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13,796 memories <pictures!!>
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In 2005, I had the fortune to qualify and race Kona. Time out on the Queen K gets a man to thinking about lots of things; some trivial and others that just stick.

For me, it was the sight of Mauna Kea swirling in and out of the clouds. I started wondering if a fit (or stupid) person could ride up there.

Fast forward to Kona 2007, my buddy and I with kids and wives in tow came to Kona to do the ride and finish line catch at the big show.

The Gear - we decided to ride modified cyclocross bikes with mountain bike gearing of 22/30/40 on front and 12/27 cassettes with off-road tires. Despite being strong riders (5:15IM split), we needed the ratios because of Mauna Kea’s crazy grades.

We dipped our wheels in the Pacific near Kawaihae at 6am riding from there up to Waimea (on Hwy 27) at about 3000’ elevation.

By about 615am, we were already being blasted by headwinds which slowed us to a crawl.
We refuelled in Waimea then headed along the belt road (Hwy 190)


to the turn up the saddle road (Hwy 200) which winds up to about 7000’. Peter Reid (yes that one - he stayed up there to train) had suggested to me it’s a bit of a crazy road but we found drivers were friendly and the views were awesome.


But the monster head winds persisted and we were starting to get tired from the gusts and elevation gain.
We reached the Bradshaw Army Airfield (6500’) at about noon having riden only about 40 miles. We filled up there with water then continued to the final turn off from the saddle road to the Mauna Kea summit road.

At that point, it was clear we wouldn’t have time to summit and descend so we backtracked to Kawaihae calling it a day.
Next morning, we returned to our turnaround spot in the car to complete the final climb.


Beautiful winding but steep (up to 20% grade) pavement greeted us for the first 5 miles up to the 9000’ visitor center. And no wind to boot at all!

At the visitor center, we loaded up each of our bikes with 6 bottles of Gatorade (no aid stations!) figuring we’d need it with four hours of tough climbing.
From there, the real ride started (just like the final 13 miles of an IM). The mountain road turns to lava rock and flower (very dusty) and the grades undulate between 10% and 20%+.


We rode in the ever thinning air on the gravel until reaching the final stretch of pavement at about the 12000’ mark.

There were actually some sections that were too steep to ride; we just couldn’t get traction in the dirt.

The final couple of miles were smooth as butter on the pavement up to the 13,700 mark.


The enormity of the telescopes is incredible up there. I don’t remember noticing the shortness of breath but we were too stoked to have made it.
We hiked our bikes over to the summit for the official pics at 13,796 ft.

Apparently, this is one of the few rides in the world with that much altitude gain from sea level.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different and October is a great time since there’s little likelihood of snow at the summit.

In February this year, I was back in Kona training and remember catching a view of Mauna Kea through the clouds as I passed by Waikaloa on the Queen K. I just smiled and knew.

Swim - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Bike - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Run - ( ) All good ( x ) In the shop
Last edited by: GrahamK: Aug 14, 08 8:51
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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epic



blood, sweat...and big gears

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ''Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.''
- Muhammad Ali
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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Amazing photos... stunning. Thank you for sharing!


------------------------------
Another IM in 2016 - hopefully..
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for sharing!



"your horse is too high" - tigerchik
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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Awesome shots, thanks for sharing!



"You can never win or lose if you don't run the race." - Richard Butler

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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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that's awesome!... and totally captures the spirit of the original Ironman; undertaking a monumental physical challenge in one of the most beautiful settings in the world for no other reason than seeing if you can do it (and bragging rights). Queen K would be proud.

I want to know how in the hell you got down!!! I hope you had an extra set of brake pads in your back pocket... :-)
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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If your going to build an engine like you have that is an awesome way to use it!!!!
My wife and me were up their for our honeymoon about 8 years ago (took the Van :) ). Can't believe you guys didn't notice the thinning air. We jogged over the the official summit and then jogged back. That little jog with the thin air kicked our butts. Took us a few minutes to catch our breath. Goes to show your conditioning. Congrats.
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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Oh yeah...and I should have mentioned that coming down on the upper pavement was crazy. I normally top out at about 40 mph on that bike but reached almost 60 mph with the thin air until I got too scared and braked!

Swim - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Bike - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Run - ( ) All good ( x ) In the shop
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Re: 13,796 memories [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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That was one awesome ride, and the pics are outstanding! The Saddle Road is crazy in a car; I can't imagine it on a bike. How fast were you going from the Observatory at 9,000 ft. down? What was your split time up and then down? Man, that looks fun!
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Re: 13,796 memories [fefe] [ In reply to ]
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I think we reached the summit in 5 hours up and it took 2 down. We couldn't ride too fast in the lava rock/flower because in many places your front wheel would plow...I nearly crashed a few times on the descent. Saw the park rangers up there who said we were crazy and then told us they see people ride up about every three months.

