An Interview with Loz Taylor

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If you’re reading this then you may already know of the man named Loz Taylor. Maybe you bumped into him once whilst sheltering from a summer downpour in an NCP car-park or perhaps you once found him leafing through the contents of your wheelie bin in search of Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies and day-old pastry delights.

But who is the real Loz Taylor—the man behind the myth? What are his living arrangements? And how come he isn’t he allowed in the Co-Op anymore?

Read on for a few answers…

Interview and photos by Sam – originally printed in the second issue of Red Steps.

First things first, you live on a boat these days. What is your vessel called? 

Oh yes I do, it’s a 45 foot traditional stern narrowboat. It did say ‘Winedown’ on the front in vinyl letters but I was embarrassed by the name so I peeled them off and it just has a number on the side now.

Have you had any run-ins with crusty canal pirates yet, or have they taken you under their wing?  

There’s a lot of pirate flags on the scene but I haven’t seen any real life pirates out and about. It’s mostly East London Rumpelstiltskin style. You also get quite a lot of white Rasta drum and bass ravers with the Bob Marley flags and the bong pipes – I try and avoid people like that because they usually stay up playing Pendulum until 4am when I have to be in work the next day.

Taliban Tom is a fellow boater and I would say he is the pirate king – the last time I saw him he had taken his engine out and replaced it with a Mad Max pedalo system using an old bike he welded into the hull of the boat.

Do you have a TV? Do you have electricity? What are the bathroom facilities like?  

It’s got three 100w solar panels which keep the electricity going. It’s basically a 12v system so it’s got four domestic batteries like a car that the solar keeps topped up. The bathroom facilities are pretty high end – posh taps, shower, mahogany toilet roll holder and eco compost toilet.

I’ve never had a TV so I don’t miss that but I don’t have a computer at the moment either and I’m trying to answer these questions on my phone which is a right blag.

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Moving on to dry land now, when did you start riding? Do you remember what first set you off?  

I think I was always into bikes and doing jumps off the planks of wood, but when I was about ten I realised that you could get a special bike that was designed for getting air-time. It was around then that my life took a radical turn.

I was friends with this boy called Julian who lived down the road and he had a mountain bike and so his mum and dad took me and him to Bike 98. Even though I was about 11 or 12 I remember thinking that the mountain bikers looked pretty lame and the BMXers looked badass. I think I pestered my mum for months and she finally caved in and got me a BMX.

You grew up in Chester didn’t you? Who were the main riders back there? Any wildcards? 

When I was getting into the sport the big names in the local area were ‘Mad’ John Taylor, Owain Clegg, Alistair Whitton and Matt ‘Wolfman’ Warren. Actually, for quite a small town there was a lot of gnarly dudes.

What was an average day like in the Boneyard in 2001? 

On an average day you would have found young prodigy Owain Clegg practising suicides over the jump box, or you may have found a pre-pubescent Gareth Hunt honing his skills on the mini ramp. If you were really lucky you might even see Ango or Gary ‘G’ Symonds taking a break from Spital trails.

This would be washed down with a beef and tomato Pot Noodle, and all to the soulful sounds of At The Drive In.

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What sort of riding were you into growing up? What videos did you watch?  

I would say that from a young age I was always into what you would call ‘street style’ or ‘urban’ bmx. The first Animal video was good but it was the Sombra videos that really struck a chord with me – Mark Gonzalez, Smoker Dave and Chris Toth. The Finding Shade video was probably my favourite but Rebirth and On the Down Low were also good.

Is it true you once knocked yourself out whilst riding a car park on your own, only to wake up a few hours later with no idea what had happened? 

Yeah it is. It took me a while to put all the pieces together but what really happened was that I had a successful solo street jam and on the way home I saw my friend Jack and some people I knew from school.

This was in the heyday of CKY and they were getting someone to sit on top of a Biffa bin and push it really fast into this curb so that it ejected you off it Jonny Knoxville style into a bush.

People must have got a bit carried away and they pushed me so fast that I cleared the bush and landed head first into a tree stump. It knocked me out cold and I woke up the next day with no recollection of what happened.

