How I Roll… Rich Dillen, as quoted in Mountain Bike Mag!
I would like to apologize in advance for stooping to this level. No, you probably don’t recognize this week’s interview subject (and if you do, I’m sorry). No, you won’t learn much about the industry’s inner workings or any new tech that’s in the pipeline.
You will, however, gain an appreciation (or lack of) for a humble bike messenger that carries packages around by day and races on a rigid single speed mountain bike on some of the world’s toughest endurance events by weekend. And you’ll probably laugh a little. Maybe you’ll cry. Eitherway, you’ll be (mildly) entertained.
Sponsored by Moots, Swiftwick, Bolt Brothers Cycles, Industry Nine, Cane Creek, Raxter Racks and Twin Six, ladies and germs, the man who puts the “fun” into “funky chamois”, here’s how Dicky rolls…
BIKERUMOR: Rich, everytime I see you at a race, you say it’s your last race…swear up and down you’re never doing it again… yet season after season I see you at the same races, complaining and downplaying your chances. What motivates you to keep showing up?
RICH: I don’t have a clue.
While I’m racing I’m usually thinking about how I can quit gracefully, how many races I’ve already paid for in advance that might give me a refund, and/or how much I suck in general. Once the race is over I go home more often than not feeling like pack fodder, but occasionally I’m a “winner’. When I miss out on a podium I beat myself up for weeks on end dwelling on everything I did wrong, and what I would do “the next time around”. When I win it usually takes me a few days before I totally discount the effort and chalk it up to good luck, happenstance, and pulling it outta my ass.
So what motivates me to keep showing up?
Short term memory, I guess. What was the question again?
BIKERUMOR: I’m sure “Free Beer” ranks up there with one reason to show up at some events, like the Fools Gold, the night before which I remember laying in my tent in the expo area listening to you whoop ‘n’ holler with the vendors as you guys finished the keg…and you still beat me the next day. For us aspiring endurance racers, how do you manage to drink all night and still race 100 miles?
RICH: I would say the five years I spent in pursuit of my four year degree at Youngstown State University really prepared me to do just about anything with a sizable hangover. After each and every race which I manage to finish in such a sad state I always tell myself to never do that again, but for some odd reason I am still affected by the “peers and beers phenomenon”.
BIKERUMOR: For as long as I’ve known you, which is something like eight years now, you’ve been a messenger in Charlotte, NC. How’s that going? Is that the bulk of your training or do you actually have a training program?
RICH: I’ve been a messenger in Charlotte since 1996. It seems like the longer I’ve been doing my job the fewer miles I put on in an average day. I’m not gonna lie and say that I don’t think being on a bike six to seven days a week for twelve years straight has benefited me in some way, but I’m pretty sure a serious racer would categorize most of my riding as “junk miles”. The last time I did anything close to structured training was back in the mid 90’s when I was struggling to finish in the top five in the sport class of the local races back in Ohio and Pennsylvania. To put it bluntly, training sucks and should be avoided at all costs.
BIKERUMOR: How many bikes do you have and describe your favorite bike?
RICH: I’ve got a clapped out eight speed DeBernardi road bike, a semi-repaired ti frame built into a mountain fixed gear, my reliable back up Zion 29’er, and my beat up Cannondale track bike (The Fastest Bike in the World) that I use at work. This year I’ll be racing on a MOOTS Mooto X that as of right now is just a drawing on a piece of paper and some cut titanium tubes. I’m gonna guess that it will be my favorite bike once it’s done as most of it was designed with my direct input. I’ve been carrying around the cartoon drawing of it for a month now, and when I close my eyes and imagine myself riding it I’m having a good time.
BIKERUMOR: Who’s your greatest competitor? In other words, what one person do you like to see on the starting line that makes you think “OK, this is going to be a good race”?
RICH: I’m pretty much intimidated by any single speeder with cool tattoos, multiple piercings, awesome facial hair, or so-pro jerseys that match their shorts. If they have more than one of those attributes I think it’s a safe bet that they are much more “hard core” than I am. I know I don’t look like much, so by the time the race starts I’ve already relegated myself to underdog status based solely on superficial appearances.
BIKERUMOR: What upcoming bike technology are you most excited about?
RICH: I want a 1,100 gram 2.5 29’er tire with real knobs. That’s all that could ever excite me. Riding a rigid single speed kind of makes me a jaded technophobe.
Dicky’s new bike…should be hitting the dirt any day now.
BIKERUMOR: What’s your favorite time of day to ride and why?
RICH: I prefer to ride all day long, anytime from dawn till dusk. I have no love for night riding, since I’m a border line geriatric and in bed by 10:00PM most nights.
BIKERUMOR: Where is your favorite place to ride and why?
RICH: I love riding in the Pisgah National Forest. I’m fortunate to have some of the best riding in the U.S. just a couple of hours from my house. These are the trails that make me want the 1,100 gram 2.5 29’er tire with real knobs of my dreams. I’d definitely have to go with Pisgah, but if I could live anywhere in the world I would live in a shack at the bottom of Amasa Back (in Moab) and just ride up and down it all day.
BIKERUMOR: What’s your favorite event you’ve raced?
RICH: Probably the 2005 Trans Rockies. It was a real eye opener as far as what I could do on my single speed. Most folks told me that going there on a rigid single speed was a “bad idea”, but it was the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done. I mostly enjoyed the dry hard boiled egg and hunk of cheese breakfasts.
BIKERUMOR: What do you consider your single greatest cycling-related achievement thus far?
RICH: Winning the 2006 24 Hour Solo Single Speed World Championship was definitely a pleasant surprise. Going toe to toe with Cameron Chambers (who had beaten Tinker, Nat Ross, Eatough, etc. for the 2005 National Title) was intimidating, and I’m sure he woulda crushed me had he been on his game that day. By far that’s something that no matter how hard I try to tell myself “no big deal” it still makes me feel like “yeah, it was”.
BIKERUMOR: You managed to get your blog mentioned in the latest issue of Mountain Bike Magazine. Considering they only publish that when they feel like it anymore, that’s quite an accomplishment to get a quarter-page of space in there. According to their media kit, your mention was worth something like $5,000. Did they contact you, or did you call them?
RICH: Mike Cushionbury (Deputy Test Director with a badge to prove it) hit me up for the interview. We met back in 2007 at the BC Bike Race, and although he and his teammate were sporting high zoot, multi speed, full squish carbon Scott’s my teammate and I finished only an hour or so behind them after seven days of racing on our single speeds. The first few days they blew us away on the open fire roads, but once the racing got into the woods on primo BC singletrack we did everything we could to shame them into submission. Since then Mike has had a dubious amount of respect for my riding and writing skills (although he didn’t invite me to join his entourage at the Dirt Rag Punk Bike Enduro).
BIKERUMOR: The nerve. Oh well, what’s next for Team Dicky?
RICH: This year I have a few hundies on my agenda as well as some Southeastern marathon and adventure race stuff. The big event I would call my “A race” would be the Breck Epic Stage Race in Colorado this July. I love everything about stage racing, and this will be the first one I’ve done in the U.S. Hopefully I’m gonna win a free entry to the race in the Breck Epic Blogger’s Contest which will also give me more access to the big time media and yet another avenue with which I can gain greater control over the cycling media world as a whole.
I’ll also be attending the Single Speed World Championships in Durango this September, but that event is less about the race and more about the uncomfortable experiences, overzealous beer consumption, epic riding on new trails, and meeting strange people from stranger places.
BIKERUMOR: Rich, thank you for the interview and best of luck to you this year.
That concludes the interview, stay tuned for a few more pics…some enjoyable, and one completely not worth including.