Monday, December 5, 2011

"I'm gunna ride that man right outta my hair..."

Everything in my life changed this summer. I needed healing in a bad way, and a trip to the Big Island, a week before Ironman Kona, was just what the doctor ordered. It was a start at least. For the 5 ridable days that I was on the island, I put in about 300 miles on my Cervelo RS, including the 112 mile Ironman Kona bike route which I will tell you all about here!

9-22-11 Journal entry:
Free upgraded rental!
"I've arrived in Kona and already I feel so happy I could cry. A good cry though. Everything about this trip has just been nice so far! On the plane, I thought I had lost my credit card so the flight attendant gave me the movie rental for free. I ended finding my card, thank god, but he still wouldn't accept payment. A very sweet old guy with lots of personality. I sat next to the nicest Canadian couple. I talked to them he whole way over. The time passed very quickly. When I arrived, my bike was in one piece and my rental car had been upgraded for free to a mini suv!!! Now I won't even have to take my bike apart to take it with me in the car! What amazing luck! As I was driving from the airport, I saw bazillions of cyclists on the roadside. I'm in heaven! Really! I'm truly in heaven! This is just what I needed!!!

Did I mention t
hat this morning at the airport, I had pedis with Marissa?? It was so much fun to catch up with her. She is doing so well working at TSA. I'm really proud of her. She is proud of her! :) My horrible athletic feet look not half bad for my hawaiian sojourn!

The hostel I'm staying at is called Patey's Place. I've stayed there once before when Jon and I were here for he Hilo Marathon years ago. They are not open for check in until 5pm, and seeing as it is 4pm, and I am starved, I am here in Kona at Island Lava Java waiting for my ahi fish tacos. I've eaten here before and it isn't bad if I am remembering correctly. I'll go check in after I eat.

Man, I can't wait to get on my bike!!! I don't think I'll have time today though before the sun goes down. Boo hiss. It is drizzling a little so it isn't too hot...perfect cycling temp! Maybe I should see about driving the ironman course tonight before dark if I can squeeze that in...or at least hit up a bike shop...

Rain in Hawaii is still better than rain at home!
I found the bike shop and it was a really nice place! Big and really good inventory! A super nice guy named Dave went above and beyond to give me all the info I needed about where to ride on the island. We sat down on the floor of the shop together in from of a huge map of the island and we talked at length for a good part of an hour! I bought a map, some Butt'r, and a few Hammer Heed packets, thanked him profusely, and hit the road. It was pouring by this time!

Since I wanted to ride early the next morning, I needed to get my bike out of the bike box and reassembled. I couldn't do this outside because it was like a freaking monsoon, so luckily the guy at the front desk was nice enough to let me bring my project into the
office. Along with the young man running the front desk, there were 2 other guys hanging out in the office, so I had quite the audience for my little project. lol Although I watched Jesse very closely while he disassembled my bike and packed it away, it wasn't without some head-scratching and fumbling that I got my girl put back together. I am pretty proud of myself that I did it though!! I think those guys were fairly impressed too. lol"

On the Queen Kamehameha Hywy, going through the lava fields.
9-24-11 Journal entry: "Friday morning I woke up way too early. I had trouble sleeping as usual. A disturbingly high number of cockroaches in my room weren't really helping either. I had decided that this was going to be the day for my big Ironman route ride, so I packed up and headed to Starbucks for breakfast. By the time I left Starbucks, I was so excited, I actually felt like I was going to vomit. lol The sun was starting to come up over the mountains in the west and the sky was turning pink, and everything felt alive and exciting and wonderful. The old Alyssa was starting to peak out!

Queen K. Hywy
Windmills! Yeah! It didn't surprise me!
You lucked out this time cows!
I drove back to the hostel and dropped off my car and started from there. The first hour breezed by at an average speed of 17.8 mph. It got much harder from there. At roughly 25 miles in, after battling a strong headwind for a short while, I stopped at a shopping center where the bike shop from the day before has their sister store, but they weren't open yet. Instead, I went to Starbucks and had a chocolate milk and refilled my water bottle. I had a nice conversation with a nice couple from Medford, OR, and then went on my way…or so I thought. I made a wrong turn, which I figured out quickly, but when I went to turn around, my handlebars, which I apparently had not tightened down correctly when I reattached them, slipped, causing me to fall off my bike like a big dork. I wasn't hurt at all, but I felt like an idiot. So I picked myself up and put my chain back on, (it fell off in the hoopla) and I careful rode back towards the bike shop. The shop was still not due to open for another half hour, so I hung on the road hoping another cyclist would pass who would be carrying an allen wrench. Finally one did, but he wasn't. Damn. I ended up waiting until the shop opened and the guys at the shop took good care of me. Thanks again Bike Works!!! When I left the shop, the bike computer Jesse lent me had somehow switched itself to German and reset itself. Ok, I'm just going to admit it, I kinda freaked out. For whatever reason, tracking miles and speed helps me mentally on long rides, and the loss of this ability shook me. After frantically trying to fix the computer for far too long, I did eventually give up and get a grip. I was shocked when I realized how far behind schedule I was, and I was worried about the heat and the wind. The sun was hot and pounding down on the black top, but so far the Queen Kamehameha Highway had only been really windy for the past few miles, but I knew the worst was yet to come, (and it was.)

