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Join Tom and the inGamba crew on Tuesday, March 26th, from 6-9 pm at Strictly Bicycles in Hudson Yard in NYC for an event to celebrate the return of spring.

*You’ll be able to talk riding in California and Italy with legendary riders Eros Poli and Paulo Crispim, and chat with inGamba founder João Correia and Strictly Bicycles’ Nelson Gutierrez. RSVP HERE.

Mark your calendars! And keep reading to learn more about how Tom Johnson better as Velo.Tom on Instagram and the newest inGamba ambassador, became a fixture of NYC cycling.

Tom didn’t start as a cyclist. He was a lacrosse player who grew up in New Hampshire and played competitively throughout college. College coincided with a move to Boston, but NYC had always been his dream destination. He moved to the NYC area five years ago, trading his job in tech in Boston for contract work in the software side of things near his dream city. He rode bikes, but not seriously.

“After six years in Boston, I moved to the New York City area and found a place outside the city. I live on the New Jersey and New York state border, near the George Washington Bridge—and that’s a huge cycling area. It’s so beautiful and so quiet compared to the city. The ride here is amazing, and I’m close enough to the city that it’s easy to go in between. It’s the best of both worlds in a lot of ways.”

That makes sensIn fact, living outside of the city not only allowed Tom to explore more of the area by bike, it reminded him of home. “I love the city, but I’m more country at heart. I appreciate a little slower pace of life in my day-to-day,” he says.

And then… Well, you know what happened in 2020. The world shut down—but it was also when Tom discovered his deep love of cycling. “In a way, I stumbled into the cycling industry,” he says. “COVID was life-changing for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. For me, it meant a huge change. I was doing contract work then, and it had run its course. I was starting to look at my options. I loved riding my bike, and I’d been doing more and more of that in the last few years.”

Sport as a lifestyle and career wasn’t shocking: He’d paid his way through college with lacrosse, though the pro athlete lifestyle did burn him out in his 20s. “The team sport thing I had done for 20-something years served me well,” he says. “But when I stopped, I realized I always wanted to be an athlete, even without a team. I love being active, being fit, and being healthy. But at the same time, I didn’t want to find another team: I was ready to do something for myself. That’s when I fell back in love with cycling, skiing, and surfing. All those sports are very individual-based; you can do them competitively if you want, or you can do them completely recreationally, which is the route I took.”

“In New York City, we’re very road bike-centric. I came from more of a mountain bike background, but quickly fell in love with road riding because it does take discipline,” he says. “Moving here, cycling opened up my world. I met all of my friends in cycling. My mentors are all tied into cycling or the cycling community one way or another.”

"In New York City, we're very road bike-centric. I came from more of a mountain bike background, but quickly fell in love with road riding because it does take discipline," he says. "Moving here, cycling opened up my world. I met all of my friends in cycling. My mentors are all tied into cycling or the cycling community one way or another."

Tom Johnson

But loving the ride doesn’t pay the bills. However, Tom somehow found himself in an unlikely space: He started posting more about bikes during COVID lockdowns, and his social media platforms began growing rapidly. “It started out as kind of like a silly hobby, a passion thing,” he says. “But it just kept growing and growing. I started doing a bunch of marketing and event planning for Strictly Bicycles, one of the bigger retailers in the city. Since then, I’ve become the event planning guy in New York City, for lack of a better term, which I love.”

“Everything just aligned at the right time: To work with many different cycling brands doing event planning and cool community engagement is incredible.”

Event planning also allowed him to get back to what he loves most: Interacting with like-minded people. “I missed the real human connections and the interactions, and that’s where I flourish,” he says. “I found my sweet spot in doing a lot of community-based rides, hosting discussion panels, that kind of thing.”

He eventually added his own high-end local bike tours to his list of offerings. While renting a CitiBike is easy in NYC, it can be intimidating if you want to get out on a real road ride, whether you’re visiting for a week or just moved to NYC for work. It’s not easy figuring out how to get over the George Washington Bridge to get out of town, and unless you want to stick to doing lap after lap of Central Park, a tour guide can help you figure out the best routes to take.

“I realized that there are a lot of businessmen and women who are traveling in and out of New York City, who may only be here for two or three or four days,” Tom says. “But if they’re anything like me, they want to try to get some exercise between meetings or before they fly home.”

So, he got to work. “I took a big gamble and rolled the dice and bought a bicycle fleet. So I have five bicycles available to my clients, and they book me for anywhere from one to five days, really whatever they want, as a one-on-one cycling experience.” Now, he books tourists and locals alike, customizing each ride to the person’s preferences and what they want to get out of a ride—exploring north of the city and hitting up a farmer’s market in Nyack for a coffee and pastry before pedaling home? No problem. A long weekend of riding in the Catskills? Of course.

During his bike tour research, he found inGamba, and saw that they were doing something different than any other touring company.

"When I discovered inGamba and started researching them, I realized that they're doing everything on a high level: They give people the experience of living like a pro for a few days but with more luxury. Fine dining, drinking great wine, and having a team car and a mechanic, a massage therapist, all that stuff."

Tom Johnson

Tom shares similar sentiments to all the inGamba guides as he shares NYC with new riders. “I think it’s contagious when you have somebody passionate about an area and likes to share the experience with others,” he says. “Even though it’s work, I love that I’m out on my bike and sharing this passion. I’m talking to like-minded people, welcoming new riders to the sport, and making them feel comfortable.”

“I’m grateful to be where I am within the cycling community. It’s given me so much,” he says. “So I look to give back to the community however I can.”

Molly Hurford

Molly is the author of Fuel Your Ride, and a Precision Nutrition-certified coach. Her writing has appeared in many leading publications, including Bicycling Magazine and Outside. When she's not writing or coaching, she loves ultra-running and racing on trails, riding bikes, or hiking with her mini-dachshund DW.