PHASE 1 – THE PREPARATION
The dark clouds move in to cover the sunny sky, as a massive storm front move into the Southern Empire. With it comes a darken sense of the battles that are to come.
A small speck appeared on the horizon. Upon closer inspection, it is seen that a Warrior is galloping quickly across the desert sand, a trail of dust and sand spat out from his quickened pace. At the edge of the stormy, virtual wall, he pulled sharply the rein of his magnificent black steed.
VeloViet's Captain Thomas unwrapped his battle weary cloak and surveyed the scene. He had moved quickly from the wet lands of Orange County to this dry desert land. His new Colnago black steed is a magnificent animal, and she had carried him flawlessly to this far away destination. He swore that he will not be without this gorgeous Italian beauty in battle, and again cursed that Trek "Demigod" that soiled his vision of purity and grace.
The vision before him was a land full of danger and of challenge. Mother Nature is again at play as she promises a trip filled with coldness that will seeped into his bones and drained him of his warmth. The promised 100-mile trek may also again be filled with the windy sand storm that plagued his people throughout the war last year.
Thomas pulled out his sharp blade of carbon and prepared the assault on this desert beast. Oh but he is not alone... a quick glance over his shoulder showed a dozen of his magnificent A1 Warriors and Warrioress riding up fast and clearing a narrow path. But it is the massive A2 Army slightly behind this group that is the most impressive. Cloaked in the bright red, while, and black colors of the VeloViet tribe, it is the A2 Army that will win this long and exhausting war!
The Captain lifted his head in the air and screamed the battle challenge....
GET READY TO RRR...UUU...MMM...BBB...LLL...EEE VELOVIETS !!!
PHASE 2 – THE GATHERING
With his speedy gallop, Cap’t was the first to arrive to the battle front staging area at Palm Desert 15 minutes before the noon hour of three. Gladiator Nhat had offered his magnificent castle to feed and house the troop. The second to arrive was Co-Captain Toan and his trip companion Paul. I arrived as the sky begins to set at 5 PM.
There I found a feast for a King, and worthy for the brave men and women that are about to do the hard battle. We have pasta for the famous carbo load, juicy steak for protein supplement for those muscles that will be heavily exerted, salads for slim figure conscious ladies, and loads of red wine for the cheers to down out any thoughts of the upcoming battle.
Photo - Cap't and Phong
Photo - Huong and Nicole
Photo - Kym and Hieu
Photo - First VeloViet Group at the House
The troops arrived slowly with the last coming in at about 8:30 PM. Our men’s and women’s faces were full of excitement as our bloodstreams begin pumping our bodies full of adrenaline. I had a great time with my brothers and sisters in arms as we enjoyed this sliver moment in time before the great battle.
There was a lot of eating, gossipping, and goofing around while we were serenaded by Master Pianolist BaoAnh. Paul's nephew Dan had all the ladies and Toan in some sort of yoga stretch pose. We had such a great time at Nhat's House, and I think this is the best part of the overall Palm Springs experience every year.
Photo - Toan Expressing his Love while Dan "Break Dance"
Photo - The Kids Joining In the Flip-N-Roll
Photo - Liliana and Nancy Doing Synchronized Swimming ?
Photo - Ready... Get Set... Go !!!
Photo - BaoAnh Showing Us His Talent on the Piano
Photo - The House Crew
PHASE 3 – THE RIDE
The night has been rough for The Nomad. The excitement of the battle has kept him up until the day’s dawn, receiving only a couple of hours of sleep. As a sliver of sky peeked over the snow filled mountain cap, The Nomad decided to begins the final preparation into this desert land… a bowl of oatmeal for this hectic journey!
After leaving Nhat’s castle, the troops met up with the VeloViet Ladies near the start. Together these battle-harden men and women approached the starting gate.
Photo - The "Blue" Ladies
Photo - Waiting to Start
After a casual roll out, the A1 VeloViet Team set the sight high and pushed a punishing pace to clear a path for the A2 VeloViet Team. From the massive Army, it was our VeloViet Ladies that drew first blood, attacking right at the start. Nicole, Kristee, Huong, and Liliana pushed hard on the first 5 miles.
Mother Nature showed us her anger for the intrusion into this massive desert land. After the 5 mile marker, she threw upon us wind with forces up to 40 miles an hour. Our lightweight ladies were bearing the hardest wounds as they were beaten, battered, and tossed around. I was behind Kristee and could not believe that she can actually ride at an angle close to 60 degrees. The team huddled together in the safety of the pack.
