Sunday, May 28, 2006

10 years ago


It is hard to imagine that it has been almost a decade since the great Richard Long was killed on his motorcycle while driving up to the Big Bear NORBA National on July 12, 1996. Even now, 10 years later, there aren't too many days where I don't think about him in some capacity. Usually it comes in the form of a lesson or particular insight he offered or displayed that I might be applying to some present day work or relationship - afterall, Richard was a master at both.

More often than not, as I manage my own day-to-day business in cycling and all that is involved in pushing product, dealing with teams and athletes, forging into new business territory, etc., I find myself asking, "what would Richard do?"

There are so many Richard Long stories, moments and experiences, I am not sure where to begin. Hence, I thought this blog might act as a forum to pay tribute and perhaps share a tale or two about this amazing man.

The impact he made on so many lives - and on the cycling industry, community and sport as a whole - cannot be overstated. No matter what your job or interest is in this business, and whether you knew Richard personally or not, something in your 2-wheeled universe is different and better because Richard existed.

Click "Comments" on lower right to read or post your own comments on Richard.

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68 Comments:

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It moves me deeply that my Dad had such an impact on so many people. His family and GT were his life and he excelled at both. Growing up with a father like him was a precious gift, that I miss everyday of my life. It makes me proud and brings me joy to see this BLog come to life. I miss my extended GT family so much. Thank you Doug . This makes a tough time of year a little easier for my mom and I and for that I am grateful!
C.L

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Paul Skilbeck said...

I never met Richard, but the GT mountain bike racing team was one of the international mainstays of the sport in its golden years. Not only did the MTB World Cup keep me in a wild and wonderful job for a few years, but also the memories those years left are some of my most treasured. Thanks to Richard and the rest of the GT crew for being a driving force in the creation of the international MTB scene.

 
At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like the author, I too find myself reflecting on the enormous impact Richard had on my life. I am sure there are others whom he affected or impacted in a greater way; yet I still feel a void when I think about what could have been.

I was privileged to go to Dinner with Richard the night before he died. Myself a couple other guys from GT and two Taiwanese gentlemen. I was still intimidated by Richard (he was the boss after all) but he always made me feel comfortable. In fact I was able to sit next to him at dinner and we talked cars, motorcycles, bicycles, family and friends. He kept stealing my “near beer”, but since he was buying I didn’t complain. He just winked and ordered me another one. Up to this night, he had been a larger than life and I was intimidated by his presence. Not that he ever talked down to me, or intentionally did any thing to intimidate me, far from it. He was just he most powerful person I knew. I had and still have the utmost respect for Richard. Its just, that night, I learned that he was a gear head just like me. They way he spoke about motorcycles or cars he liked since he was a kid, with the zeal of a kid made me realize he was like a big kid. The way he spoke fondly about his family, made me realize that he was not just about business. Instantly, I had even more respect for him, which is hard to imagine. But up to that point I knew him as a boss and saw him only in that perspective. However, from that night on, I respected him as a man not just a boss.

I agree that his impact on the cycling industry is immeasurable. However, those of us fortunate enough to have worked with him or knew him personally, can walk a little taller knowing that we had the opportunity and privilege to learn from him first hand.

Aaron

 
At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’ve got more to share, but I wanted to start with some word association:

Honorable, Formidable, Caring, Commanding, Diligent, Demanding, Dedicated, Insightful, Inspiring, Powerful, Character, Challenging, Friendly, Fun-loving

George Washington crossing the Potomac; that’s one picture I get when I think of what an inspiring leader, he was. Richard (and his portrait) still watches over us, every day. - ScottyMo

 
At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only had the privilege of working for Richard indirectly for a year before he passed and during that time barely got to know him other than the very powerful president. Since that time, however, I can honestly say that Richard has had tremendous impact on my life and career through the disciples he has left behind. Peterman, Soucek, Kahler, Duehring, Bon, Martin. . . all have (knowingly or unknowingly) passed pieces of Richards wisdom and savvy to me which have left me profoundly grateful for his existence. I look forward to repaying him by passing on all that I have learned in the decades to come.

Richard Long is immortal.

aaron b.

 
At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first met Richard when I used to race BMX out at the Azusa track. I worked as a mechanic at a local bike shop and I remember him bringing the first GT BMX frames to our shop for us to sell. A few years later I found myself working for him - doing of all things, delivering more of those BMX frames to other dealers.

I moved my way up thru the company and remember my first real meeting with him. It was Christmas and at that time I was the Assistant Warehouse Manager. He pulled me aside and said "at this time of year, we are Santa Claus. These bikes have to be under the tree for all those kids". I don't know if it struck the fear of God in me or reminded me of how driven he was. Either way we got the stuff out the door and I use that same speech every year on my staff to this day.

But by far my most prized memory of Richard was when I was awarded Employee of the Year with the company. Walking up to shake his hand and have him thank me for a job well done helped reinforce many of the career values I still carry to this day. The bonus check, the parking spot at the front of the GT building, the plaque, and all the accolades that came along with it really weren't important to me. Just having that guy think I did a great job was enough for me.

The industry was better when he was in it.

Cory C.

 
At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a surprise to get the email from Doug with the link to Richard's page. Very vivid flashback to years ago..
Richard Long wasn't technically my immediate boss but he WAS the boss. For me, he represented GT. It took me a little bit of time in the industry to realize how lucky I was to be associated with Richard. His mere presence spoke of integrity. He was like a gentle giant.
I know business was very important to Richard. But I also know personal connections and keeping your word were just as important. It was mostly because of Richard and my respect for him that I never really considered racing for another team. He gave so much support to Team GT and all of us on the team....racers, managers, mechanics, masseurs....felt so appreciated and taken care of. The least we could do for him and GT was race hard and be quality representatives within the cycling industry.
Richard Long was a tremendously good guy and his passing came too soon. But I feel grateful to have been in his life and he in mine.

 
At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i forgot to sign the above
juli f.

 
At 3:03 PM, Blogger Tom Schuler said...

Although I never met Richard, I had the pleasure to work with a couple of the fine lads that he mentored, Todd Huffman and Doug Martin in particular.
I always got the feeling that Todd and Doug enjoyed their jobs so much because Richard had shown them that's the only way to work.
Now, I am working with GT on a team project again and I can feel Richard's presence. He founded and build a great company and truely supported his employees, athletes and everything he touched.
Richard is one of the heavies of cycling and we all miss him.

Doug and Todd you suck by the way.

 
At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog great thing and after 10 years my memories are still fresh. I met Richard in 1982 as a customer of his BMX frames and laid back seat posts and as he expanded we followed and enjoyed a great relationship. By the late 80's he bought our little company and I found myself working for him.He told me about what he had in store for us and I didn't believe him. I was wrong! He had a vision and a passion that was contagious and soon I believed. I think he helped people shed their doubts and push for greatness. He was spectacular.

Christopher

 
At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Induction Year: 2001

In 1979, Richard Long started a company from a small settlement Richard had received from a motorcycle accident. It grew into one of the largest bicycle companies in the world, GT Bicycles. GT built their first mountain bike in 1985 and in 1987 hired Bill Duehring who would design classic GT models such as the Avalanche, Zaskar, RTS, and LTS or I-drive. GT’s patented triple triangle frame design set apart their bikes with a unique look and innovation that proved race proficient.

Richard Long was also known for his eye for talent and had a gift for forming lasting friendships with team members. Richard sponsored riders with BMX backgrounds and many feel that it was this BMX influence that first brought the BMX style into mountain biking. Elite world mountain bike champions were riding bikes that GT spared no expenses to develop. Richard’s company won many accolades from World Mountain Bike Championships titles to Popular Science Magazine awards. Trial’s champion and Hall of Fame inductee Hans Rey believes if it "weren’t for Richard Long there would be no Hans Rey". Richard attended many races to see how his bikes and riders were fairing. He always had an open ear to what people thought about his bikes and it didn’t matter who those people were.

Richard not only supported the racers, but also ran big ad campaigns to support many of the BMX and mountain bike magazines. He sponsored races, his engineers designed the $70,000 "Super Bike" ridden in the time trials at the 1998 Atlanta Olympics, he sponsored several free-riding groups, TV programs dedicated to mountain biking and IMBA before it was fashionable.

