Leah Thomas

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.

And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Harold Whitman

Nickname: Darth

D.O.B.: 05/30/1989

Birth city and state: Santa Clara, CA

Current City: Boulder Creek, CA

Height: 5’5”

Specialty: All-rounder

Previous sports: Gymnastics

Years racing: 3

Colleges attended: Northwestern University

Degree: Spanish and International Studies, Teaching Credential

A Bay Area native, Leah grew up as a competitive gymnast. She attended Northwestern University outside Chicago where she began to dabble in long distance running, completing her first marathon that year. However, ignoring the warning signs, she developed severe plantar fasciitis and was forced to leave her running shoes behind. To fill the running’s absence, she picked up a bicycle and quickly became hooked. While living on the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona, cycling became a way to balance the stresses of being a new teacher. After some convincing, she completed her first race in late 2013 and won. She moved back to the Bay Area in mid 2014 to be closer to family and to ride. As the 2015 season progressed, Leah began to have bigger cycling dreams and decided to put full-time teaching on hold in order to see what see where cycling could take her. She is ecstatic to begin the next step of her journey with Twenty16.

Off the bike, Leah likes to spend time with family on spontaneous outdoor adventures. She also enjoys time to herself curled up with a book and traveling to new places. Leah is passionate about social justice, and draws fulfillment from exploring the seemingly unending questions of why things are the way they are. Heartfelt, dynamic discussion with her close friends keeps her grounded.

Career Highlights

  • 1st Tour of California Stage 2 - TTT
  • 1st Redlands Cycling Classic Stage 5
  • 5th Tour of California General Classification
  • 6th USA Cycling Pro TT Nationals

2016

  • 1st Tour of California Stage 2 - TTT
  • 1st Redlands Cycling Classic Stage 5
  • 2nd Tour of Gila Stage 2
  • 3rd Cascade Cycling Classic Stage 3
  • 4th Cascade Cycling Classic General Classification
  • 5th Tour of California General Classification

2015

  • 2nd Chico Stage Race: General Classification
  • 3rd Cascade Cycling Classic Stage 2
  • 5th UCI World Championship TTT
  • 6th USA Cycling Pro TT Nationals
  • 6th Cascade Cycling Classic General Classification

What inspired you to become a bike racer?

I began riding as a way to momentarily escape the stresses of being a first year teacher. I loved the distance I could travel on my bicycle and began to race. Each race I learned something new and pushed myself to a new limit, and I want to see how much further I can go.

Who is an inspiration to you in your life, both on and off the bike?

Two things come to mind. My close friends who also are following the dreams. They each have found their passion, and are taking the steps they need to to pursue that dream. It reaffirms that I can follow mine too.

Favorite meal when training?

Chicken with sautéed peppers, mushroom, onions, and spinach with goat cheese. 

The best thing about being a bike racer is?

Being able to see new places and meet so many people from different walks of life. I also love the opportunity it gives me to continually push myself.

What is your biggest accomplishment on the bike?

My biggest accomplishment on the bike was winning the team time trial at Tour of California this past 2016 season. It was a great moment for us as a team that was special to be a part of.

Favorite place you’ve raced your bike and why?

I love racing in Bend, Oregon. The mountains are breathtaking and the town is spectacular! Plus, as a bonus, they have the best sweet potato fries I have ever tasted.

Favorite cross training or off season activity?

Hiking and Running

Best tip for a new bike racer?

Make sure bike racing stays fun. Be patient with yourself when you make mistakes. Watch, listen, and take time to reflect after each race.

What are one of two things that you do daily that are the key to your success?

Get enough sleep. I have always been a morning person, so making sure I get to bed early is important for me. I also try to make sure that I have time every day away from my bike so I can recharge and reset for the next day.

If you weren’t bike racing what would you be?

If I weren’t bike racing I would be back teaching. I enjoyed the daily challenges of teaching and seeing students develop into confident, caring, people.

What is something that nobody would know about you?

Growing up I loved all things ketchup and eat it with just about everything. While my taste buds have developed since then and I rarely eat it now, it is funny to think of the foods I actually enjoyed.

TWENTY16 has an emphasis on education with the initiation of our Junior Scholarship program in 2015. http://teamtwenty16.com/education.htm

Why is continued education important?

A college education is imperative. College is a place and time where you become independent and self-reliant. It is a place where you have a chance to figure out your passions outside of the sport you are involved in. In college you are surrounded by people from many different backgrounds, with many other experiences and perspectives. This challenges you to really decide what you believe, and opens you up to new ideas or interests you may not have been exposed to otherwise. It also teaches you important skills such as time management, discipline, and balance, all of which are applicable at any point in your life.

Favorite things to do off the bike:

  1. Spend time with family/ friends
  2. Road trips
  3. Hike
  4. Read
  5. Cook

Top 10 warmup/pre-race songs on your iPod:

I like variety and have never really listened to just one kind of music. I turn on Pandora and listen to whatever I happen to be in the mood for- from country to reggaeton.


Sho-Air SRAM Felt Bicycles ZIPP Quarq JL Velo Kenda Tire