It's been four decades since Tom Ritchey raced—literally—onto the bike building scene. A budding 15-year-old amateur racer, Ritchey broke his Cinelli frame and—unimpressed by its structural integrity—decided to build his own. Today, at the ripe old age of 55 (you can't tell by watching him ride, can you?), Ritchey is still at it, building top-notch custom frames and components and celebrating 40 rich, storied years in the industry.
Ritchey's filmmaker son, Jay, produced this film to tell his story. It tracks him from those first years racing his custom frames ahead of Olympic riders to the off-road adventures across Northern California that led him, in the late 1970s, to produce his first 650b steel mountain bikes (they called the knobbies "balloons" back then) for Gary Fisher and a handful of other devotees. It was the beginning of the mountain bike explosion, and Ritchey helped spark it as he churned out hundreds of "klunker" prototypes that spread from Marin County to the rugged trails and fire roads of the Sierras and beyond.
Ritchey was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1988 and will be inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame next month. His frames and components are nearly as legendary as his Tom Selleck mustache, and he still puts in 10,000-plus miles a year in pursuit of his passion and perfecting mountain bikes. Check out this highlight reel of his career, and you'll appreciate how far we've come in just a few decades.