Monday, December 20, 2010

Hawaii Trip Day 3

Another Drunk disclaimer.... I'm up to like 7 or 8 drinks now and still writing. I can't be held 100% liable for my thought process now... : ) Sorry... Okay random side note: It's 11:48 on Monday December 20th. The Vikings just got the crap kicked out of them at TCF Bank Stadium by the Bears and I'm pretty sure I just saw some fireworks going off downtown Minneapolis. Not even kidding!

Day 3 - Wednesday December 8th
Miles - 31.66
Climb - 4170

Today we were prepared for a climb. It's a short day miles wise but after an easy 10 mile ride out of Hilo the road turns uphill and doesn't stop for 20+ unforgiving miles. In fact, now that I look at the map it looks like it turns uphill around mile 7.5. I just want to put my head down and ride.

Here's the only picture I have of the morning. It's the view from my room in Hilo. Not too shabby eh?!

So today was a total hill climb and a lot of people were psyching themselves out before the ride even began. I knew I could do it and I knew I could do it fast so I jumped out in front of the pack with Jeff who is clearly the strongest rider of the pack and we just hammered that hill. We had a nice little chat over the next three hours and just ground it out. We only stopped to refill our waters twice and other than that we just rode. Mile after grueling mile. To be honest it wasn't actually that bad. Jeff and I made it up the 4000+ ft climb in under 3 hours and we felt awesome! It really helps to have someone to ride with and to talk to.

This is what we arrived to. A beautiful home out in the country in Volcano, HI

They had a really nice lemon tree out in the front yard! Yum! Fresh lemons!

Jeff and I were the first ones to arrive so we had the luxury of sitting around and exploring the place before everyone else showed up. We also had first dibbs on the beer in the fridge! : ) Yeah baby! I cracked open a couple of Longboards and celebrated my speedy mountain climb! After everyone arrived we had some lunch and then headed out for Volcano National Park.

This is one of the lava tubes that we were able to explore.

Then we went down a totally unlit lava tube. We didn't have a light, only our cell phones and camera flashes. It was erie and totally awesome! This is one of the shots from the end of the tunnel.

Then we decided to move on to the crater rim trail. The trail was a little more than a .5 mile hike but was supposed to have some really cool views. We all headed out to see what we could find.

This is the crater. Pretty amazing when you think about it. This is all active volcano. It hasn't erupted for a long time but it's still steaming from the heat below.

Then... you're never gonna believe this... I was walking along the trail and who do I run into? My cross country coach from Augsburg! Dennis Barker! Are you f'in kidding me?! I mean I knew he was coming to Hawaii but he wasn't supposed to be on this island. They decided to take a day trip over to the big island and I ran into him! I mean what are the odds that we run into each other? This island, this park, this trail at the same freakin' time? It's astronomical! Anyway, it was pretty cool! Oh, and he almost didn't recognize me with the big ass 'fro! : )

Me and Dennis Barker. And yes, that is my real hair!

Then it was on to see a different view of the crater.

I kind of like the lei's in the foreground. I'm not sure what they are for but it adds a nice shot of life to an otherwise desolate landscape.

Ooops.. Excuse me! : )

When we got back to the house it was time for dinner. Darrell decided he wanted a fire so we built them up in both of the fireplaces in the house and got them going. Due to the high humidity neither of them really wanted to burn despite our best efforts. We made the best of it though.

We got them going for a little bit but they didn't last.

I really liked this style of housing. All of us were together and we had a great meal and great conversation. It felt like we were able to hang out and connect and it wasn't a chore. I really enjoyed this night and all the great chats I had with everyone. It was the first night I really felt the group gelling together. We were no longer 22 different people riding together, we were a team, a family, riding for a common cause. It was something awesome!

Hawaii Trip Day 2

Drunk disclaimer... I've had more than 5 cocktails prior to writing this post. Please forgive any spelling and punctuation errors. : )

Day 2 - Tuesday December 7th
Miles - 63.07
Climb - 1759

Today we started out in Waimea. It was a beautiful morning and we had a wonderful breakfast prepared by our master chef, Meg. After downing some fresh pineapple, oatmeal, yogurt and hard boiled eggs I was ready for our 60+ mile day. The great thing about a sick climb the day before is that we get to go downhill the day after!!

This is outside our motel at surise

So we head out from our motel at like 8:00am. It's a little chilly, maybe 60º, but not too bad. Nick said the first few miles are downhill so it's going to be kind of fun and not a ton of work. Holy crap was he underselling!!!! We got out of our parking lot and it was all downhill! The countryside was beautiful! We saw pigs, cows, chickens, trees, fields... you name it. It felt like I was in the middle of rural Minnesota, save for the fact that the landscape was punctuated by palm trees and other tropical vegetation.