Photo - A1 & A2 VeloViets Rolling Out
Photo - VeloViets Ninja Warriors
Photo - Rolling Into the Desert Land
Photo - Asending the First Hill
Photo - Simon and Kristee
The first stop was near the 20 mile marker. Here the VeloViets quickly loaded up on food and drinks. Everyone still had abundant of energy and there were lots of joking around.
Photo - After Attacking Hard in the Beginning, The Ladies Were So Hungry !
Photo - View from the First Sag Stop
During the next part of the ride, I saw some really amazing sights. There was a stretch uphill where the winds were pushing hard head on, and there I saw a father sheltering and pushing his you daughter uphill. A little further on, I saw a "tri-seater" bike powered uphill by an one-legged man, his wife, and their daughter. It is these visions that I am reminded of how much powerful we human are, and that we can set our minds, hearts, and bodies to accomplished seemingly impossible missions. Our souls energized, the VeloViet Team pushed harder!
Photo - Dad Helping Daughter Climbing the Hill
Photo - Tri-Seater Powered by Powerful One-Legged Man... Awesome !
It was after this stop that the first heavy blow landed on the VeloViet Tribe. After the SAG stop, the route has some of the fastest descents in the entire ride, with speeds exceeding 40 mph. On one of the descents, around the 25 mile marker, Mother Nature unleashed her heaviest cross wind in a surprise attack!
The last 3 VeloViets were Huong, Thomas, and I, as everyone else had moved ahead in the fast descent. I was a couple of bike lengths behind Huong when a sudden cross wind blew from left to right. Huong was riding a deep-dish aero Lightweight wheels and this left approaching crosswind knocked her front tire to the right. Huong compensated with a heavy adjustment to the left and the entire bikes started to wobbled until she tumbled to the ground!
Photo - Wrist Injured !
Thomas and I quickly move Huong off of the road to the side. Surprisingly she had suffered very little as most of the damage was to the bike. Huong mentioned that she knew that she was going down, relax, and allow the bike to absorb the impact. We assessed the damage, made corrections to the bike, made sure Huong was comfortable and can carry on, then we move on to catch up with the rest of the team. The A2 pack regrouped at the 50-mile marker.
Photo - The A2 VeloViet Men at the Halfway Mark
Photo - A New Sexy Look in the Desert ?
The last half of the ride was some of the best paceline riding that I have seen by the A2 Team. Powered by strongmen of the group, the A2 Pack motored along at an exceptionally high speed. BaoAnh, Jose, Billy, Tan, and Vu were definitely working the hardest as they spent most of the time at the front taking long pulls. Minh, Nasar, Sang, Tri, Vu, Paul, Hieu, and I also took turns pulling on the road. Cap’t Thomas monitored the entire pack, often accelerating quickly to the front to ask the pullers to slow if one of the A2 had been gapped. Riders from other teams also occasionally pitch in to pull and this large pack was definitely one of the fastest moving peloton on the roads!
Photo - BaoAnh and Chau Powered the A2 Pack
Photo - A2 In Tight Pack Formation
Photo - Tan and Billy Powered the A2 Pack
Photo - Resting at the 75-Mile Marker
Photo - Backrub Anyone ?
On the final stretch, Vu and Chau went absolutely kamikaze driving the pack hard at the front for a very long time.After this pull, a couple of other teams decided to end the truce and accelerated hard to splinter the back riders.I decided to turn into Peter Sagan and sprinted with these guys to the finish line.
Photo - Almost Home
Photo - VeloViet Crew Happy As They Know the End is Near
At the finish, we met up with our A1 Teammates. Amazing, these guys finished 3 hours ahead of us. Everyone was excited and chatted about our experiences. Nhat and Nasar had their families there to greet and to congratulate them on a job well done.
Photo - Finishing Line Photo
Photo - Nicole Was Delirious to Receive Her Accomplishment PSC T-Shirt
Photo - Nhat's Family Came Out to Welcome Him Home
Photo - A1 & A2 Crew Shared Their Tales
The A2 House Crew then cycled back to Base Camp #2. We were so tired but excited to have all completed the ride. Here we quickly said our congratulations and goodbyes, and then rush home to begin the New Year Tet celebration!
Photo - A2 House Crew Cycle Back
This magnificent ride is greater than last year as we all completed the entire 100 miles, but it could not have been this successful were it not for our Palm Spring's member Nhat and his wife Jessica. We are grateful for their hospitality and thank them for the support that they have given to the VeloViet members to help in achieving this goal. Thank You Nhat and Jessica!
Photo - Our Host & Hostess - Nhat and Jessica !
Here is a great recap video from BaoAnh. Enjoy!