by Don Hamilton
Tom Stevenson lives in northern Ohio and is a member of the Ohio Randonneurs. Tom started riding brevets in 2000, after having started riding a bike the summer before. He had an old Schwinn in the basement that he fixed up and started riding for exercise - he says that bike rode like a tank. His first brevet series was in 2000 (riding a Cilo) riding in the Ohio Brevet Series and completing all the events except for the 600K, because of a crash that he had during the ride.
In 2000, the Ohio 400k took place on a very hot day. There were five of us who rode the last 100K as a group and ended up being the first riders to finish. Tom was riding the strongest and led the group for a good part of that last leg. But suddenly Tom pulled off the road, removed his helmet and pulled several insects out of his long, thick hair. We got a good laugh trying to figure out "how all those insects could find their way to his scalp through his thick hair." In 2001 Tom was recuperating from some injuries so he didn't get to ride any brevets that year.
In February of 2002, our close friend, Mike Herbst, was tragically killed while riding his bike near his home. Mike was a RUSA member and had completed both BMB and PBP. Tom dedicated his brevet riding to Mike and has carried Mike's ashes with him. No doubt Tom had some help from above in tackling the next two years of tough and challenging rides.
The Ohio Brevet Series has always been known for the beautiful routes that Dave Buzzee, the (now retired) Ohio RBA, put together. Every year the routes are different. Dave has a knack of finding some challenging hills. The routes in 2002 were no exception with the countless hills of eastern Ohio. Tom rode and completed the full brevet series taking on the hills and heat (of the 600k) and qualified to ride the Boston- Montreal-Boston 1200k. He then rode a 1000k brevet in Iowa a few weeks before going to Boston and successfully completing BMB.
Tom has to be careful what he eats and drinks on brevets. He has found that drinking Ensure helps him a lot. At the Iowa 1000k he put Ensure in his water bottle. In the warmth of the afternoon, the Ensure turned to a gel-like consistency so he dumped it out that night at his overnight sleep stop. We think that the plumbing of that motel is still clogged.
Tom has several professions that keep him busy - commodities trader, computer programmer, and even accounting. However in 2003, he decided that he wanted to find the time to ride some brevets outside of Ohio. Having a client in Florida gave Tom the opportunity to spend some time down south and ride a full Florida brevet series (plus an additional 200k and 300k). He even set up a fixed gear bike and used it for the rides. He also decided to ride most of the Kentucky brevet series which in 2003 were run early in the year, bypassing riding the Kentucky 600k because he was in Virginia riding a Flèche. Tom used a standard bike (well kind of close to a standard bike - a brand new TitanFlex) to ride the hills of Kentucky. But since he missed riding the Kentucky 600k, he went over to Princeton NJ in June and rode their 600k. Since Tom lives in Ohio, he of course rode the full Ohio series. Tom was also able to squeeze in a 1000k in Florida. He then topped off the season by successfully completing the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200k in August.
Needless to say, Tom likes to spend large amounts of time on his bike. Living near the snow belt of northeastern Ohio, it is a challenge to get the miles on the bike in the winter. That may be why Tom has a client in Florida and seems to be down there a lot in the first few months of the year. However back home he still gets out to ride as much as possible, in fact Tom uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation year round. I have seen Tom riding in the winter wearing ski goggles to help keep parts of his face warm.
Tom often finishes a ride by doing a bunny hop onto his front porch. However six weeks prior to PBP, Tom's bunny hop went awry and he crashed onto his porch injuring a few ribs. His ribs were okay in France but Tom encountered a new challenge. He had a cold before PBP, which turned into bronchitis during the ride, and seriously hampered him. He had worked so hard over the past four years to get ready for PBP that he was not going to let an infection prevent him from finishing the ride. It did slow him down, and he didn't finish in the time that he wanted , but he did finish. He knew that the most important thing was to finish and get his name in the PBP 'great book.'
Congratulations to Tom for completing a very busy and successful year. Rumor has it he wants to ride the Rocky Mountain 1200k next year and then ride BMB again.
Editor's Note: Tom pedaled over 7000k in randonneur events this year, including his triumphant PBP finish.