Cycling to Creativity

Cycling to Creativity

Ruth Davis reflects on the curious alchemy between creativity and long-distance cycling…

Head bent forward, arms squared to handle bars, feet perched on the pedals, muscles primed yet relaxed, Tom approached the “oasis,” the first rest stop on the Braking for AIDS Ride, a grueling 285 miles in three days, from Boston to New York. I was there in Rhode Island to cheer him on.

I’ve known Tom for more than 30 years, both professionally and personally. And yet, suddenly, seeing him there something I’d not thought of before dawned on me.

Tom has done this ride for four years. The training is difficult and, for me and for most people I know, it would be hugely exhausting. When he’s not traveling – to such distant places as Europe, the Middle East, Seattle, Florida, or California – he rides his bike each weekend from lower Manhattan to Nyack, New York or even further north, more than 50 miles each way.

He puts himself through these physical challenges as a commitment to a charity that seeks contributions in the name of a rider. Tom has taken the initiative, writing letters, asking for support from friends and colleagues, and has raised nearly $83,000 in the last three years. This test of his strength, pushing, watching his heart rate, calibrating his balance and muscle energy output on his power meter cadence sensors -- using the newest technology to create efficiency -- is so Tom. His dedication to helping others is also, so Tom.

When I asked him about his thoughts when riding and pushing his body, Tom told me that he finds a sense of peace. He admires the beauty of the landscape, watches the clouds emerge and fade, and takes in the majesty of the sunsets.

This is how Tom approaches everything, with complete attention. On top of running Thinc, designing and managing all of the projects, researching and reading up on topics of importance such as sustainability and new technologies, he finds the time and energy to commit to a cause. When he believes in something, he throws his all into it.

All of these attributes epitomize Tom’s work and that of his firm, Thinc. He sees each project as a journey, much as riding his bike from one state to another, over hills, in weather that’s sometimes too hot, sometimes too cold, sometimes too foggy and sometimes too rainy. What I see is that even with such challenges, he maneuvers and pivots when necessary, like avoiding a deep pot-hole on the road. Finding a creative way and a creative solution. He always makes it home. And even in the tough times, he finds a way to play and have lots of fun with an abiding commitment to reach a successful resolution.

So finally, after three days on a bike, or three years on a project come to an end, the result reflects Tom, the creative force. He’s been one of the leading fundraisers in this ride and a leader in his field. He’s generous, imaginative, empathetic, funny, intelligent, passionate, ethical – and above all, a true visionary.