Kona Winds

While we were lucky the day we rode the Ironman course to get some wind but nothing crazy, the next day we rode out on the Queen K the winds were insane!  They were 40 miles per hour with gusts to 60 - and riding out was straight into a headwind.  I was in my small chainring, pushing hard, riding downhill!  Cranking out even 15 km/h was difficult.  Then once we turned around, I was coasting and accelerating past 35 km/h; once I started pedaling man we flew back to town!  It was pretty fun, but honestly I can't imagine having to race in headwinds like that.  I thought Boise was bad enough.  But for every headwind, there's a tailwind, right?

Here's some video Jason shot of the wind that day:

Riding the Ironman Course

We just got back from a vacation to Kona.  Of course we brought bikes, and of course I wanted to ride the Ironman bike course.  Of course it was hot, so we started early.  Crack of dawn early, which actually isn't that bad when you're coming from the west coast and there's a three-hour time change.

Map of our ride - doesn't look all that
amazing or anything...
Early morning sunshine.

We loaded up our cages with bottles and pockets with food.  We rolled down Ali'i Drive from the condo we were staying in and out of town (we skipped the out-and-back up Kuakini, so ended up riding "only" 175 km (107 miles) instead of the whole 180 (112)).  It started as a really nice morning with fairly calm winds.  We rode and chatted with Bree Wee for a bit, who was doing a recovery spin after Ironman New Zealand.  Overall, the ride to Kawaihae was pretty effortless, fun, and uneventful.

Jason on the Queen K - not much besides lava!

Once you turn towards Hawi off the Queen K, we ripped down a short but steep descent around mile 38 - unlike the gradual 15 mile grind to come.  It was pretty much uphill to Hawi, and a headwind the whole way (Jason said it was always like that - the wind I mean, pretty sure the elevation never changes.  Substantially anyway...).  I watched our average speed plummet on my Garmin.  But the scenery was beautiful; shimmering blue ocean on one side and actual vegetation on the other!  No more stark lava fields of the Queen K, plants had a strong foothold on this part of the island.  

Hawi itself is a quaint little town, and it was actually cooler and even rained a bit.  We stopped for a quick drink and turned around, and of course flew back to Kawaihae downhill with the wind at our backs.  By the time we stopped to refuel in town, our average speed was back where we left it.

Ride back from Hawi - notice actual trees and grass and stuff.

We stopped at a gas station and bought Cokes, chips, and other general crap food that tastes sooo good when you're 4+ hours into a ride.  We also slathered on a bunch more sunscreen as it was really hot (duh), refilled our bottles, then back on the bikes for the ride back to Kona.  For some reason Jason sat on my wheel for the climb out to Kawaihae to the Queen K, which always unnerves me because I know he climbs light-years faster than I do, so I'm never sure why he just doesn't wait for me at the top.  It was probably only a mile, but felt like it was straight up.

Once again on the Queen K, and it was hot and windy.  Of course the wind was a headwind, what else would it be?  One thing I will say about that road - there is a lot of traffic.  The shoulder is great, wide and smooth so it's not an unsafe ride, but I am just not used to cars going by ALL THE TIME (I rarely ride on the highways at home when there are so many sweet back roads to ride), and I was getting tired of the noise.  It would drive me bonkers if I always had to listen to cars going by me.

Anyway, I was getting tired.  It's March, and generally a long ride for me in March is in the 4 hour range.  Not the 6+ hour range.  Plus, I had to stop for a bathroom break, so we rode into Waikoloa and gaped at "fake Hawai'i" for a bit... fancy cookie-cutter resorts and golf courses.  But nice bathrooms, so thanks.

I would have been pretty happy to end my ride there, but there was still a matter of about 40 km back to our condo, so there was still some pedaling to do.  Jason was letting me draft him as best he could (I wasn't really at the point anymore of being able to sprint if I lost his wheel).  I was pretty psyched when we hit Kona again and could basically coast downhill to our condo.  A long ride, but a classic one for sure.