Lance Armstrong climbs Mauna Kea
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Armstrong climbs Mauna Kea

by Bjorn Haake at 5:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Lance Armstrong's bike vacation in Hawaii is nearing its end and the Texan readies himself for the first step in a season in which he wants to win his eighth Tour de France. Hawaii was a mix of relaxing family vacation, time trial testing, scientific research - and climbing the highest mountain in the world.

Monday was the final day for Armstrong on the Big Island of Hawaii. "Easy day here on the big island. Some TT bike then packing up. Off to Adelaide tomorrow!" he said on his Twitter account.

Armstrong had gotten some hints from Australian journalists that everybody is hyped up for the Tour Down Under and the expectation is for bigger crowds than ever. Armstrong said the riders are ready as well. "All of us in the peloton are psyched for @tourdownunder. Show time!"

Armstrong used the time in Hawaii to play with his time trial bike, as well as innovative internal temperature measuring. He had to swallow "thermometer pills" for that. The internal temperature gives hints about the rider's state of fatigue. But in the end he did the big one.

We speculated that Armstrong would not go the extra mile this early in the season, but this is Lance Armstrong we are talking about, after all. So on Sunday the Team RadioShack rider rode up Mauna Kea. The top of Mauna Kea, famous for its observatory, is at 4.200m (13,796 feet), so there is plenty of climbing from sea level, where all the accomodations are located. Measured from the bottom of the sea floor, Mauna Kea is the highest mountain in the world (10,203 m or 33,476 feet).

The climb itself is hard, but even worse, the last five miles are unpaved. The climb is so steep that the visitor center (located in 2,800 meter/9,300 feet of altitude) warns the tourists about it. "Ordinary vehicles cannot cope with the steep, unpaved road; you will need to obtain a four-wheel drive vehicle."

This didn't deter Armstrong, whose Twitter message came through at 2:57pm Sunday. "Top of Mauna Kea. Made it!!!! Yes!!"

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