The stretch along 270 to Hawi started decently, but soon the side wind picked up and I was actually scared that I was going to ge
t blown over! Mile after mile was like this and the sun was intense. There is no shade at all on this route, and the temperature must have been in the mid 90s by then. The cross wind was gnarly. I was gripping my handlebars so tight that my arms ached. The wind was constant and wicked, and felt like it was going to take my wheels out from under me, but every once in a while, a huge gust would blast me, and I would swerve and weave and I would have to fight not ending up as a road-rashed heap of hurt on the highway.

t when I really thought I was out of steam and fuel, and everything else, I made it to Hawi, the blessed turn around point. I was so happy to see that Hawi was a cute little town that included several places to eat. Had it not, I had already planned to go back a few miles and slaughter a cow on the side of the highway with my bike tool, and eat it raw. Kohala Coffee Mill's food was much better! I had the yummiest chicken teriyaki burger ever!"

I am smiling, but that didn't last. lol
My descent back down from Hawi was not the exhilarating high speed coast down in drops that I was hoping for. It was downright sucky actually! lol The wind was getting worse, and it was just too dangerous for me to go fast, even if I could. My back was starting hurt, which was strange. Going down into drops wasn't comfortable or doable at all... I felt like a big wind sail sitting up like an idiot in the wind, but with my back killing me like it was, I couldn't bare to lean forward. This slow-going was discouraging, but had to be done. Risking an injury was not an option. Strong gusts were still threatening to wipe me out, and this was wearing on my arms and my nerves. I was also really starting to notice the affect that the sun was taking on my skin. I have always had suck good skin, and I have always tanned so easily, but I could tell that even my nice olive skin was no match for this many hours of direct Hawaiian sun. I needed sunscreen, and soon!

My dermatologist is going to kill me...
Finally I made it to the bottom of the hill on the road to Hawi and stopped in at the gas station. I bought drinks to refill my water bottles, a ice cream bar, and a banana. I drank quite a bit, ate the ice cream, but felt a little sick, so I stuck the banana in the back of my shorts for later. I searched the store for sunscreen, but all I could find was a huge bottle and it was really expensive! Being as cheap as I am, I refused to buy an expensive bottle of sunscreen that I could not carry with me, so I decided to just carry on without it. My skin was concerning me though. It was hot and red, and I assumed that was why I was feeling icky. I figured that sunscreen really wasn't going to save me now! lol Without my bike computer I only had a rough guess of how many more miles I had to go...35...40? I'd live. I hoped...

By the time I made it back onto the Queen Kamehameha Highway, I really was pretty wiped out. right side of my lower back was screaming. What in the hell was wrong with me?? I was so frustrated with this pain. I had done this distance many times before and this grade was a cinch. WTH was the problem?? The wind was blowing directly in my face. Mile after mile just drug on and on and I wasn't having much fun anymore. I was physically exhausted and mentally exhausted as well. Life back home was creeping into my head...not really on a conscious level, but all of my hurts and burdens were there, weighing down my bike, making each pedal-stroke painstakingly hard. Around 25 miles from the finish, I hit my wall. I stopped on the side of the road and got off my bike. I pulled out my phone, and I posted the following on my Facebook page, "If there ever was a time I needed encouragement people, this is it! I have 25 miles to go and I am spent beyond belief. Send me energy across the ocean, because I really need it!!!" Ten people responded with words of love and encouragement. Ten people sent their energy across the ocean, and I somehow found a way to absorb it and get back on my bike, wipe my tears, and finish my ride like the strong woman that I know that I am. I was so very proud of me that day. I will never forget that accomplishment, not even when I top it.
This shot is just plain bitchin'.

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