Photo: Monika Leopold
Birth Date: 2/18/93
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 150 lbs
Home: Durango, CO
Education: K-12 Austin Waldorf School; B.S. in Exercise Science and Minor in English Writing from Fort Lewis College.
Strengths: Fast and punchy courses, tactical races, rocks.
Off the bike interests: basketball (rabid NBA fan), writing, paddle boarding, running, fly fishing, podcasts, video/media production.
-2x Marathon National Champion 2017, 2018
-Bronze Medal XC National Championship 2017
-3rd Leadville 100 2017, 2018
-1st Singlespeed World Championships 2018
-1st Mongolia Bike Challenge 2016
-1st Iron Horse Bicycle Classic 2016
-1st Firecracker 50 2017, 2018
-1st Grand Traverse 2017
-2x World Championship team member
-2x Pan American Games team member
-3rd Overall Epic Rides Series 2017
-1st Raid Tucuman Argentina UCI C3 2018
-5x National Champion with Fort Lewis College
Payson began his racing career in 2007 and developed his passion for the sport in the Texas State Championship Series. At 17 he traveled with USA Cycling to Germany where he raced and trained as a member of the USA Cycling National Team for the first time. In 2011 he graduated from the Austin Waldorf High School and moved to Durango, CO to further his education and pursue a dream of being a professional cyclist. In 2012 Payson signed with the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory/Sweet Elite mountain bike team, and for the next two years matured as a racer under the guidance of Chad Cheeney, Ned Overend, and others.
“I’m sure I’ll look back on those Sweet Elite years as some of the best of my life. It taught me how to love the time between races as well.”
In 2014, Payson moved on to create a program of his own, Richard’s Rainwater MTB Racing, a project he will always remember with fondness. It was his first foray into the "privateer model", and was met with surprising support and positive feedback.
In 2015, Payson joined the Competitive Cyclist pro mountain bike team where he enjoyed learning from some of the seasoned veterans on the team such as Justin Lindine and Jason Sager. In 2016 Payson joined Team RideBiker p/b Sho-Air program and enjoyed the opportunity to meld the freedom of a privateer program with the financial support of a factory team. It resulted in a breakout season highlighted by many results, including a victory at the 6 day Mongolia Bike Challenge.
With his career taking off, Payson opted in 2017 to build a program around his specific needs. As a recent college graduate, long time partner Orange Seal stepped up as title sponsor and helped Payson officially launch his elite professional career. Building on the momentum of 2016, he had a banner year, headlined by winning a first elite national championship. In 2018, the timing was right for Orange Seal and Payson to launch an all new pro team spawned from Payson's privateer program the previous year. The Orange Seal Off-road Team was born, and has taken the North American race circuit by storm, already notching double national titles in the marathon discipline--Payson defended his title from 2017.
Now settling in to what he hopes will be a long career, Payson is more excited than ever for the trail ahead. What began as childhood dreams of fame and glory has developed in to a love for the lifestyle, process, and desire to help others achieve two-wheeled happiness along the way. With new personal sponsor Red Bull, Payson is excited to take this passion and share it beyond the racing world, tackling new projects both in racecourses and off.
“When I was a junior, it was often the hope of a glamorous pro career that motivated me. What I didn’t expect was how I would fall in love with the travel aspect, living out of a suitcase, and the daily grind of training. I still have enormous ambitions and dreams for the future, but more than anything, look forward to living this incredible lifestyle as long as I can, and inspiring others to do the same.”
Payson's home address is in Durango, CO, but he spends as much time in California, Austin, and various southwestern deserts.