Rich Taylor

Rich TaylorMy first bicycle was a Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat and a “sissy” bar. I thought it was the coolest bike ever. It made me feel like a grown up when my parents finally allowed me to ride it to school. From then on exploring the boundaries of my independence was a daily endeavor. I don’t think my parents ever realized how many miles a boy could pedal on his bicycle before dinner.

While attending high school, a good friend, who was a bicycle mechanic at a local bike shop, talked me into doing my first “100 miler.” Today this mileage is referred to as a Century Ride. I have done many Centuries since my high school days.

After a four-year stint in the Air Force, marriage and starting a family, I was reintroduced into cycling by a neighbor’s invitation to go mountain biking at a local trail. If you are not familiar with the terrain of South Florida, the term “mountain biking” can be considered a bit of a stretch. Regardless, I couldn’t wait to challenge myself against the “mountains.”

Today I still enjoy mountain biking and have taken many trips throughout the states to ride off-road trails. Additionally, I continue to test myself by participating in various bicycling (mountain bike and road bike) events. Some riders call these events races, but I like to call them finishes.

When my wife told me that Allen was planning this ride, I was intrigued. When I then learned that he was dedicating this ride to raise awareness and funds for mental illness, I was all in. I know this is a personal cause for Allen and I am more than happy to do whatever it takes to help.

In my 30+ years working as a firefighter/paramedic, I have not only seen the impact of mental illness on individuals, but its impact on family members. Without the needed community support and adequate funding, people living with mental illness have few options. I, for one, have seen the devastating effects on those who have few or no options.

I have no doubt the support for Ride to Awareness will be overwhelming. I encourage everyone to give generously to this noble cause and hopefully we can erase the stigma once and for all.

3,000 Miles of Adventure Cycling across the Southern Tier of the USA to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)