Another year and another trip to the Ironman World Championships in Kona is in the books for Cervélo. As the tan lines fade and my cravings for macadamia nut pie and fish tacos finally start to subside, I can’t fight my compulsion to scroll through boundless images and read the many race-reports recounting the abundant and varied experiences from the big island.
There are many great stories that arise from a race like Kona. Some of my favorites are courtesy of teamTBB, Caroline Steffen and Rachel Joyce. While these race reports are a must-read, Kona is so much more than race day. This is the World Championships, the big show. And the experience is something that has no equal.
teamTBB race recap
Rachel Joyce' Kona Race Report.
Caroline Steffen's Race Report (German)
The Ironman culture imbues every day life in Kona during the week. In fact, the typically quiet surf town itself seems to take on the life of a triathlete with nerves building to a focused crescendo in the days leading up to the bike check in. It is in the ‘expo’ during these days that the Cervélo crew has a chance to meet some of our most dedicated riders face to face.
Dana was one of the many Cervélo riders who stopped by to have her bike checked over prior to the main event.
During the expo, we were fortunate enough to have a number of tremendous athletes stop by the Cervélo lounge for a little hang out. Not only did the 10 Kona qualified Cervélo athletes stop by, but we also had the chance to meet some of the best that were not racing the chamionships. Tyler Butterfield, Laurel Wassner and Jodie Lee Stimpson are making a transition to the Ironman distance after becoming decorated at short distances. They were on hand to witness the insanity that surrounds Kona so that they know what to expect in years to come. Check out Laurel Wassner’s account of what it was like to watch the race from the sidelines.
It is not everyday that an Olympian comes to hang out and sign cowbells.
One of my personal highlights was a chance to ride with Bryan Rhodes and Mathias Hecht and friends on the Queen K. If you have never been to Kona or had a chance to ride on the course, it is difficult to understand just how hard this race must be. The road itself appears purpose built to push your will to its limits. The uphill sections are not too steep; the bends are non-existent and the down hills sections are over in an instant. It is one of those roads that just seem to grind on while you ask yourself “why am I working so hard yet going so slow…?”
I cannot imagine riding the full 180km on this road yet our tour guide, Bryan Rhodes, doesn’t hesitate to point out that it is the Marathon afterwards that really gets you.
The final frenzy in the build up to race day happens during the bike check in. During this time, we continued two of our most notable Cervélo traditions. First, co-founder Phil White, along with some help from his staff, handed out limited edition Kona shirts to every athlete racing on a Cervélo. The second being that we dominated the bike count again. We are so lucky to have such great community support.
Always a hit, the Kona shirt is a tradition for some of our most dedicated riders.
Once the bikes are all checked in, and everyone is well stocked on food and supplies, the town itself goes quiet. Like a true triathlete, it is like Kona is resting with its proverbial feet up waiting for the madness that is race day. It is an eerie calm-before-the-storm sort of scene unlike anything that I have experienced.
The calm fades quickly and early on race day as people pour on to the pier to witness the start. And if the excitement isn’t enough to wake up Kona, the canon fire that starts the race definitely does the trick. Among all of the great memories of fresh papaya, fantastic coffees and meeting some of the most highly tuned human specimen on the planet, many of my most cherished memories come from the amateur side of the sport. From the aspiring young pros-of-tomorrow like Nick Baldwin, to the finishers coming in just before midnight, it is hard to leave Kona without being moved by the sport.
Andy's Pain Cave
Chito and Kgo