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I'm going to the Big Island in a few weeks. Anyone here climb up to the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa observatories? What are some of the other recommended rides? Ride reports, links, etc. all welcome.
12-20-11, 01:23 PM
I was there for a week last May, had my fixie with couplers. Stayed in Kailua-Kona, which is preferable to Hilo. Hilo is on the other side of the island from the airport, so it's not convenient to get to, plus it's on the rainy side of the island. Plus, there's a concerted effort to keep you from taking anything but a taxi or rental car out of the airport; a bus runs to the airport, but it only arrives in the morning to drop off the workers. I don't even know if there's one in the evening to pick them up.
Probably the first ride you want to do is the Ironman Bike Route, Kona to Hawi (ha-vi) and back on the main highway (wide shoulders, very exposed, wear sunscreen) and then a gentle climb to Hawi on a two-lane road with sometimes severe crosswinds. Guys with disks have been blown over in the ironman. On the way north, take a left off the main highway where it ends, but then watch for the gentle right turn a short distance up the road, it's easy to miss.
The best road ride on the island is in the northeast. Drive to Waimea, then ride on the old Mamalahoa Hwy to Honakaa and back. You get a broad view of Mauna Kea as you leave Waimea, then you're on open range land before descending thru the treees to the ocean.
Being overgeared for serious climbing (44x17) on the fixie, I never tackled the roads to the volcanos. I did drive to Hawaii Volcanoes Natl Park, but I wasn't able to ride the ring road around the craters as deadly gases were spewing from them and it was closed halfway around. Some of the roads, even around Kona, can get pretty steep.
If you're in Kona and want to ride south, there's a nice bikepath nobody knows about: from Alii Drive at the center of town, take the gentle left to Walua Rd and follow it to where it merges with Kuakini Hwy. You're on the Ironman loop thru town. Take that to the merge with the main hwy, but then take the first left and watch for bollards on the right a half block up the road, which is the start of the path. This is a much quieter way to get up to the top of the climb than taking the shoulder of the main hwy. The path becomes a side street that you follow until eventually you'll see where you need to turn to get back onto the main hwy.