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Thread: Kauai biking

  1. #1
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    Kauai biking

    Iím going to be in Kauai in a few weeks and I wonder if anyone in this forum has road biked there. Last year on the Big Island, I rode from Kona through the Kohala Mountains and returned via along the Ironman route for a 125 mile loop. In Maui another year I rode up Haleakala, which is the longest paved climb one can do anywhere in the world from sea level.

    Because of its relative smallness, I donít think Kauai will offer anything as epic as those rides, but Iím wondering if itís worth it to bother bringing my gear and finding a rental. (Generally I have only one or two days to ride because of family obligations.)

    Any advice is appreciated.

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    B+ roadie I guess? acaurora's Avatar
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    While I have not ridden on Kauai, I did ride up most of Haleakala (quite a climb, got to 7500 and then turned around). I would say go with whatever you did to prepare for your previous Hawaii rides. Get a hold of some of the LBS over there (I would say do it by phone), ask what bikes they have for rental, and make sure that they have them available for when you go. I personally, after my ride up Haleakala, would take my shoes, pedals, and saddle, along with my cycling clothes/helmet. When I went I didn't take my pedals/saddle, as they said that they had those already. Turned out to be a pretty bad experience.
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    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Funny you should mention it . . . .

    I was on Kauai in April 2009, and rented a road bike for a day from these nice folks. http://kauaicycle.com/index.html They seemed to be about the only shop that had real road bikes to rent. They are in Kapa'a (just south of the main downtown section) and took good care of me. Warning - If you are a big guy (like me), you will be cramped - I think the biggest road frame was a 58 or 59cm. I take a 63, give or take, and I baaaaaarely made it work. Definitely bring your own pedals and shoes. I would also suggest contacting the shop to find out what to expect in terms of gearing. And do not expect anything very new - I was on a Specialized CF bike of some sort with Shimano 8-speed - it worked fine, but it had definitely seen its better days.

    I rode north on the main road from Kapa'a, with one short side trip up Kealia Road (the southern end is rolling and pretty and the road is good, the northern part is rolling and pretty and the road is terrible), and I am not in a hurry to do that again. Plenty of shoulder, but also plenty of high-speed traffic.

    As for riding itself, it is mostly so-so but with some exceptions that could be glorious if you can get there. If you look at a map of Kauai, you will see that there is basically one road that goes most of the way around the island near the coast (there is no road on the west side - heck, there isn't even a trail that goes through there, it's that rugged). Anything and everything else is an offshoot of that main road. And that main road, while wide enough to be safe for the most part, has enough traffic to make it unfun, at least between Hanapepe and Princeville. From Princeville out to the end of the road on the northwest end of the island is very pretty, but the road narrows and the drivers can be kind of nuts, so go at a low-traffic time if you choose that one.

    If you can, and you don't mind climbing, ride the Waimea Canyon road. Kokee Road (hwy 552) is the easier way up the first part. A ride from the bike rental place in Kapa'a to the top of the Waimea Canyon Road would be an epic ride, but getting fromn Kapa'a to Lihue would suck, traffic-wise, and from Lihue to Hanapepe would be only somewhat better. There is some time off the main road available around Poipu, but not for long. I would put the bike in a car, drive to somewhere between Poipu and the base of the canyon, depending how long you want to be on the bike, a go from there. One way or another, though, you have to see Waimea Canyon - simply glorious.

    Another fun road, but probably too short for you, is Kuamoo Rod (hwy 580). It takes off from the main road between Lihue and Kapa'a right next to the Wailua River. It climbs past a pretty waterfall, goes through a pleasant residential area, and eventually (as in 5 miles or so) ends up at a trailhead where the road fords a stream and soon becomes dirt. No shoulder on this road, but the traffic is not too bad.

    BTW, keep in mind that the northern side of the island is significantly wetter than the southern side, at least along the coast. Inland gets wet in a hurry pretty much everywhere. But it can be raining in Princeville and bone-dry in Hanapepe.

    Have a great time. And be sure to get to Waimea Canyon, even if it isn't by bike. You will not be sorry.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

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    Thank you for your replies

    I appreciate them.

    I know about taking my own equipment as much as possible. Bike shop rentals can be over the map, although I was able to rent a recent vintage Ultegra bike in Kona (HP Cycles) one year.
    But yes, whatever the bikeís quality, fit will be problematical. Once I refused a rental in Maui I had booked in advance because they gave me the frame sized I request (59) with 170 (not 175) cranks.

    Iíd really like to take my bike but the costs are pretty prohibitive unless one has several days to ride-which I never do.

    Anyway, Iím somewhat dissuaded after reading the report (although Iíll look into riding from Poipu to Waimea), it looks like Kauai may be more mountain bike than road bike country. Since Iím not a mountain biker, this may be a trip dedicated to snorkeling and hiking.

    But I will mention to anyone visiting the Big Island that the ride from Kona along the coast to the Waikoloa Road and then through the Kohala Mountains to Hawi and back along the coast (Ironman route) is one of the best rides Iíve been on (125 miles and Iíd guess 5K climb). (I got to swim with a whale shark off the coast the next day, but this ride topped that in my mind.) Highly recommended.

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    When I was there last summer for a week, I saw maybe one or two road bikers and it did not look like much fun. Largely, the roads do not have shoulders and they are packed with locals and rental cars. It is pretty wet on all areas of the Island except the West side. It is windy everywhere. My advice would be to enjoy the ocean sports. You are going to beautiful Island with amazing beaches and ocean. Get your workout hiking or paddling or kayaking, etc.

  6. #6
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    The couple times I've been to Kauai, I'd have loved to have my bike if I could. Nice weather, nice pavement on most of the island, the tourists drive slowly and the scenery is insane! The road to Hanalei definitely has some blind turns, but traffic rarely does better than 35 most of the way, and would make a great ride from Kapa'a (sp?). I would have to agree however that since you're in the islands you'd better get your ocean time in. Go hike the Na'pali trail to Kalalau and camp for a while; it's a truly one of a kind place.

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    vice campaign arcade's Avatar
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    I'm here on kauai and down to ride some roads... if you haven't already come and gone, that is...

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    I came and went

    The weather early last month wasn't ideal. Rarely over 72 and showery all day. I did alot of snorkeling, but there were high surf advisories almost the whole time so one had to be constantly aware-lest a rip current get you or a surge pushes you into coral. Still I saw alot of great fish, the underwater Olympus camera I bought at the Costco there for $200 paid big dividends.

    The only hiking I did was to get to some zip lining and mosquitoes were picking me apart--I don't care where I am at, if I'm being bitten I'm not going to enjoy it much.

    As far as road biking goes, from what I saw, I wasn't sorry I didn't bring any gear. Not much shoulder and too much traffic. I was in Princeville most of the time. But I don't think the conditions in the south were great either. Let me know if you road ride and do find something worthwhile. But in short, if I'm going to bike in Hawaii, I'm riding in Kona area north. That's hard to beat.

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