Hawaii Bike Month!
March 10th, 2010

Hawaii will celebrate Bike Month in a big way with lead sponsor Jamba Juice.

Now through May go to any Jamba Juice store in Hawaii and enjoy a delicious Protein Berry Bowl. Twenty-five cents of every bowl goes to Hawaii Pedal Power Bicycle Advocacy fund! We’re working together to make Hawaii a healthy place to live!

REGISTRATION WILL OPEN APRIL 1ST – NO FOOLIN’ !

Check back here for more updates. In the meantime, go buy a Protein Berry Bowl to support bicycle safety!

62 Miles To Go
December 29th, 2009

The decision was made to finish at this famous spot at the pier in Kailua where the Ironman swim starts and the run finishes.  While I certainly didn’t do an Ironman, break and land speed records or win any medals, after finishing this journey I realize that it is an athletic achievement.  In fact, my body feels great.  I lost 12 pounds of pure fat and turned some of into solid muscle.  After 302 miles of riding over 6 days, I actually feel great.  Body and mind are well worked and in need of some less challenging days but overall I feel healthy.IMG_2091

We started this morning earlier than any other day I’ve had.  My alarm rang at 4:30 AM which didn’t matter because I was already awake from a night of constant brain activity.  With the last day approaching my mind was on overload.  How will my body feel today?  Will I have an accident?  Did I work through any of the personal things I wanted?  Did I get the closure I needed?  Will my legs last?  Will my bike hold up?  What are my loved ones doing?  Is anyone reading this blog?  The list goes on and on.  So with just a little sleep and a tired body I put on some clean bike gear (thanks Laura) rubbed my eyes and headed out the door.  We were on the road by 5:30 heading to Nahalehu to start our final leg of this journey.  At this point my biggest concern was where will I get breakfast?  We weren’t sure if there would be anything open.

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine

When we go there we could smell the bakery but it wasn’t open yet.  So it was off to the gas station for some drip coffee and a cinnamon roll.  As soon as the sun was high enough and the road was lit we set out for the last 60 plus miles.  I was warned that this last leg was a little tough.  There were some steep climbs and the road shoulders were small and in some cases non-existent.  So with a deep sigh and a curious thought about how the day would turn out i started pedaling.

The good news about riding every day is the number one pain, your okole, goes numb around the 4th day.  So when I jumped on the seat this final day I didn’t feel a thing.  That actually worried me :) . We couldn’t have gone more than 200 yards before the strain of the hidden incline hit me.  We had started to climb already.  Why would today be any different than any other day?  It’s fitting that the last day would start with a climb just like every other day of this trip.

John’s legs woke up after a few minutes of the hill and he powered up.  My legs felt strong but there was just a lack of power remaining so the hill would just have to be a slow one for me.  All of the sudden the weather started to look like it might rain.  This turned out to be a positive thing for me because it came with a little boost of wind behind me.  The rain also helped me to refocus a bit just to be safe on the slick road.  After about 6 miles of climbing I reached the top and found John patiently waiting for me.

Rainy Climb

Rainy Climb

On the last day of a trip like this every mile finished is one closer to your destination.  Now I wasn’t in hurry to finish or have the journey be over I just finally started to feel like I was going to complete the journey.  I was closer to accomplishing what I set out to do.  Many of those questions that kept me up all night started to find answers and a giant gift of more than 5 miles of down hill in the cool morning air was in front of us.  We were almost to South Point.  The southern most piece of United States Soil.  Our journey wouldn’t take us off the main road to stand on that piece of soil but we could see it from a scenic

View of South Point

View of South Point

view point on the makai side of the road.  It was a beautiful view and one I had not seen all week.  Full of clouds, a touch of vog and rain in the air made the sight a welcome one to take in.  In the photo you can almost make out a wind farm.  Does the presence of a wind farm below us indicate the possibility that the morning may continue with a bit of a tail wind?  Lets hope so.

After South Point, John and I just rode for a while.  We powered through several little communities including Ocean View which is the first sign of potential sprawl that you will see on Big Island.  There are dozens of signs scattered across a horizon of graded land just waiting for someone to come in and develop.  The view plane is great so you can understand why someone would want to live there but developing this priceless gift just seems wrong.  I hope the next time I ride through Ocean View that I find the signs taken down and not replaced with homes.  let the land heal and restore the beauty there.

Our next stop would be yet another first for this trip.  An exotic animal preserve.

Couple of friendly looking fellas

Couple of friendly looking fellas

Is that a zebra

Is that a zebra

I don’t know what you call these guys but they seemed out of place.  Just when you are trying to figure out what they are you look to the left and see a zebra.  What is a zebra doing in Hawaii on the Big Island?  I have no idea.  Not pictured here are two Bison that I thought were showing signs of being a bit annoyed with us.  When a Bison stomps its foot on the ground several times I think that means, get the heck out of here or I’m going to fall on you.  Good thing there was a little wire fence between us.  That is sure to hold back these massive animals.  Stopping to take some photos and marvel at these animals was a welcome rest that included an opportunity yet again be surprised by this journey.  You never know what is at the top of a hill or around a winding corner or in this case at the end of the rainbow.

