Somewhere in the solitude of the Santa Cruz Mountains, protected from civilization by hundreds of miles of designated Open Space, lies a sort of Bermuda Triangle. Ships don't get lost in these hills that slope down to the sea, but a modern pioneer does. Somewhere between the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the pulsing heart of Silicon Valley to the east; between a great stem design and a better one; and even between problems that plague the Third World and one man's dream of using bicycles to combat them, Tom Ritchey loses himself in a world of thought that has fueled bicycle frame and component innovation for over 30 years.
Tom likes to joke about his preferred patch of road and off-road riding, the perimeter of which forms a rough triangle, as a place he goes to get lost. From the outside, we see it more as a place he goes to discover ideas, atop a bicycle often wet with coastal fog, and usually equipped with multiple prototypes. Tom rushes off on whatever bike lay closest to the open door of his home workshop, eager to flee along list of tasks, a burgeoning inbox and a ringing phone, and darts off, up his steep driveway and into the wilderness… One, two -- five hours later, he reemerges with a new idea - perhaps a really big idea -and either rushes back into his workshop to pound or braze metal into a design model, or to place a call to his partners in the Project Rwanda effort.
By losing himself in thought for a couple of hours,Tom Ritchey -- affectionately and commercially known as "TR" --continually finds himself, as well as the raw material he uses to solve problems. Although we've always appreciated his allusion to that infamous patch of sea, we like to call his personal land of discovery the TR Triangle, a place he's been riding since he was 15 years old.
Sure, sometimes we wonder where he is, and when he'll be back. We wonder whether he'll return on a bike or on foot, carrying a broken prototype. But for over three decades he's been returning from his rides with new ideas on how to make things better - for cyclists and for people in need.
Having recently turned 50, Tom has emphasized that he takes nothing for granted, expressing immense gratitude for his family, his health and for the role bicycles have played in his life. Naturally, he hopes to continue riding for many years to come.
Maybe his secret really doesn't lie in the moustache he's sported since he was eighteen. Perhaps he draws his strength from those daily rides into his own secret world of creativity and renewal.