I mistakenly put up images from Andrews ride of yesterday, rather than of the day before. Since loading images is time consuming, I've gone ahead and posted yesterday's ride report with the correct images and will post the day before report with correct images later. Now, on with the story from Andrew.
The plan today was for my one and only century for the week. After two days of lots of climbing, I was looking to do some flatter terrain and have an easier ride. I decided to skip my oatmeal and pop-tart breakfast and headed up to Kona to the McDonalds for some breakfast with fat in it! I didn't want to be feeling hungry 30 miles down the road. After a Big Breakfast, Cinnamon Melt, and two milks and 7 miles under my belt, I headed north on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway to see more of the route that the Ironman triathletes would experience. Everything went well with warm temps, high humidity of course, and a light breeze blowing from the north. I breezed along at my 15 mph touring pace.
Until...25 miles north of Kona...(covers Young Nick Phenom's ears)...all hell broke loose! The so called trade winds that are legend began hammering me from the side and front. I endured about a 6 mile stretch of what seemed like 20 to 30 mph gusting, in which I struggled to keep my bike upright. All I could think about was how much fun the ironman triathletes would have if they got to experience the same this Saturday. At this point I also noticed how the ocean had a much deeper blue than down south; very pretty. After admiring the beauty, back into wind until I hit the Kawaihae Road. A left there to check out the gas station up the road and unfortunately down the hill. After that wind whuppin I felt I deserved a Grape Crush to help me get up the hill I knew I was going to have to climb to get to the town of Waimea. And climb I did. Not real steep, but a grinder. I figured it would be a 1000-1500 foot climb. Boy it sure sucks to be wrong sometimes! The sun was intense and the humidity taking its toll, and I was feeling quite hot, quietly complaining that it would be nice to have a breeze to cool me off! What's that phrase? Careful what you ask for.
Suddenly around 1800 feet into the climb....(covers Young Nick Phenom's ears once more)...all hell broke loose again! Those winds I had experienced before down below now hammered me head on or from the side depending where the road was winding. And they felt a little bit stronger now. It was all I could do to keep the pedals turning when it was head on or to stay upright when it they hit from the side as the road went east. I had to endure this until I climbed up over 2600 feet of gain. Finally once I got into the town, I had some shelter. So, on to McDonalds for lunch and then south on the Hawaii Belt Road. My suffering was finally rewarded with 20+ miles of very enjoyable tailwinds. I saw a couple of riders riding up to town as I was leaving and I know they had to have suffered a long time coming in from that direction. I wasn't sure what to expect from this road, but I was very pleasantly surprised, as it had a two foot shoulder most of the way and didn't have nearly as much traffic as I was thinking it would. So, most of those miles, I was coasting on the flats and downhills and pedaling with ease up the uphill parts. When I got down to 12 miles to go to Kona, the climbing started again but not too bad. At some point, I saw what looked to be fog up ahead. Turns out it was a rain cloud. Bummer! It was mostly very, very light sprinkles and turned to a very light rain until I started descending out of it. Fortunately, for the really nice descent part into Kona, it had stopped and I enjoyed dry roads. I saw they were setting up the finish line area for Saturday and I called my buddy to see what they were up to. He directed me to his digs and I got to see his nice ocean view apartment, complete with kitchen. I chatted with him and his wife for a while before heading back for my 3rd trip to a McDonalds today and then headed back to the hotel. Finished with 104.5 miles and 6600 feet of climbing (oops, was supposed to be an easy day). I'm not sure how accurate that elevation gain was today. I think those gusting winds were wrecking havoc with my barometric altimeter. It sometimes showed me descending when I knew I was really climbing. Too funny! But great ride today!