In 1996, Al Farrell created the Richard Long Sportsmanship Award. It is given to the athlete that best exemplifies the spirit of sportsmanship in competition. Promoters, racers, media and officials who vote at every national championship series event, determine the recipients. Past winners include Susan DeMattei, Ned Overend, John Tomac, Dave Wiens (all Hall of Fame inductees), Jimi Killen, and Leigh Donovan

Need I say more!!!!

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger M. Lee said...

I have so many memories of my uncle Richard. One memory that I'll never forget was when we all stayed at the MGM in Las Vegas for New Years Eve! I remember I had already gambled all my money away and it was just past midnight. I was just walking around enjoying myself when uncle Richard walked up to me and we exchanged new years greatings and he followed it with a hardy handshake. Only this handshake had a fresh $100 bill fold neatly. Thats what a generous man he was. Every time we ever went to lake mead he made sure it was first class all the way. I remember once trying to look at the bill when we were done eating at a restaraunt and he said in a loud thunderous voice, "Are you gonna pay for it!" I handed the bill over and he would just laugh. He had a passion for business and even more, was his passion for his family. His memories will always live inside!

M.Lee

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger M. Lee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:18 AM, Blogger GeoffB said...

I am honored to be able to add my respects to the memory of a truly remarkable man, a business colleague and valued friend.

Three people have had major influences on my life – one was my father (who also passed away 10 years ago) one was my first Headmaster (when I was a young teacher) and the other and perhaps most profound, was a guy called Richard Long, who, when I first met him, was working in a small dirty workshop.

As a young man I had come to America to look for opportunities to import a new type of bicycle (BMX) into the UK. I first visited a huge and beautiful new factory/warehouse complex in an up class part of town and had a meeting with the suit-wearing owners in a sumptuous boardroom. It was my good fortune that day (although I did not know it at the time) to be turned down by these business men.

After that meeting, disappointed, I sat in a diner and looked through a BMX magazine and spotted a very small ad that simply said “GT coming on strong” The ad had an address and I went there. It was a small place in a back street, not much bigger than a double garage and sat out front on an up-turned dustbin was a long-haired yob (who just happened to be one of the best young BMX riders of that time – Andy Patterson )

I went in climbing over half-built bicycle frames and welding equipment and a guy came up to me wiping his hands on a piece of rag, shook my hand and introduced himself as Richard Long. I will always remember that day – (and of course all the other days I spent in his company).

From those humble beginnings, due to Richard Long’s assiduous and resourceful marketing – and of course Gary Turner’s technical expertise and innovation – grew (for a time at least) the World’s Biggest Independent Bicycle Manufacturers and I always think back to the first company who turned me down - and smile.

And throughout this unprecedented growth (I would come to America every 6 months or so only to find GT had moved to yet bigger premises) Richard remained down-to-earth, approachable and ever helpful. I became, under Richards’s guidance, a ‘big player’ in the BMX scene in Britain and even when he was approached (as he was frequently) by much bigger companies than mine wanting exclusive import rights, he kept his faith in me. I am certain many other people will have similar experiences of Richard’s integrity.

But more than any of his success – or mine - it was Richard’s friendship that I valued the most. I feel ever grateful that I can count Richard as a friend of mine. I have far too many memories of the times spent with him and of course Wanda and their genuine and generous hospitality, to recount here. But I do have to mention the day I borrowed his Trans Am and ended up in jail!, the sushi party with GT’s Japanese suppliers and of course the Water-sking..........? – ask Wanda!

Richard Long’s physical presence is no longer with us but, for those of us fortunate enough to know him, his memory is still very much alive in our thoughts and hearts.


Geoff Barraclough

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard was a friend and mentor for twenty years. We enjoyed common areas of the bicycle business and the pleasure of riding motorcycles together. I treasure a personal fax from him of a planned national motorcycle ride that was never to happen. He positively impacted many lifes around the globe and we miss his influence on the people and friends in the cycling industry. Aloha, Wally Parcels, BIKEFACTORY HAWAII, INC.

 
At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, thank you Doug for starting this. It is great to hear all these comments about the old days from the people Richard touched.

For my part, he was the best, and toughest boss I have ever had. Fair, honest, funny, and real direct! He pushed me to places I didn't think I could get to.

But I don't really think too much about GT when I think of Richard. It makes me instead think of Wanda, Chris, and Jeff. He had a great family. He and Wanda raised great sons. In that regard, to me anyway, he was larger then life.

Sean W.

 
At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug thanks for this great forum.

My dealing with Richard comes from the years I spent at NORBA/USAC. The cycling family that Richard built that carried the name of GT is a list of people that anyone would be proud to call friends and co-workers. While he was still with us and after his passing names such as Martin, Huffman, Hadley, Blick, Alison, Mercedes, E.C., Chopper, Peat, Juli, T.J., Lopes, Hans, Vouilloz and Green perpetuated a tradition of professionalism and winning that GT was known for throughout the years. This team was a direct reflection of there Leader.

Richard's vision and understanding of how everything worked together set him and the company apart from others. As we know it was GT who supported the athlete development and race programs at USAC. At the direction of Richard during a time when it was not popular it was GT who stepped to the plate and supported programs such as Project 96, race number plates for local events, NORBA National Series and bikes for the National Team. While this was a business strategy for GT it was also Richards�s way of growing the cycling industry as a whole for everyone. The number of athletes/members that Richard touched through these programs can not be counted.

I personally always counted it a privilege to present the Richard Long Sportsmanship Award during my years at NORBA. I have put many medals on World and Olympic champions but to a person I can tell you that those athletes that were selected with that honor cherished the award and looked to it as a defining moment in their careers. Why? Because they knew what Richard stood for in his business and his life.

Thanks to Richard and Team GT for being a part of my life for so many years. Eric Moore

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you were here to share in our Lives.I know you must be important and needed by god for him to have taken you so suddenly. You are missed and needed by so many including my husband, mom and myself. At times it feels like our captain was taken from our sailing ship and we are left at sea, But I truly believe you are guiding and protecting us throughout our journey.There is so much I would have liked to have learned from you, and so much I have to share.It saddens me deeply to not have you as my Father-n law in this life.Thanks to you, I have been given some of the most amazing people in my life.
First of all, your son. He is the most loving ,respectful man that I have ever come to know,and I feel Honored to have him as my husband.Secondly,your amazing wife.She is so kind and such a wonderful grandma. Lastly our daughter Monae.She is so gorgeous,and smart,Her personality is so sweet and charming she melts everyone's heart. I Love and appreciate being apart of your family and am very thankful for everything you did and sacrificed for us. You and Jeff are missed tremendously by all.
LOVE,DANEE LONG

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Todd Huffman said...

10 years…It’s amazing, sad and encouraging that it’s been this long since my friend Richard drew lane 1 on the starting gate for his next big main event.

Amazing that a decade has passed since that wonderful time of my life ended with a bomb dropped on me by Billy G. outside Chad’s Place in Big Bear. Sad because I, like many others, still have an empty spot in my heart, psyche and soul that time isn’t seeming to heal (and perhaps shouldn’t). Encouraging, that we have all been able to get 10 years under our collective belts without the wisdom, guidance and kick in the ass we could learn to count on from our dear Richard.

I visit Richard if I’m in town on the 12th, if only to sit alone and quietly wait for answers of unasked questions. Just a little bit of inspiration for the next year is all I hope to get. You know he wouldn’t want to give you the whole thing. Just enough…

I met Richard in the summer of 1980 when the “Factory” GT van rolled into Placerville, CA for a UBR National. Richard, Lee Medlin and the rest of the “Winningest Name in BMX” had come to race and collect Andy Patterson who was staying with the owners of the bike shop who sponsored me at the time. I don’t remember much of him from that time except he was the consummate marketer and made everyone at our little hick BMX race feel like it was an important place he and his team had to be.

It was maybe 5-6 years later that our paths crossed again when I joined Bob Morales to start our small distributing company MOR out of GT’s own building. That got a raised eyebrow. I never really knew what Richard thought of me but eventually thought he sensed something that he could appreciate because while he never said much, he would many times, bend the rules of common business sense to let Bob and I try to build our fledgling company. Picking our own orders, giving us credit, sliding into the 90-day column, even letting us order containers of Dyno freestyle bikes without a pot to piss in for security.