After a couple miles we ran into a road block. They were doing some work on the highway.

After that though it was all downhill! Seriously! I've never had so much fun on a bike in my life! We came flying out of the mountains down Highway 19 at speeds I never dreamed I could hit! We had a pace line of like 10 people going down this hill and we were flying! I was holding on for dear life, praying that I didn't blow a tire because I knew that would be the end of me if I did. It was exhilarating! I saw some of the most beautiful scenery but was too afraid to let go of the handlebars to take photos. I was just hanging on for dear life and enjoying the ride! 19 miles later we stopped at the SAG wagon for a break. We had covered over 22 miles in just about 45 minutes. Our average speed was 25 mph and our top speed was 39 mph and I think a small group of us may have even hit 42 or 43 mph. It was freakin' amazing!!

Here's us at the rest stop!

This is Darrold, a guy that is more man than I can ever hope to be! He's rode coast to coast in the U.S. TWICE!! And he kept up with us down that hill. Oh, did I mention he's got a heart condition... yeah, he's fuckin' bad ass!! No Joke!

After our rest we continued on down the road. We were still going downhill which was a ton of fun. Then we passed through a small town that had a cookie shop and we had to stop to check it out. Not only did they have a cookie shop but they also had some sweet old buildings. I was really excited to see this kind of stuff because this is the side of Hawaii that normal tourists don't get to see. This is the side of Hawaii that I was interested in. Where the real people of Hawaii live and work. Not the Waikiki B.S. but the every day, I make a living selling cookies to tourists kind of stuff! Jackpot!!

Donna's Cookies... I found out later that she's kind of a big deal. I'm just happy I saw her operation before I saw the cookies in a store.

Look at this place! Isn't it freakin' cool! Not the touristy B.S. you see in the brochures...

Here's me on the bridge over this little town. I love this place! It reminds me of Taylors Falls... only warmer!

After our stop for cookies we carried on. It was nice riding with a group of people that were interested in stopping to smell the roses so to speak. We weren't necessarily in a hurry we just wanted to take in all the sights and sounds and smells of the Hawaiian Islands. A few miles from our lunch stop we came across a little farm on the side of the road. There were cows and bulls and trees all with a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean! Amazing!

Here's me with some cows!

Not more than a mile after the cows we came across a Christmas Tree Farm! Crazy! They have the most beautiful Christmas trees you've ever seen! I totally wish I could have brought one home for my place! And it's super trippy to see a Christmas tree farm with a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean! It was so surreal!

Christmas Tree Farm!

After that it was on to lunch. Lunch on day 1 was amazing so I was expecting something similar but what I got was...


I was speechless! The view from the road that led down to lunch was absolutely breathtaking! There are no words to describe it. It was simply amazing!

Another view from lunch.

After lunch we continued on our path to Hilo. I was riding with the front group of Paul, Shelly, Jeff & Myself. We were clipping along at a really good pace when I had to pull off to take a pic of this.

It's a tiny little post office in the middle of nowhere Hawaii. My dad is a mailman and I thought he would like it so I got a shot.

Now I needed to catch up with the group that was well in front of me. We had been clipping along at 20-22 mph and I stopped for at least 3 minutes which means that I was about 1+ miles behind them. I would need to ride ridiculously fast to catch them... thank god I'm ridiculously fast! : )

So about 5 miles later I had them in my sights... I knew I would be catching them within a couple minutes. But then I crossed a bridge, and the view from that bridge was one of the most beautiful things I'd seen since arriving in Hawaii! Well I guess I'll need to ride a little faster, because I have to stop for a photo. After a couple shots I continued on. A few miles later I finally caught up with them as they had stopped on a bridge to take some photos. It was amazing how many scenic overlooks there were on this road... literally every bridge was another photo op.

Here's one of the bridge stops...

We pressed on and not long after that stop Paul got a flat. It was the first flat of the day in our group of people. Luckily we had a pump and 4 experienced riders that could change a flat. Since they knew what they were doing, I decided to be a clown and fan down Paul as he was changing his tire.

I thought it was pretty funny!

After the flat Shelly, Jeff and myself kind of dropped the others. We rode on and decided to take the scenic route. We thought more people would follow but they didn't...

This was in the shop at the Botanical Gardens. We almost pissed ourselves laughing at the "Very Old" part! Seriously? If you're going to display something in a museum at least have a freakin' date to go with it!

Then we decided to go on the Botanical Gardens tour. It was $15 each and thankfully Shelly was nice enough to spot me the $15 because I didn't have any money with me on my bike... Thanks Shelly!

Not sure why but this is one of my favorite pics!

We all had a nice giggle about this one! It's called a Screw Pine! Hehehehehe!!

This is KU and he gives wisdom, strength and courage in competition! He was definitely with us on our journey around the islands.