Swim - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Bike - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Run - ( ) All good ( x ) In the shop
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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spec

tac

ular

Thanks for sharing!

Eliot
blog thing - strava thing
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [renorider] [ In reply to ]
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speechless
amazing
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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Awesome, absolutely epic. Nice photos, I wish I had the funds to embark on a adventure like that.


__________________
Re: Why do people that can't swim try to do triathlon?

FJB: Not to mention the number of people that can't bike or run....
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [Blue42] [ In reply to ]
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Worthy ride! Nice.

***********************
Back in the saddle!
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [TriBriGuy] [ In reply to ]
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I can't believe I missed this thread on the first round when you originally posted. This is awesome. I really think my only real hope is to just ride up to the visitor centre my my tri bike. How far/time from the visitor centre to the summit. Looks like an additional 4500 feet but between 9K and 13.5K....so 2.5 hours???
Last edited by: devashish_paul: Jul 10, 10 12:47
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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AWESOMENESS.

Respect.


float , hammer , and jog

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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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Dev, you're looking at about 3 hours up to the top from the visitors center and 20%+ grades on loose gravel/lava flour. I used a triple up front and needed more. There were sections that were too steep to ride and not suitable for road tires let alone a tri bike.

Best, Graham

Swim - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Bike - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Run - ( ) All good ( x ) In the shop
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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bad. ass.
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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hello there-

so, that was 6 hours from the ocean to the visitors center and 3 hours from the visitors center to the summit = 9 hours total for the uphill?
Also, how long did it take you to descend?
Do you remember temperature at the base v. temperature at the summit? I've heard temp there drops 2 degrees for every 1k feet up as a rule of thumb....

Your post has inspired me to give this ride (or a slightly shorter one from Waikoloa) a shot in about two weeks when I head out to support my friend who's racing Kona... would love to make it in one day... Is there any reason you chose Kawaihae as a departure point instead of somewhere a touch closer to saddle road?

thanks!

PS you also gave me the perfect excuse to finally buy a cross bike, so thanks for that as well -- I had been looking for one for about 3 years...
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [tomstephenson] [ In reply to ]
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tomstephenson wrote:
hello there-

so, that was 6 hours from the ocean to the visitors center and 3 hours from the visitors center to the summit = 9 hours total for the uphill?
Also, how long did it take you to descend?
Do you remember temperature at the base v. temperature at the summit? I've heard temp there drops 2 degrees for every 1k feet up as a rule of thumb....

Your post has inspired me to give this ride (or a slightly shorter one from Waikoloa) a shot in about two weeks when I head out to support my friend who's racing Kona... would love to make it in one day... Is there any reason you chose Kawaihae as a departure point instead of somewhere a touch closer to saddle road?

thanks!

PS you also gave me the perfect excuse to finally buy a cross bike, so thanks for that as well -- I had been looking for one for about 3 years...

Tom, yes about 9 hours total. We had very strong headwinds all the way up to Waimea and along the belt road to the saddle road that slowed us down. I think it took about 3.0 hours to get down. There's a bunch of flat / up on the saddle returning.

On the bike front, I'm about a 5:20 IM split and if I'd tried to do that on a road bike it would have buried me. I needed the bail out gearing especially on the gravel with 20% plus grade. So I was running mountain bike chain rings and cassette that gave me 22 front / 27 rear ratio which was perfect.

I now use my cyclocross as a winter bike (with road gearing) so it was a perfect excuse for me to get one.

Good luck!

Swim - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Bike - ( x ) All good ( ) In the shop
Run - ( ) All good ( x ) In the shop
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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My bucket list just grew...

Coaching - Future Endurance
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [steve_c] [ In reply to ]
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Awesome!! Thanks for posting.
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [cjj] [ In reply to ]
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I think this is the perfect training/warmup ride to do on Thurs and Friday before Kona. Thanks!

Seriously though....this is epic. Congrats!


~~~~~~
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_wk8E9Qe6s
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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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AWESOME ! Hats off to u & your friend for doing it, and thx for sharing with the rest of us....

beautiful.

________________________________________
http://www.jennyslight.org Offer help. Get help.

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Re: 13,796 memories <pictures!!> [GrahamK] [ In reply to ]
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I'm glad I finally got to see this. Awesome pictures and story- thanks for sharing!
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