That was Richard’s style. Have faith, let people run with the rope, a gentle tug now and then. Some of us would hang ourselves with it once in a while.

By 1989, Richard came to visit me in our little Lake Elsinore warehouse where we still recovering from the first “scooter craze” hangover of freshly warehoused scooters that we paid $85.00 for and were now at K-Mart for $49.95. I remember Richard said “GT has grown and reached a plateau here.” (using his hands to describe). “We are getting ready to launch again (hands at a steep angle) and we are building our team. We would like you to be on it.” Hmmm….“Reverse profit margins” went against standard accounting practices and my mind always worked larger than my pocket book so the picture this great man painted for me was captivating. A week later the deal was done.

The next seven years were a whirlwind of work, creativity, yelling, improvisation, stress and optimism as Richard led us all up that steep angle of growth that made us feel, proud and maybe even arrogant sometimes because we worked for GT Bicycles. Richard allowed us to build art departments, video production rooms, pick up great riders and last minute race sponsorships and be part of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that made us feel invincible and was the envy of the industry. I remember, after the Mammoth Norba National in 1995 when I laid eyes on the former Saturn Road Team big rig that was for sale. I told Richard about it and he said. “Get it down here”. It was parked outside GT on Segerstrom and after Richard looked at it, we talked and he said “Let’s go talk to Mike” (GT’s CFO Mike Haynes). Mike was good at keeping the purse strings tight so Richard had some convincing to do if GT was to have the first “Big Rig” at the mountain bike races. We walked in and I can’t remember Mike’s reaction to the something like $200K price tag, but I do remember Richard justifying the expense with “C’mon Mike, didn’t we just save a bunch of budget on better insurance rates?” (or something to that effect). I think Mike rolled his eyes and Richard looked at me and winked.

Richard’s ability to rally everyone around him to at least attempt to keep up with him was a testament to the man’s influence on the crew. We all learned the love, angst, camaraderie, and passion for GT’s success between everyone was orchestrated by one man who knew how to push the right buttons to keep the ball moving forward. It was tough working for Richard as the marketing guy because he WAS GT’s Director of Marketing with certain expectations. It was sometimes a joke around GT that Richard’s favorite words were “F--k”, “Goddammit” and…”Jesus Christ Todd!”. I think I tried to quit a couple of times or maybe I just walked out with intentions of quitting. Before any letters of resignation could even be formed in my head, the call from Richard came with a “C’mon back, you know what an asshole I can be at times”. I always went back.

With Richard, you always knew where you stood…as long as he was talking to you. He could be yelling, but at least you knew that if he was using his own pent-up emotions on you that you were worth expelling it to. One day I came into our department and my assistant Brenda (Barnsdale, Brenda B., Buff and now Stiehl) was working, trying to hide her face from me, clearly upset. I asked what was wrong and after a moment she said, “Richard yelled at me”. I laughed and said happily “Really? That’s great! It means he likes you." She understood in years to come.

It’s when you got the silent treatment though...ouch.

Laughter. For most it means things are usually good. With Richard, it was that it was so bad that it was funny. Some of the worst things and screw ups to happen during the course of GT’s early days would make Richard laugh so hard he cried. From folding bike trailers that looked like snails to my dear friend Doug (Duclos) Martin’s duty of hiring a trashed, smoking, white with red interior, aging Lincoln limousine to take us all to Wolf-Gang Puck’s Spago for the first Korbel Night of Champions. Richard was laughing so hard as we pulled up to the valet with Juli and Hans, he had tears in his eyes. He didn’t want to be seen getting out of that roach.

I, as I imagine most people who knew Richard, think of him often. I still have dreams occasionally where we’re all in a room working on trade show plans or catalogs and in walks Richard. In amazement we all look at him and say “You’re not suppose to be here”. He just says “Ahhh that’s bullshit. Now where are we at with this thing.”

I’m sorry to go on like this but sometimes the best way to describe a person is just to tell some stories. Richard gave us all stories to remember and tell. Stories that most times you could learn from, others, you just shake your head and smile. His style and charm would always “incentivize” (Duclos!) us to be the best because he wanted GT to be the best. Looking into a crystal ball if July 12th, 1996 was different would be remarkable thing, if only…

10 years have passed and I still think about our GT family so much from the employees, dealers, distributors, competitors, racers, magazines, etc. It was such a special time and though we don’t talk or see each other enough because of life’s different paths since, I always feel a presence when talking to these people that time has not passed at all. Perhaps that presence is in place for a reason.

I was honored that Richard’s family that had been through so much, asked me to give his speech when he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2001. It was so hard to look into the faces of all the people that loved Richard so much and try to convey the right words that could capture what he meant to us all and why our lives were different…and better because were brought together with this great man we called friend.

I know that the world and the bike industry was forever changed by the standards and height of the bar set by Richard in us all. We will always know we have to stretch a little bit further to clear it for ourselves. We miss you Richard.

Your friend forever big guy,

Todd

P.S. Schuler…we all suck compared to this guy. Hugs and hope that life is treating you and your brood well. You’re still cool!

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger RS said...

I never met Mr long. But I put up with Martin and Huffman for many years and anyone who spent a minimum of 40 hours a week with these two guys is a Saint of the highest order :-)

Like Schuler, Juli, Paul, and others that have a taken a moment to sent a note, I can only pile-on. Richard and GT are big reason why I am in the bike business. GT was the first bike company to support my fledgling efforts such Sea Otter, Napa World Cup, Rocktoberfest, and the hey-day of the NORBA series.

Todd and Doug took risks to help me and I will always be grateful. I imagine they took these risks because Mr. Long inspired and empowered them to do so.

Doug and Todd: Thanks guys! I miss working with both of you.

And to the Long Family: Your husband, your father will never be forgotten.

How about this -- Everyone go home tonight and drink a toast to Richard Long at 6PM PST. The click of the glassware will be heard round the world.

Restfully,
RS

 
At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Bill Duehring said...

Tribute to the man, his drive and spirit.

I had the privilege to spend more time with Richard than any other employee at GT. Weeks of traveling together all over the world, visiting parts makers, bike factories, distributor customers and shows for over fourteen years of my life. I have been very lucky to have a few mentors in my life, besides my father, no one had more of an impact in my life and my career than Richard Long. The many hours I spent with Richard made a huge difference in my life and who I am today.

Richard once told me that it was difficult to be a great father and a great businessman. I know in his heart he wanted to be both. I understand better now what he meant, as I try and drive my own company forward and worry about my family. He would tell me: Bill, owning your own business consumes you, and overwhelms you at times. I know that Richard loved his wife and his boys, from many conversations that we had over the years. He also truly loved GT and the people that worked for him. He was very loyal and committed to his company and his people. I try everyday to imitate this passion in my own company. I think of him from time to time, when the pressure is huge and the walls seem to be closing in on me. I remember then that Richard would just start laughing when things were really, really bad. Richard always tried to find humor in things even at the most difficult times.

Richard had the strongest will out of anyone that I have ever met, he just willed things to happen. He had a way of getting the very best out of his people, because you just did not want to let him down or fail him. He worked hard and played hard, even though his life was cut short, he had a very full and fulfilling life.

As a young boy I heard a saying that I did not really understand because I could not put it into perspective. Today, as a man, it is very clear when I think of Richard. Richard Long was " A man among men".

Bill

 
At 6:05 AM, Anonymous todd huffman said...

Very nice Bill...

"a man among men" is perfect.

Thank you.

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger Jeff Utterback said...

Wow, 10 years. I first met Richard in the late 70's through BMX.

I worked for Richard at GT and didn't have his drive and forsite, got tired of he and Mike driving me. I lost focus. I was at a point in my life where I just couldn't see the long term. so I quit.

There was so much I could of learned.

I regret it to this day.

JU

 
At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There a few pioneers who developed BMX beyond the garage. Rich and Gary nailed it. I only met Rich once (early on). Today this day, I enjoy seeing a GT bike and thinking back on the legacy that was built from a "Pedals Ready GT Ames" frame.

Rich did good if he influenced so many in a positive way. We all need mentors.

 
At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Gill said...

Amazing reading all the tributes to Richard. He was one of those people who really have an impact on our lives and will always be remembered! There is a common thread through them all, Richard was and will remain an inspirational force to many!

