, to still, quiet and clear skies, all of which Dave can find solace in. Dave’s commute, or should we say journey, everyday from home to work and back, can take hours depending on how creative he wants to be. But by taking the long way, he’s getting a perspective that allows him to show up for his day in a positive way that wouldn’t be possible if he drove his car.

Views near Dave's home in Nederland, CO.

For Dave, it’s this time on his bike in between work and home that keeps him sane.

Where are you from originally?

I'm from New York.

Did you bike when you lived there?

No, I didn’t. I started biking in earnest after hitching around by bike through Australia and New Zealand for a year. I thought “you could never do this in America”, so my next logical thought at 20-years-old was to take a map of the United States and put pins in of all the places I wanted to go. Then, with no training or experience, I flew to Portland, Oregon and cycled across America to Boston. It was a very powerful experience. If I've been off a bike since then, it's been 3 days at most.

Dave Outside

Do you bike for ecological reasons, too?

It's not really environmentally driven. For me, it is literally a sanity mechanism. When the trails are open, I have the most ridiculous commute on earth. I can do a 5 hour ride to the office and never see a human. It's 3,200 feet of descending my local mountain every day and it's beautiful.

My commute really sets my perspective on what’s difficult. At work, people get stressed out, and I can think to myself, “I'm not going to get stressed out today. I already froze my butt off for 3 hours.”

"When the trails are open, I have the most ridiculous commute on earth."― Dave Kinsgbury

A view of Dave's commute into Boulder.

Is this shirt you're wearing what you’ve been wearing all day?

No, we have showers and everything I need at work. I have pretty good systems at this point. At my house we have a church pew in our mudroom and the night before I will lay out clothes for 20 degrees on either side of what I think the weather is going to be, then I can just pull from it in the morning and figure out what to wear.

For the winter, you have to worry about your face, hands and toes. That's it. If you can get that taken care of you are fine.

Dave uses salve to prevent his face and hands from getting chapped by intense wind and cold during the winter time.

When you commute from Nederland [a small mountain town nestled in the trees above Boulder, CO] to downtown Boulder, is it mostly on mountain trails?

I have to come down a steep, winding road right now because the trails are too packed with snow in the winter. The technical challenge for me is, no matter how I go, I have to climb 1,000 feet [300m] before I crest. It's all about body temperature regulation because I have to make sure I don’t sweat. If you sweat you'll just freeze to death, which is why I always carry 2-3 pairs of gloves. If it's really cold I will oftentimes switch out a base layer when I crest in Magnolia and then cover up.

"I always carry 2-3 pairs of gloves."― Dave Kingsbury

The thing that scares me is if the temperature is 17°F [-8°C] and I'm going 35 miles per hour, then the wind chill is probably 70°F [21°C] below and I have to wonder, what on my bike is going to freeze and snap off at 35 miles per hour [56km/h]?

Do you use anything interesting or uncommon to stay warm?

Some of my commuter stuff is so killer. Like these shoes. I buy them a size too big and then wear thicker socks with booties over my shoes.

For my hands, I use Bar Mitts and I put a heater pouch in them. I can wear light gloves inside the Bar Mitts on a 5°F [-15°C] day and be totally warm. This morning, I taped heaters to the brake levers.

The Bar Mitts are killer, plus you have good hand mobility.

What did you ride before fat bikes came around?

I used a mountain bike or a cyclo-cross bike and I crashed a lot. In the winter, cyclo-cross bikes are great. The benefit of fatbikes is the low tire pressure and the foot print on ice that makes it more stable. Fat bikes are hilarious. I think they have a top speed of 27 miles per hour [44km/h] and then they just max out. I always forget how loud they are, too; when I hear one coming up on me, it sounds like there’s a truck behind me.

Dave's fat bike
Dave's fat bike is his primary bike for winter commuting.

Do you make repairs yourself on your bike or do you go to someone?

I use two shops. The Tin Shed in Nederland belongs to one of my best friends and they are very involved in the bike community. There’s also Full Cycle in Boulder. There's really good people at both places who help me out.

What's your opinion on bike commuting culture in the U.S.?

The tension between cars and humans on bikes is intense. I can tell you stories for days about interactions I have had with motorists, some really bad ones.

How do you diffuse the tension between drivers and cyclists?

I am on the Board of Directors for Boulder’s B-Cycle bike-sharing program, and one of the things we talk about at B-Cycle is that people driving cars should love B-Cycle riders because it takes that person’s car off the road. Every time you see cyclists you should thank them because they’re not blocking your way in a car.

What do you think about combining biking and technology?

To many people, commuting by bike is clunky, greasy, and dirty. That's why we refer to B-Cycle as a bike you never have to take care of. You don't have to carry it up your stairs or put it on the bus - just show up, use the bike and then return it to a station when you are done.

Using technology to break down some of the barriers for people getting into cycling is an awesome thing!

Go for the ride of your life and check out Dave's personal blog for more inspiration!