Il grande finale of our stay in Kona this year was the horse-riding with our dear athletes at the Dahana Ranch in Waimea. It was meant as a relaxing change to the hard training in the weeks before and the strain of the race on Sunday. Everybody looked forward to it, to a day were body and mind would be carried away over the green slopes at the foot of her majesty the Mauna Kea.
Compared to riding a bike riding a horse is more than just moving on horse back. It is about interacting with a living creature and giving us another approach to body perception. I thought this may be the lesson we could learn from this venture. We learned a slightly different lesson, I shall describe underneath.
Mounting the horses
After we had collected everybody in time and in a good mood along Ali’i Drive, the busy spinal cord of Kailua-Kona during the IRONMAN event, we set out for a calm and remote ranch in the Waimea area. The traffic was low and the weather brilliant, so the drive was easy going. We arrived at the Ranch with a comfortable time buffer. Yvonne, Sebastian and Ronnie immediately fell in love with the dogs who first came running barking towards us and then threw themselves on their backs to get cuddled.
The warm midday sun made us all feel at ease. Everybody started changing cloths, dressing in long slacks and our BIESTMILCH shirt on, an attractive bunch of people.
Yvonne mounted the horse first, then Sebastian and myself.
While big Ronnie’s horse needed a bigger saddle, Herwig and Kjell prepared our technical equipment. Of course, we wanted to tell our story in motion pictures later. I was equipped with the iphone in the water-proof case (which should prove later as a wise move), Kjell with the GOPRO on the stick in one hand, Pa’akuala with the GOPRO on the head and master rider and director of the set Herwig Beo Labostella with the SONY video camera in his one hand.
While we were waiting for everybody to get ready the first drizzle came down upon us, one cloud only. The sun came back. Some of us decided for a jacket, Yvonne, Kjell, Ronnie and I stayed with the t-shirt on only, not very wise, it turned out later.
I had asked Pa’akula whether we needed a jacket. He just said that he is going to wear his. This should have been a sign of alarm. But we ignored the message and off we went, a group of 10 riders, quite impressive an image.
The first heavy rain shower
Out on the pastures we all had been spreading out into different direction the first heavy rain caught us. The water was not warm as usual anymore, because the increasingly rising wind had brought a bulk of cold air with it.
We were still optimistic that the cloud above us would disappear and the sun be our companion for the rest of the ride to warm up our bodies quickly again. We could not have been more wrong. From the Mauna Kea above us we saw big rotors of dark clouds approaching us. Only a very short moment of warmth and sunshine was granted to us … then thunder, lightening and heavy storms broke lose accompanied by a tremendous fall in the temperature.
A touch of winter
The temperature dropped under 10 °C. The thunderstorm was right above us. On the tops of the hills we riding over the storm blew the rain drops in horizontal direction. Our horses tried to turn their butts in the wind. It was hard to make them turn and continue. We were all shivering, some of us swearing to god and others smiling. This is nature, we had to embrace her not fighting her.
Paniolo Pa’akaula guided us back in a very sovereign way without giving us the impression that the situation may be dangerous at all. Kjell, Herwig and myself tried as good as we could to record the adventure. Our hands were so stiff from the cold that it became difficult operate the equipment, At the end Herwig’s SONY did it its way, my iphone as well. We had lost control, only the GOPROs were able to resist the weather conditions.
Pa’akaula had make a shortcut and bring us back earlier. The weather didn’t calm down. We all were drenched wet and almost deep-frozen and therefore happy to be back under a roof and change cloths. Next step was getting into the cars and turn the heating on full speed. We didn’t talk a lot, we silently digesting the adventure we hadn’t expected at all. Only in the car when the tension had loosened up and we were warmed up a lively flow of words filled the air.
Meanwhile the slopes up to Mauna Kea were covered with snow. And later on our way back to Kailua-Kona, we realized that the whole coastline had plunged into clouds, rain and heavy storms. The lightenings were still visible on the horizon over the Pacific ocean.
For all of us it was an outstanding experience. We – not more than urban cowboys 😉 – had underestimated the power of nature and the fact that the Big Island is more then sun, beaches and plan trees.
We shall come back next year!