Since we pretty much skipped breakfast i spent the next few miles munching on a cliff bar and sucking down all my water.  We entered the South Kona district and I started to imagine that food had to be near.  I was right about the food but wrong about the venue.  i figured we could sit down somewhere and grab some eggs and coffee.  Instead, we were presented with something way better.  Right there on the side of the road was the most perfect fruit stand where John was waiting with a stranger and an extra bike.  The stranger was Nick and he was munching on a full cucumber.  Nick it turns out was from Seattle.  His reason for being in Hawaii was that he didn’t like the produce in Seattle during the winter so he set out to find a place that had fresh produce all year round.  How fitting that we found him at this most perfect produce stand.  There were so many options.  The cucumber looked good but I figured I’d leave the rest for Nick.  He looked hungry.  I grabbed a couple of oranges and a banana.  I kept looking around for the proprietor but didn’t see another soul anywhere.  I noticed that there was a strong box on the table that said, Mahalo, I have a family too.  John left some cash in the strong box hole and we appreciated the trust of this family that to allow us to enjoy the fruit of their labor and leave them its worth.

Produce Stand

Produce Stand

Nick’s story was interesting and makes my journey seem easy.  He flew in from Seattle with a back pack and a couple hundred dollars.  No real agenda but to hike around, forage for food and shelter and take it all in.  After a few days of hiking he decided to look for a bike.  he found the one you see in the picture for $100.00 in a Hilo bike shop.  He fashioned some sacks and crate to the back of it and was riding around it in slippas.  Comparing our bikes isn’t even fair.  Mine is custom built to fit me and my ride preference.  John’s is made out of carbon fiber and weighs nothing.  We both have gears for every situation and every comfort that a touring bike can offer.  Nick’s bike boasted some rust on the components, a frame three sizes too small for his body type and super wide tires with heavy tread that surely made climbing slow.  And, the bags on the back of the bike were full of food that he had been collecting on his journey.  All I could do was congratulate him on his effort and wish him luck and safety.  Something tells me Nick is just fine right now.  My guess is that he made his way up to Volcano to stay at the campsite he was hoping for.

Nick was the first bicyclist I had seen outside of my companions since the first day.  I was actually surprised not see others out on the road enjoying the perfect weather and great rides.  Nick wasn’t last bicyclist we ran into that day.  As we closed in on Kailua and started to climb again I met two San Franciscans in the most interesting way.  I fell off my bike right in front of them almost causing them to fall as well.

Kealakekua

Kealakekua

Finally food

Finally food

Just past the spot where the Hawaiians first spotted Captain Cook and Kealakekua was the best little coffee.  Just before the coffee shop was a big hill that was the source of my only fall on this trip.  i was actually surprised that I didn’t have any falls or even any flat tires so falling on this hill was bound to happen.  When you are tired, hungry, a little grumpy and mentally drained you tend to be less able to to the simple things.  Like pedal straight.  While climbing the hill I hit a spot where it was pretty steep and the shoulder was replaced by mango sized rocks that were stumbling into the road.  Pedaling with my head down and kind of winding I ran over one of these rocks and the front wheel just turned.  I was only going about 7 mph so I should have been able to pull out of this without a fall or at least unclip my feet and put my legs down to catch myself but that didn’t happen.  Instead I fell straight into the traffic side of the street and about 10 feet in front of the two travelers.  The next thing I heard was, “are you okay?”  “Yes, I’m fine.”  Then honk honk, “get out of the road a–hole.”  I picked up the bike examined it for problems, checked the tires and my body and found nothing wrong.  I took a breath and realized I need to eat and get my blood sugar up.  One more climb.  I prayed for food.

Food is what I got.  the Orchid Isle Cafe was at the top of the hill on the Makai side of the road.  On the Mauka side was John.  When I reached him he asked if I was okay.  At this point I figured the bikers must have told him I fell.  On the Makai side in front of the Orchid Isle Cafe I saw the two bikes that I had almost taken out.  This should be funny.

I didn’t catch their names but they were very nice people.  We ordered some sandwiches and sat down next to them to talk story a bit.  Turns out they were visitng from SF for the holidays.  They had big plans to explore the western coast by car but did not make a rental car reservation.  During the holidays you got to plan for that.  They were all out.  So these brave travelers went to our good friends at Bike Works and rented two touring bikes.  Without hesitation these two travelers became touring explorers without any complaint.  The best part is they were able to do everything that was on their agenda.  We met them as they were on the their way back to Kona to return the bikes and hop on an afternoon plane to Oahu and then San Francisco.

897.3

897.3

We got back on our bikes after enjoying a fantastic ham sandwich.  It was so good and it was the fuel I needed to finish.  The Orchid was to be our last stop until we hit Kailua.  The remaining ride was all down hill and super fun.  Since the afternoon was upon us we had a little head wind coming at us but it didn’t interfere with the descent.  Riding down the hill I could see the resorts and smell the ocean.  I was starting to get really excited and realized I still need to make it down safely.

We pulled up to the Ironman sign and I snapped a photo of my odometer.  When I just a few blocks from this spot 6 days earlier it read 595.

Kona Brewing Company

Kona Brewing Company

After the photo we decided to ride another 500 yards and up one more little hill to get a finishing beer at my new favorite bar on Big Island- Kona Brewing Company.