For me the memories are more of the family man and I have the honour and privilege to remember Richard not just as a businessman but the family friend he became, a valued friendship that remains with ‘his babe’ - Wanda, to this day.

On the business front I recall walking into a store (little bigger than a garage) in the early 1980’s and listening to an enthused man convincing my ex-husband to import the first two GT BMX frames into the UK. Ten years later, a justifiably proud man, Richard, gave us the ‘grand’ tour of a huge manufacturing concern the scale of which gave an insight into the amazing success story of GT Bicycles - a company driven by the hard work and inspirational leadership of Richard Long. His business had long since outgrown our ability in the UK to keep pace but it was the measure of the man that the friendship that had built up with him and his family endured.

Richard was special, a unique man who made his mark on the world of BMX and mountain bike racing. He was an inspirational leader who despite having a keen business acumen never lost the personal touch - a genuine, loyal and honourable man.

Ten years after his untimely death it is a testament to him that he is remembered by way of this blog site. He left his legacy to the cycle industry but just as importantly to his family. So as it approaches the anniversary of his passing my thoughts are also with Wanda and Chris for the tragedy of their loss and that of Jeff, both sons who looked up to their dad in awe, a family for whom Richard was so immensely proud and they of him.

Richard had an impact on many people’s lives, he lived and epitomised the ‘American Dream’ and I feel truly honoured to have been lucky enough to know him and remain a friend of his family. Richard is gone but the memories live on with us all.

He was a formidable man at times but one with real integrity, humour and drive, he’d never admit it but he was a ‘gentle giant’, a giant among men and a loving husband and father. His lasting legacy is the mark that he left, if only he had been spared to see his grandchildren, he’d have been as great a granddad as he was businessman, husband and father! My thoughts on this anniversary are also with Wanda and Chris, as well as Danee, Monae and Chloe for the father-in-law/granddad they never knew but will hear so much about!!

A truly remarkable man!!

Gill

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still can't believe that Richard was taken from us 10 years ago. Richard was like a father figure to me and I often think about him and some of the things all of us did with him as part of the 80's GT BMX Factory Team. Gary Scofield had an eye for talent and Richard was always there to support Gary in his efforts and kick us in the rear if we weren't riding well.

My earliest memory of Richard was when he came to the Waterford Oaks Michigan ABA National. Both he and Gary Turner made the trip along with all of the factory riders and parent's to spend the weekend hanging out at my parent's house at the lake. We had cots everywhere around the house and Richard refused to take the best bed in the house. I think he slept on a cot somewhere in the upper floor of the house. Each night we had a big cook out until Sunday night where we won the Factory Team Trophy and he rented out a complete restaurant to celebrate at. I remember driving in a caravan and him getting out when he found a restaurant to his liking and running in to see if they could accommodate 50-60 people. He finally found one that would and to this day it's hard to forget his generosity.

After winning the ABA Team Title back in 84 or 85 against Hutch he left the grand's track in disgust thinking we had really blown it, it wasn't until Gary Scofield came back from the track saying we won and Richard screaming from the top of his lungs from excitement. We as a team always wanted to do well for Richard and I miss him a ton. I often think about the impact he had on my life.

I was privileged to have stayed with the Long family for a week on a trip out to California for 2 weeks of nationals. I worked at the factory stickering frames, boxing them and printing out shipping labels. I was also the guinea pig to try on the new uniforms that Dyno had sent over for the team. At night I would drive home with Richard in his old Porsche and either go and watch Jeff play basketball or head home to have dinner with Wanda, Jeff and Chris. I would love to see or talk to Wanda and Chris again as I haven't talked to them since Richard's death. They both still mean so much to me and I think about them often.

Reading all these messages brings tears to my eyes. I really miss Richard and am enjoying reading what he meant to everyone. He made a huge impact on everyone's lives and I hope that can bring comfort to everyone that knew him personally.

Deanna Jamieson (Edwards)
deannajamieson@comcast.net

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Woody Itson said...

I had the unique privilage at GT to have been treated like a rider and yet be an employee. Richard always treated his athletes very well. He knew all their faces and names in an instant. He gave me the necessary tools in business to change my life the way I wanted to change it. He gave me direction without holding my hand and gave me respect when others would ask "what exactly is he doing"?
For these reasons and many more, Richard Long will always be one of the people I admire most in life.

I can hardly believe he has been gone for a decade now. I still have a private note he wrote to me some 13 years ago when I first started working at GT. I saved it along with my most important documents, don't ask me why, I just did.

Richard is missed by all that knew him well and I hope all the words in this blog will in some way bring peace to Wanda and Chris.

Thank you for everything Richard. Woody Itson.

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Rich and Jeff back in the mid 70's, way back in the ABC (Anaheim Bicycle Center)days (Pre GT). Some of my fondest BMX memories include hanging out with Rich and Jeff weekly at WSA (Western Sports Arama) and occasionaly at the bike shop.
For now you are greatly missed but I look forward to seeing you in the promised new world we all can look forward to.
See you there my friend....

Adam
(Team JMC)

 
At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Jim Melton said...

I met Rich in the mid 70s at Western Sports Arama. He was one of the best business men I ever knew. He was one of our first JMC dealers. I will never forget the time he called me and said he had a problem. He said that Kevin McNeil was going to ride for him. Kevin told him that the only way he would ride for him was if it was on a JMC frame. I sent Rich the frame and everybody was happy. Rich helped me out a lot through the years. I wish I would of been half the man that Rich was. RIP Rich.

Jim Melton

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Charles Townsend said...

There is not one day, that goes by. That I don't think about my BMX days. Those thought's, for the most part. Have me thinking about my GT day's, and family.
I think alot of people, were a little scared of Richard. However, people who really knew him. Knew he was a great man. In my book, I think he was one of the smartest men in the buiss. He had such a huge impact on the sport of BMX.
If it was not for Richard, and my talents. I would not have half, of the memorable moment's Charles Townsend

 
At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the privilege of working with Richard as the BMX team manager from 1980 to 1987. I didn't know that the business relationship we had would grow into a great personal friendship. I was waiting in Big Bear to have dinner with Richard on the day of his death.
When he didn't show up I called the house and got the news from Jeff. I was speechless and in a state of shock. My son was racing mountain bikes and we had to continue that weekend with the race, but it was very hard to think about anything else.

Of all the memories, the one thing that I will always remember about Richard is that he had a great heart. As his life changed materially with the success of GT he never forgot where he came from and alwalys treated people fairly.

I have spoken to Wanda several times in the past 10 years and was again shocked at the untimely passing of their oldest son Jeff, who I also counted as a friend.

Thank you Richard for being my friend and all the memories of those years as my son grew up in the sport. You are missed.

Gary "Doc" Scofield

 
At 7:22 PM, Blogger Billy Patterson said...

To the Long family,
My Family has never expressed our sentiments at the loss of Rich.
It was a sad day when we got the news. Our deepest sympathy and thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time of the year.

I apologize at the long words, as I want to explain who my family is and how Rich had an impact on us.

My Uncle Scotty and my Uncle Gary were both friends of Rich and Gary. First my uncle Gary because my Cousin Kevin was Factory sponsored and Jerry Co-Factory. Scotty later was the GT Freestyle Team Manager and Road Manager. When I heard of the loss of Rich, I was a bit upset. I knew and raced against Jeff quite often and could only think of their pain. Rich Long was as much GT Bicycles as Gary Turner himself. Over the 9yrs of time I spent in BMX, I frequently remember Rich coming over to speak to my Uncle Scotty during BMX events we attended. Kevin Hull came to to GT. I remember Conversations with Rich in the stagin area before Nationals in which Jeff and I found ourselves in the same group of our class. Rich was a class guy and a bit of a clown as I remember hearing stories from people about Hitch Hikers and Freeways in L.A. and then practical jokes that he had a hand in against his riders and fellow employees at GT. I don't think BMX or the bicycle world will ever be the same with him. He is deeply missed by all who had dealings with him at some point.

Sincerely,
Billy Patterson
and the Patterson Family of Austin, Tx.

 
At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Melana Scofield, a BMX mom said...

