Once you land on the Big Island have many different things to accomplish. Your first order of business is getting settled. When you leave the airport you will see many cyclists already hard at work on the Queen K Hwy. You can ignore them – remember, they’ve already done what you’re about to do.
The first-order business is getting to our camp condos where you can check in and put all your stuff down. If you brought your bike, now’s the time to assemble it make sure everything works. Once your family is settled you can look ahead and start thinking about what your agenda will be for the rest of the day and or the next day. But only then!
Day One: Saturday
At the this year’s camp we decided to invite everybody to participate in the Ho’ala Practice Swim. This event is held on Saturday morning exactly seven days before race day. It is an opportunity to test your fitness against the actual race course. While conditions may vary from year to year, it’s always a great up idea to calibrate your expectations with reality. Besides, there’s nothing like jumping into the ocean in swimming with the wildlife here.
Later on Saturday it’s time to head out for an acclamation ride. This year we chose to start from our usual location at the Kona Coffee Company. From there are campers did a forty mile ride on the Queen K Highway.
This out and back session is an opportunity to not only review the early terrain of the course, but to also get used to riding in the wind with your race set up.
Remember — There is talking about riding in the wind and then there’s actually riding in the wind. It’s always funny to note that the stories we here at the halfway point of the ride are very different than the ones we hear when everybody’s down at the end of the day.
Once back at the van, it’s time for a quick change in the short run over to the Energy Lab. Renown on race day for being the hottest and most mentally challenging part of the run, running the Energy Lab is an opportunity to truly see what it’s like to be out there in the heat. Mission accomplished, this time to come home and shower up.
Day Two: Sunday
Sunday continues our regular schedule of an early morning swim — especially for those who didn’t arrive early enough for the official practice swim. Once that swim is done (and who can ever swim enough in the ocean???) we headed out for a quick breakfast and then drove for our ride to Hawi.
On the way out we took a few detours to review the early parts of the course make sure everyone understood the logistics around race day and registration as well as what happens in the early parts of the bike. It’s always nice to put folks at ease regarding the logistics of the race.
Campers had two ride choices today: 50 miler or 37 miler. The point here was to put our campers on the climb to Hawi let them experience the terrain, wins, and conditions of the section of the course. Since the highway actually wraps around to the windward side of the Big Island, the weather frequently changes and this year was no exception. Campers were greeted with strong winds all the way up…and a bonus of significant rainfall up the second half.
The winds continued all the way down on the return trip but the rain did not. By the time we got to the pickup point it was already 100° on the pavement and the only reason everyone was wet was from sweating so much.
Why Ride to Hawi?
While everybody wants to write out here on the Big Island this ride to Hawi is the most important one. Since this part of the course comes beyond the halfway mark many first-timers are unaccustomed to the challenges – both mental and physical – that come with staying on the gas when you still haven’t hit your mental halfway point.
It’s also important for athletes to experience those wins. We’ve all seen them on TV and even read about them, but having your bike pushed arbitrarily three or four feet to either side by the winds — it’s an experience that you will never forget. It’s important to get the out of your system before his day. After a quick return pitstop for some Starbucks and much-needed fluids, we were back at home again to rest up before the camp welcome dinner.
As we exit this initial weekend, everyone is successfully boots on the ground and training. Acclimatization to the conditions has already started. And simply by going through the motions of training we are checking off all of the things required to be successful on race day. It’s always fun being out here to support our athletes as they experience the world championship course first time firsthand. Let’s call it an awakening.
Want to Join Us?
Don’t forget you can join us next year whether you’re competing or not. We have between 10 and 15 slots available to come and experience this amazing event for yourself. Join us to train on the world championship course. Consider bringing your family to experience Hawaii and have an unforgettable experience with your teammates and Endurance Nation.