David Taylor 1937–2020
Legendary cycling journalist who reported from outside contemporary realms
There are few people whose love of cycling was as allencompassing as that of journalist David Taylor, who died last month at the age of 82.
Notably, he was the only reporter who felt it was worthwhile to travel to Norway for the Hour record attempt of a littleknown Scot called Graeme Obree in 1993. He was rewarded with the story, and more importantly the pleasure of seeing the man whose battles with Chris Boardman he’d been covering for the previous few seasons, beat the record of the legendary Francisco Moser.
His love of cycling was sparked as a teenager, watching events in Finsbury Park in North London. He quickly took to racing, especially new-to-theuk mass-start events with the ‘radical’ British League of Racing Cyclists.
He raced events in Essex in the 1950s, often monumental weekend stage races with a 200km-plus stage on Saturday, and another two stages on Sunday. “They were from point to point,” he explained. “If you got dropped you were in trouble. Most of the signposts hadn’t been replaced after the war. It was a bit defeatist, but I used to stick a map in my jersey pocket so that if the worst happened at least I could find my way home.”
After 25 years working as a London correspondent for the Birmingham Post, in the late 1970s David moved to the job he should always have had, reporting for Cycling Weekly. It was an era when the magazine’s focus was distinctly British. He followed the old Milk Race, and spent his weekends at Star Trophy and Premier Calendar events, the championship time trials, even the Three Peaks cyclo-cross.
As a staffer and later a freelancer, he was a constant presence, especially at time trials, for 40 years. He was delighted in recent years to see so many of the young riders he’d interviewed at domestic events go on to global stardom, in a way that was unthinkable when he was trying to find his way home from deepest Essex.
His status as a “Leaguer” gave him a perspective broader than the domestic scene. In an era when ‘foreign racing’ meant the Tour de France, David went to the Spring Classics, even if his chances of getting more than a paragraph into the magazine were almost non-existent.
At home or abroad, he had an uncanny ability to find the hotel or B&B most conveniently situated for covering the race. Perhaps his greatest triumph was at the Booth’s Grand Prix at Windermere in the mid 2000s, where a rider at the start who looked to their right could see David 15 yards away in the front bay window of his hotel, setting about a cooked breakfast and a giant pot of tea, notepad open on the table beside him.
He’s survived by Pat, his wife of 43 years, and their daughter Laura.
“His perspective was broader than domestic racing”
Taylor kept abreast of modern time trialling