It all started with a trip to the airport in January for seven Revolution leaders. After carpooling to the airport, flying across the country and landing at LAX, Mike drew a map of the Big Island on a napkin at lunch and started to preview three month’s worth of activities that we all wanted to enjoy in six days. Excitement continued to build as we chipped away at our five-hour layover.
Once in Hawaii, we had a quick drive down part of the Ironman course and we arrived at our home for the next week, a gorgeous eight-bedroom house with an incredible lanai and swimming pool to boot. To get ready for the week, from grocery shopping to the bike shop we went. We have new friends and old friends in Kona, Hawaii. The new friends are Bike Works. They got us set up on carbon road bikes to use for the week and outfitted our Mommy vans with bike racks. The old friend is a customer of our Clarendon store who was returning his rented bike to Bike Works and recognized our kits! (“It’s a small world after all…”) Like über-efficient kids on Christmas morning, we set our bikes up with our pedals and saddles and got them on the cars.
Most days were a kind of triathlon (seemed like an appropriate way to approach our time on the island). That day, the first part of the triathlon was to get the groceries. We then transitioned into our Revolution kits and headed out for the second event (typical in a tri), bike riding. The first ride was the only ride we didn’t turn into a race. We began in Waikoloa and headed towards (but not all the way to) Hawi. Let me tell you, the cure for jet lag is a bike ride on the Big Island. We cruised at a moderate pace and saw incredible things. Lava fields- acres of lava- brand new earth- stretched out before us with specs of green life to break it up. Whales off shore seemingly swimming some sort of parallel course, flipping their tales and creating huge splashes to get noticed. Incredibly lush scapes and the smell of jasmine. In Hawaii, the scenery is always changing. After about 15 miles, we headed back to the beach, transitioned into our suits and hit the beach for some snorkeling. In fact, it was Jim’s first time dawning the mask and snorkel. Naturally, he took to it like a fish to water.
By the end of our first full day in paradise, we were all a little sun kissed and high on endorphins. Nothing complements that better than an amazing dinner of Ahi and Mahi Mahi on the lanai, family style.
Tuesday helped us prepare for Wednesday- arguably the fullest day of them all. On Wednesday, some of us headed out for a ride from the house to Waikoloa. Others met us at the beach with the van and our snorkeling gear. The ride was along Hwy 19, which cuts through miles and miles of take-your-breath-away lava fields. An interesting natural graffiti tradition has developed in these black fields. People take white coral from the beaches and use it to spell out messages to loved ones, or words of encouragement to anyone trying to conquer the Hawaiian winds. The day before I noticed a message to “Katie.” At the start of our ride, I asked that folks keep an eye out for “I love you Katie” written in the lava. Just a few miles in, I’d forgotten I was supposed to be looking for my message and was focused on the ride. Luckily, Caleb hadn’t forgotten. Without warning, he started yelling, “I LOVE KATIE, I LOVE KATIE!” It took several yards before any of us realized what the heck he was yelling about (I mean, I am pretty lovable). The group took a moment to stretch and I had a photo op with my graffiti. A short while later, two things happened. 1- Joe turned back to help Pinkey with getting the vans to the beach (and on the way back saw Lance Armstrong who was out for a jog!). 2- Mike jumped. At first, no one took the bait. I heard grumblings of “don’t fall for it,” “I’m not going,” and “let’s just hang out.” I almost hung back, but as I saw Mike start to pull away, I couldn’t help myself. I jumped, too. Had I made that decision much later, I might not have caught up to him. The two of us worked together to cheat the Hawaiian wind and pulled in to the Waikoloa parking lot with a good ten-minute head start on stretching. Thus was born the Tour de Hawaii. The two of us worked together to cheat the Hawaiian wind and pulled in to the Waikoloa parking lot with a good ten-minute head start on stretching. Thus was born the Tour de Hawaii.
By Thursday morning, it felt as if we’d been on the island for years. I’m convinced there’s some sort of space/time phenomenon that occurs when you go to Hawaii. Some folks stayed local Thursday morning, renting surfboards, paddle boards and snorkeling. Others headed for a short bike ride or beach-bumming out in Waikoloa. After a hard day’s work of relaxing, we gathered back at “home” for lobster and steak. Things were tough in Hawaii.
