Milly's Riders...

couple of the Squadra jersey's from years past

So last weekend I found out about, but was unable to make it out to, a new ride. Let me tell you about it, the story of how Milly's Riders came about is pretty cool. Unfortunately, the story also starts out with some sorrow. In the mid to late 1990s there was a local racing team called Squadra Folgore (Italian for Lightning Squad; could you have a better, faster sounding name for a racing team?). I raced with them for about three years; another of the riders at the time was Milly Valdes. A number of years ago Milly was diagnosed with cancer, but with treatment managed to beat it down into submission. That is until earlier this year, when the cancer resurfaced. Two months later Milly passed away. Before that happened, however, Andrzej made a promise to her that he would gather the old Squadra together and ride. As you might expect the ride is part memorial, but perhaps as important, Milly wanted everyone to ride for themselves. My understanding is that she knew a lot of the guys had stopped riding, or rarely rode, and she wanted them to do this for themselves, for their health.

When I think about it, this should be completely expected. Squadra Folgore was unlike any other team I have been a part of. It was always tight-knit. Sometimes you join a team simply because it is a good team, you might not even know anyone on it. Everyone on the Squadra knew each other - some were related, others had become friends while doing the same local group rides over the years. There was always that solid core around which the team grew.

before we even got out the gate, Andrzej broke a spoke

True to his word, a week ago Andrzej formed Milly's Riders, sent word out to all he had remained in contact with, or could find. Over the past couple years many of the guys have rarely turned the pedals, but out they came - to remember Milly and to fulfill a promise to do something good for themselves. I know most of you won't know the names as I throw them out, but bear with me: Andrzej was there of course, Enrique, Thomas, Alberto, Roberto, Mason were all a part of the Squadra. I believe there was a total of 14 of us who rode from Highland Park to the Rose Bowl, up to Descanso Gardens, out through La Crescenta and back again.

blurred heading up the Arroyo Seco

clear along Linda Vista

It has been ten years since I have seen most of these riders, yet their riding styles have not changed at all. Alberto is as powerful as ever, if he gets a gap forget about it, Enrique, once he revs up will blast by you like you are standing still, Thomas is still ever-willing to attack anytime, anywhere in the style of Thomas Voeckler, Andrzej, the all-rounder with no weaknesses has probably been away from the bike the longest, but with a little time will be putting the hurt to all, Mason seems stronger than I ever remember him.

It was a blast seeing everyone again, reminiscing on past times, catching up on the passing years. The plan is for Milly's Riders to meet each Sunday to ride, maybe hang out post-ride with some food and drink. And who knows, could the Squadra be reborn, with riders in the red and black flashing around the peloton again?

The Milly's Riders p/b Squadra Folgore Sunday ride meets between 8:15 and 8:30 alongside the Hansammul Church, North Avenue 66, just up from York Avenue in Highland Park. Ride leaves at approximately 8:30. Routes vary, but normally seem to be between 30 and 50 miles in length at social/training pace. Milly's Riders can be found here, on Facebook.

all done, everyone plugging in Andrzej's address


  1. Michael, this is so well written, almost overwhelming in clarity and precision...thanks!

  2. Love this story, thanks for sharing. I can see Milly's smile for this one.

  3. Michael,
    Excellent blog. You should have mentioned your smooth pedaling (and now writing) style as well.


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