BY MARCY SHORTUSE - Gibbs Tolsdorf, the son of Boots and Dick Tolsdorf, is on top of the world. The goal this avid bicycle rider has had for the last few months has been to win a Michelin Pro4 bicycle for the Cadence Foundation in Philadelphia. He entered a contest last summer, as we reported in the Beacon, and waited for the votes to be tallied. Many island residents and his biking friends returned to the site again and again, voting for Gibbs all the way.
He waited, and he waited. The deadline was September 28, 2012, which came and went ... and he waited some more. The answer he finally received was pretty unexpected.
“I don’t know if you can win and lose at the same time, but I think I did it anyway,” Gibbs said. “Despite having the most votes (five times more than the actual winner), ultimately the decision was up to Michelin to pick the winning steed. I knew that from the beginning, and of course they had every right to exercise it.”
But the notification that he did not win didn’t sit well with him. Not because he doesn’t like to lose, but because it really didn’t make any sense.
“I lose at plenty of stuff, like rat races and bicycle video contests,” he said. “My video was very different from the winning one, almost the exact opposite in feel. So they wanted something more upbeat; I accept. But it still didn’t sit well with me. And while I have been taught to be gracious when both winning and losing, I felt I should speak up. So I went full geek with it.”
“While I understand that it did state in the rules that you had the ultimate say, you still picked the video that had 1/5th the votes my video received,” he wrote in an email to the company.” From the day I uploaded my video, the winner received only 222 votes to my 1,166. You left many cyclists confused and angry.
Gibbs went on in the letter to explain what his intentions were, to donate the bicycle to a person who really, really wanted one but couldn’t afford it. And that people voted for him knowing that if he won, he would be donating it.
Two days later Gibbs got a response from Ralph Cronin of Michelin.
“I think what you were trying to do was awesome, donating the bike ... let me try to make this up to you.”
While it took three months to receive the Pro4, he finally got it. It was waiting for him when he returned from a bicycle trip to New Zealand.
“The Cadence Foundation in Philadelphia is still the recipient, although the details have not been hammered out,” Gibbs explained. “Some very lucky kid is going to lose his mind when it gets handed over to him. I have to give a huge ‘high-five’ to Ridley, Shimano, and especially Michelin for coming through and coming good. And a BOCA-sized ‘thank you’ to everyone who voted!”
E-mail (required, but will not display)
Notify me of follow-up comments
Click for a larger view