Alumnus Rinker wins national awards for The Bicycle Escape


Courtesy of Thomas Rinker

by Samantha Buckman, Reporter

While some alumni have moved across the country, or even across the world, some prefer to stay closer to home and support the community that they grew up in.

Thomas Rinker, a member of the 1998 graduating class, with his wife Danielle, has kept his heart close to home and set up shop in a local store,The Bicycle Escape. His community presence has remained strong through his various donations to community organizations.

The Bicycle Escape is located on Wormans Mill Road in Frederick, Maryland. This is their newest location, because, though The Bicycle Escape opened eight years ago, it expanded enough to move to a new location two years ago.

The Bicycle Escape has received the America’s Best Bike Shops award, one of only 170 bike shops in the nation to receive the award. This is quite the feat, considering there are over 4,000 independently owned. To receive this award, there is a lengthy application and various criteria the shop must meet, both in physical shop requirements and evaluations, including a mystery shopper.

Rinker also is president of the Frederick Bicycle Coalition, an organization that aims to make biking safer in Frederick County. Rinker helped found this coalition, and while other members have come and gone, he has remained the president through multiple elections.

Rinker became interested in bicycles when he was only 14, getting his first job at Mt. Airy Bicycle Company, where he learned to repair and work with bicycles.

Through his job and passion for cycling, Rinker found the inspiration to open a shop of his own.

“My passion for cycling runs deep. I really could not imagine doing anything else!” Rinker said.

After high school, Rinker opened his own bicycle shop. In its early days, the shop was run by Rinker, with lots of help from family and friends. Eventually, there were six employees, and the shop was expanded to a new and larger location.

Rinker assembles and tests each bike himself and offers many benefits to those who purchase from his shop, such as free tune-ups after purchase. The store sponsors weekly biking activities, as well as larger cycling events in the community.

Amongst these various activities, and heading the Frederick Bicycle Coalition, Rinker sponsors local organizations such as The Frederick Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, The Frederick Watershed Management Team, Frederick’s Bike to Work Day Event Ride, and Watershed Trail Maintenance.

Along with this, they contribute to community events such as Brunswick Elementary’s 2014 Family Fitness Night, and The Bicycle Escape holds its own clinics on bicycle repair and maintenance.

English teacher Beth Sands, a customer of The Bicycle Escape, said, ” I like the personal attention and time Tom and other workers give to me and each customer. Tom and his employees are knowledgeable and very kind. Also, they have a better variety of quality products than most other comparable shops.”

Rinker does have some advice for current Lancers as well. “You NEVER know who you will be doing business with in the future! I have several faculty members as customers now, I never would have imagined that at the time. Several of my friends own businesses as well. Being kind to others will pay off exponentially!”