What mother in her right mind would let her 7 year old son go trapsing around the united states with a bmx team, without her? I would, because I trusted Richard.
Now that my son has grown up and I have heard the things they did on the road, I'm glad I never knew about them at the time! (all in good fun and only a few things on the dangerous side)
My first memory of Rich was at the local Azusa race track (the rock quarry). Those were the days of Harry Leary, Tinker Juarez and Jason Jensen. I can still see him announcing the races from the little tower. He made every moto sound like it was so important. His enthusiam was infectious because he truly enjoyed the sport. But more importantly, he loved the kids.
My respect for Rich was cemented forever when one summer night before the mains, while they were watering the track down,I saw him run over to the side of the track and play a quick round of catch with his little son, Chris.
A few years later, when he introduced me to his wife, Wanda, I observed a pride in his eyes. He lived big, loved big, believed in the future and saw the big picture. But he knew his real treasure was his family.
Thank you Wanda and Chris for sharing him with all of us. We pray you will have many years of joy with those granddaughters!
Every memory is good from this mother's point of view
><> melana scofield

 
At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Greg Hill said...

I cannot believe it's been 10 years already. Richard was an awesome man, I met him when I was 10 years old out at Western Sports Arama BMX track. I can remember hanging out with Richard at his condo in HB and working out..I remember he had 6 glasses in the freezer one time and we would do a set of sit ups and then he walked over to the freezer and pulled these 2 glasses and filled them with beer and we drank them and did another set. It was classic and a lot of fun...I was fortunate enough to hang with Richard as GT was growing and he was able to go to races with us, there were so many good times. I would of never made it in my racing if not for the support and friendship Richard Long gave me and I will always love him for that. If you were on Richard's side he would roll up his sleeves and fight no matter what and if you were the one on that other side of the fence man you better get out of the way..LOL he was the best. I was at a national in Oregon and on the gate the starter was just about to say get ready. Just then the announcer came over the PA system and said Richard Long had just been in a motorcycle accident and was not with us any longer..I told the starter to wait it must of been 5 minutes because I could not keep myself from crying. The gate finally dropped and I raced and when I passed the finish line I rode a long way out from the track and cried like a baby. I will always remember you Richard, I will never forget your friendship and all the good times we shared along this ride called life and I will see you again one day I know it. Rest in peace my friend..

Greg Hill

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger TheOMofBMX said...

Miss u Richard.. Thank you for your friendship, competitiveness and the opportunity to learn together as "Brothers of BMX".. The industry and sport have never been the same without you my freind. I think of you often and pray for the family regularly.. Someday we will reunite in heaven and go burn rubber in our team vans! Smiles and love..OM

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i bought a frame thru the mail in 1980 ,,,,,from ralphs ,,,it was the most beatiful frame i had ever seen ,,,,,your father sponsered and built( people) that have and did great things that really impacted us all. god bless him for his great work.......

 
At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was watching my 7 year old struggle on the uneven bars at his gym class when the instructor told him, "Throw your heart over the bar and the body will follow." I believe Richard threw his heart over the bar and GT followed. He lived and worked with a passion. Richard knew all the Riteway sales people (over 60) by name and could tell you their territory and if they were hitting sales goals or not. He knew all the riders and took time to congratulate them on their many successes. He was a personal friend to all of his distributors around the world. Richard would spend all day conducting intense business with factories overseas and follow it up with a night of food, drink, and laughter most would only reserve for family and special occasions. Richard was on a first name basis with hundreds of dealers (and their spouses) across the country and would visit as many as he possibly coud fit into his busy schedule. A small bicycle dealer once returned a Christmas card that wasn't personally signed, telling us to save the postage. Never again did a Christmas card leave GT without it being personally signed by Richard and/or other multiple managers. The most amazing character of RL was the respect he commanded when he walked into a meeting. It didn't matter if the room was full of factory workers, riders, dealers, managers, competitors, suppliers, editors or stuff shirt venture capitalists from Boston. Within minutes the meeting was in his control, regardless of who organized it. Richard seemed just as comfortable in a suit as he was in sandals. (Although I am sure he preferred the latter). He once told me he was bothered by the growth of GT because it diluted him from being more peronally involved with his customers, suppliers, and employees. However, that never kept hime from throwing a party and inviting everyone of the above mentioned. What parties he threw! And with a passion!! And always over the protest of operations saying we can't do it logistically. His heart was already over the bar. Thank you Richard for giving me an opportunity to know you and work with the greatest group of people ever assembled in a work force. I wish the best for each and every one of them. Wanda and Chris, you are in my prayers. I don't think I will ever be able to listen to Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" without tears of my own. Bill G.
willyginfl@yahoo.com

 
At 3:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know where to start, Rich and I did not see eye to eye at times, but I have the utmost of respect for that man, for what his visions were, his dreams were and where he wanted to take this sport that we all loved.

After reading these postings I am reassured that I was not the only one that had Richard touch thier life.

Rich had an extreme passion, a drive, and a no holds barred attitude.

When I first sat down with Richard and Bill Galloway for my job interview, I knew that it was going to be a great ride, and what a ride it was. He told me he had plans to be the General Motors of bicycles. At the time I thought it was a joke as they had just moved into the first 10,000 square foot building in Huntington Beach. When I left for the last time, ( yes, Richard and I had heated arguments a few times where I would leave, and he would always call a few days later to ask if I had cooled down and ask if I was ready to come back) 2 1/2 years after he first hired me, I knew he was not joking, but was carrying out his plan.

He had just then broken ground for the 120,000 square foot building that they also quickly outgrew with Richards vision.

When Deanna told me about this blog, I had told her that I thought BMX had died when Richard passed, of course the sport is still with us, but what I meant was the compassion, the competitiveness and the vision for the future.

When the sport was suffering a lull, he stepped up to the media at whatever the cost to keep it alive, he brought other brands under his roof, and sponsored more teams to keep it alive, he sponsored Television shows, and brought in the people to produce them.

He did more than dream the dreams, he made them come true.

Sorry if this seems like rambling, I have so many thoughts running through my mind, all of them looked back upon with extreme respect and happiness. The first 2 story trade show booth and this nightmare getting it built, the trip taking his first mountain bikes to Reno for the tradeshow and getting yelled at because the safari van was not as fast as his Merc , the beach parties..........

God Bless you Richard, you are thought of often, and always with respect.

Bill Ryan

 
At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute this is to Richard. It makes me very proud to have had a son so highly thought of. He would have been very happy to know he had such a great impact on so many lives.
I loved him dearly and he is always in my heart and thoughts.
As a boy he had big dreams, and he fulfilled them when he started GT. Im sure heaven is a better place with him in it.
His Mom

 
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ten years ago today I lost the love of my life and our son's Jeff and Chris lost the Dad who was to be there mentor in the years to come. He was a great Dad but a tough one. He was determined his boys would find there way as he did, but was there for them to guide them through, however nothing would be handed to them. He wanted them to learn about life as he had.
Rich was a self taught entrepreneur. It didn't come easy and there were many sacrifices he and his family would go through. Many more then ever expected when GT became so huge. However Rich never lost sight of his family , while pursuing his dream at GT. He did both of these with dignity, style and class. He was devoted to everything he was a part of, his GT family in the states and abroad. He always made sure no one was left out, no matter if you were in management or answering GT phones, all employees were special to him.
Rich never knew GT would become the monster it did. However, he loved that monster with passion. I know how he felt about his employees and without them GT would not have become that monster. Gt had the "best" people working there, Rich made sure of that. He worked hard to get the perfect employee team together, as well as the perfect BMX and Mountain Bike riders.So Gt was the best all around and he was successful in doing that with the help of many others.
Over the years GT became larger and that commanded more long hours and a whole lot of traveling. Our family missed him on holidays as he was abroad bringing more dealers and distributors on board. It all paid off for Gt in the end.
Our son Jeff tried so hard to fill his Dad's shoes, however without his guidance and the fact these were big shoes to fill, he continued on without the most important role model of his life.Jeff loved,respected his Dad and had such unconditional love for him, he was very proud of his Dad and had the same passion as Rich had about work and people.He yearned to be just like him. In 2004 Jeff left us and is now with his Dad.
Our son Chris is married to a wonderful woman, Danee, and they have a beautiful 2 year old daughter, Monae.Chris's love for his Dad is as deep and passionate as his brothers was. His love and respect for his Dad is so deep and he misses his Dad so much and was counting on the days that he would be mentored by him. As a young boy he would dream of the day they would sit together and talk business over a beer. regretfully for both of them they never had the chance to do that. His Dad is so very proud of his son, though he hasn't been here physically for Chris he knows the accomplishments his son has made.Chris has a beautiful family and went on to Culinary School and is now a Chef at Troquet French Bistro in Costa Mesa.
Ironically in the 70's a motorcycle accident Rich was in gave him a small settlement and he put it aside until he figured out what he wanted to do. He started a bike shop in Anaheim, met Gary Turner and one thing led to another. Gt was born.
On July 12 1996 Rich left us all and went to Heaven, a motorcycle accident that started the birth of GT, ended with a motorcycle accident, that ended his dream he had more then fullfilled.
Rich, you are so missed by Chris and me but never will be forgotten.. Your "babe" forever.
Wanda Long

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Mike H. said...

