Let me try to put the picture into words (with as little exaggeration as possible) for what I was thinking during this practice bike ride. Imagine a stretch of dark black pavement, not that grey worn out road like most MI roads are, black like it’s been recently repaved. You are at the top of a slight rise (maybe a hill depending on your definition-3-4% gradual grade) and you can see ahead of you for 8 or so miles. You can see the road ahead of you with big gradual turns and some more gradual hills, which are slightly wavy and distorted by the heat coming off the pavement. To your right you see the green of a golf course in the distance and beyond that you see the vast blue ocean tinged with white, looking so cool and inviting. But you also see miles upon miles of ugly, jagged, deathly black, lava. They built this road directly through the path of a lava flow. This is what your eyes see and it only hints at the story your other senses are telling you.
|View Inland from the Queen K|
Normally one feels a cool ocean breeze, that is refreshing. In my case I’m used to a cool (or more commonly cold) breeze off Lake Michigan and a “warm” breeze would be one of those strange spring days where it’s been 45 and now there’s a 60 degree wind. As I’m riding my bike I’m buffeted by the blast furnace that is hiding in the Vog (volcano smog as they call it) somewhere offshore and is spewing gusts that launch my bike and it’s rider a couple feet across the road. I tense the muscles in my upper body to keep my bike in control and lean into the wind. It feels like my bike is riding at a 20 degree angle from perpendicular to the ground (I mean it’s not straight in however you say that in more descriptive words). It is more challenging to control my bike than usual, but I have ridden in a few similarly windy days back in Michigan. One just has to stay more focused and muscle the bars a bit more. But I had not experienced the heat like this. Maybe because I’m a wimp, maybe because I’m used to cold weather, but it was miserable and the thought of calling my parents to come get me crossed my mind more than once. But I knew that I needed to get through this ride or the race would just be that much worse. Anyway I sucked it up and toward the end of my ride it clouded over a bit and seemed to get cooler and a little less windy. I made it back and pondered what I needed to change to have a better experience on race day.
|View of Maui from the Mamalahoa Highway. You can see the Queen K below.|