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Calling Hawaii Big Island riding experts(6 posts)

Calling Hawaii Big Island riding expertsMel Erickson
Jun 19, 2003 12:45 PM
I'm planning a solo ride from Kea'au (just south of Hilo) to Kailua Kona on the west coast of the Big Island. I'm planning on going the southern route (Hwy. 11). My son and his fiance live near Kea'au and are very apprehensive about my trip to Kona. They are not cyclists and feel the traffic, especially from Kea'au to Volcanoes National Park, and road conditions (basically no paved shoulder and miles of narrow road) are not safe. I've travelled the road twice, most recently in March of last year. I know the road could be better but I think it is safe to ride, however, I've never ridden it, just driven it in a car. Seems I recall seeing a number of cyclists, perhaps on organized rides, on this route. Has anyone taken this route and can comment? Guess I'm fishing for supporting info to relieve my son's apprehension but am willing to take my medicine if the news is not good.
re: Calling Hawaii Big Island riding expertsflying
Jun 19, 2003 2:28 PM
Hi Mel,
No need to worry about Kea'au to Volcano the road & the shoulder is great. I ride that every couple of weeks.
I go from Volcano down & back. But I guess you know it is a 4000' elevation climb back up in 23 miles. Kea'au is at the 7 mi marker & Volcano is 30 mi mark.

You should have no problem shoulder wise. Once you get to Volcano the shoulder & roads continue to be great right through to Naalehu at the 65 mi marker. At that point the shoulder is getting thin as you climb up to South Point.

Then good shoulder again through Oceanview. I am not sure how the 15 miles of twisties through Milolii is now but I know they have worked on it.
I would think of the whole ride the section from there to Kona would be the thinnest shoulder wise.

Other than that were you doing this ride in 1 day?
Kea'au to Volcano is as I said 23-ish miles 4000' gain but it is another 100 to Kona, which would include at least a few climbs & descents of 1-2000'. I don't know what shape your in or where your coming from but for some the climb would wear them down a bit if they are not use to it or the humidity.
Good to hear from a regular on the routeMel Erickson
Jun 19, 2003 4:08 PM
My son and his fiance are not cyclists and are just looking out for me. That's pretty much how I remember it. I've tried to assure them it's no problem. As for shape, I'm not worried. I put in 150-200 mile weeks with moderate hills. I'll have several centuries under my belt by the time I head to the Big Island. Humidity is no problem either, we get our share. The only thing I think might be a small concern is elevation. My riding is done around 700 ft. above sea level and Volcanoe is around 4000 ft.? Getting close to a mile high. I suppose I could feel it a little in the last 10 miles of the climb. I will be doing it in one day and will start out around 7am. I'm figuring 9 hours to be safe. I'll have several people in my group driving over to Kona during the day so they can check on me along the way. I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for the info. I'll pass it along and hopefully ease their concern.
No Worriesflying
Jun 19, 2003 5:06 PM
You sound like you will do fine. The elevation is no problem really. I did Haleakala on Maui sea level to 10,300'
I guess while pedaling your going slow enough to acclimate. The day before I drove in a car up to the Haleakala summit & could barely walk around ;-)

Sounds like a great ride/day though. Enjoy !!
Yeah, a couple of years agoMel Erickson
Jun 20, 2003 6:03 AM
We drove up to Mauna Kea, now that was a trip! It was hard to breath and concentrate at almost 14,000. My son had an old Suzuki Samarai and we had to take off the air cleaner so the engine could get enough O2. Even at that it was a struggle.
If they can do it...Snowbird
Jun 20, 2003 4:11 AM
Mel,I was on the Big Island for a couple weeks in February. I met a couple who had to be in their sixties. They had spent the previous week circumnavigating the island on Co-Motion transportable bikes. I hope I have their spirit when I am their age.
Don't forget your camera. Looking forward to your ride report.