Rod and Vanessa’s Hawaii Vacation!

Vanessa and I planned this vacation last fall and I’ve been looking forward to my first trip to Hawaii ever
since. We just finished our first week where we stayed in Hawi, a small town in the North West corner
of Hawaii (The Big Island’s actual name is Hawaii). In addition to being the turnaround spot for the bike
leg of the Hawaii Ironman, Hawi is a quaint town well located for visiting the beautiful beaches of the
Northern Kohala Coast, the amazing green valleys , Mauna Kea and for some great riding through all this

The thing about riding on an island that was formed by volcanoes is that most roads lead UP! Even a
simple out and back ride along the route 270, the main ‘highway’ in the area results in almost 3,000 feet
of total elevation climbed. When it comes to riding, a fair amount of your mileage will be on these types
of main roads as there just aren’t that many secondary roads on Hawaii. However, many of these routes
are not that heavily trafficked and the ones that are tend to have large shoulders. The drivers here are
extremely bike friendly. I chalk this up to a combination of the relaxed and friendly Hawaiian attitude
and the long history that Ironman has shared with Hawaii.

Last week’s big ride was a 105km ride that took me from our house in Hawi up along a spectacular
volcanic ridge and down to Mona Kea Beach. The ride included almost 7,000 feet of climbing and some
of the windiest conditions that I’ve ever ridden in. Often the wind was a cross-wind which was the
most difficult and dangerous as I had to lean my bike into the wind in order to keep myself straight
and upright. Those who know me, know that my favorite part of riding is descending and this ride has
a beautiful twisty decent off the ridge towards the town of Waimea. Unfortunately due to the wind
I was not able to enjoy the part of the ride too much. My speed was kept to a max of about 30km/h
either by the huge headwinds that I was riding into or by my breaking in the crosswind sections as I was
concerned that a big gust could easily blow me off the road if I was travelling at high speeds.

Towards the end of the ride I was riding up the famous Queen K Highway, uphill and into a headwind
of course. As I look up the road I see a cyclist on a tri bike coming towards me and give him a wave as
I always do. The rider energetically waves back to me with a big smile and as he passes me by I think
to myself, he looks kind of familiar. I crane my head back and notice that he is totally kitted out in
Livestrong gear and has a minivan following behind him. Shit that was Lance Armstrong, and he just
waved at me! I immediately felt more energy in my legs and started pushing just a bit harder into that

Maybe next can have a training camp in Hawaii too?!

Rod Matheson 

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