A week away

IMGP2271We’ve been in Kona for just under a month, and I have to say that it was an excellent decision to bite the financial bullet and get here well in advance of the race to really take the time to acclimatize. I have never been in better shape, and I am actually used to the heat! I have trained out on those lava fields at all times of the day and all sorts of conditions: various fun combinations of blazing sun, humidity and wind, I actually have a bit of a base tan and I’ve got a good system for keeping myself cool. If I keep my wits about me on race day, get all my calories down, and remember to drink and drink and drink some more, it is going to be a great race.

Because we’ve been here for awhile, and have come to embrace the wind and heat on the bike, Trevor and I were getting in the mind frame of “bring on the tough weather conditions” for the race. Today was a big reminder to be careful what you wish for!!! It is a shame that I didn’t have the camera to take some video, because it was absolutely RIDICULOUS.  From town to Waikoloa there was an extremely strong, stop-you-in-your-tracks, head-wind which made for some slow going, but I was able to just hunker down and deal wwindith it. Once I turned a on the stretch towards Kawaihae, though, it was a different story. Gail forced winds were screaming from the lava plains to the west towards the ocean, creating the most vicious side winds I have ever experienced. I was hugging the barrier at the edge of the road but blasts would still take me 6 ft clear across to the rumble strips. I was leaning so far to the side to resist the wind, trying to stay aero but gripping my base bars for support (the aero bars were just too sketchy at this point) and I’d just start to calm down after an exceptionally brutal blast when a massive truck would roar past and almost flip me over the other way in the swirl of its draft.  At the turn to Kawaihae I had to stop and compose myself for a little while. I was really starting to lose it.  So much tension I was shaking. Usually, the only time I get really scared on a bike is from close calls with motor-vehicles, but this was something special. On the way back, it was almost worse. It was more of a tail-side-wind so you actually had some speed up when the blasts hit and at one point I had to fully unclip and stick my leg out to avoid smashing into the metal barrier on the side of the road. SKETCHY!!

IMGP2296Trevor being the hard-core, much braver/better and bike handling dude that he is, started with me but continued on to Hawi. I laughed. On a calm day the winds by Hawi are still sketchy. I was glad that I only had a 4hr ride on tap. He just got home, looking exhausted, black by lava dust caked on top of sunscreen and said “that was the hardest 5.5 hr ride I have ever done”.  Judging from the winds I experienced, and his stories about the even worse winds, I would have been road-kill.

The best part of the ride? An awesome tail wind that lasted for about 10 minutes on the way home by Waikoloa.  After that it was a side/head wind again into town.  Character building for sure.

If the winds were as bad as that on race day it would be quite an adventure! There would be less traffic to worry about (more cyclists) and you could occupy more of the road, but conserving energy for the run would be a whole new challenge. You just never know here, and that’s part of the allure of the world champs!

~ by trevorandheather on October 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “A week away”

  1. Heather, you are the Goddess of the Wind. When it hits on race day know that those stick figures who weigh nothing will be much worse off than you.

    Carpe Hurricane.


  2. The winds were insane, yet fun for the first bit. Kind of an adventure. 3.5hrs into it, though, it got a little frustrating and certainly a few close calls were had!! It quite literally felt like it was going to scoop your wheels out from under you, then it would stop and hit you again. As if you were being hit by an oversized IKEA pillow.

  3. Have an awesome race Heather, just assume there will be wind, if it doesn’t happen to the extent as in the training, what a treat that will be. As good as ice cream might be debatable! You certainly are ready to kick some serious behind!

    I also have to say way to stick it out Trevor in IMC (I know it has been over a month now!), we crossed paths on the run-of course you were just about finished. Those were challenging conditions. You’d think ma nature would give a break for someone’s first IM!

    Wishing you a great race in IMAZ! Sounds like you are fully recuperated ready knock it out of the park.

    Best of speed to both of you!

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