Steve Vihel

There are some people in this world that you can’t help but be drawn to. People you can’t help but respect, admire and love.

Steve Vihel was one of those people.

There was evidence of that last night in the stories his friends told about him at a celebration held in his honor

Steve died Thursday after a lengthy medical battle stemming from heart failure.

In his 31 years he made an impact on many peoples’ lives.

“He wouldn’t want you to be sad,” one of his friends said to me Thursday evening. He is right, Steve wouldn’t want his friends to hurt, he wouldn’t want them to be sad.

Even in the hospital — battling his own medical issues — Steve was concerned for his There and Back Bicycles customers who had become friends. Did that frame come in? Did that repair work? Did your daughter get over her cold?

It’s hard not to be sad when you lose someone like him.

There will be details about memorials, about the future of the shop and how to help his family, but now is the time to remember Steve and celebrate who he was and the impact he made on so many individual people and on the community.

I’ll remember the good times I had with him. I’ll remember the new trails we explored together. I’ll remember poring over the bike-gear books to make sure we selected the exact right part for the bike we were building.

I’ll remember the exploding fist bumps and jokes he cracked in his hospital room on my weekly Thursday visits.

I went for my weekly visit yesterday. He was with his girlfriend and his family. Their body language was enough for me to know I shouldn’t disturb them, but I left a note for Steve.

I told him I was honored to call him my friend. I know I’m not alone.

Please share your memories of Steve in the comment section. 


37 thoughts on “We’ll miss you Steve”
  1. My commuter bike features a bell purchased from Steve (on handlebars that he installed), plus a light that I bought the first time I stopped in There and Back (which I did after seeing the announcement of a new shop near campus on this here blog).

    I feel blessed to have been one of Steve’s “friendstomers.”  I think the best tribute I can offer is to ride that bike ’til it falls apart–then fix it, and ride it some more.

  2. It is hard to find the words, but yours are spot on.  When I heard the news yesterday I thought about how rare it is to find someone with such a kind and open spirit that you adore them almost immediately.  I knew him a little less than a year, and not nearly well enough, but to me he felt like a great friend and a community treasure. I’ll always remember the day I met him in his green suit at the bike swap, the goofy jokes he cracked every time we talked in the shop, the hours he spent at cyclovia pumping up tires and helping people fix their bikes, and the sheer joy for all things bike — and life — that he so openly and generously shared.   I’ll be making sure I’m a registered organ donor, and I’ll be ringing my bike bell for you, Steve.  Love to you, your family, your friends and everyone in the community whose lives you touched.  And may your vision live on.

  3. I didn’t know Steve other than reading about his plight on this site. It sounds like Tucson has lost a bright and shining star. My sincere condolences to you, his girlfriend, family and other friends.

  4. I only met Steve once when I went int his store to ask about a class he was teaching.  How to True Wheels.  He was extremely friendly and helpful, unfortunately my life got in the way and I was never able to take the class.  He and his family will be in my prayers.

  5. MIke, You were spot on when you said Steve would not want us to be sad.    I look forward to a celebration of his life, hopefully on bikes, in the near future.  He did prove one thing, he was a “good one”.  As Billy Joel sang, only the good die young.  

  6. I didn’t know Steve well, but he made some killer pancakes for Bike-2-Work week! What a great example of a life lived as a blessing to others. Our prayers are with his family.

  7. When I was organizing Biketoberfest, I talked Steve’s ear off about this, that, and the other thing. Truth be told, I’d never organized a community cycling event before, so I was lost in the weeds.

    Well, wouldn’t you know it, Steve offered to be my printing sponsor without my even asking him. If you’ve ever been involved with putting anything together, you know that voluntary sponsors don’t come your way very often. Usually, you have to beg and plead for sponsors.

    Alas, as I was finalizing the design for the Biketoberfest flyer, Steve was hospitalized. So, no printing happened.

    In short, I’m very grateful for Steve’s friendly and enthusiastic support. I’ll miss him.

    RIP, Steve!

  8. Seven Years ago, we met Steve, for seven years we have been fortunate enough to call him a friend, for  the rest of this lifetime we will always remember him as a great friend. Ignacio and Daniela

  9. Thanks Mike for your heartfelt article. I never met Steve yet think about the bike you and Henry helped me buy. Steve’s love for the cycling community filled his shop. His passion, dreams and goals are alive today, may they live on. I have two bells and will ring both of them in honor of Steve.
    I send my thoughts and prayers to all of you who were blessed to have Steve in your lives .

  10. Thank you so much for your words Mike.  I wanted to comment that like the cycling community, Steve was also an integral part of the Tucson Ultimate community for many many years.  He embodied the “spirit of the game” with his love of ultimate and his respect for every player on the field.  You were guaranteed a good time if you were on Steve’s team (and a good costume/uniform).  I hope we can somehow combine a cycling and ultimate event in the near future to bring two of Steve’s passions together in celebration of his life.

  11. Steve was a pretty remarkable person.  Very community oriented and he will definitely be missed.

  12. I bought my latest bike from Steve, almost 2 years ago. I would have bought anything from him. I always felt welcome in his presence and treated with such kindness. I love his sense of humor and his wit. He was of the variety of goofy I love and respect. I know this article said he would not have wanted us sad but I am. I feel his death is a real loss to this community, he has given a great deal to so many.

  13. Steve worked on our bikes…..he is remembered for his business honesty and proffessionalism but more so for his endearing & engaging personality.

  14. I was just a customer, but Steve always made me feel like I was his most important customer.  Bike in Peace.

  15. I knew Steve from Ordinary too. I enjoyed his easy manner, gentle nature, keen sense of humor and great conversation skills. I recall that he also had some good ideas for some challenging issues I was having with one of my bikes.

