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Bike hero

Mike Fleury marks a sad passing.


Halifax lost a local bicycle legend this past week with the passing of Jack Nauss. Nauss died of a heart attack on Friday at the age of 79.

Nauss had owned and managed the Jack Nauss Bicycle Shop Ltd. on Agricola Street since 1969, and was a well known figure on the Halifax bicycle scene. His shop had become an iconic landmark in the north end.

Coast contributor Jane Kansas attended Nauss's funeral, held last Tuesday morning at United Memorial Church on Kaye Street. She describes the service:

It was sunny, yet still cool. A group of firefighters dressed in blues, hands in pockets, stood halfway up the stairs to the big doors. Inside, the crowd was mixed: Customers of Jack Nauss Bicycle Shop and older motorcycle guys sat near friends of the family. The motorcycle guys mostly wore short shiny leather jackets. Three youngsters, two of them employees of Nauss's, wore big camouflage parkas. The firefighters were there to support two of Jack's sons (Paul works for DND, Dave for HRM) and they took up more than three rows of pews on the right. More of them stood solidly at the back, on duty, their radios crackling softly.

The service started off with a big ominous hellfire and damnation piece played by organist Christine Cole, who then moved on to gentle noodling variations of classics including Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. The hymns were "In the Garden" and "How Great Thou Art." Jaime, Dave's daughter and a bicycle mechanic herself, made it through her reading of the family reflection without breaking down, but only just.

At the reception, the Nauss children greeted everyone. Dave, the firefighter, the gruff guy in the back of Jack's shop, gave out great huge bear hugs. Everybody mixed in, looking at old pictures of the handsome Jack, drinking tea served in variously decorated cups and saucers and nibbling on sandwiches made the traditional way: egg, salmon, cream cheese with cherries, in small squares and rectangles, with the crusts cut off.

For other cyclists who still wish to pay their respects, there will be another opportunity to do so this Friday. Beginning at 6pm, a memorial bike ride will be held to honour Nauss, starting from his bike shop on Agricola.

Peter Zimmer is helping to organize the ride. "It's going to be an informal thing, we've just been using emails to spread the word. But everybody is welcome," he says. "I don't know that there's going to be any organized destination. I imagine we'll head into the north end, around the area where Jack lived...this will simply be people who knew and loved Jack going for a ride in his honour."

Zimmer works at the Ecology Action Centre and knew Nauss personally—"He sold me a bike to replace my bike that got stolen in '71. Over the years, I took it to be repaired and upgraded at the shop and, jeez, I still ride the thing."

Zimmer says that while the Friday ride will be casual, there is discussion about honouring Nauss with a formal ride during HRM Bike Week in June.

"I think the bike shop is going to go on, that Dave is going to carry it on, but to me, Jack represented a very vivid part of the city," he says. Appropriately, Zimmer rode his bike to Tuesday's service. "I was going to lock it to a telephone pole, but one of the police officers outside said, "No, no put it up closer to the church, where the family will see it,'" he says. "It was appropriate."

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