Richard May loves to ride trails. What could be a quick call to order tires, rims, and saddles invariably turns into an in depth discussion of the subtleties of greater Flagstaff and Marin County’s finer trails. Rollover characteristics, tire profiles, casing widths, tread pitch, current conditions, recent adventures – all are discussed with the same grave sense of severity and importance as one assessing market values and APR financing when evaluating a home purchase. Trail talk is serious talk, not to be taken lightly, and ordering bike parts for his beautiful, handmade Moustache Cycles frames seems to act more as a fringe benefit or excuse for unadulterated trail talk. It’s almost as though I can hear Richard’s mouth watering when I describe preemptive turning to dance through narrower-than-handlebar tight Redwoods, or the makeshift method of easing off the brakes to coax bike tires across trail sections riddled with polished, off camber, redundant roots. Every conversation ends with a vow to make a trip to ride the other’s trails and seems to end with a begrudging halt upon realizing that the business that allows us to ride also calls us back to our duties that allow others to ride – almost a circumstantial contradiction.
Richard May is rad, and lives to ride.
Name: Richard May
Home Shop and City: Moustache Cycles, Flagstaff, AZ
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
Frequency I23 rims, Devo Saddle (WE ARE DEVO!)
That recurring dream where I’m ripping downhill next to the clear blue river on a rock bank until I hit that sweet booter and land front wheel first kinda ugly right in the current and keep it upright, sink to the bottom and keep on riding right along the river bottom with big ol’ fishes swimming along and the river rages on faster and then dives into a tunnel completely underground and I’m breathing underwater and still ripping along hitting all the jumps just stoked….that’s the one.
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
Bikes have always been my life and livelihood. I got a blue girls banana seat when I was four and did my first trail rides at the age of six in the woods behind the house. Growing up in suburban Atlanta we were lucky to have those trails, they weren’t anything fancy or known, just neighborhood trails—stomping grounds for the kids. We had jumps, sand dunes, pits, drops, creeks, everything. The terraces left over from the farm days make for awesome biking terrain. I was always tinkering, overhauling, cutting down bars, learning and breaking bikes.
When I was thirteen I bought a real bike, a GT Tequesta. I cut a lot of grass and raked a lot of leaves to pay for that bike. My mom was totally against it. She thought I’d just want to get a car in a couple years, but I made my own repair stands, studded tires, flashlight mounts for handlebars to keep myself riding. Before long I figured out that my local shop was alright with me using their truing stand and I started rebuilding the wheels I had trashed. They watched me work, and pretty quickly gave me an after school job. The Grom status was pretty short lived, I chipped tile during an expansion for a month and then I was a mechanic. The car came shortly after the job, and was a means for some early fabrication projects and whole lot of money down the drain, but also gave me access to the mountains north of where I lived.
I started racing in the mid nineties, heyday of NORBA, but turning laps and spending my money never really resonated with me. My interests became more in longer rides and new terrain. I put myself through college working as a mechanic in a high end road shop which brought new experiences with endless road rides in the farm country around Athens. My time in college also brought me an introduction to frame building. All of a sudden people around me had these high-end steel and titanium bikes with names I’d never heard before. When I asked about them the responses became, “Oh, I built that,” or “That’s my company.” I had never realized that people could build these things. The idea capped my interests for the next seven years before I finally managed to stick any tubing together.
My road bike flew off my car on a move to Montana. It has never been replaced, as there has been no real pavement since. Winter of 2006 found me fairly broke, couch surfing and taking a job with the conservation corps in Flagstaff—I had never really been here, but somehow it found its way on my radar when some cutie in a bay area bike shop mentioned sick riding there. I was smitten, and her words did not disappoint. The access here is unprecedented. Hundreds of miles of trail on the Coconino National Forest were all of a sudden right out my door; Sedona keeps the wheels spinning all winter, and together they yield broken bikes at levels I had never seen before. I tried for a couple years to leave but my riding buddies kept me coming back until it was just time to setup shop. I’ve been right here, 583 trail miles north of Mexico on the Arizona Trail, for the last four years now makin’ bikes and ridin’ bikes and testin’ it all in one gnarly back yard.
Tube or Tubeless, why?
TUBELESS…..Maximum footprint, loose rocks, Goat Heads
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
An Apple, A cerveza, A headlamp (usually forgotten)
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
A hungry 500 lb grizzly bear just out of hibernation running full bore at me while I stood petrified with only my bike between us.
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
Respect the shop rags and understand the WHY?
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
…my canoe after getting paid some substantial sums of cash money for projects completed. I figured it was safer to bring it on the water than to leave it in the car. My girlfriend and I were checking out hot springs this past January along the Rio Colorado south of Hoover Dam. We got to the last one right at dusk and ran up the side drainage to check out the pools in hopes of a night soak. We quickly turned around and headed back to the boat only to find a river where we left our canoe. The dam had released and taken the boat and all our food, water, and gear downstream. We had jackets and headlamps. This was going to suck. We managed to find a spot in a rocky canyon warmed by the steam of the hot water and spent the cold winter night in a hermit huddle on a rock bench without getting wet. Long night. The morning brought panic and flightiness. I didn’t want to sit still and was anxious to find a way out. The hot springs did have trail access from the Nevada side, but we needed to get downstream….on a boat…and on January 3, those are pretty scarce. Finally some canoes came along on a day float carrying a family from Detroit. They barely believed our story, and seemed almost as freaked out as we were, but we managed to hitch a ride with them and eventually another ride on a “state of the art boat” that would find us our canoe broached up on a rock about eight miles downstream of where it had left us….all stuff onboard and intact. Time for a nap on the sand. “Tie your boat up….SERIOUSLY.” We had been warned.
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
Team Hobo and the people of Flagstaff – Thanks for keeping me around and getting me where I am now and for the journey we’re all taking on two weird ass wheels in this devolving world.
Check out Richard's awesome frames here: http://rideamoustache.blogspot.com/