From everything I’ve read, the bike portion of Kona is the toughest of the three legs. The majority of the ride is along the Queen K Highway- which is hallowed ground to a triathlete. Sort of like getting to play baseball in old Yankee Stadium, basketball in Madison Square Garden, or a round of golf at Augusta…it’s pretty special. If Jessica and I ever take that vacation to Hawaii, I’m renting a bike and riding part of this course – mark it down – it will happen!
The bike course is a combination of two out-and-back portions. The first is in town with very short, steep segments. The second out-and-back is the real deal to Hawi. If you are picturing palm trees and beautiful ocean views, forget it. No shade, very strong winds, and lava fields on both sides of the road.
For the most part, there is a slight tail wind out to Waikoloa. The crosswinds usually kick in just before the road starts to kick up as you head to the turn in Hawi. This is where you are encouraged to eat and hydrate well; both become extremely hard to do when you are holding on to your bike in 25-mph gusting crosswind. Seriously, people don’t want to take their hands off of the handlebars to grab their water bottle for fear that the wind will blow them off the road.
Due to the course layout, the halfway point isn’t actually in Hawi—making a physically challenging ride very mentally tough, as well. Add to that the fact that the winds increase in the late morning, making that gentle tailwind you had on the way out into a nice headwind on the way back.
Suddenly, hills begin to appear that you never noticed on the way out. Kona, just like any other Ironman course, rewards the smart, patient and disciplined cyclist. Strength can be a liability on this course, if you don’t know how to use it properly.
Knowing that the latter half of the bike is significantly harder enables most riders to pace themselves properly. That’s why only the best get to race here…because they are good!
45 minutes of weights (back, biceps, abs)
25 minutes in the pool (5 minutes of drills, then swam approx. 1/2 mile – it’s impossible to tell since I have no idea how long the pool is at the Taylorsville Rd. gym!)