Tom Thompson has been a voluntary ride leader in our area for over 14 years. I stress the vord voluntary because he really leads with such precision and professionalism. He really is amazing. Brilliant. I take possession of him, because he has led rides from our store since 1991. We have helped to promote the rides, but the has been there faithfully 48 Saturdays a year since all that time. I have known him to be a cyclist since I moved here in '87.
RIDE LEADER: Tom Thompson, He's almost like our Pastor
The Congregation: A very diverse group of cyclists
The Deacons: Participants with the most seniority
The Dilemma: Keeping everyone happy
Success Rate: He's been there since 1991 and has a group of loyal
followers and defenders!
I rode with Tom when he first started leading rides from our store. I've ridden a little bit in between and started back in April 2004. I enjoyed having him as the leader of the rides I have participated in. But, over the years there have been some complaints. I've heard him called names, and on and on...
Last summer Tom went on vacation to Michigan for two weeks. He participates in a week long ride there every year and then he likes to relax, visit family and friends...
So, I found myself in the ride leaders seat... Lead a ride in his shoes, so to speak. The first week was a disaster. We had a "steering committee" so to speak (keep in mind a camel is a horse designed by a committee). Turn left, turn rite, go one more block, turn back there... what a mess. One false move and 30 people pile up and whose fault is it?
The next week, I took the bull by the horns. I got out maps, drove roads in my car, prepared and prepared some more, yet still, this goofy town- streets change names, on the map they go thru- in reality, they don't. People pile up and look at the Me, the Ride Leader!
Several of us agreed that warts and all, Tom would be our leader and we would be his "followers" and his most loyal defenders!
Tom is not from Beaumont, yet he knows this town, this area like the back of his hand. Somehow, he knows which roads go where, go thru, and are great for cycling. He has ridden over 25,000 miles, by bicycle, in this area. We really couldn't ask for a better, more qualified leader.
There is so much more I'd like to say, he's an Engineer by trade in the Petro-Chem Industry, husband, father, grandfather, leader, friend and he's had a huge impact on many lives here in Southeast, Texas. Odds are if you've done a group ride, in the last 20 years, in this area, you've ridden with him. And if you've had a flat, he's helped you fix it. I've seen him give up his Saturday morning exercise to nurse a new cyclist along and help them grow in the sport. He is patient, kind and "on it" if you get a flat. There's so much more I'd like to say, but nothing more than "THANK YOU, Tom!"