Well. We made it. For anyone who usually reads my race recaps, you’re probably wondering ‘where’s the big bad luck story?’ Afterall, when I’m traveling there is always SOMETHING that turns disastrous. But this time, I have to say, things went pretty well.
We got up yesterday morning at “triathlon time” (in our house that means 3:45 or 4am) to be picked up by my friends Marna and Danica. Marna drove an SUV with all of my equipment and Steve, while Danica drove her car with me and all the luggage. Traveling to a triathlon requires a lot of equipment, but coming to Hawaii requires even more. Steve spent all last weekend building super reinforced, custom sized boxes for both my handcycle and racing chair. We didn’t want to risk a single thing being damaged on this trip. In 2006, when I returned from Hawaii, the airlines smashed my chair and I had to get another. And just a couple of months ago coming back from another race, the airlines smashed my disc wheels on my racing chair ($2,500 worth of wheels) so we weren’t taking chances. So not only did Steve take apart and box my equipment we had wheel bags to bring too. Originally, we were going to bring 12 wheels total, but for space reasons we decided not to bring spare back wheels for the racing chair, so we have 10 wheels total with us. Then there were our actual suitcases. So we traveled with six pieces of luggage, two of them oversize.
If you’ve never traveled with a bike before, it has become quite a spendy deal. Some of the airlines charge over $100 per way to transport your bike and then if the box is oversize or overweight it’s even more. We easily spent over $300 bringing my equipment to Hawaii last time. So as we’re coming into the airport, I started breaking into a sweat worried about how much we were going to spend this time checking all of our gear. The thing is with the wheelchair equipment the agents always seem confused as to what to charge. I’ve gotten through for free and I’ve also had massive hassles and been charged as much at $450 to get my equipment to a race. As we’re checking in, I’m holding my breath wondering what the bill is going to be this time and for everything we checked. Turns out, it was a whopping $80. THANK YOU Frontier Airlines! I paid quickly, didn’t argue and we got away from the ticket counter as quickly as we could with big smiles and thank yous as we ran away. Honestly, I think we got a great deal because the agents at the counter felt sorry for us. Here we were with this huge pile of stuff, Steve on crutches and me in my chair. Together we really do look pathetic. In a funny way, of course. At least, WE get a laugh out of it. When we got downstairs to security, one of the TSA guys said, “what? Did you beat each other up?” It’s a sight to see I’m sure.
Our first flight took us to Phoenix and we switched from Frontier to US Airways, which wouldn’t have been so bad, but it was in another terminal and we had to go to the ticket counter first for our boarding passes, which meant back through security and neither one of us was able to move fast enough. It’s funny traveling with Steve in his leg boot because not only am I the more “able-bodied” person in our little family, but I’m faster through the airport and he has to get the more thorough screening in security because he has to take off the boot and be patted down, etc. So I left him at security doing all that and was trying to push quickly to our gate to try and get seats together and as I’m pushing through the airport, this guy came up to me and asked me if I wanted some help—he said he was just strolling through the airport getting a little exercise. I told him, “if you’re up for running…”. He grabbed the back of my chair and we booked it to the gate, which was not close, in record time. I was impressed and totally thankful for the help and when I got up to the counter, I found out the plane was just delayed. Hurry up and wait. When Steve got to the gate panting and sweating all I could do was laugh because we hurried for nothing. It was a little annoying that the flight was delayed, but it didn’t matter because we had a 2.5 hour layover in Honolulu, but we actually ended up spending it all in Phoenix.
Anyway…enough travel drama. It all worked out and we arrived in Kona at about 6:30pm. The house where we are staying is about 25 minutes out of town, so we grabbed our rental van and headed directly to…Walmart. Yes…weird, I know. We picked up a $5 patio chair that will serve as my shower chair for the week, then went to Safeway for some food and headed to our house.
When I was making arrangements to come to Kona, I needed to find a place that would accommodate 4-6 people (Neal and his family and my friend Roberta), so I looked for a house instead of a condo like we had last time. And I found a spacious, ranch style house that was very affordable on VRBO.com. The pictures were gorgeous, but let me tell you, this place is awesome! It’s quiet and in the middle of nowhere, so it doesn’t even feel like were here for a race. We have a great view of the ocean right out our bedroom window and our very own swimming pool. The master bedroom shower is a small patio through a sliding glass door surrounded by plants and feels like you’re in your own little rain forest. The walls on both sides of the living room are sliding glass doors too, so it can basically be all open air. It’s a little slice of heaven to keep me from totally stressing out!
So, so far, so good. We are already doing way better in 2006. Good travels, all the equipment made it, didn’t arrive in a rainstorm this time and things are going smoothly. I hope we can continue this trend throughout the week.
We are now off to town to check out the Ironman madness and drive the bike course. I’ll write more tomorrow!