Riding Queen K
So I’m in Kona right now. I actually arrived on Monday afternoon and rode Queen K (well 50 miles of it) on Tuesday morning. It was definitely a trip to ride a road that I’ve seen so many times on television. The only thing I could liken it to for me (a baseball fan) would be visiting a historic stadium like Yankee Stadium for the first time; you’ve seen it so many times on television, but somehow it’s just better in person.
Queen K in and of itself is nothing spectacular; it’s just a road surrounded by lava fields (OK, the lava fields are pretty cool). What I found most intriguing about the ride were the conditions. They always talk about the “tricky” winds and the heat that emanates from the lava fields on the NBC Ironman coverage, but until you’ve experienced these things for yourself, the words do not adequately describe what these athletes are battling.
On the 25 miles out, I had a mild to moderate wind that was more a cross wind than a tail wind. At times, the wind was actually turning into a headwind, so I thought I’d be facing about the same wind after I turned around. The bushes weren’t moving too much on the way out, so I knew that the wind wasn’t that strong. All I can say is “oh what a difference a turnaround makes.” It was almost as if the island knew I was turning around to head back to Kona.
The bushes that were just slightly blowing swaying in the breeze before now looked like they were about to be uprooted. I had 25 miles ahead of me and I was going straight into a 20-30 MPH headwind. Awesome. I have never been in a wind like that before. If I stopped pedaling on a downhill, I actually slowed down as though I had just stopped pedaling on an uphill–that’s how strong the wind was. The uphills, well, let’s not talk about those.
Overall, the ride was great though. The heat that comes up from the lava fields is oppressive, but the winds off the coast help cool you down. The Look 585 I rented is an amazing bike. It would probably be at at or very close to the top of my list if I decide to buy a road bike (which I might after I start working; i really enjoyed being on a good road bike).
Tomorrow I’m heading up to ride the upper portion of the Ironman course (i.e. the middle 50 miles). This is the area where the crosswinds are supposed to howl. I’m just hoping the scenery is a little more interesting (there’s only so many pictures you can take of lava fields).