How To Conquer The Ironman Bike At Kona

How to conquer the World Ironman Triathlon Bike at Kona

I am a 2 X Kona finisher & 38 x Ironman Finiisher.

28 times faster than 11 hours incluidng a best time at Kona of 10:57:40

The challenges of Kona are the increasing wind and heat. The never ending rolling highway and haze across the road is relentless.
Yes you can break down the course into easy bite size chunks but you still need a flexible approach.
Mental strength t hold back is the key ingredient hydration and fuel consumption while listening to your body and the ever changing conditions tail wind cross wind head wind and adjusting accordingly is paramount for success.
It is no good eating every 10 minutes or to your plan if the timing is not right, when approaching the crest of a hill or during a part where you expect a sudden cross wind
Transition and the first 4 miles of the bike
Cheering crowds will be willing you on to go fast while you ride out and back of Kailua –Kona.
Keep calm & monitor your heart rate, you MUST keep it below your threshold or go on feel, now is the time to HOLD back it’s still a long day.
Just because you have ticked one of three boxes (Swim Bike Run) and you can now hear the crowds after the swim do not let your passion kill you by thinking you are as strong as McCormack Leito Raelert Carfrae or Wellington.
There will always be someone who is faster or less experience over taking you in a field of 1,750 competitors. Only a select few will never be caught by any cyclist during the entire 112 miles.
Start at Kailua Bay to 2 miles into the Ironman bike
After the swim & just before you climb up Palani and onto the famous Queen Kuaahumany Highway (Queen K highway) hold back expect to feel great.
By now your heart rate will have settled so keep within your pre determined heart rate zones. Ignore the fact that the winds are likely to pick up and you need to get to the turn around before they get too strong so they push you back.
From the Airport (That you flew into) to Waikoloa you will experience light breeze and undulating hills enough to cause the heart rate to easily rise.
On passing Scenic point look out ignore the wonderful views for your post race sight seeing. The bike section is easier here so focus on not losing pace. 2 miles past Hapuna Beach the Queen K Highway ends. Careful the side winds start to get more noticeable.
For the light weight runners who do not like cross winds choose saddle mounted bike cage and handlebar profile style so the wind can easily pass through the bike frame.

Kawaihae to Hawi (The Bike turnaround).
On leaving the black lava fields you now start to climb up to Hawi. The hills seem much harder due to direct wind that often blows straight into your face. Hold back & save a little because sudden increases in elevation or gust of wind will suddenly increase the heart rate and body temperature.

Special Needs Bags is a few hundred meters after the turn around so be ready to stop and get your treats for a feet (Put something special in this bag)

IronMate Tip
Avoid staying in the aero position all day, instead move around even get out of the saddle and stretch. Allow the muscles to relax and avoid them becoming short and tight.
Work harder when you feel the wind has eased after a gust, avoid mashing a gear instead ride in one gear easier so you do not get caught out by the gust that can push you across the road.
Trying to push hard and tough it out will not only catch you out by potentially being blown over your fatigue levels will rise too quickly. No one is invincible during the Ironman World Championships in Kona, many a triathlete has melted even during training.

Hawi to back Home (Kawaihae)

Now it is time to race with what is usually a great tail wind. You do not need reminding of this windy area because you will see giant energy wind mills. Expect to run out of gears but be careful of side way gusts of winds, as the road is not straight but curves. I found this section the most scary when I competed.
Keep your upper body relaxed, otherwise the tension will make matters worse when a gust of cross wind hits you. Keep low aerodynamic and be prepared.
Get out of the saddle at every opportunity on the way back even for just 15 seconds.

Energy (Sapping) Lab to Transition 2.
This is usually a good place to keep your energy levels high while getting back into a good pace after some slow climbs before the transition.
(The energy lab is where the special needs is for the run and by the time you get their on foot it will be very hot)
Ok to roll around a gear rather than spin too fast. Avoid free wheeling even 15 R.P.M will avoid fatigue building up.

Mark has finished 38 Ironman 2 x Double and 1 x Triple Iron distance triathlons.
Mark has been coaching Ironman athletes for more than 15 years to qualify for Kona.
He is also Author of "The Complete Book of Triathlon Training"

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