Commute: 3-10 miles round trip between Wedgwood and Nathan Hale High School or North Seattle Community College
Wheels: Razesa cross bike
Thomas Hollowell biked from home to school every day – for four years straight.
An avid hiker and environmental activist, Thomas likes setting goals to make a statement.
At the impressionable age of 14, when many kids stay home playing Xbox, Thomas made a freshman pledge: he would ride to high school every single day (about 180 days per year).
His sophomore year, Thomas coordinated a 10-person team for Bike To School Month. The students rode over 1,500 miles, competing against Nathan Hale teachers.
By his senior year, Thomas was not only notable for running a sub 4:30 mile for the Nathan Hale Raiders. His cycling dedication caught the attention of Nathan Hale’s newspaper, The Sentinel. The paper published a front-page April Fool’s story jesting that Thomas had been caught driving.
When he’s not attending Nathan Hale, Thomas bikes to North Seattle Community College where he’s dual-enrolled in Running Start. The program allows high school juniors and seniors to earn high school and college credit, tuition-free; participants can even receive an Associate of Arts degree from local community colleges. Thomas has already taken college level courses in English, history, math, physics, and political science.
About 100 of Nathan Hale’s 1,100 students participate in Running Start. According to Wikipedia, in 2006-2007, Running Start students made up 8% of Washington State community and technical college full-time equivalent students.
While other students count their text messages, Thomas takes inventory of his four favorite waterproof bags – in bright eye-catching yellow, a color his father encourages him to don. “I love Ortlieb bags – these super durable, waterproof bags that are bombproof. It’s inspiring to see greasy, scratched up Ortliebs from years of riding.”
And although he has probably commuted over 2,000 miles – Thomas still does not own a single pair of padded bike shorts. But that’s not unusual for someone who waited until he was 18 to get his full drivers license. “I really love biking, and I really hate driving.”
Thomas is passionate about Bike To School Month. He envisions inter-school competitions with prizes of free pizza and snap bracelets – $50 ten-speeds in every size for every student. He’d like kids to start biking to grade school.
Ironically, the only time Thomas must drive is to enjoy nature, going hiking or skiing in the Cascades.
Thomas hopes to combine his passion for science and computers to help improve the environment.
This fall, Thomas attends the University of Rochester to study environmental engineering. He’ll run on the school’s Division III Cross Country & Track teams.
And he promises to avoid buying a car for as long as he can. Expect that he’ll keep that promise too.
You can learn more about Running Start at www.k12.wa.us/runningstart/
Scott Marlow was marketing director for Cascade Bicycle Club from 2001-2005. The Club record-holder for the shortest commute (under six seconds, he provides website design and communication services from his home office in West Seattle. Nominate a cyclist of the month!