Always stay for the extra laugh

Remembering Richard Moore, a titan of cycling journalism and a friend to many.

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Rue de Chevalier, two blocks off the Place de la Concorde, four hours after the bike race and many hours before sleep. We found the only restaurant that would still feed us and I sat down across from a titan of our profession, a friend, a voice that has become a soundtrack to summer and cycling. I did not know this would be the last meal, the last glass of wine, that we would share. We stayed late, echoing into a quiet Parisian street through Sunday and into Monday. I’m so glad we did. 

I feel ill-prepared to write about a man who touched so many. I almost didn’t, aware that so many knew him better than I. Aware that his family is out there, reeling, that Lionel and Daniel and François and Orla are too. But this is how I process things. We were road friends, Richard and I. Show up at a bike race, get dinner, get a drink. Catch up at the start and the finish. We rarely missed an opportunity to do so. I feel his loss more deeply than the tangential nature of our relationship would suggest, and that is precisely why I need to talk about him.

We sat at the top of Val Thorens, week two and a half of the 2019 Tour de France, tired. Green grass, long and full of flowers, overlooking the finish line gantry and a swell of Colombian fans waiting to confirm Egan Bernal as Tour de France champion. Moody high altitude weather, one minute scorching the next frigid. A valley away that weather had set off a landslide, cutting the stage short. Alaphilippe dropped. The man calling Colombian radio nearly in tears. We stood up from the grass and joined the jostling scrum of reporters as the helicopters approached, Richard’s audio recorder pushed in next to mine.

He turned to me. “Remember this, Caley!” he yelled. We both grinned.

Professional cycling is full of these human orbits that pass exceptionally close to each other a couple times per year. They make for intense relationships, built on an understanding that you pick up where you left off, that the last conversation from the last meal flows seamlessly into the first meal at the next race, even months later. That orbit is broken now, and the last meal will not have a next. That is what I feel most today, I think.

Four years ago, in Ghent. A few nights after Flanders, waiting for Roubaix. We met at Charlatan, Andrew Hood and Richard and Tom Cary and a few others. Hoody and I rented town bikes, and as the bar filled it was time to move. Richard hopped on the rear rack of my rickety rental – designed for school books and not 90 kilos of Scot – and we pedalled into the night, across cobblestones, bouncing off the agonized rear tire as Richard played cowboy and whipped his horse (that’d be me) into higher speeds. He always seemed to find it hilarious that Americans exist. He threatened to come over and drive Route 66. We found ourselves in some half basement with an Omer each and a debate over the legacy of Wiggins, which I lost.

I am having trouble imagining a bike race without Richard. 

Many of you probably feel the same. The beauty of the medium that defined Richard’s life for the last decade is that all who listened can claim a real and powerful bond with the host of the world’s most popular bike racing podcast. Every fan who popped in an earbud and clicked play on the Cycling Podcast had a relationship with Richard. He knew that. It sometimes overwhelmed him. You supported him, his family, a growing business. And for that he loved you all as much as you loved him.

Always stay for the extra beer, Richard said. Always stay for the extra laughs. Always make the extra call and ask the extra question, always wait another minute in the press corral. Always take a minute to sit at the top of a mountain and appreciate where you are, who you’re with, the absurdity of this life. Take joy in it all. These paths we’re on do not continue indefinitely, though we thought they would. May they cross as often as possible. 

Rest in peace, Richard Moore. We will miss you.