If I remember right, I met you at Platt Fields ramp facility in Manchester. You used to ride there quite a bit. How important is it to have a local training facility? Where do you frequent these days?  

Yes, I think it’s very important to have a good training facility but more important is to have good sparring partners. The usual midweek spots are the Olympic Park and Mile End, and the usual cats on the scene are Tom ‘Sandy McNabb’ Sanders, Marv, Little Will, and D-Niles if he’s playing out.

How come you’re blacklisted from West Didsbury Co-Op? 

Not just from the Burton Road Co-Op, but nationwide! It all started out as a case of mistaken identity – as I went to leave the store I was apprehended by several members of staff because they said I had already been banned for stealing a large block of Cathedral City cheddar. This was entirely untrue, however I did at the time have a packet of Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages concealed inside my coat.

I had to wait in the back bit whilst the security guard came from the Co-Op in Withington to identify me as the Cathedral City thief and I had to sit there waiting for my chance to unload the sausages, but I messed it up and got caught red handed trying to hide a pack of Linda’s behind a filing cabinet.

£90 fine and I didn’t get to keep the sausages.

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For a while we both survived by getting food out of the bins round the back of various South Manchester supermarkets. What was the best thing you salvaged? 

I was with my friend Manil and we found one of the big red bins completely full of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. I don’t even like Creme Eggs that much, but it was a euphoric moment and in the heat of it Manil let go of the lid of the bin whilst I was half way inside and it fell down and cracked me on the head really hard.

What’s the London bin-scene like? 

It’s quite a diverse scene that differs from borough to borough – in the city you may as well forget about it but if you go into the suburbs you can get pretty lucky.

I’ve always got my eyes peeled but I don’t go out pulling special ops at midnight like the Manchester days. I’m always on the lookout for a fine bit of wood though and I’ve found a few gems as of late.

You put me on to a fair few exotic foodstuffs, such as plantain. What have you been eating these days? 

Daal and chappati has always been a steady choice and so is sambar and idli. I’ve been making my own kimchi and sauerkraut which has been very good and I’ve been brewing my own kombucha too.

I’ve also been growing quite a lot of stuff in the last year – right now I’ve got some Swiss chard, spinach, onions, beetroot and a few other bits.

On an unrelated subject, didn’t you once meet Rob Ridge? What was he up to?  

Yeah I did, he was going loco on the mini ramp at Mount Hawke. Fortunately he was in high spirits and didn’t unleash any of his trademark ‘Ridge Rage’. Martin Tambling and Tommy Bowers were also present during the session.

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Who else have you met on your travels?  

A few years ago me and Marv met pre-Brexit Boris Johnson when we were riding the city. It was when he was the mayor and he told us we had his personal permission to ride any spot in the city. He also told us that he had some muesli with blue top milk for breakfast.

Recently I got a train back to my dad’s and I sat opposite disgraced ex-Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon. We were sat in the quiet carriage and he was chatting loudly on his phone for the length of the journey which I thought was very rude.

Do you keep in touch with your old friends on the Federal Bad Boy Street Team? What’s Davey Watson up to these days? 

Once I went on a trip with Davey Watson to France for two weeks and he lived off Marlborough Reds and Haribos for the entire time. Apparently he still rides and he is still very good.

You’ve been to Vietnam a fair few times now. What is it you like about it out there? 

One of my friends from Chester lived there for about five years so I used to go and stay with him. He’s actually got married to a Vietnamese lady and they live in Chester now.

I’d bring my bike over there and ride some spots and go on camping trips into the jungle on a moped. There’s some really good spots in HCM city and there’s always something interesting going on. I think the longest I stayed was for about six months over winter a few years ago. I’ve been round Laos and Cambodia quite a lot too but Saigon in Vietnam is probably my favourite.  

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What’s going on with those places people go to feed live chickens to crocodiles?  

Most of those are in Cambodia. You see these crocodile farms where they sell the meat and make handbags and wallets out of the skins, it’s pretty grim but in some of them you can walk around and feed the crocodiles and watch children try to antagonise them by poking them with sticks.