While this signals the end of the ride, the journey continues.  I have yet to absorb all that I encountered, faced, and conquered.  Look out for another post to wrap it all up.

Volcanic Activity
December 28th, 2009


John and Justin heading up Volcano

John and Justin heading up Volcano


John and I got started around 9:00 AM on the 26th.  We started in Keau a few miles before my actual finishing point the day before.  There was a nice park and John was ready to get on the bike so we figured 20 miles up Volcano would be a nice round number to jump start from.  The photo above is the last time that John and I were side by side.  Like every single day of my ride, this one started with an immediate climb.  That means my legs were strong for about 25 minutes.  John is super fast and strong on hills so at this point he is just getting loose and offering some pointers on how to ride up hill.  Sit upright and bend the arms a bit.  I definitely start out in that position but as the body tires it becomes harder and draining to stay upright and forward in the seat.  The down side to slouching back a bit on an uphill climb is that the weight on your seat gets heavier and adds to the drag of the bicycle.  The more weight you put on the seat the more your bottom hurts too.  All of this lends itself to pretty much not being strong enough to implement the advise.  Thanks for trying though John, I’ll get there one day.

The climb to the Volcano Village is 2o miles straight up hill.  There is no relief in this climb at all.  It’s not too steep but it’s constant and very hot.  I forgot to lube up with sun screen in the morning so this is the day that I collected some wicked tan lines.  You’re basically pedaling uphill facing the rising sun for several hours.  I unzipped my jersey, loosened my helmet strap and spun as best I could all day.  Laura drove ahead of us and snapped a few shots along the way.  It was always great to run into Laura smiling and cheering me on.  Although mustering together a smile for the camera was not very easy.


Climbing Volcano

Climbing Volcano

Climbing Oasis

Climbing Oasis

About half way up was a great little market.  I pulled off grabbed a gatorade an orange and sat on the picnic table.  This was like the community center for the area.  There was a community bulletin board and reading the posts was my distraction while I put in some calories and got out of the sun.  I spent about 30 minutes here trying to gain some strength.  Just before I left I asked owner how far to Volcano and he said “you’ve got 11 more miles but it’s not as hard as what you’ve already done.”  Encouraging news!

I rode 6 more miles with occasional stops to catch my breath and give my legs break.  I got pretty low on water and was starting to wonder how far I was from reaching John and Laura at the Village when I saw a bicycle screaming down the hill toward me.  It was Laura.  She had parked and put on her bike gear to ride down and help me climb the rest of the way.  When she reached me she shot the picture above.  At this point we have about 4 miles to go.  The boost made the last 4 miles much easier to handle.  Laura’s energy ignited the last bit of fuel inside me and we made pretty good time to the top.  The next photo gives you a pretty good view of what the climb looks like.  Behind me is what we climbed.

The climb

The climb

When I got to the top I had a feast waiting for me.  I scarfed down some oranges and some salty chips.  Salt is so good for you after a big sweaty ride.  You need to replace and your body naturally craves it.  I was craving some coffee but couldn’t find any so I settled for an orange soda.  Now anyone that knows me well knows that I usually only drink an orange soda when I go to the movies.  I really really like orange soda and despite the fact that it’s not very good for me I downed one like I was sitting in Ward Theatre with my best friend watching a movie.  So tasty.

The big question remained, “should we continue on?”  Our new plan called for us to finish the trip the

Volcano down

Volcano down

next day which meant that if we stopped at the top of Volcano, which was the original plan, then going all the way to Kailua the next day would be over 100 miles.  I knew that I could do 100 miles but I wasn’t fond of the idea of finishing the trip with such a long ride and missing out on beautiful scenery because I was so focused on finishing.  The downhill from Volcano was 30 miles and is straight down.  Laura said you won’t pedal at any point. If we completed the 30 plus miles today it would take at most just over an hour and we would cut out that much from our ride the next day.  Plus we would get to take in the view in the afternoon instead of the dark and cold of the morning.  So we headed out down the hill.

Immediately we both realized that while we were going downhill and our speed was high that we actually had to pedal hard to maintain the high speed and momentum.  In fact if you stopped pedaling you would come to a stop.  how could this be going down hill?  Head wind!  That’s right,

Mauna Loa on the way down

Mauna Loa on the way down

in the afternoon the winds off the south east shore of Big Island can run right up the hill.  Before you feel bad for us it was still easy riding and the views were great.  Once you leave the park you start to see the lava fields and of course the giant Mauna Loa.  Since we weren’t bombing down the hill at top speed I was able to take in more of the view.  I stopped a couple of times to look around, watch the vog begin to roll in and snap a few photos.

The first sign of Kailua in 5 days

The first sign of Kailua in 5 days

The ride was really easy, the speed was fun and seeing the ocean again for the first time in two days of riding instilled a sigh and a smile.  The next big smile I had was when i came upon the first sign for Kailua.  I left Kailua 5 days prior and had not seen a sign for it since.  even though I knew when I started the day that I was almost there coming upon this sign made me realize that as long as I stayed on the seat, didn’t fall off, didn’t get hit, didn’t catch a cold or anything out of my control, I was going to make it around.  For anyone that has ever done a marathon or some other kind of monstrous adventure you know the feeling I’m describing.  You know you’re still in for some more pain but your mind accepts it differently and you start to relive all the moments with a more positive spin and realize that you are accomplishing a goal.  It’s a great feeling and is probably a big reason why I enjoy taking on journeys like this one.  Kailua 74 miles- I can do that, no problem.  I mean I already rode 225 miles.


