Saturday, May 23, 2009

My new Ironman Hawaii ride- Part I

OK- so on Thursday we decided to go on a bit of a biking adventure. I wanted to do something completely different to the usual. I wanted to go exploring. When I am here for the Ironman in October I am totally focused on the race and rarely do I venture off the actual race course. But this was my time to play and I wanted to see what the island of Kona had to offer- I can tell you now that I was not disappointed.
We decided to begin when Lava Java opened its doors- it was going to be a long day in the saddle so we wanted to make sure we were properly hydrated for a day in the sun-(make mine a triple shot please).
We then made our way out along the Queen K and basically followed the Ironman race course all the way to Hawi- we were happy to discover that the winds were not blowing on our way from Kawaihae to Hawi, in fact it was close to perfect conditions.
Before we knew it we had made it Hawi and this is where the fun would begin. I had to take this pic of 'Luke's Place'- seeing as Luke was with us- he has promised to shout us dinner here before we leave.

I have really only ridden along the Queen K and so I have no idea what type of riding is actually out there. Justin, on the other hand, has done plenty of riding and has discovered some amazing roads and has gone on some great adventures. Luke has also done loads of training on Kona and has ventured off the beaten track many times- he was aptly given the title of 'ride captain' for the day.
When we left Hawi we took a right turn up the Kohala Mountain Rd. Luke had warned me not to go too hard too early as it was a long way up to the summit- he was not kidding!!!
We just kept going up and up and up some more. But the view all the way up was worth all of the pain my legs were encountering and then some.
This was my first really long ride on my new bike- the Ceepo Venom. It felt great and I honestly could not have been happier with the way it was feeling or handling (except I was hoping it would climb just a little faster so that Luke and Justin were not able to drop me up Kohala Mt. Rd). But not to worry as it descended beautifully and I was back on their behinds before they even realised they had dropped me :)

My new Ironman Hawaii ride- part II

We made our way up and over Kohala Mountain Rd. from Hawi- this is an awesome climb and peaks at 1086 metres! Now that would certainly sort out the little drafting problem we seem to be having at the World Champs these days :) The views from here have to be seen to be believed- truly amazing. I do not normally like to stop mid-ride- training is training right, but I just could not resist these views.
How fantastic is this! You could see for miles- the Queen K seemed to be so far away- I could not believe how far we had climbed. You could see actually see the Queen K snake all the way back to Kailua.
We descended down to Waimea and had our second and last stop for the day before heading back to Kailua. We took the Mamalahoa Highway all the way from Waimea back to Kailua. This highway was the original road used to access the north end of the island before they built the Queen K. It has been resurfaced and is a great alternative to the Queen K. It basically runs parallel to the Queen K but inland, however, it is a lot more undulating (translated= a whole lot tougher).
We took this road all the way back to the very top of Palani Road (now I mean the very top- not just the little hill we run up in the Ironman). How much fun was it descending down Palani!! A great way to finish an epic ride. Total ride was 183kms- just perfect!

Luke, Justin and myself then rode back to where we were staying and I made everyone the obligatory protein shake- extra thick and extra cold- then we just lay back and took in a good morning's work. Now I cannot wait to do it all over again -ahhhh life is good.

Friday, May 22, 2009

KONA- I just love this place!

Well I know many of you are going to be so envious of me when you look through my pics in this blog- yes I am back on God's land and the great thing is I get to live here for the next two weeks.
We arrived here on Kona last Sunday and as soon as I planted my feet down on the tarmac I knew it was going to be a great two weeks of training, culminating with the Hawaii 70.3 race on the 30th.
The weather has been amazing since we got here- not too hot and definitely not as humid as it is for the Ironman World Champs in October. Really the conditions are simply perfect for long, hard training days.
We have been lucky enough to have been set up with a great homestay while we are here- Linda and Bill Greentree. They live in a lovely house just a little way up the mountain but still very close to town. They both love their sport- Linda is also a triathlete and has raced the Ironman World Champs here, while Bill runs marathons. They have been so wonderful and have made our stay so easy. It has been fun swapping stories about the Ironman and also learning more about the island of Kona itself. When I am here for Ironman in October I really don't do anything outside of training specifically for the race so I have really never observed what the island has to offer- believe me there is so much more to this place than just swimming at the Pier, biking along the Queen K and running along Ali'i Dr.
There are trails everywhere and some amazing climbs (check out my next blog on this).
But I have to admit my first training session on the Monday was a big swim at the local pool- It always takes me a while to get used to swimming in a 25 yard pool again- we do not have any pools of this length back home in Australia and it always takes me one or two sessions to get the timing right. My head seems to spin a bit after that initial session with all of the tumble turning but I am used it now. The pool here in Kona is great- clean, warm and free and you get to work a bit on your tan while you swim :)