I was having a look in one of them once when a coach full of drunk Russian tourists arrived just as I got there. They were all wearing tracksuits and kept trying to pour beer into the crocodile’s mouths. After that I watched a handful of money change hands between the owner and some of the tourists and then he comes back with all these live chickens and some ducks for people to throw to the crocodiles.   

Sounds mad. Wasn’t there some story about some woman letting off rounds from an AK45 in the street as well? What was going on there?  

Oh yeah, that was in Saigon. I got to my friend’s house one evening and the lady who lives next door was stood in the middle of the alleyway waving an Uzi around in her pyjamas. They were a nice silk pair of pyjamas too.

Everyone else was hiding behind the wall and trying to calm her down. As far as I could tell she was drunk and emotional. She was sound the next day.

Going back to something you said earlier, if you don’t have a TV or a laptop, how do you keep up to date with current riding gossip and team transfer news? 

Good question. At first I was worried that I wouldnt be able to find out the Dew Tour results and exciting extreme sport gossip but now I get my daily news briefing from Tom Sanders. He can literally tell me everything from Morgan Wade’s horoscope to what flavour cannabis Gary Young puts in his breakfast bong pipe.

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That’s okay then. What are your thoughts on extreme bicycle activity in 2017?

As far as I can tell I think it’s just going to keep on getting more and more extreme to the point where at the end of the year we can look back and say that this has probably been the most extreme year since records began.

We are only half way through the year so I’m confident we are going to see some radical and progressive NBDs very, very soon.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done on a bike?

Without a doubt I would say the best thing I have ever done on a bike was when I went street riding with Ruell ‘the Mother Hucker’ Erickson. It was quite a long time ago now which I hope doesn’t mean that I’ve peaked.

He was having a terrific time and at one point during the day he shouted, “Dude! The street here is fucking AWESOME!!!” and then performed an incredible Vic Murphy style kick-out table off a curb whilst making a loud wooping noise like Rick Flair.

He was going full speed and went about five feet high into a busy South London street but because he was over from America he looked the wrong way and almost got run over by a taxi.

After the stunt session was over we went back to the hotel where he was staying and we chanced upon his good pal Cory Nastazio. They were both very polite young fellows and we discussed double decades and their favourite dirt jumps over tea and pop.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done off a bike? 

I’m not much of a racical dude off my bike so the best thing I’ve ever done was probably when I sat next to Richard Bacon on the train to Manchester, even though I didn’t speak to him. Also I just got back from a trip to the Arctic Circle for a week and saw a wild polar bear up close and personal. I’d say that was probably the best thing actually.

Following on from that – can you describe your ideal day in extreme detail? 

I think my ideal day would have elements fom several past ideal days all rolled into one. It would be a bit like the ending from Groundhog Day except with more of a BMX theme and probably a bit more low key. I’d spend the morning with the wife and have a nice breakfast before heading out for some extreme sports action with a small group of homies from past and present.

At some point during the day we would have a chance meeting with Ruell Erickson because I thought he brought a lot to the table the last time we hung out together, this would also introduce an element of surprise which I think is an important aspect of an ideal day. After sufficient hammers have been dropped by all and sundry I would retreat back to the boat for a quiet evening with the wife or perhaps a BBQ if I was feeling fruity.

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Sounds good. You’re a pretty spiritual guy, do you believe in the power of leylines? 

Oh yes certainly, do you? I think that leylines are a great way to increase one’s overall synergy and work on pineal gland activation.

Who is Manpig? 

Manpig is Oldham’s extreme sport ambassador and if you’re lucky you can catch a glipse of him catching sweet air on various Manchester half-pipes. He usually rides in a Limp Bizkit skeleton suit that matches his skeleton bike and when he’s not getting gnarly he can be found kicking it back in one of Manchester’s several rock venues with an ice cold can of Red Stripe. The last time I checked he is the third best rider in Manchester after John the Bomb and Craig the Burgundy Bat.

Okay – I think that covers everything really. Have you got any wise words you’d like to end with? 

I dont have any wise words – just keep the horns raised dudes.

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