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Interview with Tom Petrie

Tom Petrie

We asked a few athletes, clients and friends of Effetto Mariposa to tell us everything about their love for cycling. We met 12 people, who told us about their background, experiences, skills and, most of all, how much they love bikes. Today we are introducing Tom Petrie, Founder of Cantitoe Road and bike enthusiast.

Hi Tom, it’s such a pleasure to talk with someone who is so important in the bike industry. You are the Founder of Cantitoe Road, but when did you fall in love with bikes? And why was the book « Seven-League Boots » so important in your childhood?

“When I was a child, someone read to me « Seven League Boots » – in the book, the main character wears a special pair of boots that allow him to take strides of seven leagues per step. A bicycle definitely had the same kind of magic to me! I was absolutely in love with the freedom that the bike gave me. After that, my world truly expanded dramatically. When I was 10-years-old, I’d go on bike adventures on my own. I’d ride until I reached what I thought were the county borders, pedaling on my Columbia, a cruiser bicycle with steer-horn bars. I’ve never lost that childhood love for bicycles. Every time I ride one, I get that magical feeling of wearing a pair of wonderful Seven-League Boots…”

What kind of cyclist are you? Have you ever raced?

“I was a Category 2 amateur road and track racing cyclist. I wasn’t great, but I was definitely in love with the sport. Nowadays, I only ride my bike for fun but, in my youth, I was a Cat. 2 amateur road and track-racing cyclist. I was not an exceptional athlete, but a true sport lover. I am also very fond of cyclocross as I had a training partner, Joe Ryan, who was national cyclocross champion. Therefore, I enjoyed cyclocross for fun before mountain bikes even existed and participated in a few races, but I was actually terrible! Despite this, I am definitely into sports and I like watching competitions.”

Tom participating in the “Lake Merritt Criterium” race

Tom participating in the “Lake Merritt Criterium” race (California, USA) in 1976

You are from Colorado: another friend of ours, the great biker Nat Ross (from the legendary Gary Fisher team) told us that Colorado is perfect for cycling and is very similar to certain areas in the Dolomites…
Which are your favorite places to ride in Colorado?

“I live in Ft. Collins, CO, a mountainous area. I don’t like taking the car to ride a bike, so I just opt for the many great routes nearby (e.g., the photo below is the Devil’s Backbone, a ½-hour ride from my place). And, Nat Ross is absolutely right: it’s hard to find a bad route in the Colorado mountains.”

The Devil's Backbone at Fort Collins

The Devil’s Backbone at Fort Collins, Colorado, one of Tom’s most favourite cycling routes

You love skiing too: do you think it’s good for cyclists?

“Just like speed skating, skiing is a great seasonal sport for cyclists: alpine skiing is great to increase strength while cross-country ski is great for endurance. Hiking is very suitable too.”

Tom skiing at Breckenridge Imperial Express

Tom skiing at Breckenridge Imperial Express, in Colorado, the highest ski resort in North America: 3913 m

Which Effetto Mariposa products do your Cantitoe Road customers love the most?

Giustaforza II 2-16 Pro Deluxe is definitely the greatest bicycle torque wrench on the market.”

And what is yours?

“Besides Giustaforza? Definitely Espresso. I will never forget that time Espresso literally saved me. I was returning from a road race and I had tubular tires. It was getting dark and it started raining, with some mixed snow too. It was cold and windy. I wasn’t wearing gloves and my fingers were really aching. On top of that, I noticed my flat tire. Changing a tubular is never easy, and doing it by the side of the road in the cold, wind, snow, and dark made it’s even more difficult. Espresso was a brand-new product. I had a canister with me but I’d never used it before. I took it out of my pocket, I attached it to the valve and…Magic! The tire was inflated again and I was back on my bike in less than a minute. That’s why I ALWAYS carry Espresso with me.”

You worked with Mike Sinyard from Specialized: back then, you were a pioneer of the new way of conceiving bikes…

Well, Mike was the pioneer. I was head of marketing and I was also the resident cyclist Mike would employ to test new products. One day he showed me a bike that would eventually become the first “Stumpjumper” (one of the very first mountain bikes, a revolutionary product by Specialized as well as one of their best sellers, a/n) and asked me to ride it and let him know what I thought. I tested it on a dead-flat asphalt road in San Jose (definitely the wrong setting to test a mountain bike). I am embarrassed to say that day I told Mike Sinyard, “this thing sucks. Let’s work on a track bike instead.” I was terribly wrong, while Mike Sinyard had the vision.”

This Specialized Stumpjumper advertisement

This Specialized “Stumpjumper” advertisement confidently states “It’s not just a new bicycle, it’s a whole new sport.” They were right.

Since you are a bike expert, we would like to know what you think about the latest news from the cycling world. Disc brakes on road bikes: is it a marketing strategy or are they useful?

“I’m hardly a bike expert, I’m good at marketing. Nevertheless, I believe disc brakes are one of the many technological improvements that will make bikes better. As with any new technology, it will eventually become better, lighter, and safer.”

Today, people are rediscovering bicycles, for environmental reasons too. We are witnessing an increase of e-bikes: what do you think of them?

“I think that the most appealing thing about bicycles is how simple and elegant they are. Bicycles efficiently do one job well – they turn human effort into forward motion. A bicycle is a force multiplier (and here we go back to our Seven-League Boots). In my opinion, using external power diminishes that elegance and simplicity, that’s why I don’t find e-bikes very appealing. I nevertheless welcome them because they are getting people out of cars and onto bikes. If you consider the benefits for our health and our environment, the e-bike is a wonderful step forward. They have also been great for the bicycle industry.”

So, you see the benefits of e-bikes but you don’t align with their philosophy. Actually, I saw a picture of you and your dog that clearly conveys your philosophy. Does your dog enjoy riding with you?

“Maggie loves riding in the Burley. She’s very old now (14 years old) and can no longer run, jump, etc. Even getting into and out of the Burley is difficult, but she loves going for rides and still knows how to corner.”

Tom and Maggie

Tom and Maggie on one of their many rides together.

What? She corners?!

“Indeed she does! I’ll take her with me to so many different places as she can no longer walk properly. As you can see, biking really is for everyone!”

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