It’s a good thing we took it easy on Thursday because Friday was a big day. On Friday, we headed for the epic volcano ride. This is a ride we’d been talking about doing since we’d booked the trip. 27 miles up, 27 miles down. Mostly 27 miles up. A steady 4-8% grade. In the days leading up to the ride, we were rambunctious and quick to talk a good game. Silence fell over the vans as we made our way along the winding roads of the coast to the starting point of the ride. Silence continued to keep its hold on the group as we readied our bikes and went through our individual pre-ride rituals in the parking lot of the beach at the base of the volcano. The group stayed together for the first half of the ride. Then Caleb decided to jump. We were convinced it wouldn’t be long before we saw him again, so we let him go and continued at a steady pace. Amazingly, we did not catch sight of him. Jim, Mike, Jakob and I began pacelining in an effort to catch him. One by one, we “popped.” First, we lost Jim. Then, Mike was off the back. The next thing I knew, we were averaging 17 mph uphill and I didn’t even care to look at my wattage (thanks Cycleops for sending us the Powertap wheels to use!). I couldn’t hold the pace much longer, so I popped and set Jakob free to go catch Caleb. Now alone, it was just me and the volcano. I have to admit, for a 27-mile climb, the scenery really managed to take quite a bit of the edge off. The next thing I knew, I saw a mirage of Jakob and Caleb on the horizon. It’s amazing what seeing your competitors will do to boost your cadence. I don’t know how it happened, but I began going 18-20 mph uphill and the van was within sight. Check out our Facebook page to see a picture of Jakob screaming some obscenity or another as he cracked 1000 watts trying to catch me at the finish. A proud moment.
You’d think that’d be enough for one day, but not for the Revolution crew. We cruised back down the volcano, changed and drove right back up to enjoy lunch and a hike (why not?) down the caldera and through some lava tubes. Turn your headlamp off in there and you can’t see your hand in front of your face!
Saturday was road trip day. Some of us began the day by grabbing the best cup of joe we’ve had in our lifetimes. Imagine a coffee shop perched on a serene cliff side of the Big Island coast. The coffee plants are “trained” (they must be smarter coffee plants than in other places) to grow on trellises so each bean gets the perfect amount of sunlight, shade and rain. Yep, it’s prettier than you could dream. This moment (sitting at the outdoor coffee bar keeping our eyes open for breaching whales) was a calm and perfect moment before the craziness of the day ahead. After caffeinating, the seven of us piled into our two caravans. Both groups listened to and “sang” along with Lava 105.3 on the way to our first stop- malasadas. Mmmmm…. who needs lunch when there are Hawaiian doughnuts to be had? I certainly don’t. I tried to be stealth about it, but it did not go unnoticed that I (the female representative) managed to scarf down both my doughnuts well before lunch even hit the table. Oh well, no sense pretending to be a lady about things of this nature.
From doughnuts to Akaka Falls to Mauna Kea to take a peek at the stars and the Milky Way at the Mauna Kea Observatory. The drive there was a little more terrifying than maybe we’d prepared for. Not really to my surprise, the road to the top of the mountain was steep and winding with a speed limit about 15 mph too fast. At the top of the mountain, we peeped many many more stars than any of us are used to seeing on a regular basis (a few of them shooting), but the moon was too close to full for us to get a good view of the Milky Way in all of its glory. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to go back…
Despite the Hawaiian space/time vortex situation, our last full day on the Big Island came entirely too soon. In spite of our impending trip back to reality, we managed to live well. Much like Thursday, some of us rode and some of us surfed and found our destinies as paddle boarders (Jakob…). This was the only stage on which I did not manage to eek a first place spot. I’d like to say I was being nice, but Mike whooped the Akaka out of me. We jockeyed for position on the way to Waikoloa for several miles, and finally he jumped and I couldn’t catch him. Some teammates, huh? We regrouped, ate and then showered/changed for the most delicious dinner I’ve had in years at a place called Roy’s. At “home” following the meal, we had a productive bike buying clinic (believe it or not, it was actually productive) and a cigar on the lanai, chuckling about funny moments and reminiscing about favorite experiences.
One more bike ride, a couple plane rides, out of the space/time vortex and back to reality we went. Something about the cold of the DC area is now easier to endure. And something tells me that I should be developing my strategy and training regimen for the Revolution Tour 2012…