Tom began riding more. He joined the Jobst’s rides and found a solid crew with which to ride; he befriended Spence Wolfe and his wife of the Cupertino Bike Shop, the “shop,” actually Wolfe’s garage, was the only professional shop in the area at the time; and Tom began racing more…
A young rider in the Junior’s category, Tom often sought to enter into Seniors’ races where the competition was stronger. Tom still always managed to place well or even win. His riding qualified him for the Junior World Championship Team, but because he was not quite old enough, Tom was unable to join the team.
Along with the racing, Tom began tinkering, with his bike and new design ideas- not an all together new exercise for Tom having grown up with an engineer as a father and a well established work shop in the family garage. In fact, tinkering and building came almost naturally to Tom. Tom recalls, “if I wanted to build a go-cart or sailboat, we [Tom’s father and Tom] would do it. I built a three story tree fort when I was five and it got to the point where my father said, ‘You’ve gotta take this thing down. You’re going to kill yourself.’” At the age of 11, Tom built an electric car with the help of his father. At age 14, Tom looked to his father with the idea of building his own bicycle frame. So together, the two used reverse engineering techniques to build the first Ritchey bicycle frame.
Using himself to test the frame, Tom began training and racing on the bike he and his father built, and very soon people began noticing Tom not only for his winning results but because he was riding a bike he had built himself!
1972 Marin Crit.
Despite Tom’s success he did fall under a certain scrutiny by some- Who was this kid winning races against competition older than him? Building his own bikes? What was he doing? What made him think he had the knowledge or skills to build cycling equipment? Tom didn’t mind what they were saying, all he knew was he enjoyed racing, loved winning, had countless ideas still to try out and couldn’t get enough of riding his own designs.