I first crossed paths with Jimmy Riccitello sometime in the mid 90s. He was in his prime then, although I seem to remember him already making self-deprecating remarks about his age and imminent retirement.
I'm not sure where we first met. It may have been at the then-huge race in Santos Brazil. On a shuttle from Sao Paulo to the coast city, lots of us crammed in a van and played with the latest in electronic gadgetry. If only we'd know what was to come.
I looked at Scott Tinley, one of Jimmy's closest buddies, and I asked, "Is that a think pad?" Tinley was drawing a picture using that red mouse toggle thingy IBM was putting in the center of their key boards at the time. It seemed like magic.
Or maybe I first met Jimmy on the Mt. Lemon Highway in Tucson, chasing him and his pal Gord Fraser with a roll or two of Ektachrome. Gord, a pro cyclist, was Jimmy's secret weapon in training.
But one memory is vivid. A USAT race around 95 or so. I first met prolific tri scribe TJ Murphy at that event. He was a kid. We were all kids. I was smashed in a moto sidecar off the front of the lead bike pack: The race was an early draft-legal test run for the 2000 Olympics and Jimmy was launching himself forward from that pack like a rocket. He was making a statement about drafting; not even the synergy of the group compared to this guy's power on the bike. Jimmy was a real legend in that regard.
Before I could wind up the next frame of Chrome, Jimmy's QR was rubbing its front tire on the back of my sidecar and he was moving massive exchanges of air in and out of his lungs. It was loud, it was right in my face, and it was thrilling. I forgot to take pictures.
Later on after the race, he looked at me with a smile and a winking reference to the short pull and said, "Thanks for that."
And then there was this. I was living in San Francisco, Jimmy was in Tucson. I think it was 2004? The phone rang and he asked: "Can you meet me at LAX Airport tomorrow morning?" Twenty four hours later I was at Sheryl Crow's house, taking pictures of Lance Armstrong out by her pool.
Most of the Chrome from the 90s is long gone. But in recent years I've had a shoot or two with Jimmy in Tucson. These are a few favorites. Thanks Jimmy. It's been great man.