Punalu`u Beach Park

Punalu`u Beach Park


After reaching the bottom we decided to ride a few more miles down to Punalu`u Beach Park.  Some know this beach as Punalu`u Black Sand Beach because of the beautiful black soft sand.  The contrast of the black sand, the lava rocks and the blue ocean was nice to look at.  I was in no rush to get out of here.  My only regret from this trip is not jumping in the ocean here.  It smelled great, looked so peaceful and the sun was so hot there really is no excuse for not doing that.  I guess we were still unsure if we were going to go forward from here so that kept me from just taking the opportunity to enjoy the water.  It’s good to remind yourself when you miss something or let it pass you by.  I’m not usually the type to miss an experience or let a cool thing go by.


Beach house

Beach house


Next time I’m on Big Island I’m going to rent this house and jump in the water every day.  There was a big crowd at the beach and we joked that this would be the perefect beach party house.  It is literally right there on the beach.  Drop a cooler down on that big back deck, throw some sausage on the grille and turn on some good music and everyone from the beach would be right there with you.  This would really make a great place to take your family for a secluded retreat.  There isn’t anything around you for miles and the beach is exquisite.  The whole area used to be some kind of resort.  If you look closely into the woods you can see the remains of the old resort.  There is a golf course just above the beach that looked like in its prime it was pretty fun.  When we left the beach we saw a couple of sluggers out there hacking away.  I chose to sit here a while and that turned out to be the nail in my coffin for the day.  All total we had done close to 60 miles and been on the bike for almost 7 hours.  We had cut a huge chunk out of our next ride and I was ready to for a shower and dinner.

Laura’s mom generously offered her cabin in Volcano to us.  So we packed up the gear and bikes and drove back up to Volcano to grab a shower, some food and a bed.  The night ended with some super spicy Thai food and an early retreat for bed.  There was no internet at the cabin so I picked up my cell phone and drafted an email to my best friend to share some more personal moments and thoughts.  That was plenty of activity and entertainment for me and I fell asleep while I was typing.  Lights out.

Mele Kelikimaka
December 28th, 2009

So I know that it’s December 27th and not Christmas Day but I just had to pretend that it was Christmas and update on what the whole day was about.  After a great days ride from Waimea to Hilo on Christmas Eve and a holiday dinner at Uncle Billy’s I headed straight to bed.  Well that’s not entirely true.  I made a stop at the Hotel bar to see what was going on.  For the record, The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is a great place to stay but the night life on Christmas Eve was pretty lame.  So I went straight to bed.

The original plan was to head to Volcano on Christmas Day with a possible side trip Pahoa.  Logistics got in the way and this plan was off so I decided to wake up eat a nice breakfast and get on the bike for a leisurely ride that would cut some of the miles off.  The hotel had a nice breakfast buffet that included the absolute must haves for someone that is ripping their muscles to shreds and draining all energy possible.  That is to say I had french toast, eggs, hashbrowns, gravy, bacon, sausage and some fruit.  The fruit was a nice touch addition right?  It all tasted so good and I made myself quite at home.

I got on the road around 9:00 AM and headed toward Keau.  It’s a small climb out of Hilo with a little tail wind.  Yes, a tailwind does exist on Big Island although you shouldn’t talk about it.  It’s kind of like announcing to your buddy who is playing great golf how well he is playing.  As soon as you say it he will most definitely slice one in the woods.  Well I sliced one into the woods about an hour into the ride.  I was feeling pretty good with the tail wind and all the energy I had stored up from the giant breakfast.  That is when i decided to go up to Mountain View (about half way to Volcano).  The climb gets a little steeper and the wind turns.

The Turn To Pahoa

The Turn To Pahoa

I decided to turn around and look for the turn to Pahoa.  I thought I would check it out.  It was a nice and easy ride up and down for about 10 miles.  I didn’t go all the way to the ocean so stopping for photos was limited to a school that I thought was pretty nice.

I headed back to Hilo from here and started looking forward to finding a place to grab coffee (if anything was open) checking out the downtown and jumping in the ocean.  I took some back road that I found and wound my way back to Hilo.  It was nice because it was mostly downhill and there was no wind on the back roads.

As I entered town I found a place that looked open and had signs of being a coffee stop. Just Cruising was the name and it was the place I was looking for.  I couldn’t believe it was open and I was surprised that the staff was so happy to make me a mocha and wish me Merry Christmas.  They said someone had to serve Hilo their coffee.  Awesome!  My mocha even came with a little cupid sticker.  Not cupid the love maker Cupid- one of Santa’s reindeer.  The rest of Hilo was pretty sleepy as you might expect for Christmas Day.  There were some folks gathered around at a local church and a couple of runners trying out their new running shoes.  I enjoyed a slow pedal through town and then headed to the bay to catch some sun, jump in the water and relax.

