Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ultraman continued

Sorry but it took me a few days to recover from writing day 1's report.  Here is day 2.

Day 2:  171 mile ride from Volcano National Park to Hawi.

Day 2 was a cold start after a night at a B & B in the rainforest.  It was a really cool spot that would be fun to go back to for a really chill vacation.  Up around 4,200ft, at 6:30am, it was pretty chilly, just below 50 degrees and pretty wet.
Sweatshirt, snow jacket & typing the 1st tweet of the Day on HBs crackberry
The first 20mi or so were downhill and a no feed zone so we had to take off ahead of the pack.  We had discussed some strategy the night before at dinner, and Hillary was motivated, intent, and focused.  Unfortunately, about an hour and a half into the day it was clear her body still wasn't really on board.  There was a section not too far into the ride called the "Red Road" which was another "no feed" zone and we weren't even allowed to drive it.

So we took a little detour that allowed for a cool stop in Volcano Tree National Park.  This place was awesome. I felt like I was on the set of Lost.

After meeting back up with Hillary we basically continued the same thing as the day before, leap frogging her in about 30min gaps.  Of course we had more than a few fumbles, and instances where Hillary would inevitably call out for something we didn't have in hand, forcing a frantic rush back to the car and a quick re-do.
Coming thru Hilo with Shanna

On the road out of Hilo

Climbing out of one of the gorges
Some of the roads on the other side of the island get a little narrow so our stops were a little more frequent as we couldn't stay parked too long on the side of the road and we didn't want to get too far ahead in case Hillary had a problem.  And in a race this long, Murphy's Law is really a law.  But we were lucky, we had just pulled over and since Hillary had just begrudgingly taken on more fuel from us only minutes before, we weren't planning on doing anything at this stop other than cheering her on.  Just as she approached we heard the ever familiar "PSSHHHH" that all cyclists know.  The crew sprang into action, Maiki grabbed the bike and got to work on removing the rear wheel while Michael and I unstrapped the spare wheel bag from the roof and got the other rear ready.
Cat like reflexes
A quick swap, tighten it all, and HB was back on the road.  I was seriously proud of the crew and felt like a Nascar pit crew member.  Definitely got the blood pumping.

Shortly after the wheel change at about 120 miles in, HB started to come back around.  Much to our joy she started asking for food!  She even cracked a smile.  Coming into Waimea things were really beginning to look up.  Which was fitting since the last big climb of the day began about 150mi into the ride and forced the competitors to climb up and over the Kohala Mtn. range before descending down into Hawi.  It was a LONG day, but thank Sweet Baby Jeebsus that HB started coming around at this point.  She was climbing very well and even smiling and talking to us at roadside stops to cheer.  It was almost as beautiful a sight as the views from up there.

Hawaii is incredible
After a scary and nerve wracking descent down into Hawi, HB made it, finishing just 3rd on the day in a time of 8:28.  Unfortunately, this was about 6mins slower than Shanna and a whopping 30mins slower than Amber.  However, both Hillary and the crew were actually pretty happy to see these numbers as at times we feared that Amber was really far out there.  I guess it was due to our concern for her that we just didn't realize how fast Hillary was actually riding.  The day's ride and the efforts of the other girls had shuffled things around a bit.  HB was now in second, 25mins behind Amber and 10mins ahead of Shanna.  We knew she had her work cut out for her on day 3.

I don't think I have ever seen a person as ready and willing to never see her bike again as Hillary was after this stage. When she dismounted (pardon me for this HB) she was walking like a 90yr old woman with severely arthritic hips.  It wasn't pretty. But after a shower and a massage... well it still wasn't pretty but she was looking better.  I would be lying if at this point I wasn't genuinely concerned about Hillary's well being, and wondered to myself if she was going to be able to make it through the run. Actually, I should elaborate on that.  I was pretty much 99.9% sure that Hillary would keep pressing on through the run no matter the circumstance or consequence.  But that is exactly what I was concerned about.  I felt it was somewhat of my responsibility as a crew member to be concerned foremost with her safety in both the short and long term.  The absolute last thing I wanted to come of this event was some sort of injury/physical debilitation that would have negative impact on her racing career going forward.  I felt it was part of our responsibility as crew to do our best to ensure that didn't happen.  And knowing Hillary, I was well aware that we would have quite a fight on our hands if we had to step in and tell her it was time to quit.  Luckily we had the "Good Doctor" Michael on the crew.  I figured he could provide some sort of empirical (at least to Hillary) evidence in support of our decision should it come to that.  That night I lay in dread of that event coming to pass.  


  1. Incredible pictures. Such amazing beauty!!

  2. LOVing the race report and pictures - such beautiful views!! Next time you take a trip around the island maybe you can relax. :)

  3. Pretty good storytelling going on here, you've got me ond the edge of my seat with that ending, foreshadowing. You make crewing sound like a sport in itself.

  4. Wow, I didn't fully appreciate the scope of this race. Intense. Kiet is right, crewing is definitely a sport for this kind of race.