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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Our Kohala Mountain Cycling Adventure - Pics to Come

    A few days before our trip to Hawaii Thom and I decide that wed like to get in a little bit of biking before our relatives show up. At first we thought wed mountain bike Mana Road a 44 mile ride around Mauna Kea with a gradual descent. We were working with Josh and Alexia from Kona Coast Cycling (good folks!) who would take us out to the start of the ride, with all the supplies wed need and pick us up at the other end in Waimea. But since Id gotten into the planning of this so late, they were already booked for the day we had free. They were willing to take us out there at 5AM. Thom vetoed that idea.

    Moving on to plan B we decided to do a road ride from the resort to Hawi by going up over Kohala Mountain and then down to Hawi and maybe continuing out to the Pololu Overlook, coming back along the Ironman route. Josh brought the bikes by the night before so we could get an early morning start. Now my plan had been to eat breakfast at the resort and then get started. But Thom was feeling cheap. Resorts always overcharge for every meal, but breakfast prices do seem a little over the top. So after a bit of discussion my pre-ride food became peanut butter PowerBar Bites and M&Ms.

    We went down to the valet station to collect our bikes and adjust seat heights etc. before starting the ride. Just as were about done one of the valets tells us that were not allowed to ride the bikes out to the main highway, but that hell call security who will take us out in a pickup truck. We had read about this in a tandem ride report, so werent entirely shocked. We load ourselves and the bikes into the back of the pickup truck and are on our way.

    We have about a mile to ride before turning to go up the first half of Kohala Mountain. This isnt nearly enough time for me to get warmed up and as we make the turn Thom speeds off in front of me. This is normal. We have a rule that when riding singles we each ride at whats comfortable and just keep an eye out for each other. He warms up much faster than I do and we usually end up together after ten miles.

    Wed been warned that wed probably have a big headwind as we climbed up the mountain and sure enough we did. I was quickly down into my lowest gear as I pushed my way up the hill. I was wishing for my little gears big time at first. I normally ride a 46-36-24 and the Specialized Allez sport has a 52-42-30. I did notice that because of the bigger gears I was climbing about a mile faster than I usually do in my alpine gear. Once my legs were warmed up, this was okay. The grade through here was similar to most of Mount Diablo. I dont know if I could manage the last bit of Diablo with its 18% grade with this particular gear ratio. Certainly not seated the whole way, as I do it now. A couple of miles from the top of this first leg, Thom slowed a bit so I could catch up. Were still fighting this headwind. Now that Im warmed up, Im able to stick with his pace and draft him for a mile or so. Then I take over pulling.

    Our original plan had been to not even go into the town of Waimea, an additional climb of about two miles. But because of the sketchy breakfast we decide we need more food and when the road forks to continue climbing to the top of Kohala, we turn right to go to Waimea. Fortified with Red Bull, a pastry and Gatorade in my water bottles, we enjoy the descent back down to the fork and begin the second half of our climb. The road is literally on the side of the mountain and most of the way we have an unobstructed view of the Kohala coastline far below us. The grade is more gradual than the first half and we no longer have the headwind. But I drop the chain for the first of many times. The bikes have mainly Shimano Tiagra components. This was my first experience with Tiagra. We have a mixture of Ultegra and 105 on the tandem. My advice, spring for better components. The Tiagra STI shifting is sloppy and very imprecise. Granted the bike was brand new and needed a few adjustments.

    Once we reach the summit, we have this amazing downhill section to Hawi. Nearly ten miles of glorious downhill, beautifully paved. The upper section was kind of curvy, but as you approach Hawi there is a long, straight downhill. I was doing 45 as I approached town. I only slowed down when I saw the 25 mile/hour speed limit sign. Im thinking I may change out the tires on Fluffy, certainly for any centuries or doubles I plan to do. I have been riding 27s. They give me a comfortable ride and I get very few flats. I think the 23s on the rental had tremendously less rolling resistance which would really pay off on a long ride.

    Hawi is a quirky little town with some interesting shops and restaurants. We didnt stay too long as I had convinced Thom to go out to the Pololu outlook. In retrospect, I wish I hadnt. Once again we had a good sized headwind. The road to the overlook traverses a couple of gulches. That translates to steep twisty down hills and ascents. I begin to lose count of how many times I dropped the chain. Having been to the Na Pali coast on Kauai, neither one of us found the Pololu overlook to be nearly as impressive. Maybe when its aged 5 million years like Na Pali.

    We did enjoy the tailwind back to Hawi where we refilled bottles and got a little food. By this time its beginning to get warm and is quite humid. We both have a couple of e caps before we begin the 25 mile ride along the Ironman route. The first bit has a slight downhill and we still had that tailwind. I tried to take advantage of the bikes larger gearing and went up into the 52, but frankly I didnt seem to go that much faster than I do on Fluffy with the 46. Maybe Im just lazy, but once Im in the mid twenties, I figure its time to coast.

    After this bit of downhill the road undulates up and down. The heat and humidity are beginning to get to Thom, but Im feeling pretty good and average around 18 through this last section. I fly down the last good sized hill, turn left to head back to the resort and wait for Thom to make sure he makes the turn. When he joins he tells me that I should have stopped for shaved ice, about halfway down the hill, but were not going back for it. Three trips to Hawaii and I still havent had shaved ice!

    We ride together back to the gate of the resort and security once again comes and picks us up. Thom and I notice that the road is rather narrow with no shoulder and decide that the hotel really isnt too far out of line with its no bikes on the road policy. The truck stops and I go to step over the tail gate to get out. My left foot slides across the bumper and I just know Im going to take a header and fall out of the truck. Wheres my helmet? Not on my head. I slam my left hand down onto the side of the truck and my fingers go into the hole where a rack would go. But I do manage to actually land on my feet. Im holding the three fingers of my left hand as they throb unmercifully. The driver and a couple of valets have rushed over to make sure Im okay. I wont let anyone look at my fingers. Sounds crazy, but I want to see if they stop hurting a little first. Eventually I open up my hand. I know theres no blood, but I expect to see a bunch of swelling. Nope - nothing. Pheww!

    Its not until Im getting dressed after a shower that I notice the huge bruise on the inside of my right leg from where it hit the tailgate as I went over. Its finally beginning to fade now more than a week later, but it was some interesting shades of purple. Thom refused to photograph it. My fingers are still a little sore. But it could have been so much worse. Now remember that its safer to ride in the back of a pick up than bike along the road.

    This was a great ride with lots to see. Nicely paved roads, not too much traffic on the climb and of course the Ironman Route section is in impeccable shape.

    Total Mileage: 67 miles
    Total Elev. Gain: 4,502 feet
    Total Time: 6 hours, 3 min.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Where did you post the pics? I'd love to see them!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area
    We actually didn't have too many pictures of Kohala Mt.

    But this should take you to the ones from the rest of the trip.


    Discipline is remembering what you want.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Arlington, VA
    You and Thom have the best adventures. Glad you weren't hurt in your mishap. First the tumble at Crater Lake, now falling out of a pickup truck in Hawaii. Your guardian angel has been on a smoke break! Be careful in Maine (isn't that where you're headed next)?



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