Poacher Turned Gamekeeper | The Rich Thomas Interview.

Rich Thomas is a veteran of not only Team Wideopenmag but also the UK and World Cup downhill scenes. 2017 sees him change things up, but still very much involved.

We’re lucky not to have lost Rich T altogether, after all, he’s been part of the Wideopenmag setup since forever. Pete had a chat with him about his plans for the year and beyond.

Photos by Ian Lean.

Who is Rich Thomas?

Rich Thomas is a 28 year old arborist and mountain biker from Weston-super-Mare, England.

How would you sum up your 2016?

2016 was a strange year for me, it was the year in which the novelty of going to the same venues and racing the same tracks over and over finally wore off. It was really frustrating because it has always been there in the back of my head, but in 2016 it just got to me and I slowly decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Si Paton and the BDS crew do a great job given the hills we have in the UK and the Health & Safety and financial hoops they have to jump through. But after over 15 years of national racing, missing only a handful of races due to injury during that time I needed to do some other bits and let my frustrations chill.

How did 2016 differ to previous years?

In terms of racing and results very little, I was maybe more relaxed and just rode for fun but obviously as I explained above, I kind of got over racing a little bit.

What have you learned this year that will make you a better racer, pinner, sender and all-round bike hooligan in 2017?

I think falling out with racing the BDS and the same old tracks will open some more doors for me. It’s easy to get stuck into racing the same stuff, riding the same places and with the same team and people. I’m hoping to open some new doors this year and do some different stuff. That will certainly change the way I race, pin and bike hooligan around.

SDG Tellis V2 Dropper Leaderboard

What was the highlight of your year?

The highlight of my year was realising how good it is planning the following year with no commitments.

Any disasters?

No, I know my own limits and in my older age I try and ride nicely within my limits.

What will you being doing for Wideopenmag this year?

So this year, I will not be on the Wideopenmag race team, I will be in the back ground to help the riders if they need me or the team management if they need help but that will be pretty much as far as it goes with the race team.

I will essentially be an ambassador for the Wideopenmag, not restricted to the team, meaning I can review and test products impartially. I can take on and be involved with all brands around the magazine and not restricted to racing and the race team for projects and creating content. All in all I can do what I want, when I want.

Will you still be racing?

Yes, I will do some select races throughout the year, the Megavalanche and some other mountain bike events.

What are your plans for 2017?

To do some exploring and racing on my mountain bike. Create some content for Wideopenmag. Also testing and reviewing products for the magazine!

What are you most looking forward to next year?

All of the above, taking a step back from racing frees up a lot of time for activities.

Any pleases and thank yous?

Yes actually I have. A genuine thank you to everybody who has helped me over the 15 years or so in which I raced nationals and World Cups, thanks for believing in me and putting up with me. Another genuine thanks to the guys who I’ve raced against and grown to know over the years, all my team mates over the years, young and old, cheers for the laughs and good racing. It’s been a good time. See you all again in 2018 when I’m bored of not racing… Hahaha!

You can check out Rich’s tribute to Spring here. Keep an eye out for more from Rich T as the year progresses.

In the meantime, keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.