Posted By: Pierre Campana-Jourda | Oct. 8 2015
Here it comes! What’s your winter plan?
The Big Island is known to athletes as the home of the Kona Ironman World Championship. You’ll find triathletes from all over the world cycling along the long flat stretch of Queen Kamehameha Highway with the ocean glimmering to the east or west, depending which direction they are riding.
I’m no Ironman athlete; and before I rode on the Big Island during the winter of 2012, I considered myself athletically-inclined but a beginning- level rider. My biggest ride at that point was 30 miles with several hundred feet of climbing in and around Portland. As the head of sales for LifeCycle Adventures, it is a privilege and an essential part of my job to know and experience riding in the areas where we operate. I knew that the cycling in Hawaii would challenge me but with my experienced husband by my side and LifeCycle Adventures maps and directions, I felt assured that I would manage well enough.
Not only did I manage, but I conquered! I was so excited at the prospect of cycling in Hawaii and sunning my toes on the lanai while back in Portland Madame Winter blew through with artic temperatures, that I was the first one dressed, sunscreened, and ready to ride after each breakfast, much to my husband’s surprise and delight.
After a couple days of cycling some of the milder routes along the ocean and the lovely flat out-and-back from Hawi to Pololu Beach, I was ready to try my legs on Kohala Mountain, which would be the most challenging cycling I’d ever done. That morning I prepped myself with extra energy bars and an extra water bottle so that my efforts were supported with proper nutrition and hydration. After a beautiful breakfast at the secluded Hawaii Island Retreat, we were off. We started a 48-mile loop ride and I took my time, using all of my gears, stopping every now and again to drink water, eat a mango & cashew Tiki bar, and catch my breath. At the top of the climb, we took a picture at the green elevation sign indicating 3564 feet of climbing. I felt victorious! It was downhill after that into Waimea where we stopped for a burger at Village Burger – a local shop serving local beef from ranches around Waimea. The protein gave me the extra get-up-and-go to reverse the route back to Hawi.
After that triumphant loop, I felt like I launched myself from beginning to intermediate-level rider. I found that I was capable of much more than I had thought. If you are an experienced rider, cycling on the Big Island of Hawaii is a do-not-miss adventure. If you are a less experienced rider seeking to take your riding to the next level, Hawaii is the perfect place to do it.