Fun in the Sun …Mostly

So my trip to Honolulu to cheer on my TNT teammates in their century ride has come and gone. It was definitely a bittersweet experience to be there, but not to be a participant.

The trip started out well enough. The flight was uneventful – if slightly uncomfortable due to narrow seats and no where to put the cranky arm – and the hotel check-in was smooth. I went swimming long enough to discover the effects of salt water and chlorine on newly healed skin. OMG ITCHY! Friday was a free night, so everyone split out to do their own thing. I wasn’t involved in bike pick-up or the following morning’s shake down ride, so I can’t give too much detail on what happened there (although I assume it was fairly uneventful).

Perhaps our pre-ride Pasta Party at the Marriott was a warning of things to come on the actual ride. Gussied up participants and their friends (cyclists not in spandex? No way!) arrived at dinner on the outdoor terrace to a frighteningly enthusiastic welcome of whistling, banging and shouting. It was actually a bit of an intimidating experience…I felt like someone might jump out at any moment and point me out as an impostor who never finished training, and the elated cheers would quickly turn to some form of mob justice-style beat down. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and, yellow ticket in hand, I passed the Team in Training censors uneventfully (albeit with a slight bit of hearing loss).

Almost immediately after picking up my pasta and taking a seat, the weather started to change for the worse. Humidity increased while I tried to find the penne under all of my grated Parmesan cheese, and big fat rain drops started pelting me before I could even think about dessert. Within minutes the sky had opened up into something short of a downpour (but decidedly larger than a sprinkle). The festivities were ended rather abruptly and a host of drowned riders retreated to their respective rooms to rest up before the ride. “It never rains like this here!” Suuuure.

Race day way pretty eventful – at least for the participants – from what I understand. While I split my day between cheering at the finish line and taking pictures of animals at the Honolulu Zoo, my teammates struggled through any number of obstacles. Second hand, hearsay-style stories indicate that it rained (borderline downpour) for the first part of the race and was horribly hot and humid by the afternoon. A couple people crashed out – and were thankfully OK – and even more had flat tires and other mechanical issues. It seems as though the rain washed everything with tire puncture potential directly into the path of my teammates, who were unfortunately unable to detect and avoid what they couldn’t see. I’ve honestly never heard of so many tire changes in my life!

Based solely on what I heard at the finish line, it would seem that this year’s Honolulu Century was “beautiful but… frustratingly hot/wet/crowded” (depending on who you asked). Now, reviews of this ride from last year’s participants only ever included extremely positive reactions so I was a bit shocked to hear all of the negative responses to “How was the ride?” I had a hard time reconciling this discrepancy, but several theories have emerged.

Theory 1: Cyclists are most cranky when barraged with questions immediately after riding 100 miles (shocker there) and are likely to exaggerate any small to moderate setbacks as part of their frustration. Eventually they calm down and recall their accomplishment (aka the payoff for all their suffering) with more fondness than they were able to muster directly post-ride.

Theory 2: People give their most accurate reviews at the finish line. Time dulls their memory of the pain and problems, leaving only happy-fluffy-bunny memories in their place, thereby allowing the sport of cycling to continue. This phenomenon is something akin to mothers forgetting the pain of childbirth thereby continuing the business of procreation.

Theory 3: The ride is usually just better. This year was a fluke of bad weather and unfortunate circumstances. Previous reviews are more accurate for typical Honolulu Century rides.

My guess is that I won’t be able to accurately decide which theory is correct until I finish my own century and have someone immediately afterwards poking me for reactions. For the time being, I’ll have to be content knowing that while I couldn’t ride this year, I may, in fact, have dodged a bullet of a bad year ride. (Hey, it makes me feel a little better for riding the sidelines!) The rest of the my Hawaiian adventure passed without incident – or at least incidents related to cycling. Regardless of the trials before or during the ride, my TNT team deserves a big “Congrats!” for their fundraising, training and performance. So… “Congrats!” …”Go Team” …and all that jazz.


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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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