Sunday, February 7, 2010

2/07/10 Ride Report - The Brotherhood

This ride recap is not about how far we went (80 miles by the way), nor is it about how fast we went (on the way there pretty darn fast). It is not about how Fed-Ex attacked (yes on every hill). This recap is about what I saw at on the return trip. This story begins, appropriately, at the end...

There were 5 of us left on the return from the entire group: Cap’t, Scott M, Cuong, Andy, and I. The rest of the group had either turn around or had started back earlier. Andy had somehow missed the meeting point in San Clemente, and had continued on pass us for another 5 miles or so. The group had already started rolling back when Andy called. Cap’t, Scott, Coung, and I decided to wait for Andy, with the intention of catching up to the remaining group later when Andy is in our draft.

As a cyclist, have you ever bonked, or rode to the point of exhaustion? When your legs feels like a 25 pound dead weight as you turn the crank? Or when mentally you just want to give up and just want to lay down the sidewalk? Well, this was Andy's condition when he finally showed up... and we still had 40 miles to travel back. Andy had been sick for a while, and was trying desperately to prepare for the Palm Springs century next weekend. The lack of saddle time, along with the accidental extra miles, and the head wind finally got to him. We let Andy catch his breath and then started back.

We knew right away that this was not going to be an easy return. Right out of the turn-around point was an extremely steep hill. As if this was not enough, toss in a strong head wind to provide some extra suffering.

The wind howled in anger as if we stole something precious from her. She first tries to push us from the front to stop our forward progress. As this did not work, she then throw in some side winds to try to knock us off from the bike. We gripped our steering wheel hard to stay upright and moving forward. I was in my 25 cog, had my aero wheels, and I struggled to move up the hill in a straight line. The others did not fare any better.

The trip back was full of rolling hills, the kinds that sapped your energy with the constant up and down effort. On top of that, I was too naïve (still had that rookie mentality) and was chasing Fed-Ex on the way out to San Clemente. Note to self, do not chase one of the fastest Vietnamese cyclist in Southern California in an 80-mile ride! You may be able to keep up with him on the first 5 or so hills, but he will finally spit you out from his slipstream on that sixth hill!

So I was basically cross-eyed and breathing heavy, but... I was better off than Andy. Andy was struggling mightily, and was slowly dropping away from us. We slowed and drifted back to Andy. You can see in his eyes that he was extremely close to the breaking point. His pedaling was no longer a fluid motion, and his face was flush red. We talk to Andy. Physically he was exhausted, and was running mainly on heart and determination. He did not want to stop as he thought he may not be able to start again. This is extremely bad... and we still had 35 miles to go!

What I saw in these next miles justified why I ride and why I joined the VeloViets. It was Cap’t who started it first. He started pushing Andy up the hill! Holding his steering wheel with his left hand, Cap’t placed his right hand on Andy’s back and started pushing him up the hill while pedaling. Cuong noted this and went to the front to create a draft for both of them. I was in the back and could not believe what I am seeing with my eyes. I thought this stuff only happed on TV with professional riders, who were paid to shelter the leader. It would have been easier to leave Andy behind to call his wife to come and pick him up, but here we are helping Andy as a team! This extra help must have put some adrenaline into Andy’s legs as they, Cap't and Andy, started to move faster uphill!

We then went down the hill and started up the next hill. Now it was Cuong’s turn to push with Scott creating the draft. Cap’t was riding right behind talking to Andy as if to take his mind off of the pedaling and to make him forget about the pain. In that moment, something clicked and I understood that the VeloViet bike group is not just another club for the weekend warriors, but closely resembled more like an extended family unit. When one family member needs help, the others cover for him, or her, and becomes stronger for that member.

In the end, we had to stop 2 or 3 times on the way back, but we made it back together. It was about 2:30 PM when we got back, and we started at 8 AM this morning. We probably were on the saddle for close to 6 hours. In the end, Andy was not the only one in pain. All 5 guys suffered on this trip back. But by suffering together, we lessened Andy’s pain.

I received a lesson in camaraderie today. These four guys, strangers to me a little over a year ago, are like brothers to me on the bike. I know that I can rely on them in times of need, and I hope that they feel that they can rely on me. There are others in our group too that had this same unspoken bond. I think back now and remember when Billy P and Billy D pulled me, a complete stranger to them at that time, when I got a severe cramp and could not make it back alone.

The Orange County VeloViet is like a family. We play together, we gossip with each other, and occasionally we even talk smack about one other, just like a real family unit. But you know what, when the times come and we see our brother or sister suffered, we put aside our differences and help each other out. It’s like we created a blood bond when that VeloViet jersey is first put on. If you want to mess with me on the bike, you know you have to mess with my other 30 brothers and sisters, who are right behind me. It’s the VeloViet Brotherhood...



  1. I been waiting to read this recap Phong!
    I can feel that some one special will be appear in the blog on this ride: Either someone will shine or someone will die from suffering on this trainning to prepare for the Palm Springs Century next week. I did not know that was you bro Andy!

    As a VV member, after I read this recap, I am very proud to know you Capt Thomas and all the OC riders AND on this ride [Thomas, Andy, Cuong, Scott and YOU Phong]. I can not just read it then walk away with out adding some words to this post so all the VVs (MN & CA) and hope soon San Diego too can feel what WE all feel to be part of VeloViet Organization.
    HOPE the following story will help you finish the PALM SPRINGS CENTURY STRONG!

