Tony Ellsworth

Bike Builder, 46

Ellsworth in his San Diego warehouse     Photo: Jeff Lipsky

The doctors couldn't figure out why I was passing out. I took care of myself, but I was 31 years old and working 14 hours a day running my own financial-consulting business. I skipped lunch a lot. The take-home lesson was: Listen to the Tony that wants to ride his bike. So I started mountain-biking more. One day I was complaining to a friend that there weren't any really high-end mountain-bike frames and he said, "Why don't you just make your own?" I built two frames in 1991. In '92 I built ten—and then it took off. Ellsworth Handcrafted Bicycles now makes at least 2,500 frames a year, plus wheels. I'm focusing on a commuter bike for someone too intimidated to throw a leg over a really technical ride. My goal is to have more people fall in love with cycling. If I can do that, we all win.

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