The first time I remember really meeting Rick was at a race in North Wales. On the start line it was absolutely pissing it down on the start line and I absolutely didn’t want to be racing in it. Rick made a comment about how this race was going to produce some great material for this blog. That was Rick all over, always looking on the bright side and totally immersed in the racing scene up in the North West. If I was writing about it of course he was going to be reading it. I didn’t know that when I first met him but over the last couple of seasons it’s become clear that it was totally in character. Rick was an ever present at races in the North West, and if he wasn’t racing he’d be holding a flag to stop traffic, or holding a can to toast the lifestyle that he clearly loved.
On Friday night I was reading about his latest exploits in France, which involved riding an obscene distance over high mountains with a rucksack on his back. On Saturday night I was trying to process the fact that we would never ride or race with him again. Sunday morning and I’m trying to summon the motivation to race on a course that has Rick’s tyre tracks all over it.
Pedal dead hard was Rick’s mantra and it’s pretty much the standard answer for everyone on the start line who knew him when asked if they had struggled to turn out today. Not least Rick’s good friend and former teammate, Tom Hanlon, who alongside two of Rick’s current teammates has the honour of leading us out onto the circuit.
I’d normally write about the race here but I’d rather just share some of my memories of Rick. Firstly the guy could ride, really ride. I remember sitting on the hairpin of the Tameside circuit for the opening TT of the Manchester Wheelers 2-day in 2017. I’ve seen plenty of riders try and take that corner at Rick’s speed but I’ve never seen any of them remain on 2-wheels. It was like Rick’s bike was on rails as he totally ripped it, if I’d been competing he’d have taken 3 seconds on me in that corner alone. It’s credit to Rick that a lot of the memories I have of him are already in the pages of this blog, he’d never fail to give me something to write about in a race report. Like the time after Stage 2 of a double header of North Wales races, a brutal day in the crosswinds of Anglesey, when most of us were trying to find the strength just to drive home, Rick popped the boot of his car, revealing a big stash of cans, and started banging out the tunes. People normally tailgate before an NFL game, but for Rick after an amateur bike race was just as good an excuse. In a sport sometimes lacking in characters for all the talk of watts and power, Rick stood out as someone that put having a good time well above improving his FTP, and someone who knew you’d be better off if you did the same. Again it’s credit to Rick that despite being the only rider that I know who’d finish a race and start his recovery process with a Lambert & Butler, he’d still regularly kick all our asses.
For all his love of a good time he was a 1st cat rider and was in the field for both the Time Trial and the Road Race at this year’s British Championships. Probably the only rider in the fields who spent the week camping out, barbecuing and just enjoying where life had taken him.
For all his skills Rick seemed to forever be suffering with a slow puncture so my tribute to him at this weekend’s race was to have my own midway through the race and have to get a lift back to HQ after a long walk with no shoes on. This is where I can’t quite compete with Rick. Adam Baines (Team Chronomaster) reminded me before the race that the last time he’d seen Rick racing on this circuit the dreaded slow puncture had struck him again, but it was slow enough that not only was he able to ride back to start-finish line, he was able to ride an extra few miles to the shop and back to grab some cans.
RIP Richard James Taylor
“Pedal dead hard.”