Like all of you who have already commented I respect Richard for his drive, competiveness and integrity. One couldn't work so closely with someone unless you trusted that person completely. Most of you know my role was more on the inside. I got to know him and grow with him from some different pespectives and working situations that were not as public. I have to say he was consistent inside or outside...he laughed with the tears...that seemed to make the tough situations easier. I chuckle to myself when I think of some of the times we all had together: like being late to catch a plane, how bad we smelled after eating garliced chinese food, having a drink together after a long day of chasing money in NY, visiting Jim Morrison's grave in Paris...I could go on. As the size of the company grew he didn't change much other than he was able to adapt to the new set of circumstances that confronted him. Whether it was dealing with Wallstreet types or a young athlete he was the same guy.
Success of the businees was important but it did not change who he was.
Richard continues to travel with me. He was day five on AIDS ride several years ago with his picture duct taped to my handle bars that day. Along with pictures of my famly, the picture of him with Paris in the background is carried in my briefcase wherever I go.
I know he cared deeply for his family and friends, especially for Wanda and the boys.
I look forward to seeing him again.
Mike H.

 
At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of getting to watch Rich from some pretty early days in BMX, and see both his company and family flourish.

Probably the favorite period was when he was running several BMX tracks in Southern California, in addition to running the company during the day. The tracks were as far-flung as San Diego (Rancho), and Azusa. Wanda was running sign-ups and the snack bar, and Jeff and Chris were always along, too. At one point, I can remember a few riders repeatedly asking Chris what his favorite meal was, and he'd tell us in his best two-year-old (or so) voice, "Porkchops, and applesauce," which just cracked us up. It's interesting to read that he's now a chef. :)

Of course, since I lived in the same area as Rich and his family, we'd often drive back home at the same time, and Rich was just as competitive on the freeway as he was in business. We had some pretty good freeway dices, and every time we'd be alongside each other, he had a great devlish grin.

Later, while working at BMX and mountain bike magazines, I got to view GT from the media side, and the company was never lacking for good product, talented people, and the feel that Rich was a driving force. But no matter how big it grew, Rich still treated everyone the same.

I'm glad I knew him.

Steve Giberson

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanda Long

Chris and I would love to give a very warm, heartfelt "thank you" to Doug Martin for starting this blog for Richard. It has been truly an honor and tribute to him and our family. To all of you who have shared your stories with us "thank you" as well. Our wish is this blog will continue to grow and many more people will share their thoughts as well.
We know he is missed by his friends and family.
God bless all of you!

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger dm said...

If the measure of a man is what he leaves behind, then the posts to date only reaffirm what we all knew about Richard anyway. Pretty darn amazing, if you ask me.

Here something to consider:

So I'm sitting at the computer the other day working on some upcoming BMX World Championship stuff - which will be the first event to have a significant impact on UCI points towards BMX Olympic start positions in 2008 - and I begin wondering if BMX would even be an Olympic sport without Richard and all that he did for it, for all of those years?

Personally, I really doubt it.

10 years after impacting the sport in Atlanta (the GT SuperBike - Richard's vision - significantly contributed to the UCI's decision to later change bike design rules), Richard is still at it! Ha - I love it!

Oh, yeah - and current TdF leader Floyd Landis? He used to race mountain bikes for GT and Richard back in the day...

More to come.

(Wanda & Chris - you are welcome! Thank you!!)

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanda forwarded these postings a few weeks before the anniversary of Richard's passing, but honestly it took me some weeks to even look at it.....very hard to revisit the thoughts and memories I have of July 12th, 1996. But since, I have been on and read every single blog twice and I'm so glad I did. It doesn't take away the bad memories of that day but it sure reminds me of some of the things I had forgotten over 10 year's time....I was his behind-the-scenes person and thought I had pretty much heard, or become privy to, or knew just about everyone that RL knew.....guess I was wrong! I've enjoyed the insights of those I didn't know and feel for the emotions that are still running high in those I do know.

Thanks for getting it going, Doug, and for every one who laughed or struggled their way through their sharing.......it's AWESOME and helps to know he hasn't been forgotten.

I told my husband the saddest thing for me is that when I worked there, I felt part of something very important and larger than I ever anticipated and it pains me to know that it won't be like that (ever again) for RL's vision.

But now to end on a happy note or a "fun" thought of him -

...that "corporate" photo of Richard with the blue background that we had hanging in the lobby of GT - he had only his shirt and suit coat on (with shorts or jeans) below photo level - kind of a "Charles Barkley" thing, but obviously with much more class AND Richard had just a bit of that grin of his going on...

I miss everyone I ever got to know at GT...and of course, Wanda.

Take care all,

Barbara Okel

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GERRIT DOES said:

It's unbelieveble how fast time passes! Now more then 10 years ago ( July 12th. 1996) I received a telephone-call from GT representative in Europe, mr. John Holcomb (R.I.P.) who told me in a carefull way that RICHARD LONG was killed in a motorcycle accident. I WAS SHOCKED.
Allthough living in the USA and meeting him a couple of times a year for some years here in Europe, because of the man he was, I felt like family of me had passed away. I could not believe it.
The first time I met Richard was during teh 1983 I.BMX.F. Worlds in Slagharen-Holland. A very angry big guy, whom I did not know at that time, demanded he wanted to speak with the organizer of the event, and that was ME! There were some problems with Factory Team registration and since this was the first out of the USA BMX Worlds, GT Bicycles wanted to do well. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was able to handle Richard's fury and solved the problem in a fair and realistic way concerning this team issue.
Richard was very happy with the result and appreciated the open and fair solution. From that moment on we were like "friends". After that we did meet several times
here in Europe, had diner, talked BMX developments in Europe and had some fun too. A real friendship did grow. With Richard it was business ofcourse, but he also
acted and reacted as a sportsman, same as I did. One word was enough for both of us to understand what he ment or we wanted. This was very special.
Richard was a straight forward guy, but always fair, towards me anyway.
It's remarkable that so many people still think of Richard so many times even today! When I go riding my GT ATB/MTB (about 2 times a week at least), I always
think of Richard and even talk to him in a way. You know why? Out of respect I called my bike "RICHARD".
Mieke, my wife (sister of Pierre Karsmakers, the mx rider from the '70) makes notes in her diary of all important things that happens in our lives.
July 12th. 1996 has the name of RICHARD LONG written in her agenda. Every year, we do have a moment on that day, thinking of Richard and his family.
Mieke did meet Richard a few times as well.
His personality made a great impression on many people her in Holland and Europe. I was able to help mr. Bart de Jong to go to work for GT, through Richard ofcourse.
We don't meet that often anymore, but once a year we see to eachother, another year has gone since Richard passed away.
It also has been an hour for me to work for Richard (GT Bicycles) as his TM for the GT Euro BMX team winning the first year 1990 the Euro Team title and in 1994 and 1996 the World Team titles for GT. The very nice trophy from 1994, I gave to Richard. Typical Richard to give me back that trophy a couple of months later, You won it, You keep it. That Trophy is the only one you will find in my living room at my house and that means something, I can tell you. It's out of respect for Richard.
Richard also wanted to help young upcoming business men in a world with tough competition. My son Nico had started with WEBCO in Europe. During the IFMA bicycle show, we had diner, Richard, John Holcomb, Nico and myself. Nico producing frame and fork sets through Greg Esser, needed parts for his Team to built complete bikes.
This came up during dinner and Richard and Nico finished a deal in 5 minutes realizing GT supporting him wiht parts. Holcomb was flabergasted, never saw a deal done that quickly. Richard stated he has done that to help starting business men of the ground ven if they were competition in a way.
This kind of things come to mind if I think of Richard. Again, I can write many stories, the conclusion stays the same. BMX is missing Richard very hard! A guy with
vision, new ideas, a motivator, not an allways easy man, but fair and honest.
He touched a lot of lives and for sure that of mine and my family. I hope Wanda and the boys are doing o.k. First year for sure must have been tough for them.
Thanks again Richard for your friendship and wise lessons, I still miss you.
GD

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Peterman said...

