Ride with Nelly!
U.S. Champion and Olympic medalist Nelson Vails & the Phoenix Major Taylor Cycling Club
Nelson Vails: U.S. champion, Olympic medalist and American Cycling Legend. For those who might not know who he is, here is brief background on this legend's life:
Growing up as a bike messenger in Harlem, NY, Vails learned how to navigate the busy and congested streets of New York to deliver packages to customers. After his eight-hour shift was done, he would head over to Central Park to train.
This combination of bike handling skills learned on the streets and the additional training at Central Park soon led Vails to neighboring velodromes where he began competing as a track cyclist. It wasn't long before Vails caught the attention of the United States National Team coaching staff. Under the guidance of coach Eddie Borysewicz and Carl Leusenkamp and aided by training in Colorado, Vails blossomed into a world-class cyclist. He would go on to win a gold medal in the 1983 Pan-Am Games in Venezuela before eventually earning his crowning achievement: a silver medal in the 1,000-meter match sprint at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. But his career would not end there. Vails would later win three straight titles as a national tandem sprint champion, eight national track titles and also compete in grueling six-day events across Europe.
Eventually, Vails retired from competitive cycling in the early 1990s. Nelson Vails' legacy continues on as he invites cyclists across the nation to ride with him in his ever going series of "Ride with Nelly!" You can check to see where the next Ride with Nelly event is held by heading over to nelsonvails.com
Rolling into The Velo, the shop was full of smiling faces, donuts, coffee, hugs and Olympic Medalist Nelson Vails. This was a ride I hadn't actually planned on participating in, but after stopping into The Velo the previous afternoon and learning of the event, I knew it was a ride that I needed to do. When else was I going to have the chance to ride with such an inspirational figure of American Cycling?!
and Hugs! What more could you ask for to start off your morning?
The ride started with an introduction from Vails who highlighted how amazing it was for the newly formed Major Taylor CC Phoenix to host their first big get together with him.
After a moment of silence to pray for a safe ride we were off.
This route takes you down an alley on E Oak St which is lined with beautiful graffitied murals. From wacky fish to the Virgin Mary, make sure to slow down and admire the beautiful artwork that surrounds you.
Zig zagging up and over the highway!
Fun fact: Vails has a cameo in the movie Quicksilver and was actually hired to be a technical director for the film which starred Kevin Bacon, Paul Rodriguez and Laurence Fishburne as San Francisco bike messengers.
Taking a beautiful river side bike path under the shade of palm trees.
Heading towards downtown Tempe!
With only a few more miles to go, the group seemed to pick up the pace. It's almost as if we'd caught a whiff of that sweet Italian pizza and were being powered towards the parlor.
We arrived! Smiles, hugs, laughs and dashes inside to get some refreshments.
What an incredible day out on the bike. From donuts and coffee, to palm trees and murals, to pizza and parties, I couldn't have asked for a better day out riding in Arizona.
- Isaac Novak
PeopleForBikes Content + Design Coordinator