Of course nearly every session either begins or ends at the infamous 'Lava Java"- but not both (although I definitely could). The best thing about coming here outside of Ironman is that there are no 'never-ending' lines at Lava Java- it is basically straight in, order and eat- just perfect! Yes I do like having this beautiful place all to myself and not having to share it with 2000 other 'out of town' athletes.
We actually decided to include the Hawaii 70.3 this year on our race calender as our good friends and training partners- Luke McKenzie and Amanda Balding, who have been coming here for a while to train and race, told us to give it a go. I have really been enjoying training with them both and Luke has been a great training partner for me on the bike (yes he kicks my behind) and also fun to have at the pool- I say 'at the pool' because anyone who knows Luke knows what an unbelievable swimmer he is- so for me to say 'swim with' is certainly out of the question, even if wearing pool buoy and x-large paddles!

Well it is now Friday- a long swim and a massage are on the agenda for today- oh and of course a quick trip to Lava Java will be slotted in there somewhere. As you can see from the above picture- it is another perfect day in what can only be described as paradise- the sun is shining, the dolphins were out again and life is pretty good.
Next blog will show pics from our 180km loop that we did yesterday on the bike- what an amazing ride it was and the scenery was to die for. I was really happy with the way my Ceepo felt- this was the first long ride I had done on it and it passed with flying colours.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

mission accomplished- well almost

OK well I have to admit it has taken a few days longer than first anticipated, but finally I have a (almost complete) brand new bike. Justin and I set about building it up midway through the week and apart from some missing Zipp Vuma Crono cranks, a set of Zipp 303 clinchers complete with Powertap, and bar tape, it is ready to rock the roads of Noosa. These missing bits should arrive on Monday, so baring any unforeseen incidents with customs, these 'bits' should be on my bike by Monday avo. That means I get to break the new machine in during the hardest ride of the week- yeah I know probably not such a smart idea, but I am so confident about this bike (and the bike builder) that it does not worry me.

First thing to do was to install the headset, attach the rear derailleur and the front and rear brake calipers (all running components are the new Shimano Dura-Ace). I would love to tell you all that I did these things- but I would be fibbing. Justin is a genius and a perfectionist and that is why he is doing most of the building and I am doing the 'getting of coffee and making of lunch'.
Usually when I get a new frame for the season I take it straight down to Bob at 'Coolum Cycles'. He has been my mechanic since I moved up here years ago and he always does a great job. But Jus and I decided this year that we wanted to do it on our own. We still made a trip down to Coolum Cycles to show Bob the new Ceepo frames that we are so proud of.
Next up was to attach my brand new Fi'zi:k Antares saddle to the seat post. I have not used this particular model from Fi'zi:k yet but it looks amazing.

Then Justin assembled my new Oval Concepts aerobars- they look soooo good- carbon everywhere- even the special aero stem top cap- love it.

Once that was complete Justin cut down the steerer tube to size and I (yes I) was able to thread the gear and brake cables and my new bike started to come to life. There had been no cursing, no screaming, no nagging and no criticizing- quite amazing really. Everything was coming together perfectly.
My tiny, little Ceepo was starting to look like a super-fast machine!
By the end of the three days of building 'Grip' was well and truly over it- I don't think he quite understood what all of the fuss was about and he took a stance- 'no more building until I get taken for a long walk'.
So as soon as my cranks arrive we have the bottom bracket to install, the cranks, drink cage, Powertap monitor and bar tape to go on and then mission accomplished. I will have the final pics up in the next day or so.