I pulled into the parking lot at Kapiolani Community College before dawn to find the usual assortment of runners and riders unloading and getting ready to go. I hadn’t bought breakfast snacks the night before at either the cafe where I’d had dinner (which had bacon-cheddar scones, for god’s sake) or the Whole Foods in Kailua. I hadn’t crossed paths with a Starbucks and I was weirdly impatient. I was armed with a Pro Bar, just in case I didn’t find food, but… Snack treats at the start, healthy and unhealthy! I had a couple of oat nut scones and some Costco granola, and waited out a really long line for the ladies’ room.

As pre-ride speeches go, this one had a lot of aloha, and one of the founders of the ride, Dr. William Rosenfeld, was there to speak with us. The ride is named for his sister Sharon, an epilepsy nurse who was killed (by an automobile driver who fell asleep at the wheel) while bicycling cross-country in 1993.

Coincidentally, I happened to be doing this ride while my nephew was hospitalized for a brain scan – they’re hoping to find the source of his seizures so they can operate. Because while it’s nice to be riding for someone you love, it’s kind of an irresponsible move to fly a few thousand miles AWAY from your family the weekend of potential brain surgery.

Andrew and a therapy dog:


But there I was, and shortly after dawn, we headed out from Diamond Head to explore the windward shore of O’ahu:

It was a great start (slight downhill, tailwind, lots of women riding to draft and motivate me), but it’s been over two months since I rode more than 35 miles in a day. I saw the note about “heartbreak hill” on the route slip, but reassured myself that my rental bike was geared for it. After all, I’ll climbed Tantalus the previous day. And Map My Ride assured me it’s a “category 5” (so, not really a hill worth mentioning).

Pretty view from the top of a hill…. but what are those clouds looming in the distance?

Oh, right. I’m riding my bike. Of course a rainstorm is imminent.

By the time I’d reached the halfway point – on the rainy side of the island – a few drops had fallen. Some headwinds had made themselves known. By the last rest stop, IMG_3446

I was humming

Before I knew it, I was back at the finish line…

And just as I loaded my rental bike into the rental car?