Just Cruising Coffee

Just Cruising Coffee

Sitting on the black sand beach in Hilo was a great place to soak up some sun, call my family and just relax a bit.  There were a bunch of people playing in the water including Jesse who opened up a Stand Up Paddle Board in the morning and was trying it out.  She was having a little trouble but totally enjoying it.  The beach park was also full of children testing out their new bicycles.  I watched one family as the youngest girl learned how to operate a new bike without the training wheels.  It was nice to see so many bikes out and watch bike memories be formed for future pedal power generations.

The water was cool and fine.  I laid there in my bike shorts for a while floating around laughing as Jesse struggled with her board and paddle.  The ocean was the perfect medicine for an aching body and tight muscles.  When you ride day after day all day your thighs basically become rock hard and stay that way even when you’re not spinning.  I guess all the blood just sits in there and keeps the muscle engaged.  Feels kind of like two giant logs are attached to your hips.  There is no better cure for tight muscles than Hawaiian ocean water.  Heals the body, mind and soul for sure.

The rest of the day was spent with a couple of new friends that I met back at the Hotel bar.  A party was brewing and I decided to join.  I knew that staying up and having a few beers would be painful the next day but the alternative was to sit alone and think about being alone on Christmas.  Since it was my choice to be alone at Christmas I figured that I owed it to myself to take in the local party and meet some new folks.

As I fell asleep I replayed the last few Christmases and the people I spent them with.  I missed them all terribly and wondered if I’d made the right choice to do this trip for myself or if I should have been on the next plane to join them.  For the first time, instead of chasing someone I have made the choice to chase my own wishes and goals.  It’s definitely hard to trust that doing something completely for myself is the right way to go.  I told myself that I will ultimately be better to those around me having made this journey.  The very good part about doing a physically challenging trip with a lot weighing on your mind is that you tend to be totally exhausted when you lay your head down and are quickly sleeping on your way to a dream that might put things into perspective for you.  Thankfully, the extra beverages and tired body put me into a rem sleep super fast.

Next day for me is to catch a lift out past where I road today and make my way up to the top Volcano.  John and Laura will be meeting first thing in the morning and carry my gear so that I don’t have to use the trailer.  Thank goodness.

Sleigh Riding
December 26th, 2009

This morning I am packing up my gear and preparing to leave Hilo for Volcano National Park.  The ride is around 30 miles and takes me up to over 4,000 feet.  I’m looking forward to getting on the road.

Grant, Mark, Jim Waimea to Hilo reindeers

Graham, Mark, Jim Waimea to Hilo reindeers

TEX Coffee Stop

TEX Coffee Stop

One of the many country style bridges

One of the many country style bridges

(click on photos to enlarge)

Graham, Mark and Jim left Waimea with me on Christmas Eve around 7:30 AM.  The weather in the morning was right around 60 degrees and a bit over cast.  So I started with a long sleeve ride jersey.  Just like every start of every day so far, we had to do a slight climb out of town.  My knees were a little stiff and the cool air made it a rough start.  After a few miles, we made a right turn off Mamaloa Road onto a country road.  This one of maybe 6 turns off the road that took us on a winding and scenic route to Hilo.  These roads were great.  Most of them were smooth and protected by large shade trees.  Very few cars found their way onto these roads and we could spend a lot of the day riding side by side.  This is the perfect ride to do with some new friends.  You have the opportunity to get to know your ride mates and the majority of the ride was downhill so our energy was pretty high.

Our lead reindeer was Jim Bell.  Jim is also a League of American Bicyclists Road Safety Instructor.  It’s always a good thing to be reminded of the rules of the road and the proper way to ride when you’re going to be on major highways with fast moving traffic and sometimes very small shoulders.  Thanks Jim for keeping us safe through the busy sections.

The ride route is truly a beautiful one.  This is my favorite ride so far.  The only hard riding occurs in the deep gulches right smack in the middle of the day.  These gulches drop down fast and wind mauka (mountain side) and then curve back to the ocean with an immediate rise.  No matter how fast you are going and what gear you are in on the way down you will quickly find yourself in the lowest gear pedaling as hard as you can to get up the other side of the gulch.  My legs were a bit like pudding from the previous days climb of Kohala Mountain Road so these hills were a challenge.  The good news about the first two gulches is that there is a climb lane that is free of cars.  The final gulch however is only one lane and is the steepest so you have to be mindful and ride a straight line.

Lunch in Hamakua

Lunch in Hamakua

We stopped for lunch and to refill our water bottles is Hamakua at this cool park.  There was a stream right below us that we could hear and a few tourists came and went while we rested and joked a bit.  As you can see Graham had to repair a flat at lunch.  He actually got the flat right as we stopped so the break was timely.  I could have sat here all day.  While sitting here it was hard not be be reminded that just two days prior I was on the Kona Coast riding through heavy wind and brown dessert like conditions.  This was the perfect moment to recognize how far I have gone on the bike and how much I’ve seen.

