Around 7:15am, we left our condo and drove to the shops at Mauna Lani (North of the island) to start our ride. Karel had a 3-hour endurance ride on the schedule to flush his legs from yesterday's sessions. Since we hadn't yet ridden the Hawi section since arriving (we covered everything else on the Queen K), we thought it would be good to head out there early and get reacquainted with the back part of the course. As you may know, this is where the historic Kona winds are the fiercest and you can always tell from the white caps on the ocean if the winds will be blowing (no white caps = calm winds).
As we left the parking lot, Karel needed some time to loosen out his legs so the pace was rather easy to start just to move blood.
Although we started the ride at 8am, it was already hot. Thankfully we packed along plenty of hydration/sport drinks for our ride.
From the exit of the Mauna Lani resort (turning North on to the Queen K), it's ~6.5 miles to the first official turn on the course (not counting the "in town" section). Once you get to Waikui, you make a left on to 270. This is a fast downhill section of the course for just under 2 miles before veering right at the gas station for the 18-mile "climb" to Hawi. The elevation gain is around 835 feet (according to Karel's Garmin) and although you are climbing throughout all 18 miles, it's never steep and there are some flatter sections and rollers. However, because the course bends around the island, the wind is constantly changing. The winds can be very unpredictable and lucky for us during our ride, they were relatively calm.
The views of the ocean make this part of the course pretty spectacular. They are even better on the way back as you get to see Mauna Kea (elevation 13,803 ft!).
As the road winds around, the terrain changes.
What starts as a normal looking highway....
Turns into a desolate looking road.
The views eventually become more greener as you get closer to the town of Hawi.
As I mentioned, I wouldn't really call it a climb but more a gradual incline with a few terrain changes.
The town of Hawi is super cute but also really small. There are a few shops and restaurants and it's worth checking out (not on bike) if you have time. There's also a beautiful lookout point at Polou Valley.
Once again, my Ventum rode amazingly well and I felt so comfortable on the descend. It's not a true descend in that you still have to work for it at times because of the wind and there is still some climbing on the way back.
There are a few sections where you can pick up some free speed but depending on the winds, you have to be alert and can't relax too much.
While we rode the climb up to Hawi in a very steady effort (nothing too hard), we had fun descending. It took us 58 minutes to reach Hawi and 53 minutes to descend. We weren't doing anything spectacular for this ride as Karel just wanted to spin his legs. Thankfully, that meant I could stay on his wheel and enjoy the ride with him.
After you veer left (gas station), the hottest part of the course, with one of the steepest climbs, occurs. The climb is about 1.2 miles and elevation gain is 226 feet (per Karel's Garmin). It's a kicker right before the right hand turn back on the Queen K for the last part of the course (~36 miles).
We rode back to the car and I refilled my bottles with more sport nutrition before I headed back out on the Queen K to finish my ride....back home.
Karel drove home and I rode back home to finish off my "long" ride. I ended up with 4.5 hours of riding and 83 miles. On the way back, I did 3 x 25 minutes at a strong IM effort w/ 5 min EZ between. I only did 20 minutes at the end because I was back in town and wanted to spin my legs before arriving to the condo. I felt very strong on the bike and I was really happy with how I felt - especially how my Ventum rode in the wind. It wasn't crazy gusty but it was windy.
After refueling and getting some work done on the computer, I made my way to the pier/beach for a little dip in the ocean (not a swim, just looking for fishes and playing around). I caught a few pics of my favorite things. A chihuahua with a life vest.
"Sandy" the local turtle.
And beautiful Hawaiian cats.
Oh and then my 4th favorite thing....PIZZA!!
Karel mentioned he wanted pizza tonight before we went for our ride and as my favorite food group, I couldn't deny him of a yum. I ordered out from Longboard Legends Pizza (Hawaiian for Karel and a Vegetarian and Margarita for me and his mom, as well as a salad) and walked over to get it a little before 5pm while Karel was out for his 40-minute PM shake-out run.
Tomorrow is the official start of IM Kona race week. With the island filling with triathletes and tents getting set up all along Ali'i drive, I'm so excited for the craziness that is IM Kona week!