Day 3 - Speedy Morning

(A little late to this, apologies)

Had an awesome, awesome ride - one of my favorites so far - out of Waimea! Dan and his mother directed me to a super fun side road that wove in and out of countryside, all rolling hills and grassy pastures, still dotted with lava rock, predominantly downhill. Smooth roads and almost 0 traffic. After about 10 miles it turned abruptly into forest and got steeper (still downhill). I cruised through the curvy roads at 25-30mph like it was nothing. I'm pretty sure I had maximum pizza strength from pizza dinner... And pizza breakfast.

I stopped for a giant, greasy bacon and bleu cheese burger about 12:30 right as it started raining. It rained, mostly lightly, on and off into the afternoon. No huge deal, had my rain gear up.

From lunch, my ride cut in and out of really amazing gulches for the rest of the day. I got used to the pattern: a climb, a curving descent cutting sharply back into the land, tight turn and old concrete bridge over a stream with a very Jurassic-Park-esque view (sometimes a waterfall or beach below!), and an equal but opposite ascent out the other side. I think there were 8 major gulches, all with fantastic views of their little bays. Here's one of the bigger ones:

I also got to stop near the botanic gardens for a cool little hike down to one of the coves. Pictures of that are on my nice camera, agh, but here's the trail entrance (fun getting my bike down there).

I made my way into Hilo at about 5:30 and had to decide whether to stop there or push another 10 miles or so to a relative's house for a place to stay. I went with an unfortunately crappy hostel called Wild Ginger - perhaps the worst I'd ever stayed in. It was more like a refugee camp, except that it cost me $35. I stayed in what was basically a partitioned shack down a staircase from the lobby area. I'll spare details, but the "kitchen" was ancient, the nice ocean breeze was replaced by a trade wind of cigarette smoke from the smoking area, 9pm "quiet time" and 10pm power shutoff were very strictly enforced, and the guy "managing" the area was ultimately really slimy and rude. Oh well, at least it was a place to sleep!

Today's stats:
Dist: 59.15 mi
Time: 3 hours 58 mins
Avg speed: 14.88mph
Max speed: 35.34mph


Climb to Volcanoes

Today looks like this... Hmmm... Woke up to a flat tire and promptly pulled something in my back. Plotting, hold tight.
Post from yesterday coming soon. Hanging in there! Still beautiful out here but Hilo hasn't been my favorite city.


Lunch at Back to The Fifties Highway Fountain

Rode 28 miles. Ate this burger. Can't move. It's only 12:45 but it looks like I'm gonna have to pitch my tent here for the night.

Also, it's raining. Bleh!

Day 2

Last night, I was totally whooped. Once my body got half of a pizza inside it, it decided I'd had all of my needs met for the night and it was time to pass out.

I spent about 27 of yesterday's 32 miles biking uphill. I started from my campsite at sea level and reached the peak of 3600 ft just before Waimea. It was rough going up - really slow roiling with all this gear - but totally worth it once I got up to about 2000 ft and started to get some rewarding views! Until then it'd been mostly farm land. Once I got up around the peak, I didn't even want to come down - I was busy relishing in the scenery and thinking that if I were to come down, I'd probably just have to go up again. So, I sat at a scenic overlook and had a rewarding lunch: last night's leftovers (noodles + "rice side") mixed in with an avocado (the best avocado I'd eaten in MONTHS). I talked to a bunch of tourists stopping by to take photos up here - an older guy from Boston, a German couple on their honeymoon (and subsequently found out that I'd forgotten more German than I'd expected), and a pickup full of middle-aged folk from Wisconsin (go figure, RIGHT?!). From here, it was a descent straight down into Waimea (awesome and terrifying gopro footage forthcoming), a few supply stops in town, and arrival at friend/remote tour guide Dan's mom's house! I took one of the greatest showers of my life, had some awesome pizza and a few replenishment beers, looked at a few maps and guide books, and passed out.

Enough text! Images!

Morning campsite


Uninspired northern-most point of my trip

Valleys! 2200 ft I think

The top!


On the descent

Supply run to Natural Foods

Sunset in the backyard

Today's goal is a whopping 60 miles to Keaau. There are a lot of cool stops along the way, so I'm not going to push myself on this one and may opt for a hostel in Hilo instead (50 miles).


Today's stats:
Dist: 33.3 mi
Time: 3 hours 38 mins
Avg speed: 9.16mph
Max speed: 37.02mph


The surprisingly uninspiring northernmost point of my route

Yep, it's a gas station.

First 7 miles out of camp were all uphill but a pretty gentle grade for the most part. Gonna be an interesting day!

Day 1

11pm! Time to write a thing! A windy 55 miles today. Very exhausted so I'll keep it to the facts:
-woke up and had an awesome buffet breakfast, packed up, stored my bike box and suitcase (key play, thanks hotel!), checked out, got rolling about 9:30. Hotel:

-had to run shamefully to Walmart for a gopro mount (I forgot mine, also shamefully). Then rented snorkel gear!
-winds were relentless today, direct headwind nonstop. Turned an easy day into a hard day.
-biked through lava fields - super dry, very few plants, NO big trees, smooth but loud and highly trafficked highway shoulder. Kinda was like the moon meets the desert meets northern Africa.

