Rani Henderson | The race of truth


The individual time trial is regarded as one of the most challenging disciplines in cycling. It is a race specifically designed to test every aspect of a rider’s physical and mental toughness – a race without team tactics, drafting or other assistance. Cyclists compete against one competitor … the clock.

In the world of cycling it’s known as the race of truth.

Success in this event requires more than pure physical power. Mental stamina, patience, proper pacing and a lot of grit are critical attributes to being the best.

Additionally, aerodynamic equipment and body position can greatly aid in reducing wind resistance. This allows riders to reach faster speeds, especially with the notorious Kona winds wreaking havoc on the highway.

It comes down to a simple formula: Those who are physically strong, mentally tough and aerodynamically efficient end up being the fastest riders of the day.

On Saturday, Queen Kaahumanu Highway played host to the Hawaii Cycling Club’s Out ‘N’ Back 22.2-mile time trial. Forty cyclists gathered at West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery, sporting the latest in aerodynamic equipment, to test themselves against the clock.

Fickle winds typical of Queen Kaahumanu Highway did not disappoint as what started out as light to moderate winds soon became a swirling mix of cross- and headwinds by the 8 a.m. start.

The course followed hilly, flat, undulating and curved road sections to Waikoloa Beach Road, then back to mile marker 86 — just long enough punishment to make each rider enter the hurt box, wishing they had an eject button nearby, or an oxygen tank.

After nearly an hour of all-out racing, Maxfield La Fortune proved to be the day’s strongest cyclist, beating Kona’s Penn Henderson by a mere 3 seconds to take the win with a fast time of 51:48, averaging 25.48 mph. Henderson’s strong effort placed him a close second at 51:51, with Hilo’s Robert Patey in third with a solid time of 53:53.

La Fortune, a 26-year-old Colorado native with a background in BMX and mountain bike racing, recently moved to Kona to enjoy the laid back island lifestyle. With only a few mountain bike trails on the Big Island, La Fortune found it necessary to convert to a road bike so he could enjoy the many scenic roadways. La Fortune showed that this transition came with relative ease.

Don Baldassari finished fourth overall, pedaling his way to a great time of 57:30. Rounding out the men’s top five was Joe Fairchild in 58 minutes flat.

In the women’s division, Kona’s Kym Kiser dominated the women’s field with a time of 58:49. With the win, Kiser has won the last four events in the time trial series and currently leads the 40-44 women’s age group standings.

The race for second turned out to be a closer match between Australia’s Jo Carman and myself. With legs and lungs burning, I somehow managed to keep pedaling to finish second in 1:02:19, with Carmen in third with a great time of 1:03:50. Erin Stephens placed fourth overall and first for the women’s 20-24 division with a solid 1:13:16.

The last of Hawaii Cycling Club’s nine individual events in the time trial series is slated for 8 a.m. Nov. 2 at the bottom of Alii Drive.

Sunday racers can look forward to more fun and excitement as Team Mango holds its Pre-Ironman Triathlon at the Kailua Pier. Start time is 7 a.m. for this 1.2-mile swim, 15-mile bike, and 6-mile run, with registration beginning at 5:30. For more information about the course and registration, visit teammango.org.

A busy October starts off with the 10th annual Kukio Blue Water Swim on Oct. 5 at Uluweuweu Bay. The 1.2-mile open water swim event starts at 8 a.m. with check-in and prerace body marking beginning at 6:30. The event is limited to 250 participants. Register online at kukio.net. For more information, contact Paola Pagan at 325-4108.

The 28th annual PATH 10K & 5K run/walk, and free Keiki Dash, is Kona’s kickoff to Ironman week. Races start at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 6 at Hale Halawai. Visit pathhawaii.org for online registration and entry forms.