After our little tour through the Botanical Gardens we headed out and biked into Hilo. We had to make a quick stop at the bike shop and then on to our hotel. It was a really nice ride today and I really enjoyed they company. Once we got to our hotel I showered quick and went on to a little excursion to Akaka Falls!

Quintessential road trip paraphernalia

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls Group Shot!

What a beautiful day! Absolutely blessed to be on this trip!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hawaii Trip Day 1

Day 1 - Monday December 6th
Miles - 49.26
Climb - 3264

Last night when we got in it was already dark so I couldn't really see anything. This morning when I woke up I realized why everyone raves about Hawaii!

I mean look at this view!

So Day 1 of our trip begins in Kailua, Kona and takes us all the way up to Waimea. As we were getting instructions for the ride I got a phone call from home and excused myself from the crowd. I was looking out at the ocean while talking and saw a Humpback Whale jump out of the water!! It was freakin' amazing! Right after that we loaded up our gear into the vans and set off on our ride. I had low tire pressure so I was the last one to leave and not more than a couple miles in I passed our first person with a flat, Shelly. No biggie, it happens.

Our first stop was to take a group shot at the start of the Ironman swim course.

After that it was smooth sailing on to lunch. A straight shot down highway 19, also part of the Ironman course.

About 12 miles later Shelly got her second flat. Kind of crappy but it happens... Then after changing that one she got her third about 300 yards later. Not so fun : (

This one was funny. I didn't expect to see a donkey crossing sign. I guess some people saw a goat around this sign too.

I managed to get a few shots from the bike. There's a big lava field between that road and the ocean and that's about it.

Here's a nice little pace line we had going. Check out those sweet jerseys we had too!

I was amazed by all of the beautiful flowers that were growing on the side of the road.

Here's some more

Around 11ish we arrived at our lunch destination. We were stopping at Hapuna Beach. It was absolutely breathtaking. The kind of scene you envision when you think of Hawaii. Beautiful sand, palm trees, turquoise water and lots of tan people enjoying themselves. It was amazing and I had to go for a swim! After a delicious lunch prepared by Meg, our very talented chef for the trip, I decided to go cliff jumping. It wasn't much of a cliff but it was still fun to jump into the water. I think it might have been 10 feet high or so.

Here's a panoramic of the beach. Pretty amazing isn't it.

After lunch we had to hit the road again. We had 12 miles left to ride and 10 of it was straight uphill. Fun stuff I know! It was hot and there wasn't much shade up that hill so it made it even more difficult but most of us got through it okay.

I finally made it! Woo Hoo!

We stayed at the Waimea Country Lodge. It wasn't super swanky but it was quaint. We went out for some ice cream and then off to dinner at a Korean B-B-Q place. I thought it was fantastic! After that I tried to stay up and hang out with some people but we were all so tired that I couldn't keep my eyes open. I think I went to bed at like 9 or 9:30! I suppose that means it was 1 or 1:30 back in Minnesota but still...

Hawaii Trip MSP to KOA

After a year of talking, planning, fundraising and anticipation the day is finally here!! For those of you that don't already know this trip is a destination fundraiser for Bolder Options. Bolder is an activity based youth mentoring program that I've been involved with since early 2007. Every year they do a run trip and a bike trip independent of one another. This year they happen to both be in Hawaii so I decided that I was going to sign up for both of them. The bike trip is up first. 242 miles around Hawaii's Big Island in 5 days. Then off to Oahu to run the Honolulu marathon. After that I've scheduled a couple days to just relax and enjoy Hawaii.

I wake up at 6:30am on Sunday December 5th and look out my window. It's a brisk 5º outside! What a great day to go to Hawaii! So I grab my bags and head off to the airport. Not wanting to carry too much stuff around in Hawaii I only wore a long sleeve shirt and a wind breaker. I decided to cab it the 6 blocks to my train stop. Once on the train it's all inside until I get to the islands. At the airport I met up with Chris & Becky, two other Bolder Options people that will be on the trip. We had a pretty uneventful flight to LA where we stopped to have some drinks.

I pay for the Delta Club so I always try to get my moneys worth when I travel. It's nice to bring in some friends once in a while as well.

Once we arrived in Kona it was quite a trip. You fly into this lava field right on the ocean. They they tell you they don't use jetways so you'll be going down some stairs and walking across the runway to the airport. As you deplane you notice that the airport is basically just a bunch of huts. There aren't really any walls to speak of.

Here's a stray cat just chillin' out in the middle of the airport

This is baggage claim

We got picked up and headed over to our hotel. We got a drink and some dinner and then had to make sure our bikes were all set up because we were riding in the morning. As far as travel days go this one was pretty good. The flight was nice, I had cabin bulk heads on both legs so plenty of room and Kona was beautiful. Good way to start the trip.