day 12 – laupahoehoe beach to waimea

we woke up early to start breakfast for everyone. scrambled eggs, canadian bacon, oatmeal and banana bread. the nourishment was needed because the day would be another climbing day. sea level to about 3000 feet, with a total of about 4000 feet of climbing. the weather didn’t seem to be adjusting much. it would be a day spent in light rain.

first and most annoying to conquer was the exit from laupahoehoe beach. those cliffs and winding roads that were so easily descended were now our only way out. it wasn’t as bad as it seemed…it was just challenging. my legs hadn’t adjusted to climbing every day over and over. days like today make it more reasonable why adventure cycling association gave this tour an intermediate+ rating. this is nestled tightly between intermediate and advanced ratings. i probably should have rode more this year to prepare. a good reason why i didn’t was due to a hiking injury i got near the end of spring. psh. i didn’t train for my ride across the country either. one of these days i’ll learn. or not.

the climbs were going to be long. just before the third mile, we crossed a very high bridge over the ka’awali’i stream. there were a few others that we crossed too, opening up the ground and showing us the rivers path to the ocean. at around nine miles, there was donna’s cookies. they have free samples and don’t really have a shop. you walk in to the bakery which is also the packaging area and sales floor. it’s a one room operation and they do it well. we didn’t have any cash, so samples were all we could get, but there was a store just up the street where we could buy more water. we needed to stay hydrated. there weren’t many places through the day, but enough if we planned things out.

after what seemed like a few hours later, we passed mile 16. it was probably less than an hour, though the day was going slow. the trees had been growing over and closer to the roads, creating a thick canopy, with fruit littering the sides of the road. there was also fruit in the roads, smashed from passing traffic. about a quarter mile from the convenience store, avocados were all over. one rolled and managed to wedge itself between sera’s front wheel and the road. her bicycle slipped out from under her like a foot on a banana peel. her left hand took most of the fall, having a gash inside the base of her palm. she jumped up to make sure she wasn’t in traffic, revealing a guacamole/fruit paste on her left side. we cleaned her up a little and went to the gas station for supplies and more first aid. we loaded up drinks, met with a few others and cleaned up her hand. the next stop was tex drive-in and half mile away. tex is famous for malasadas, just as the punalu’u bakery was. we split a mango malasada, not wanting to have too much food before we climbed the rest of the way. it would ruin all the fun of climbing in the rain with wind.

the ride from tex’s along old mamalahoa highway to route 19 was about ten miles. seven of them were between 5% and 7% grade. the climb seemed like it was taking forever. we pushed hard and stopped every mile or so to take a breather and enjoy the scenery. one of the tour leaders caught up with us and we climbed together with her. about five miles into old mamalahoa highway, the houses became fewer between, the trees cleared and the sides of the roads opened up to reveal hilly pastures and open spaces. it reminded me of seeing photos of the irish hillsides. rolling hills and green pastures for as far as you could see. riding through these hills, the clouds were lower. so low that when you looked off to the left or right, you could see clouds blowing along the ground in the distance. i’ve seen fog, i’ve seen clouds, but i’ve never seen clouds coasting along the ground with me. it was truly an amazing scene. the rain had let up enough to enjoy everything else.

after traversing old mamalahoa, we were on route 19. only six more miles to the hotel. waimea isn’t a big city. it is about a fifth of the size of hilo and hilo isn’t big either. having spent a few days in the wild, i was becoming more accustomed to the lack of traffic and people. when cars come up, it doesn’t seem natural. you feel slightly out of place in a modern world. that was my experience coming into waimea. the roads weren’t as wide and there wasn’t as much space for bicycles. it seems less touched by tourism and more of a native hawaiian city. riding into waimea, we passed the big island brewhaus. we really wanted to stop, but also wanted to settle into the hotel first. waimea also provides excellent views of mauna kea and you can even see the observatories on top of the volcano. it’s also home to the keck observatory headquarters.

we settled into the hotel and decided to go out to the brewery for a few drinks. i grabbed the insulated growler that i had purchased at mehana brewery to make sure it was filled. we arrived at the brewhaus to find a few other touring bicycles from others on our tour. they had stopped on the way to the hotel, doing what we had though about. had it been a little warmer, the outside patio would have been an amazing opportunity. we sat inside the small area, it’s probably the smallest brewhaus i’ve been in. their size does not compare to their selection. they have an amazing amount of craft brews, tastes for everyone and the food is great. between their golden sabbath, coconut creme ale, and the big mac nut brown ale, i was satisfied. they have their claim to fame as hawaii’s highest brewery. they’re located 2,764 feet above the sea level. i filled the growler and after a few hours we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. having a grill at the hotel, plus a dining area to eat in was great. we had a guest that helped arrange the storage of some items for the tour join us as well. we all discussed the tour, shared stories and to top it all off, we watched the cubs win the world series for the first time in 108 years. waimea was a great place to be in that moment.

resting at the gas station.

sera hiding that her hand is sliced open, right after we fixed it up.

tex’s drive-in. malasadas for days.

enjoying the big island brewhaus.

enjoying the big island brewhaus.

drinks to go with dinner.

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