A week ago today, Vermont lost a cornerstone of our cycling community. The world lost a phenomenal human being, and cycling at large lost one of its biggest advocates. I first met Richard Tom at Earl's Cyclery and Fitness. Richard worked at this bike shop for nine and a half years. I was continually struck by his kindness and passion for cycling. This man loved bikes, anything to do with bikes, and passing that love on. He became one of my biggest supporters and a tireless Little Bellas' advocate. Every time I walked into Earl's, we would talk about my latest world cups, jojo's latest results, and everything Little Bellas. I've never experienced a person outside my family so genuinely follow my cycling career and cheer me on. He turned into the Davison family's go-to for anything that my Dad couldn't figure out. My Dad's default sentence was 'go see Richard at Earl's'. And we did. I am extremely picky about my cleat position on my cycling shoes, and Richard was the only one I trusted, besides the Specialized shoe designers, to set up my new shoes with cleats. I think Richard probably knew my cycling career better than I did. He was proud of what I, the local hometown girl, had accomplished. Last time my Dad saw Richard at Earl's, he told him that he teared up as he watched me ride down the finishing stretch to a bronze medal at the World Championships. This man genuinely cared.
A week ago, a high school boy and Richard's fates wrestled with each other on the Vermont roads. This high school boy was driving eighty to one hundred miles an hour in a forty mile an hour speed zone. Richard left for a Sunday ride on a beautiful Vermont spring day. He took a left out of his driveway and rode for four hundred meters. This boy came careening down the road, skidding, out of control, and Richard happened to be in the absolute worst place at the worst time. He was already skidding off the road and took Richard with him. Why couldn't Richard have had another cup of coffee or just been three seconds slower or faster riding? Why was he in this exact moment? These are the kind of things that don't make any sense. This is not a circle of life thing. This is cruel and senseless. The 'what if' game can keep one reeling forever.
Today, we rode for Richard. We rode four miles to the crash site and then we took him home. We finished his last ride that he started a week ago. It wasn't only me that he genuinely supported. Over six hundred people rode for Richard today, and I bet you he knew ninety five percent of those six hundred people. The majority of those people would call themselves Richard's good friend, and I am willing to bet the farm that he had something to do with many of those people falling in love with cycling. He gave so much. There are countless stories of Richard giving people bikes and equipment to get them started. His understanding of the power of a bicycle mixed with his generosity created an amazing cycling community. This noble cycling alchemy that he possessed changed the course of many lives, in the hundreds to be exact.
When you get in your car, remember the epic responsibility you have to those who love you and those who don't even know you, to come home safe
The best way to honor Richard is to go for a ride and enjoy it. Smile because you have the opportunity to go for a ride. Someone said it best with a sign they rode with today. It said "Love Life, Love Bikes, Love Richard". The best way I can honor him is to train hard, completely revel at the fact that I get to race bikes for a living, and continue to make him proud. As Richard did with so many people, we will continue to spark a love for cycling in little souls through Little Bellas. I know we have the best angel looking over us in all of our cycling endeavors.
Love Life. Love Bikes. Love Richard.