Pit Stop

Pit Stop

After lunch we rode for a long stretch which included the longest hill of the day.  About a mile long of endless climbing.  We were all strong through this climb.  At the top we had the option to stay on the Highway or take our last scenic route road and enjoy a few extra miles added to the trip.  This was a great idea.  The lower road was up and down and winding.  We came across this super cool little store and took a moment to energize for the last 6 miles or so.

Once you get back on the main road you can see Hilo and the remainder of the ride is basically down hill.  I’ve been to Hilo many times for business so I was pretty stoked to be back in this super cool unique town.  Since it was Christmas Eve there were a lot of people out taking care of last minute details.  Traffic was heavy and we needed to be mindful.

I snapped this photo of a Christmas scene trying to get my reflection included.  Didn’t turn out great but Mark and I thought it was funny.

Christmas Window

Christmas Window

Downtown Hilo

Downtown Hilo

It was great slowly riding through downtown Hilo on the way to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  I probably took too long considering we had to meet Celeste at the Hotel so they could get back to Waimea and enjoy their Christmas Eve.  Celeste was kind of enough to drive my gear to Hilo which made the ride so much easier than it would have been with a trailer.

We paused for a final photo at the Hotel in front of the tree.  Looking at this photo reminds me that Christmas is what you make of it.  I may not be around my family but I absolutely felt the spirit of this season riding with these guys.

Holiday Ride For Dollars Reindeer plus Willie

Holiday Ride For Dollars Reindeer plus Willie

Christmas was a little tough for me.  While those closest to me were gathering for Christmas eve church and another was flying over the Pacific I was trying to keep my head up in a quiet hotel room.  I crashed out early and tried not to think about what I was going to do on Christmas Day.

The great thing about being alone on a holiday like Christmas is you realize how much your family and loved ones mean to you.  I found an answer to a burning question about what my life will be like in 2011.  I am reminded that this trip is a journey for me.  It’s more than just a ride around the island to raise some money and awareness.

Laura and John just called and they are here.  We have to get going on our next ride so I’ll fill you in on Christmas day later.

Mele Kalikimaka/ Merry Christmas/즐거운 크리쓰마쓰 (hope this right)
December 25th, 2009

Good morning,

I had a great night of sleep and a slow breakfast this morning.  Just wanted to say Merry Christmas in the languages that make up my life.  Lots of love to all of you.  I’m missing you very much.

Off for a day ride and then back to the Hotel for one more night here.  I’ll update on the rides later today.

Aloha

Waimea Rocks
December 24th, 2009

Mountain Road Cycles welcoming crew

Mountain Road Cycles welcoming crew

Note- the following entry reflects Day 2- December 23, 2009.

It’s December 23, 2009 around 8 PM and I’m sitting in the World Famous Mountain Road Cycles in Kamuela, HI just beyond Waimea.  Owner, Matt Bisaro has been working all day repairing and assembling bikes for the locals Christmas morning gifts.  I can’t imagine anything better than finishing up one of the hardest days of riding I’ve ever faced than finding this gem bike shop on the Big Island.  Matt has a pitcher of beer ready for John and I and a couple of friends even joined us to sit around the shop and talk story.

The story behind Matt’s dream is remarkable.  This is the first full service bike shop in the area and when Matt realized the opportunity to open it the community responded like only a good bike community can.  They all pitched in.  Matt told me that he did the remodel for around $800.00.  Most of the labor, cabinetry, display units and more were donated and volunteered by bike enthusiasts that really want to lift Matt up and get a groovy bike shop in their community. You’ll have to visit Matt at the shop to really get the full vision of this classic bike shop.  It feels like a workshop because that is really what it is.  Open doors in the back allow the shop dog and Matt’s neighbors to come in and out with jokes and pleas to throw the ball (for the dog not his neighbors).  The front of the shop opens with a barn door and is more than welcoming to any level bicyclist that happens upon the shop.

John and Matt behind the counter at Mountain Road Cycles

John and Matt behind the counter at Mountain Road Cycles

In my opinion a bike shop is the hub for a biking community.  Mountain Road Cycles is exactly that.  When folks return to their home from the mainland like Hannah and her husband Alex Candelario they make their way down to the shop to support Matt, have a beer and hear tales about the ride John and I had over Kohala Mountain Road.  Turns out Alex is a bad a– sprinter for Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling Team.  They are spending a few weeks with family and taking the great ride opportunities that Big Island has to offer.  It was cool to hang with Alex and Hannah and hear about an awesome trip they just made to Zambia to deliver bicycles to folks there.  Alex’s team recently got involved with World Bicycle Relief.  Check out the their website to see a cool video of their trip.  http://www.kellybenefitstrategies.com/.  You can bet that Alex will make Mountain Road Cycles his home away from his Christmas home and I wish I could hang with these guys every night.

Mountain Road Cycles really embodies what the bicycle does for a community.  This shop which is probaly 500 square feet says we are a bike town and our community wants us here.  Right on.

Getting There

The journey to Mountain Road Cycles made it so special.  I started the day with a quick break down of my camp at Spencers Beach Park in Kawaihae.  John met me to relive me of the trailer and other gear so that we could ride without the extra load.  At this point i guessed that we would be hitting some pretty heavy climbs.  After a power breakfast at Harbor View Grill (fyi- breakfast potatoes are great but these were deep fried and resisting the heavy load was really hard for me).  I headed out for Hawi by myself with a leisurely ride while I waited for John to bomb back down and catch up with me. The climb out of Kawaihae was steady, rolling and pretty pleasant.