I remember very clearly the last thing Richard said to me….it was upstairs in the big conference room in the Segerstrom building and we had just finished going over the ’96 road show format. It was a Saturday…..of course, and Richard was in casual mode with jeans, a t-short and varsity style Harley jacket……I was anxious to go home and enjoy what was left of the weekend with my wife before leaving for the grueling three week cross country marathon. Richard knew it and kept asking me questions about the Product presentation just to play with me…….finally I said, “Richard, can I get out of here ? “ ….he looked at me, with his chin slightly raised and that little grin on his lips and said “Yeah Peterman, I’m done with you”……prophetic in light of later events ? Maybe…..probably just my mind hoping to assign some meaning to what was just a random comment…..yet it is seared into my memory for some reason.

I am still with the brand 10 years after. Some people say that RL would be happy that GT is still out there and that he would be thankful that I and others, in spite of adverse circumstances were still carrying on……I guess they didn’t know Richard very well….I often imagine what Richard would say if I could have a quick talk with him about the whole thing….I am pretty sure he would call me a few choice names and ask me why the hell didn’t I do something bigger and greater………why didn’t I get off my ass and start something new of my own……..because that’s the kind of leader he was…he pushed you to win because that was the only thing that counted ..it was often said of Richard that when he dressed you down you did not walk away cursing him, you walked away wondering how you could show him that you could fulfill his expectations…

Everyone I have read in this blog has mentioned Richard’s ability to laugh in most adverse of circumstances. I remember very well a trip to a major Taiwan vendor in 1995 and for various reasons it was not going well. Richard was very proud of his ability to negotiate and this day had turned into a stand off of silence…..nothing being said (because he knew the first to speak was the first to lose). So we left the factory with him in a foul mood. He had been going to Taiwan and Asia for many many years at that point and seemed a bit tired of the game. Myself, (a total newbie in the presence of total pros) Bill Duehring, Dianne Shaw, and Richard were being chauffeured home by the vendor’s driver after that long day and RL wanted to talk about it all…..but first he wanted to find out if the driver knew English (as he could report our conversation back to the vendor)….so he asks politely “Hey you speak English?” …no comment from the driver…..a little louder “HEY DO YOU TALK AMERICAN !”……no response….then RL laces the question with a few rough slang terms just to see if the indiscretion hits a nerve. Nothing. So Richard starts to discuss the strategy for tomorrow with Bill and Diane….at this point I am merely spectating….absorbing the wisdom. It’s a long hot drive and after about 30 mins of heated discussion, Richard tugging at his collar, says “Damn I wish this guy would turn on the AC”….at which point the drive leans forward and turns on the AC……….Dianne goes pale…..Bill eyes widen…Richard just looks at all of us one by one with sort of a open mouth and just starts to laugh and laugh and laugh…and the driver starts to laugh too……..

The one thing I do know is that the company he built did it all before anyone else in the bike business….from carbon….. to international distribution….to the best in race teams…..to the finest in parts distribution……Richard had the vision, Richard had the will and Richard the heart…..he was a man that lead by example. He worked harder, he drank harder, he laughed harder and most importantly he dreamed harder……

Here’s to you RL…….thanks for giving me the chance to be on your team. And take it easy on everyone up there……..their just trying to do their best for you. Like we are down here……

 
At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Jeff G. Holt said...

Richard was one of a kind. He had a kind heart and a drive to succeed like no other. He always took time out to talk with me whenever we saw each other & even personally sponsored me with my first trials bike. A few years later I remember sitting with him at the 1994 Vail worlds under the enormous GT race tent and he was so proud of how far the brand had progressed. There was no one like Richard...

 
At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Jim Freibert said...

Thanks Doug,
and the Long family for sharing your husband and father with "(y)our team."

Been in technology sales for years, with administrative offices and factories just around the corner from Red Hill and Dyer. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about GT, the "bike biz," and a few men who worked in Huntington Beach, and started companies that became grad schools for bicycling industry business, in the 80's, 90's, and into the 21st century. Paul Moore launched a retail business in HB based on his passion to serve touring cyclists and other riders, and it eclipsed anything in America. A million dollar – one week sale! Doug and Barbara and I were part of that team, and friends for years past, and we've watched co-workers go all over America, heading depts, divisions, and their own companies!

In as much as 2Wheel Transit Authority defined what could be done in bicycle retailing, Richard and GT took it to the next level, as a wholesale distributor, manufacturer, and a world beating identity - with World Champions, products, and global brands. They loved BMX racing, kids, and bicycles, and in a decade Richard and GT built a brand that in many ways was equal to, and in some ways surpassed, what generations of the Schwinn family did, over 70 years.

With my good friends already riding the GT rocket, and maybe 198 others ahead of me, I joined Team GT after interviewing with Richard, and BG. With Bob Braseny, Kish, Rob, Greg, Jeff, Rick B, Cory, and others, we worked hard buying to keep sales moving, and products flowing to our dealers. Usually BoB was the only one reporting back to Richard, but we felt the heat at times, and ALL benefited from Richard’s foresight and generosity. Richard built pride in the accomplishments of the team, and bikes, team cars, trucks, and an “esprit de corps” were perks of working for “the firm” while GT climbed onto podiums around the world, and appeared in the WSJ, Olympics, and in every media. While manufacturers were leaving OC and CA, GT had R&D, nearly two dozen welders making frames, people developing carbon framesets, and a full CNC shop in Santa Ana. Richard was the driving force, and excellence was the goal throughout his GT factory.

Think I read through every entry so far, and many have mentioned heaven, but few, if any talked about Richard’s funeral. It was one of the things that left an unforgettable impression on me – there must have been close to two thousand people from the “bike biz,” racing, retailing, and manufacturers from all over the world. It was a mark of the impact he had and it disproved a quote, that said, ‘if you want to see how indispensable you are – put your hand in a bucket of water – and pull your hand out, look at the mark you’ve made, no one is irreplaceable.’ That may or may not be true in 99% of cases, but in a family, at GT, and in the “bike biz” – this wasn’t true. Even with exceptionally capable leaders like Mike Haynes (now CFO at Specialized), and Bill Duehring (founder and CEO of Felt), GT, and a lot of good management, we lost a visionary, recognized, and mourned around the world. Richard had been the impetus to drive the good decisions, or the check to balance bad ones, or laugh about them… Ten years ago, when Richard didn’t make it back up the mountain we all lost a VIP. Do many remember that he’d already been up and down the hill, working as hard, or harder than anyone on the team, to be all he could be for everyone at GT?

It is appointed once to die,… the death rate is 100%, but not everyone leaves a legacy, or an impression. Some search for success, Richard Long found that and significance, and I’m sorry that his family has memories but not the man. We loved him and we thank you.

When I left GT, the day before “Schwinn” took over we had close to 750 employees, who were all significantly touched, and benefited from Richard’s drive and vision. Thank God, and Wanda, Chris, Gary, Doug, Barbara, and all for the opportunity to work with you, and Richard, and to remember an unforgettable era in Team GT. If we don’t get together for a ride, or at the races, I hope that you will come to have the assurance that you can finish the race of life as a winner, in heaven, with a fraction of the impact that Richard Long had among family, friends, GT employees, and thousands of cyclists who rode our brands, wore our T-shirts, stuck a GT sticker on something, but never knew him.

Just Jim from purchasing

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger dm said...

(A couple of people have asked about the deleted comments to date. Nothing more than the removal of some duplicate entries. Blog on.)

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger ferava said...

