What could be VeloViet's biggest and wildest MSP ride happened today. 47 riders (yes... you did read it correctly… 47 people) came out to participate and see the BIG show. Check out the size of this group below. The row of riders was way way too long for my panoramic camera!
Photo #1 - 47 riders came out for VeloViet's BIG Ride.
The stage was set for a gun-blazing showdown. Our new member Steve had e-mailed us mid week and told us that he was bringing out his “Vegas Crew”, a strong bike crew that he rode with while he was living in Las Vegas. Featured among them is a young climber named Bang, an ex-KOM climber who used to train regularly at altitude at 4100 elevation. Yikes!!! Where the heck is Fed-Ex? Baby vacation is over buddy and it's now time to train again!
The stage was a challenging one, full of hills, hills, and more freaking hills. Our route “designer” The Animal happened to not come out today. Yeah right! Scott was probably relaxing and laughing at home knowing that we are suffering on yet another hill on this “custom-design” course for us.
Photo #2 - Ngoc, Minh, Dave, Martin, and Alex posing before the big showdown.
Photo #3 - Nancy was riding solo today as Tan was at home watching the kids.
Photo #4 - Cap't, Toan, Sang, and Loc bonding before The Big Ride.
The group was so large we had to divide into 3 separate groups: the A1 group was led by Luke and Duc, the A2 group by Toan and Billy, and the Newbie group led by Cap’t and Minh. How come Cap’t is riding with the Newbie? I know he has extra energy as I saw him running around MSP ½ hour before the start.
Photo #5 - Some of our new riders: Loc, Tina, and Kirk.
As usual, the A1 group started first. There were 11 of us: Luke, Duc, TZ, Sang, Steve, Matt, Sean, Mathew, Phillip, Martin, and I. We did a nice roll down to PCH with Luke and Duc driving most of the way. I did my sprint back and forth to take pictures initially, but got tired. Where are you Cuong? I miss you man. This sprinting picture thing is hard!
Phto #6 - Double paceline on the way down to PCH.
Photo #7 - VeloViet pack at the stop light.
There were so many VeloViets at the PCH stop! The Velo Lighting bike group is there, and they are usually the largest group at this stop, but they dwarf us in size today. There were VeloViet riders everywhere and there was no comparison which group was larger. I had a chance to run around and captured a few nice pictures below.
Photo #8 - Our gorgeous VeloViet women! Guys... wipe up your drool and pick your jaws off the floor!
Photo #9 - The Rock Racer rock stars. Ladies... time to join now and meet one of these guys!
Photo #10 - Phillip and Mathew are now super fast and were working us on every hills!
A quick rest and Greg, our A1 Road Captain for today, push us on. PCH South was okay with speed around 22 mph. I chatted with Sean, one of the Vegas Crew from San Diego, about drafting as he was not used to riding in a large group. The extra work that Sean was outputting from not drafting was taking a little toll on him.
We did a surprise turn on Back Bay and started climbing. Man... I did not realized there were so much hills back here. Steve and Matt drop back a bit to accompany Sean. The climb was also taking a toll on Martin. Not surprisingly, our two boys Mathew and Phillip had no problem as they started to gap the heavier adults on these hills. Every time the A1 riders hit yet another hill, we were sure to make another vocal tribute to our route designer who was not here to “enjoy” this with us!
On Newport Coast, disaster struck. Luke, Steve, and Matt were in front leading the way. There was a large gap between them to Mathew, follow by another large gap to Greg and I. Instead of turning left on Newport to go up the hill, Mathew turned right to go down the hill. Greg and I yelled to him as we came up but he was too far off. A quick conversation, we sent off Duc, Sang, and TZ to chase after Mathew while the rest of us shepherd Phillip on. We rode to Vista Ridge then on to Shady Canyon Park where we had a quick pit stop. Here chatting with Greg we decided to split into two packs: Phillip and I would continue on to Circle K stop, while Greg and Luke would take the Vegas Crew on to an extra 5 mile Star Crest loop.
Photo #11 - At the top of Vista Ridge. It was hard work, just check out Luke's face!
Photo #12 - On the other hand, "Vegas Crew" Matt looked like he could do another Vista Ridge. Matt was probably the strongest rider of the Vegas group.
Phillip and I bombed down University and made a right to head to Circle K. A block away from Circle K, we spotted the A2 group on the other side of the road. Phillip and I hooted and hollered to attract the folks. I swear half of the group saw us and it seemed they picked up the speed! Where is the brotherhood? Phillip and I continue half a block to the light, and waited for what seemed like an eternity for the light to change for us to cross to the other side of the road. The chase is on!
Like a locomotive, we bombed along University between 22 to 24 mph. It was a heads down and all out chase on this flat section of the road. The A2 pack was not in sight and I had to take care such that I don’t bonk trying to chase down these A2 folks. We even rode past the A1 guys, who were on the other streets, and hollered out to them. We were not going to wait though, as this would mean we are letting the A2 guys go even farther.
After an all out effort for about 20 minutes, I backed it off to 20 mph to catch my breath. Phillip came to the front and pulled at 21 mph to let me rest a bit. After a few minutes, I was ready to resume again. Back at the front to try to catch up those A2 riders.
The Back Bay was extremely windy, and made the chase even harder. We passed every rider there and no one passed us. On PCH, we caught up to the last A2 riders and one of the tandems. Infused with new hope, Phillip and I attacked harder and caught the second tandem at the bottom of the SART overpass. We regrouped with the A2 guys at the start of SART.
SART was gain filled with attacks. After the wooden bridge, I remembered Kyanh and Phillip riding hard at the front. Cap’t was in front of me following another rider, with an increasing gap between our front and a small front group. I decided to close the gap so I passed Cap’t and increased my speed to catch with the front group. I was going so fast that I decided I might as well continue pass the front group. This group latched on.
I must have drag Toan with me because after a few minutes, Toan suddenly burst out from behind and I initially could not latch on. A small gap built and I kept it constant until I had the energy to close it up. All of a sudden Cap’t pass pulling a small group, and we all latch on.
As we approached a small hill on SART, I remembered rotating back from the front and I saw a small gap developed in the formation. I called out to the rider there to close up and remember seeing Cap’t in forth smiling. Well he put on the after burner and passed everyone like they were standing still. I remembered trying to stand and attacked, but my quads quivered and told me enough is enough! After SART, we roll nicely back to MSP.
Today's ride was probably the biggest ride VeloViet ever hosted at MSP, even though we missed some of our usual members. Thanks to Greg and Duc who stepped in as A1 Road Captains and did a great job leading this group. Also thanks to the Vegas guys who made this ride fun and challenging on every hills. I bashed him a little, but credit must go also to The Animal who put some time to create this route (even though he is at home with his legs up and a beer in hand)!
Photo #13 - Greg, one of today's A1 Road Captain, did an excellent job leading this fast pack!
Hey Nic... we heard you crashed hard in the Cat 5 crit race you rode this morning. Jimmy says to stay away from those Cat 5 as these races are ususally prone to crashes. Heard you snapped your fork but hopefully you are okay. Get well buddy