John caught me as we were about to make the final climb into Hawi.  I hadn’t planned to go to Hawi on this trip but John assured me that I would love the scenery and the coffee break would be perfect.  And, one of only three statues of Kamehameha I is nearby indicating his birthplace.  So we couldn’t miss this opportunity.

KohaLA Coffee Mill, Downtown Hawi

KohaLA Coffee Mill, Downtown Hawi

John and I grabbed some coffee in Hawi at the Kohala Coffee Mill.  Hawi is a great place to check out when you’re out for a day ride.  The street is busy with tourists, local businesses and little cafes.  It’s the kind of place where traffic slows down and pedestrians take over.  I could have sat there all day but John had other plans for me.  We needed to find the Kohala Mountain Road access point and start climbing.  Boy I couldn’t wait for that.

Kohala Montain Road Summit 3,500 feet

Kohala Montain Road Summit 3,500 feet

After a quick U-turn and some helpful directions that we offered to a family from Japan  that were looking for the Kamehameha Statue we took a left and headed straight up the hill. I actually chatted with the daughter in the coffee shop and joked with her that she was following me when they asked for directions just a few miles later.

Anyway, John’s legs were super strong and he kept a steady pace the whole time.  I on the other hand was suffering from what some might call the bicycle blues.  In other words, I started complaining and whining and let my head get in the way of the work in front of me.  John was super patient as I repeated that I wasn’t prepared and was going to need the whole day.  Now before you stop reading and figure me to be a big giant baby realize that this was a very hard climb and I had slept on the ground the night before after a 40 mile ride and most importantly, I’m not in touring shape.  That said, I finally pulled some guts out of my stomach and put the work in to muscle up the hill.  The climb was around 10 miles and went from around 500 feet to 3,500 feet with very little relief from the climb.  I’ve climbed with friends in Tahoe many times.  Those hills had nothing on Kohala Mountain Road.  I dare you to check it out.  My tip- make sure you’re mentally ready and just suck it up and get to work.

After the summit you hit 35- 40 miles an hour on the way down.  The classic ride descent of around 9 miles takes little more than 15 minutes.  4 hours climbing and 15 minutes down.  Touring isn’t fair, it’s just like living.  You have to find a way to recognize that the trip down was a chance to cool off, get your butt out of the saddle, catch your breath and finally realize that you just beat a mountain that many if not most people would never even think to try.  At the bottom of hills like Kohala Mountain Road are places like Mountain Road Cycles.  A place where you can relive your ride with new friends, gain their respect and down a beer or two to rid the taste of bugs and dirt.  Speaking of beer, we also grabbed a pint from Rachel at Big Island Brew Haus.

Rachel pours the first beer- Big Island Brew Haus

Rachel pours the first beer- Big Island Brew Haus

I ended my night in Waimea with my new friends the Bells.  Jim, Celeste and Alex.  Thanks you guys for putting me up, feeding me some great chili, offering me a shower and soft bed and understanding when I crashed out super early.  Your home was warm and I enjoyed being there with you.

Sunset Grace
December 23rd, 2009

It’s after 8:00 PM on Wednesday December 23, 2009 and I’m sitting down to dinner with the Bell family.  After a two days of riding I’m finally able to update the blog and there is a lot to share with you.

Team

Team

Carbs for the ride

Carbs for the ride

The ride got a big send off Monday night with a PATH hosted recpetion at Kona Brewing Company.  I loaded up on some carbs with a pale ale and a giant plate of lasagna.  Excellent beer and great pasta put me in the right mood.  We had a great time talking about the trip and how we can all pitch in to make bicycling a more fundamental part of Big Island and Hawaii.  We reminded one another what this trip is really all about- raising awareness about safe, convenient, accessible bicycle travel.  I’m not a touring athlete, I’m just a guy that wants to ride his bike around Big Island for Christmas.

I was really glad to hear that Kona Brewing Company is a major supporter of PATH.  There commitment to being an environmentally friendly business and a part of the Chamber of Commerce Kuliana Committee is exactly the kind of information I wanted to discover on this trip.  Way to go Kona Brewing Company, keep supporting PATH and show great leadership on the Kuliana Committee.

The night ended pretty early as far as beer drinking nights go.  Bob and I headed back to his house and sat in front of the TV to watch White Christmas.  The perfect sleepy time medicine.

The ride begins south of Kailua Kona

The ride begins south of Kailua Kona

Tuesday morning December 22, 2009 around 8:30 AM Laura Dierenfield, Executive Director for PATH showed up at Bob’s house to send us on our way.  The picture above was taken outside Bob’s house in front of the newly donated PATH bike ed. van.  This gift from the Iron Man folks has really made a huge difference for PATH’s visibility as well as their ability to meet the community need of safe bicycling education.  I was so proud to shoot this photo and start my journey from this spot.