    Tucson has lost a good friend and cyclist.

  16. I struggle so much accepting that someone like Steve; healthy, active, young, compassionate, talented, and kind, could be taken away so early. Yet like so many others who have expressed the same sentiment, Steve wouldn’t have wanted us to think that way. Still, it’s so hard. I support all of you who are working to keep Steve’s mission alive through his store and  hope that all of us will find comfort in remembering and honoring his spirit in all we do.

  17. Well said Mike.  Steve was also a great friend who I met through ultimate years ago.  He was an amazingly sincere friend with a slice of humor mixed in at the perfect opportunities. 

    One of my recent favorite stories – I was chatting with Steve about my new bike seat that my husband installed and it just wasn’t right.  No matter how we adjusted it, the seat was angled down so I would slide forward the entire ride.  Steve instantly diagnosed it as the bar was probably installed backwards.  He told me to bring the bike by the shop, he’d fix it and “we’ll keep it a secret as to not offend my manly man of a husband.”  Well said Steve 🙂

    I’ve also gotten to know Lila and Steve’s family just a little bit over the last 2 months and I see the strengths that Steve drew upon in becoming the person he was.  You all are amazing and my thoughts go out to you.


  18. I will never forget my first frisbee game eight years ago because Steve immediately came up to me to chat, sporting the shortest skirt I have ever seen, on a guy or girl. His friendly, upbeat, caring personality was always something to look forward to.  We are all blessed to have shared part of our lives with Steve.  He is missed here in Colorado as well as Tucson!

  19. I’ve never met Steve or visited his store, but have been touched by tales of his kindness,  generosity and gentle spirit.  I remember that he put on a weekend bike tour to the Sonoita area, and at the time I thought that was a great idea, although I couldn’t be part of it.  Yesterday I couldn’t stop thinking about his passing.  Prayers and blessings for his family and friends.

  20. I knew Steve from early life, through church and school.  He was always a riot to be around, extremely fun-loving.   I remember the shock of finding out about his heart condition in junior high… It pains me that I’ll never get to talk to him again.

  21. Steve was (is) the nicest guy, very community minded and great to visit with from his Ordinary days through There and Back. We’d planned to put on bike safety classes though his shop but things got delayed with his sickness. A very sad tragedy for someone so young and nice, and we’ll all really miss him. I’m glad his suffering is over but sure wish he had made it through. Hopefully he’s on a nice long bike ride somewhere right now and is really enjoying himself.

  22. When you were on my Frisbee team I always had the best time, You made me laugh and taught me skills when I was just a teenager, you didn’t just look past me like I was a dumb kid, I would never still be playing Ultimate Frisbee if it wasn’t for you. We will all miss you. 

  23. I knew Steve through my children, Florencia and Federico and other friers who played ultimate. He is the kindest soul and a huge loss for the Tucson cycling and ultimate community. My commuter bike got stolen when he first got sick a few months ago and I had not replaced it waiting for him to get better so he could help me find the right one. His life is a testament of what is really important, kindness, humor, friendships, our environment and live fully in the present. Thank you Mike for your words and the opportunity to honor Steve and keep his spirit alive.

  24. I played ultimate with Steve here, in Boulder.  He was a generous, fun and delightful young man.  He understood the idea of “spirit of the game”  My daughter and I always looked forward to tournaments, league, practice for Steve’s smile was infectious and he always took time to speak with my then, 8 yr old daughter.  We miss you!  Eli and Brigit

  25.    I am grateful and honored to have known
    Steve. We built bikes together and rode them together. He patiently,
    humorously guided me in the right direction and helped encourage my
    creations, encouraged my dreaming. He took the time to connect with
    people, honestly and in good fun. He was smart and clever, witty and
    silly. I sought solace in his shop and on our rides from my daily
    life of what ultimately became his demise. I just don’t understand
    how a guy with such a good heart could have it fail.

  26. I miss you Steve. Though it’s been a while I remember loving you for your humor, spontaneity, and goofiness on the frisbee field. I’m so happy I got to be your friend and know you through the frisbee community. Your spirit lives on through all the smiles, laughter, and devotion to life that you gave to people around you.

  27. I met Steve about 8 years ago, through my now-husband.  Something about him made you trust him right away.  He was so kind and funny and easy going.  He made you want to be a better person.  He will be missed dearly.  It’s an awful irony that a person with such a good heart could be born with such a bad one…

  28. I love that when I entered There and Back Bikes, completely ignorant of anything bike related, Steve never judged, laughing me through my embarrassment. Steve had a gift for connecting with people that had to do with his authenticity, the sincere curiosity and caring in his eyes.  I would go in for a bike repair and leave wondering how I had spilled so much about my life.  Maybe I should have paid extra for psychotherapy. Cycletherapy? I love that when my helmet came in, he left a post it note on my door instead of calling since I lived so close. That’s customer service.   I’ll never forget how he laughed with his whole body, no reservation, and made me feel way funnier than I had any right to.  Thank you for caring and listening, Steve.  Thank you for helping me feel more connected to the community through There and Back Bikes. Thank you for going out of the way to make sure I had the bike that I coveted, and making it feel completely reasonable that I should want a helmet to match my seat. Thank you for inspiring me to live a caring, full life.  You are a treasure, and will always be remembered. 

  29. Steve was certainly the sweetest shop owner in Tucson.  Just a great great guy.  And he taught me how to fix my own tire which I never thought I could do. Now I will always associate him with that.  But it how good to be associated with helping people and caring.  He will be truly missed.

  30. we meet steve at his shop, bought our son a bike at his store. very nice guy. sad to hear the news of his passing.

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