Several years ago, Mike Minnick found himself living in an abandoned school bus in the small town of Terlingua, Texas. While driving to a music festival with his rescue dog Bixby, Minnick’s truck broke down in this ghost town occupied by a mere 300 people. With no mode of transportation and nowhere else to go, Minnick and Bixby remained in Terlingua for 18 months. The former bartender and chain smoker led a life of complacency: “I wanted to break out of that,” Minnick says, and he did so in the most unconventional way.
In May 2013, Minnick bought a cargo bike, attached Bixby’s plastic bed to the rear, and set out on what he calls their “world-record-breaking adventure.” Known as Where’s Bixby, Minnick’s cycling campaign casts a spotlight on the importance of adoption and supporting animal shelters. Since its start, Minnick has set a new world record for miles biked across the country by a single person. “We’ve tripled the current world record as of now,” he says.
Mike Minnick and Bixby
Mike Minnick and Bixby passing through Santa Barbara on a electric assist Yuba cargo bike
But his campaign raises more than just the mileage on his bike. Where’s Bixby fundraises for animal shelters similar to the one where he adopted Bixby back in Austin, Texas. While passing through Santa Barbara, Minnick stopped at DAWG (Dog Adoption & Welfare Group), a no-kill welfare group for dogs. To remedy high rates of animal euthanasia, DAWG provides a safe and loving environment for dogs awaiting adoption. With four-legged friends ranging in breed, size, and color, Minnick’s journey casts the spotlight on animal shelters in the cities he bikes through to show “you can’t breed a dog as cool as Bixby,” which is the primary message of the cycling campaign, Minnick says.
In addition to raising money for shelters, Minnick stops at elementary schools in the area to teach kids about biking safety. This is part of the narrative he created for the pair — or trio, rather. In place of a caution flag is Bixby’s rubber toy chicken named Charlie. “I want us to look like a real-time rolling cartoon,” says Minnick. On the campaign’s blog, he refers to himself only as Bixby’s human and admits that “half the time people don’t even know my name, only Bixby’s, and I think that’s hilarious.”
With all of the success Minnick found with Where’s Bixby, it’s safe to say his life is no longer one of complacency but of purpose. “Dreams are like sticks, you just have to chase them,” Minnick says — he and Bixby are doing exactly that.