    As for ANDY,
    I REALLY DO feel your pain & suffering! I would like to share with U how we felt when WE riding with a group that included all stronger riders than US. Not to mention cramping or bonking & still have TO FINISH THE RIDE! At the same time WE feel bad for slowing everyone down too. Had this also happen to you before?

    2+ years ago, I was 1 of the most excited (still now, hehehe) & always looking for to challenge myself whenever someone invited me to do some challenging rides with them. It just pump me up! I visit you OC guys in Dec 2007 rode and kept up with Thomas, Dashaan and Duc and in MN I was the leading guy at the time... so I though I was strong too! hehehe! Will see?

    ONE MAN! In the age of 47 (at the time) asking me to ride from LakeVille to Deluth MN with him in one day! This is 180 miles, Sound exciting but also imtimidating ha?

    ON ONE TRAINNING RIDE 100+ miles RED WING LOOP! After rolling off about a mile then He asked me "Quang, hang tight! let me know when you need to rest OK!" and also during this ride he told me "You draft well, I don't even notice that you are on my wheel."

    He slowed down for me so I can eat solid food about every hour and some GU every 30 min. I looked at his 2 bottle cases and ONLY ONE water bottle and ONE TOOL bottle... this is unreal!

    I was drafting 95% of the time on his wheel until 50+ miles & stop at the coffee shop! I don't drink coffee so I crossed the road to the gas station for some sport shake + Red Bull + sandwich. I saw he got a scone and a coffee. I was tired already & only 1/2 way, he was FULLING almost 100%. I think I got kill on the 3 miles hill that is ONLY 3-4% and I remembered he said "Steady at 12mph Quang!" Of course he got up the hill 1st then looping down and do it a gain 3X before I got to the top. I don't think I can keep 12mph!!!

    Let's make it shorter! Even with 95% drafting behind him, eating & drink more than him, still I END UP bonked at miles ~87? From 19-21mph steady... suddenly on FLAT I only can see 12mph on my speedometer & felt cold a bit during 85+ degree weather. HE knew it right away that I was bonking!

    Of course, I finished the ride and got out of the gas station within only less then 10 mins & finished with him. He told me that I was the fastest guy ever made it out of that gas station because most guys would call their wives to pick them up.

    To the STRONGER RIDERS out there,
    We all should remember how we got here today and remember the pain and suffering time in the pass. Let's support the weaker guys! and also lending them our advices in their most critical moments... who know they will end up to be one of our strong guy and help fulling even our group A home soon.

    To the excited, nervous, weaker riders,
    I can tell you I was in your shoes! But all my masters love me because I never ever gave up! Yes, I almost did at time & want to throw my bike & walk home instead of endure the pain especial on hill in the last few miles.

    Are you READY for your PS Century yet?
    What are you AIMING for?
    Remember you can not shot anything if you don't aim at any target. Anyone volunteer to pull capt Thomas home?

    Piece out, VQ from VV HPTeam.

  2. The Fearless Foursome (Capt,Scott M,Cuong and Phong) demonstrated what I came to know of VV. This gesture is the heart and soul of VV from the day I started with the group 4 years ago and it hasn't changed. Your unselfishness of sacrifying yourselves for a wounded warrior defines what kind of character you are!

    VV can teach you to be a stronger and better rider, but it can not teach you to be a righteous man. It comes from within.

    I,too,have my own "brothers in arms" experiences where Andy, Billy Dang,Anh Minh Ly, Thanh Tran,and many others came to my rescue when I had suffered like Andy this past weekend. Needless to say, it was not fun to suffer like that. However, such experience had stay with me.

  3. I must admired the 5 VV that did the 80 miles as there were alot of rolling hills. Not only that, on the way back there was a strong headwind.

    I am glad that Cuong has joined VV as he is a very nice and friendly person that will help you out when you need it. Just last week he gave me a gel as I was bonk. He also have been providing pictures for us all to see. Thank you Cuong.

    I saw Phong attacked with Hung on the hills in San Clemente and I can see that he has been training really hard at home in Chino Hills.. Way to go Phong.

    Toan is getting stronger everytime he rides with VV. Yesterday he was hanging to Hung, Phong, and myself.

    I was riding with Hung all the way back to the park and he pulled me the whole way. He is an animal on the hills and even on the flat. Very good rider with a strong motor. I can only wish I can be as strong as Thomas and Hung. Well, I have someone to look forward to motivate me.
    Until we meet again, Ride Safely!!!

  4. Phong the recap is so touching. i don't know because i was there or your writing is too good. we all mentally and phisically helping Andy and enjoying ourself with other cyclist and looking at lady runner along the way...haha

  5. There was a lot of good looking women jogging on Sunday wasn't there, especially around Miles Square Park when we got back.

    Hey, how about we setting up a "stand" on the corner of MSP and try to recruit new members? We can hand out free lemonades too :-)

  6. I can help on physical testing stuff...

  7. I'll do the measurement for the jersey and bib

  8. I'll secure the dressing room :P

  9. A little talk about good looking women and all of a sudden we have like 5 posts at once!

    This goes to show that if VeloViet recruit more female members then the guys would come begging to join!

    7 hours to Palm Springs wake up time, and I still can't go to sleep yet!