Sometimes in life things happen for a purpose. Such was the case for cross-country and track runner, Steve Lundblad.
Lundblad grew up in Central Washington State, in a town called Yakima, and excelled in both sports and academics.
“I participated in many outdoor activities growing up,” Lundblad said. In junior high and high school Lundblad ran on the cross-country team and participated in various events while on the track and field team, eventually concentrating on the high jump.
“I continued jumping in college until I started to spend more time in the training room than on the track. That’s when I began competing at the collegiate level in bicycle racing, which was a club sport,” he said.
Lundblad’s personal best in the high jump was 6 feet 6 inches when he competed at Harvard University. It was at Harvard that Lundblad stumbled on bicycle racing and was coached by three time Olympian and national road champion, John Allis.
After living in various locations to attend graduate schools, Lundblad and his wife Nancy, returned to Yakima for an additional 10 years.
A friend from college, Karen Nakamoto, would always encourage the Lundblad’s to move to Hilo. “It took several years of convincing before we made the decision to live in Hilo,” Lundblad said.
Lundblad’s wife took a job as the medical director of the Hilo Medical Center (she no longer works there) and he joined the faculty in the Geology Department at the University of Hawaii at Hilo where he serves as an assistant professor.
“It is great teaching geology in an area with active volcanoes. I also work with Peter Mills, a UHH archaeologist, tracing the origin and exchange of stone tools by pre-contact native Hawaiians. We analyze them for geochemical signatures, which relate to the locales of the origination of the rocks,” Lundblad said.
Lundblad’s running days ended during the early 1990’s when he suffered a badly broken foot. “I spend most of my time these days cycling, in part to my brittle joints as well as to enjoy the beautiful surroundings here on the Big Island,” he said.
In 1991 Lundblad competed in the Texas state championship road race with a young kid by the name of Lance Armstrong. “Lance was still a relative unknown but becoming the “kid” to watch. Later that year he (Armstrong) became the national bicycling road race champion, while I went back to graduate school,” Lundblad said.
The Lundblad’s also rode up the famous Alpe d’Huez climb during the 2003 Tour de France. “It was quite an experience to ride up the hill with hundreds of thousands of people lining the roads. They were there waiting to watch the world’s best cyclists climb the same road at unbelievable speeds just a few hours later,” he said.
Lundblad was also a regular cross country skier when he lived during the winter months in Washington State. “Cross country skiing is an activity that is mostly limited to my vacations now,” he said.
But this past February Lundblad did compete in the American Birkebeiner cross country ski race held in Wisconsin with world renowned skier Bjorn Daehlie of Norway. “Training for the cold and snowy race was a bit of a challenge here in Hilo,” Lundblad said.
The Birkebeiner race was a challenging 54 km (33 miles) event and Lundblad was only able to get in a few days worth of snow skiing prior to the race. “I spent several days in Hilo on my roller skis getting interesting looks from people,” he said.
Daehlie participated in the event as a way to raise money and awareness for MS, which his mother has, and he finished second overall. Lundblad finished somewhere in the middle of the pack of over 7,000 skiers.
At age 46 Lundblad is lean and a picture of good health. Due to his regular exercise routine Lundblad doesn’t have to worry about weight which leaves room for him to eat a variety of foods.
“I am lucky to not worry too much about how much I eat, as my weight doesn’t really fluctuate very much. I try to enjoy a balanced diet, but generally need to eat a lot of food, so there is room for plenty of everything. It’s terrific to live here in Hawaii with fresh fruits and vegetables all year at the farmer’s market and the garden,” Lundblad said.
Rarely does a day go by that Lundblad isn’t on his bike. He has found a group of friends to ride with a few days a week, spending about two hours per ride. “During the summer some of us rode a bit more to get ready for competitive events like the Sea to Stars race which leaves Bayfront in Hilo and climbs to the visitor center at 9000 feet on Mauna Kea,” he said.
Over the Labor Day weekend Lundblad was in Honolulu to compete in the rigorous Dick Evans Memorial Road Race which took cyclist 112 miles around Oahu. Lundblad finished 14th out of 181 starters in a time of 5 hours and 14 minutes.
Lundblad was very fortunate to find something he truly loves to do after breaking his foot more than 15 years ago. He was also very fortunate to have found good mentors during his early cycling days that taught him how to ride safely and efficiently.
“For folks who are interested in cycling for fitness, my advice is to find people who ride regularly and go with them. It will be more fun, you will learn a lot, and there is more incentive to participate regularly if you know someone else will be there with you. We are always looking for new people to join our group and we’ll get you started on the right pedal!” Lundblad said.
You can contact Steve Lundblad at firstname.lastname@example.org.