-gradually turned a little more tropical
-stopped to snorkel. Let down a little. My gopro (it's waterproof!) battery died immediately. Probably because of the time lapse from yesterday. Very few fish, a little murky water. Also, my legs cramped up HORRIBLY in the backs of both of my knees simultaneously and left me temporarily unable to swim, rolling around in the water and groaning through my snorkel, which probably looked hilarious to the countless tourist families!
-a much needed pick-me-up: getting passed by/riding side-by-side with a convoy of 6 US Army APCs at 35mph on a descent into a valley. They were RIGHT next to me. Everyone thumbs-upped. Really awesome.
-It got prettier and traffic decreased significantly as I went further north. I even got a good 5 mile stretch with no wind! After which, of course, was very windy and shifted between "directly in my face" and "trying to knock me off of my bike from the west".
-I pulled into a campsite, Mahukona Beach Park, right as the sun was setting at 6:30. I instantly started talking with a super friendly and helpful middle aged guy named Van who spends 3 months of every year over here (in winter) and most of it at this site. He assured me I'd have no problems with the state park "authorities" (since I didn't buy a permit) and gave me the lay of the land. I set up my tent about 30 ft from the water, sorted through my pack for things, cooked dinner, and hung out with Van awhile. He was really nice to let me have some of his water and use his camp stove so I wouldn't have to set up mine. I made pasta mixed with a chicken and broccoli "rice side" - those little single-serving packets. Actually turned out pretty well! I also still have part of a giant loaf of sourdough from San Fran. Mmmmm. Weird part of the campsite: there are over 150 feral cats living in the wooded area that starts 50 ft away from the beach of where my tent is. They didn't bother me at all, but it was funny to see all of these little silhouettes skittering around in the night. I caught two kittens creeping around my tent and watched them run and hide in the rocks. Pretty cute, actually.

-I'm up at 6 finishing this post now. Fell asleep last night around 11:15, was SUPER tired. Stars out here are INCREDIBLE. Totally clear out and no light pollution anywhere. I slept without my sleeping bag and with my rain fly open to try to get a breeze. It's been around 60 all night. Couldn't have asked for a better campsite!
Today (Tues) I've got a huuuuuuge ascent up through the rest of this northernmost "thumb"-loop and into waimea. Should be a short day mileage-wise (around 32 without detours) but I'm going up about 4000 ft. YIKES. It should be super beautiful as I pass over a series of rivers and canyons. Hoping to stop and hike down into one to a beach at polulu valley, highly recommended by Dan and a random guy I met at a scenic overlook yesterday.

6:20am, getting light it now so it's time to get rolling!

Today's stats:
Distance: 56.13 mi
Time: 4 hours 15 mins
Avg speed: 13.19mph
Max speed: 32.71mph


On the way!

First stop of the day. Got a late start due to good breakfast, good breakfast conversation, and supply runs (snorkel gear+more!). I'm now ~20mi outside of Kona at a very rare shady oasis in an endless expense of lava fields! Making Gatorade (not a euphemism), stretching, eating peanut butter, making Gatorade (a euphemism). Nasty headwinds so far but relatively flat.

Pre-Day 1!

Got in late last night, took a cab to my hotel room, and spent the night putting together and tuning up my bike. New brakes and cleats are about to feel soooo goood. Testing out my new camera, I made a time lapse of the process! http://youtu.be/e0_KMiNkWbw

The hotel (Hale Maluhia Country Inn) is nice, pretty cheap, and the staff is super helpful and friendly! It's all I need and has been perfect - highly recommended. They're going to let me keep my bike box and bag here for the week, which is absolutely essential. The place is up in the hills so I'll have a nice, steep, winding morning descent out. Nature sounds here are fantastic except for the roosters that woke me up at 5:30.

Oh, and how awesome are my friends? One of my best friends from Seattle, Dan, grew up over here and is going to be my remote tour guide for the week, sending me personalized maps that open on my phone in Google Earth. Mahalo, Dan! I'm a lucky dude. Here's the blessing I woke up to:

Time to pack up my bags, get breakfast, and hit the road! Gonna make my way up the coast through some lava fields today. Hoping to rent a snorkel someplace in Kona as well. Should be low 80s and sunny! This is happening!



New adventure! Back in the saddle! Hawaii-bound!

Hi, people!

I'm at the airport in Seattle right now ready to take off for what should be another amazing bike tour. It's all super last-minute! I'm changing groups at work (still within Microsoft) and got a little time off before the new gig begins. Hawaii is, in my mind, the ultimate biking destination so I grabbed a cheap flight on Friday, collected all of my touring gear from the back of my closet, and threw together a rough itinerary. I'll be biking the "big island" starting Monday and flying back Sunday night. I start in Kona and ride clockwise 260-300 miles, so I'll need to average about 45 miles per day if I'm going to make my flight back and start work again on Tuesday.

The past few days have been a scramble of bike repairs, last-minute gear purchases on Amazon and at REI, mapping and planning, consulting with friends, minor panic, and extreme excitement. For reference, I finished boxing up my bike at 5am - madness. I'll admit I'm winging it a little but that's how I prefer it!

Upgrades since last tour!
-GoPro camera: Christmas gift from my mom/lil bro. Thanks! The GoPro was created specifically for this type of trip. Get ready for an awesome montage of biking, snorkeling, hiking, and general adventure footage in a few weeks!
-Other camera (Sony rx100, which I regret not buying until after the AU trip). Prepare for m-u.us: hi res 2014 edition.
-Cool new solar charger/backup battery. Awesome amount of power capacity, should be able to charge my phone 10x without seeing daylight again!
-Less stuff! Warmer climates and more familiarity with what I'll actually use mean I have about 15 lbs less gear. Should help to get me up those volcanoes, along with...
-Improved leg+butt muscles! (+cycling form). Biking to and from work in hilly Seattle everyday has done wonderful things for my cycling abilities and confidence. Looking forward to getting packed up and weighted down.

I'll try to post on here each day so all of yas can follow along, but more so that I remember this stuff down the line! I think the email subscription in the toolbar on the right still works too.

Wish me luck!