The big question remains, how was the trailer?  Well to be truthful I freaked out a little bit the first 10 minutes or so.  I had never been on the bike with a trailer or pulled 50 plus pounds on my bike.  The trailer really shimmies and you can feel it in a very big way.  The sensation of being moved by something your dragging was a little overwhelming at first.  Not to mention all the input I got from just about everyone on the subject.  After about 2 miles I stopped and looked at Bob as if to say, this isn’t good, I’m not comfortable.  All it really took was to get psyched up and mentally prepared for the change in the ride.  Once I let the shimmy happen and stopped trying to correct it the trailer was fine.  I got used to it pretty fast after that.

Bob stayed with me for about 17 miles before heading back home and to work.  I trek’d onward until I got to the first scenic outlook point.  This seemed like a great place to stop to enjoy the orange I picked the night before and look at the ocean.  Little did I know that I would be watching 3 whales dance around in the water.

I met a man named Kent visiting Hawaii from San Francisco.  He had rented a bike when he flew in and was trying to get some rides in while here on vacation.  Super friendly guy and he was great to just relax with for a few minutes.  Thanks for the conversation Kent.  Here is a photo we shot at the point.

Whale watching with Kent from San Francisco

Whale watching with Kent from San Francisco

After Kent left I sat there for almost an hour watching the whales, talked a few other visitors that came to the point.  They were all curious about the trailer and what I was doing.  It was really a great opportunity to talk story with folks about PATH, Hawaii Pedal Power and why I’m doing the trip around the island.  As usual, once you get folks started about bicycling they always start to smile and tell you a story about their first bike or a great bike adventure they had been on.  My bike adventure was met with positive response from everyone I met and I imagine that each of the folks I encountered are checking this blog and trying to figure out how they can be a member of PATH and Hawaii Pedal Power.  Great success!!

Almost there- my first turn of the day

Almost there- my first turn of the day

Home at Spencers Beach Park

Home at Spencers Beach Park

The last 15 miles or so were the hardest on this day.  After lunch I began to feel the weight of the trailer and the hills were growing in size along with the head wind that I couldn’t seem to get rid of.  Now all the locals I ran into told me that this was a calm wind day but to me it was a lot of wind.  Note to anyone coming to Big Island to ride, be prepared for these winds, they are different than any other wind you encounter any where in the world.  I actually considered constructing some sort of sail on my Makai (ocean) side to utilize the swirling wind that was coming at me.  Complaints of wind and hills finally made me realize I was just tired and needed to power through to get to my day one destination.  Spencers Beach Park in Kawaihae.  Reaching the sign for the turn down to Kawaihae was so great I had to snap a photo of it.  This was also the first turn of the day.

Sunset Grace

Sunset Grace

I quickly made camp and organized my things.  emptying the trailer I realized I had packed way too much and could have made the ride so much easier if I had only taken what I needed.  This is the kind of thing everyone tells you about but you have to experience to realize.  After camp was set I jumped into the water which was only a few steps from my ocean front home for the night.  A good soak in the ocean was just what the doctor ordered.  There were close to 50 people on the beach and in the water.  Lots of families on vacation, locals and young tourists taking advantage of one of the nicest beach side campgrounds I have ever stayed at.  I enjoyed talking story with as many of them as I could.

My ocean front home came with a spectacular sunset.  The photo cannot even come close to displaying the breathtaking view I witnessed.  Sunsets are super interesting to me.  In reality each one is beautiful it’s usually the mood you’re in, the situation and mindset that you are in that enhances the beauty or pushes to take a few extra seconds to appreciate what is happening in front of you.  Since most of my day was spent thinking about Grace, this sunset was special and I named it sunset Grace.

That takes me through ride day one.  I gotta get to bed and rest up for tomorrows ride from Waimea to Hilo.  There is a lot to share about the ride from Spencers beach Park to Waimea but it will have to wait till tomorrow as I am so very tired.  That should tell you a little about the ride.

Day 1- December 21, 2009
December 21st, 2009

Off the Plane

Off the Plane

I arrived in Kona at 6:30 AM this morning.  PATH’s Executive Director, Laura Dierenfield and kindly left her organge Honda Element at the airport for me.  Laura doesn’t know this but orange is one of my favorite colors and I was proud to roll in this ride for a day. I only had to  walk maybe 100 steps from the door of the plane to grab my bike box, suitcase of gear and then to the last 4 wheeled vehicle I will be in for about a week.  It was a perfect sunrise as the plane landed and when I stepped off the plane I felt the chill of the morning.  Upper 60’s I think today (I didn’t get to see Hawaii News Now Sunrise weather man Dan Cooks forecast this morning so I’m just guessing).  I hope that every morning is somewhere near to today’s as it felt like a great way to wake up.

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Lets Ride
December 21st, 2009

justin-350-300x300

Today is the last day for all the last minute details. I’m looking forward to the non-planning part of this ride- I’m looking forward to the riding part of this ride. I landed in Kona this morning at 6:30 am and have been antsy ever since. Once I landed and smelled the Kona breeze my excitement for this Holiday Ride jumped into hyper mode. I can’t wait to ride. But first, we need to get together and toast to the holidays and to PATH. This ride wouldn’t be possible without the help of PATH and all the members of PATH. You guys have really made this easy for me.

We’ll be getting together tonight at 5:30 at Kona Brewing Company. Hope to see you all there.