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When I first came to Hawaii in 1981, I had a boyfriend who did what most guys who surf do: sat me on the beach while he paddled out to surf. Only he didn’t surf. He didn’t know how. What I didn’t realize right away was he was out there bobbing on a yellow and red Lightning Bolt surfboard picking up tourist chicks. I’d go to Hickam AFB for my shift and he’d take them out to dinner and get laid. Yeah, that relationship didn’t last long.
I got even. I took up surfing and I actually learned how. I met guys surfing. I would paddle out in Waikiki, Ala Moana and Diamond Head for dawn patrol sessions. I loved surfing. I made a lot of friends who made it easy for me to transition from military to civilian status who lived in Kapahulu then Palolo, then Foster Village, then Makiki, then downtown and now Hawaii Kai.
As much as I enjoyed surfing, it was my least favorite thing to do when it was windy. The salty sea spray would sting my eyes as I tried to get my board down a wave, the wind would pick up my board’s nose and flip me back, my arms were Olive Oyle noodles. I’ve surfed long enough to have fine sessions in my memory, wonderful waves that I’ve ridden all the way in, surrounded by great friends who would cheer each other on throughout the sessions. I’ve seen monk seals, sharks, whales, jellies and turtles. I’ve seen movie stars, Playboy bunnies and sports stars. I have trophies from surfing contests and have finished as high as second place behind Rella Sunn, the Queen of Makaha, in China Uemura’s Surf Contest way back in 1985 or 1986. Once at Chun’s Reef on Oahu’s North Shore, a baby baracuda jumped over the nose of my Downing 9′-2″ dark green noserider. I was glad to be sitting on the board instead of laying down.
I haven’t surfed for nearly two years, but I still know how. It’s like learning to type. You never forget. It’s like riding a bicycle. It all comes back.
I’ve decided that in order to enjoy a surfing session, the planets pretty much have to line up: it has to be glassy, windless, 2-4 feet and no assholes in the lineup. Really. I’m not that hard to please. So, as a result, I don’t get out there much.
When it comes to bicycling, no such requirements exist. If I were to not ride if it were windy, I would never ride. If I were to not ride if it might rain, I would never ride. This is Hawaii. The wind blows, it rains when it’s perfectly sunny. And each session is a chance to HTFU.
I woke up this morning hearing the wind howl, sprinkles dance across the roof, anticipating that the ride would be a mix of tough, easy and tougher.
I didn’t have a great breakfast. While climbing Kamiloiki Hill, I got passed by two pairs of guys. The wind felt stronger than it did last weekend, despite the National Weather Service stating otherwise. When I was coming down from Makapu’u Lookout, I topped out at 41.3 mph, and I always give the driver who hangs behind me a shaka of gratitude when I get the chance to get back on the shoulder safely. It’s such a breathless, precarious descent. The road could be better.
Less than a mile away, just as I was passing Hawaii Kai Golf Course, a gust of wind came at me from the ocean side, by the old Alan DavisBeach parcel, nearly knocking me off balance and blasting me with sand. I wasn’t even that close to the beach. It was spooky. It was ghostly spooky.
I got rained on in each of the valleys. It was wet from Aina Haina through Kahala. Even though it was only about 10 a.m. I could feel the steam rising from the asphalt.
I am certain that I am getting stronger. I don’t have to wake up and do the hills. I could just do what’s easy and what feels good. I could be a person who needs someone else to constantly push her. But then what? I’d look back on my life and say “So what?” No. I can always push myself. It’s what we all should do.