Tom Theisen is going places — and getting things done on his way.
An avid cyclist, Theisen turned his passion into a business shortly after arriving in Key West from Baltimore in 1986. He got a job at Bubba’s Bike Shop on Duval Street, where Theisen quickly learned how to maintain, fix and rent bicycles. He also fell in love with the pedal-powered form of two-wheeled transportation.
These days, Thiesen owns his own company that rents and repairs fleets of bicycles for a variety of commercial clients at hotels and resorts. He’s also an avid bicycle advocate who convinced city officials nearly 20 years ago to install the bike and pedestrian bridge at Staples Avenue, letting people avoid the busy Flagler Avenue.
Keys Weekly sat down this week with Theisen on the aft deck of the houseboat, Krazy Kat, that’s home to him and his wife, Cheryl Bradley.
Meet Tom Theisen:
First, your houseboat rocks. It’s comfortably air-conditioned, yet you have the back sliding doors wide open. What’s the deal? We’re completely solar-powered. I installed the solar array on the rooftop deck last year. The majority of my taxes last year were actually offset by the refund I got for using solar power.
Tell us about the name of your boat, Krazy Kat. Krazy Kat was an old cartoon cat in Hearst newspapers. He was in love with a mouse that threw bricks at him. Plus, the houseboat is a catamaran.
How and when did you end up in Key West? After college in 1986, I had an old motorcycle and figured I’d ride south until the bike broke down. But the road ended before the bike. I’d never been here, but it was summertime and the heat reminded me a bit of where I’d grown up in Cameroon and Kenya in Africa.
Africa, really? Yes, I grew up as a Peace Corps brat, mainly in Cameroon and Kenya with a little time in Germany.
Since moving to Key West, you traded your motorcycle for bicycles. How far do you typically ride? 200 to 215 miles a week, usually up to Sugarloaf or Baby’s Coffee. It takes three to four hours.
How do you pass the time while riding? What do you think about or listen to? I actually listen to language lessons while I ride. I’ve taught myself Spanish and French and am learning German through the Pimsleur audio learning method.
The French must’ve come in handy on one of your international bike rides. Tell us about that. Four or five years ago, my wife and I spent two and a half weeks in May riding 250 miles through the Loire Valley in France, following the Loire River. We stop wherever we want, eat wherever we want, camp wherever we want. And every five or so days we’d “credit card camp” at a hotel or guesthouse.
What 20-second anecdote would you share with Alex Trebek during your first Jeopardy appearance? I once stopped a girl on one of my stolen bikes at Angela and Duval streets. She had a prostitute in the basket named Tiny, who jumped off while the thief and I argued. I got the bike back.
How do you pass the time on an airplane? I delete all my bad pictures and apps from my phone.
What quality do you dislike most in yourself? That I waste time confronting idiots because I won’t change them.
How many stolen or missing bikes have you recovered since you’ve lived here? At least 800.
What makes you laugh out loud? Marijuana.
Enough said. Thanks, Tom.