I never really worked directly for RL, but arrived at GT (still at Segerstrom, about to move to the new building) a little after his time. His presence and philosophy were all there, though, through DM and Hadley and Holcomb, and Huffman and others...and it was one of my best professional experiences, for traits which I unconsciously apply to GT, and by extension to Richard Long. My time at GT still is something I am very proud of having lived, for the reasons I could identify as being the core of his philosophy, passed along by those guys. It was the kind of company you wanted to keep, as sharp as it was fair. Good vibes to all, Long Live GT !

 
At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What started with a G and ended with a T. Greg , Geoff and GT. The greatest BMX AD of all time.

Or maybe the one where Greg Hill, Geoff Schofield , Kevin hull etc. were all at the top of a big dirt hill with broken redline parts and hutch parts with barbed wire. Any body remember these .

God they were good. I miss him so much !!!

 
At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Lance said...

Richard spoke with me about working at GT in the late 80's during the first day working as an exhibitor at the CABDA Expo that was held in St. Charles, IL. at that time.

At any rate, by the end of the show I actually had a full blown interview with both Richard and Bill Duehring. I was very excited about what GT was doing at the time and they offered me a great opportunity. However I was living in New Jersey and my wife wouldn't consider relocating to California. Sadly I had to call Richard and let him know I was unable to take him up on the offer. He later wrote me an amazing letter that I still have to this day. He stated that he perfectly understood my circumstances and that family was number one. He also very politely let me know that in order to grow in the bike industry I would need to work with a more aggressive company than the one I was working for at that time. Words I never have forgotten... and soon after my divorce....I exercised this advise and zip zagged across the U.S.A no fewer than 3 times while working for 3 different industry companies.

Richard was an incredible individual and that letter he sent me still serves as a reminder of the kind of individual I strive to be in my professional career.

 
At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I learned from Richard the reward from profound commitment. Committment to the important things. Trivial takes care of itself.
Not many days go by without reflecting on the good ole days when work was so much fun.
I miss the sales meetings.
I think a reunion is in order. How about a picnic in mile square park?
Kevin Riordan

 
At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Richard.

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an early and long-time GT dealer in St. Louis. A number of my folks (including several of the BMX team's members) went on to work for GT/Riteway/Clayton Cycle in various capacities (right, Margo, Mark, Doug, Rickie, Rik, and Mitch?).

I cannot add much to Richard's accolades, but I would share this vignette: We first met at an early '80s NBL National in Memphis, of which GT was a long-time sponsor; I introduced myself and we chatted about the biz and a co-sponsored rider on the our team. Many years later, at a Riteway-St. Louis Open House, he walked over, noticed my nametag, and proceeded to reprise the conversation we had at Memphis almost 15 years before! What a memory! He only met a couple of hundred thousand of people in the interim, and yet he remembered ME! Talk about making a lowly dealer feel GREAT! That is a memory I truly treasure.

Tom from Wheels West

 
At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss you dad!!! Happy New Year and I love you

Your son,
Chris

 
At 3:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick Kern
Bicycle Hangar
Missoula, Mt

I first met Richard Long at an open house that GT put on. He really knew how to throw a party. First class in an industry that is known for being cheap. The GT open houses have never been bettered. At one of the open houses I ended up without a ride back to my hotel. He had a limo waiting for me when I was ready to go. I was a small bike dealer that was lucky enough to sell GT bikes. He flew me to his open houses and treated me like royalty.

It was a very sad day for the bike industry, GT and your extremely loyal dealers when we lost you Rich.

I miss you.

Rick Kern

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GT/Riteway was a distributor for our products. We were very small at the time, but Richard made it his business to get to know me. He also, made it his business to try and help our Flegling company grow, which he did over the years we worked together. I could never understand why Richard would take a personal interest in such a small part of his business, but I was ever so grateful that he did. A short anecdotal story reveals a lot about the man. He had just announced a deal to design and make 1,000 limited edition Harley Davidson bikes. I lusted for one and mentioned this to Richard. But he said that they were all spoken for, as Harley dealers and GT dealers scoffed them up. I understood. About 6 months later, a large box showed up at my office. I open it up and a fancy embossed certificate signed by Richard and the President of Harley, informed me that I was the proud owner of # 131. There was something really special about Richard Long. It was amazing how many people he afffected and touched. Hank Krause

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Vince Tavis said...

I was using a bicycle for transportation and through my interest in bicycles I ended up working for Rite-way Products at the same time they received their first shipments of GT frames (1981). My work days at Rite-way consisted of taking orders, picking and packing them, and delivering them to dealers all over Southern California. At the end of the day I would pick up as much GT product as Richard would allow. Richard made me feel that he liked me and my company and would give me as much product as he could without making the rest of the world mad at him. When the time was right GT bought Riteway and our growth continued at a blistering pace for several years. I never moved up the corporate ladder but as the company grew my position expanded to a crew of people doing each task that I used to perform.

My career at GT was a thrill beyond compare. I did things I never would have dreamed. There were difficult times when I wanted to quit. The effort that I put into it was beyond what I thought I was capable of. Richard’s and my paths crossed many times through the years and I appreciate the opportunity to have known him, to have known many of you, and to support my family.

My life is very different now (3rd grade school teacher) but I remember what it was like to ride the runaway train that was GT Bicycles with Richard Long at the helm. It was great. I hope and pray my kids get the chance for such an encounter.

Vince Tavis

 
At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Rick Kern said...

I hope the Richard Long Family has a nice Holiday season. Again Richard the bike industry misses you.

Rick Kern
Bicycle Hangar
Missoul,Mt

 
At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Rick at Bicycle Hangar Missoula said...

Another Thought about you Richard. At one of your Open Houses that you threw you were up talking about the new line of bikes. You really knew how to throw a party. Your vision to make GT the greatest bicycle company succeeded in my world.
Rick Kern Bicycle Hangar Missoula, Montana

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger PeterE said...

Richard was truly a legend, even over here in the UK, lost but not forgotten.

My sister rode for GT back when bmx was kicking off in the UK and my father John spent a long period working for Geoff Barraclough(GBGT) and helping run the NW element of the team. Geoff if you still use the forum it would be great to hear from you again!!!

 
At 5:55 PM, Blogger ricknphx@hotmail.com said...

I loved Richard Long.He and Gary Turner gave me my 1st sponcership and changed the course of my life for the better.Thanks Richard,may your spirit live on in our hearts forever. Rick Allison

 
At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RL, Thanks for giving me an opportunity to join the "Team GT" Haynes, Duehring, Galloway, Huffman, Cox, the Georger Brothers and Lee in St Louis. Putting together the "Good Times Party" and moving everything "under one roof" at Dyer Road is a tribute to your vision. You have passed the torch, as I have moved on as a teacher, thanks for the opportunity.
Andy O'Connor

 
At 3:39 AM, Blogger Danial123 said...

The in the Barrel3-speed geatures a simple-minded color scheme with a complex geometric frame design to form the utopia of cruisers Comfort Bikes.
cruiser bikes

 
At 8:25 AM, Blogger GregHill said...

I am sitting at my desk and signed into Facebook, someone posted a picture of a GT ad with myself, Robert Fehd, Nelson Chanady and Geoff Scofield. I am looking at this ad and can remember every single detail of that day, Richard was right there directing, making jokes, leading the way as he usually did..It's been almost 16 years since Richard has passed, and I often find myself going to places in my mind where there are memories that shape my life..I was there from day 1 with GT even as a little kid 11 years old in Gary Turners garage with my father getting my first GT frame =) and then when I was 18 years old and Richard had Gary make me a special frame I raced it a few times and Richard said you need to race for GT, we want you on the team..I shook his hand and we went racing and we kicked ass!!! The first race was the IBMXF Pontiac MI race at the silverdome and I won every lap all weekend..It was the start of a great relationship and I am forever grateful for Richards support all those years..So many memories but I gotta share this one..We were at Waterford Oaks in MI 1982 we just won the team trophy that day we all won our class and loaded up the big passenger van we had..We were in the same parking lot as Hutch, Diamond Back and CW Racing and we were the first to drive off, Rich turns and begins driving in circles around the parking lot with all the windows down and he's hanging out the window yelling "we got a lota more, we got a lotta more" then we all began yelling OMG that was awesome people were looking at us like we were crazy...We were, we were GT BMX and we won it all and we let you know about it, led by the master himself, Richard Long.

Richard, I miss you! I will see you again one day I know it, until then my friend, rest in peace!

 

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