History of D.C. Velo
by Ray Miller
To consider the history of D C Velo Limited, one must take into account a band of brothers sharing a common bond; a desire and love for racing their bikes. It was through that same passion, in 1993, ten young men came together in the living room of one of the founding members, Matt Galvez, and laid the foundation for a course of action that would create the identity of the team that we have today.
Referred to as the “Continental Congress”, the following men are considered the “Founding Fathers” of DC Velo Limited: Sam Trevino, Jim Youngblood, David Kay, Joe Baremore, Richard Mounts, Matt Galvez, Roy Johnson, Randy Thrasher, Joe Padalino, and Hank Brink. One of the most important topics of discussion was to identify a name the team would race under. Several ideas were tossed around and voted on by the membership. Two of the most popular names were “End of the Century Velo Club” and “Voo Doo Velo,” championed by David. Eventually, the original members would agree that the name would be “District of Columbia Velo Club”, which became commonly known and referred to by the shorthand “DC Velo.”
Prior to their initial meeting, the team operated as the Century Bicycle Racing Club. The 7am Saturday morning rides starting in front of Century Bikes on Bonifant Street in Silver Spring, Md. was the launching point for the team. The rides were very spirited to say the least. It was rumored that a dual athlete named Randy, riding a Tomassini, always kept the pace high and showed no mercy on his fellow comrades. Another guy that animated the Saturday ride was Shawn Fenty, who also raced for Century Bicycles at the time. During the early days, one of the requirements of a bike racer was to build your own wheels. Therefore, it was common to see the guys literally sitting on the shop floor learning the art of wheel building at the feet of Super Mechanic, Russell Fenty, Shawn's cousin.
During the Century Bicycle Racing Club era, the team wore a classic Descente jersey with a silk-screened day-glow orange swath on the front. The jersey did a good job of trapping in heat without suffocating your torso; however, not everyone was in agreement with its aesthetic beauty. In 1994, the team introduced the first of many iterations of the official DC Velo jersey. Then, in 1996, a pro version of the DC Velo kit was presented. This version had matching shorts, which was a big deal back then. In addition, Jim Youngblood, as a manufacturer's rep, was able to secure a sweet Bianchi EL/OS frameset for the team to race on. Many days, the guys would ride on the 7am, get coffee, and then participate in the 10 o’clock ride, affectionately known as the "Daily Double". The team regularly scheduled trips to Skyline Drive, raced Greenbelt and Bowie mid-week (3 training races in a week was affectionately known as the "Triple Crown"), and participated on road trips to stage races like Killington, Altoona, and Fitchburg.
In 1994, the team decided to test the waters and promote a bike race. The race at Columbia Gateway Drive was originally called the Columbia Spring Classic. The event was held during the early spring, with low entry fees and deep prize money. The first year, hundreds of racers turned out to race. The Men’s 3/4 races had a field limit of only 100 participants. However, the race was oversubscribed and was split into two separate races and each race filled to capacity. That race, still in operation today, has become the longest running, continuously operating race in MABRA history.
As time moved on, the team continued to grow and evolve. Several new guys joined the team: Masters road champion John Epting, brought Ed Kottrel, Mario Stevens, Steve Schultze, Rick Barnett and several others with him. Others would join later including Paul Mittelstadt, Carl Dolan, and Kerry Scanlon. John also served as president of the team for several years. Some of the new members wanted to form a separate Masters team under the umbrella of DC Velo, but eventually everyone decided to remain in solidarity; an army of one.
As with any fairy tale story, tragedy would strike. On an extremely hot summer day, in June 1999, the team decided to participate in the Church Creek Time Trial. Considering the strength of the racers, spirits were high amongst the members of the club. Racing the only way they knew how, leaving everything on the road, they put it all on the line for a victory. Due to the extreme temperatures and excessive heat, racers had to eat and also maintain hydration during the race. Unfortunately, Carl Dolan and Mark Frick succumbed to the weather conditions and became seriously ill. Mark was able to overcome his dilemma; however, Carl was not as fortunate and would later die from complications due to heat stroke. It must be noted that Carl was one of the nicest guys anyone could have ever known. He was always willing to provide for others, even if he needed to give the shirt off his own back. The passing of Carl Dolan had a devastating effect on the team. However, Carl’s tragic and untimely death would provide a defining moment for DC Velo. In the spring of 2000, as a tribute to the memory of Carl, the team renamed the “Columbia Spring Classic” the “Annual Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic”, for which Mark Frick would eventually assume the role of Race Director.
The turn of the century brought about new possibilities for the team. Mark Sommers joined in the fall of 1999 and became president of the club later that year. From the beginning Mark sought to unify the team, and his first executive decision was to take what little money was left in the treasury and treat everyone to drinks at the team banquet. From that point on, everyone knew they had the right man for the job, which explains Mark’s informal title, “President for Life” (PFL).
Membership numbers continued to increase as do partnerships and team endeavors. Mark’s vision was to create a culture of collective team ownership - in essence, develop a larger community in pursuit of their passions with a shared interest in bike racing. While Mark concentrated on team culture, he never lost focus on keeping and building DC Velo’s identity as a race team. A strong part of the DC Velo culture was formalized through the creation of the DC Velo Outreach Foundation, a result of the memberships passion for cycling community and charitable work. The DC Velo Outreach Foundation grew in club and community importance under the leadership of Catherine Ferguson, working to produce DC Velo’s various First Responders courses, Ride2Recovery support, and other charitable initiatives. The Outreach Foundation continues to provide for DC Velo’s community through actions such as kids’ helmet giveaways, collection and in-person deliveries of team clothing to developing nations, and the collection of used bicycle parts for bike recyclers, such as Phoenix Bikes in DC.
Around 2004, the team began to develop an enhanced race focus, which embodies who we are as a race team today. The arrival of Josh Frick, the proud owner of multiple National Championship titles, marked the beginning of a new generation of elite racers. Prior to Josh’s arrival, the team operated mainly as a Masters race team. The first elite Senior Men’s team consisted of Mark Sommers, Josh Frick, and Joe Baremore. It was during this era of racing that the “Red Train” became synonymous with DC Velo. The “Red Train” came about as a race closing strategy during the Bethesda Grand Prix, where Mark and Joe timed a lead out for Josh. The strategy worked, and the “Red Train” was born.
The Senior Team grew with the addition of Ryan McKinney, Dave Bozak and others, helping to create one of the better elite teams in the Mid-Atlantic region. Ken Young, Jason Meidhof, and DJ Brew would later join and became an integral part of the team’s growing success. Josh brought a lot of discipline and structure to the racing culture. His desire was to see that the team operated as a cohesive unit. Everyone rode together, trained together, and even participated in training camps together. Since then, DC Velo has had tremendous success in both senior and masters races; including two world championships; 25 national championships; two national records; scores of MABRA Best All Around Rider awards and event championships, and hundreds of race wins.
Over the years, DC Velo's growth has been carefully cultivated to ensure club culture is maintained. What started as a group of ten young men, has expanded into a larger community, eighty members strong - locally, around the nation and abroad. Many members who have had a tremendous impact on DC Velo are not recorded in this excerpt of team history. What is profound and important to note is that everyone who joins the team, dons the DC Velo kit and bleeds "DC Velo Red", is a talented individual who contributes to ensuring the team remains the remarkable and recognized organization that it is. Having established itself as one of the top amateur clubs in the nation, DC Velo is united and relentless in its pursuit of the ultimate cycling dream...to win as a team.