Category daily cycle

day 14 – spencer beach to kona

today was the final day of the tour. we woke up and started getting all of the gear together. it was a slow start. inevitably, the tour was coming to a close. neither of us wanted it to stop, which is common when you are doing something you love with great company.

we met with the group one last time to have breakfast, make arrangements to pick up our luggage at the hotel and talk about the ride. everyone seemed to be thinking the same thing, wanting to ride forever.

the climb from spencer beach to akoni pule highway was about 15%. maybe it wasn’t, but it felt like it was. our bodies were sore, wore out and the gear seemed to be heavier. the good news came when we turned south and the wind was at our backs. a nice, consistent 20 mph tailwind. the long hills were easy and the sun was out, there wasn’t much to do aside from pedal and enjoy the ride.

after about ten miles, it was time for a break. there wasn’t much for water along the way, so we were excited to stop at the hilton minimal area and grab a coffee and fill the water. we rested in the overly maintained grass and slowly the rest of the group appeared with the same ideas to stop for coffee. this little area that hilton has created is basically a small village, to mimic the hawaiian experience. There are maintained crushed lava fields, palm trees everywhere and it feels fake. if you have the experience of enjoying the big island, it’s not worth stopping here unless you want a laugh of the “authentic hawaiian experience”. i’m sure they get plenty of business, but really, there are a lot more places worth visiting. ten minutes later, it was time to start riding again. the winds had shifted completely and it was now a 20mph headwind. to top it off, the heat had climbed significantly since sunrise and this part of the island was very dry. with the headwind, it didn’t feel as warm as it was, but our bodies needed much more water. there were only a few places along the way to stop for water, but they were a few miles off the road. we pushed on feeling the exhaustion and our water supply diminished. we reached northern kona after a few hours of hard pushing into the wind making a stop at a big box store to refill our waters, take a break and have lunch. it was a well deserved stop and we were happy to find shade, seats and cold water.

once rehydrated, we slowly made our way back to uncle billy’s, the same place we had been to roughly two weeks before at the beginning of our trip. we rested near the pool in the shade and talked with the other cyclists to see what their plans were for departure. our room was ready, so we moved our bicycles up, showered and then collected our baggage from the guide who had retrieved it from storage. the tour was officially over and everyone was ready to either relax or travel home.

sera and i walked around for a little while, grabbed a meal that was primarily deep fried and coconut crusted, as well as delicious. we had a few mai-tais that were a great compliment to the food. one of the guides reached out to us later on and asked if we were interested in grabbing dinner. though we had just eaten, we were more than happy to meet with everyone and have a few drinks to bring the evening and tour to a close.

last time for photos at spencer beach, not excited to end the tour.

southwestern view on the road to akoni pule highway.

western view on the road to akoni pule highway.

eastern view on the road to akoni pule highway.

northern view on queen ka’ahumanu highway

yes, the tailwind made us smile.

barely visible, spencer beach is down there.

it’s too hot. don’t’ take my picture.

fresh laundry, clean shower, relaxing on the balcony at uncle billy’s.

while we were walking around after lunch.

sunset from the bar with while we were grabbing drinks with the others on tour.

day 13 – waimea to spencer beach

we had a night well fed and slept in a bed. it was time to get ready to go. breakfast was in the hotel dining area, continental, so cereal and toast. we made lunches and packed everything up. last night during the dinner and the baseball game, we did laundry. it was nice to have all of the clothes clean again. today i started thinking about the clothes i had in my baggage that was in storage. i wanted to wear a different pair of shorts, but those were in my bag. at least i know they’ll be clean and ready when we get back to kona in another few days.

sera and gillian went to get coffee this morning, i stayed behind and got everything all packed up. hotel coffee was good enough for me. after tasting sera’s fresh hawaiian coffee i did get a little jealous. it was a little cloudy this morning, but the clouds were rolling by so quick that it seemed like they weren’t even there. after we ate and said good morning to everyone, we jumped on the bicycles and it was time to go.

we had two options for the day. one was the suggested route, 40 miles with the first eight climbing, out to the horn of the big island. the second was an eleven mile downhill straight to the beach. we made it a few miles into the climb, but the cut on sera’s hand was irritating her quite a bit. her fingers were numb and she was having trouble using her shifter and brakes. we both agreed to take the short day and coast down to the beach to relax.

the sun was out, clouds were thin and it got much warmer with the lower elevation. on the way down the hills, the clouds really just decided to stop and stay higher. the terrain went from luscious grassy areas to dry desert again with everything being sunburnt alongside the road. we drank more water, and enjoyed our easy day all the way down to the ocean.

being early to camp means a few things. we get our choice of camping spots, time to explore, time to relax. we found one of the last spots next to the beach and setup camp. then we decided to follow a path around the southern end of the beach, which had some lava tide pools full of shells and fish. next thing i knew, sera had her hands full of shells, then my pockets were used to free her hands of them.

we snorkeled and swam for a little while and decided to go get some beer. we asked the people in the camp area what was in the town next to us. they gave us three places to go. the climb out of spencer beach seemed almost impossible. the funny part is we didn’t have any gear on our bikes. hopefully tomorrow morning on the way out with our bicycles fully loaded wouldn’t be as difficult(somehow). a few miles later, we were a few miles north of spencer beach in kawaihae. we were on our way to a nut factory that they had said was worth a visit, but then someone started yelling at us from the ice cream shop. it was david. he had pedaled ahead of everyone else on the long route and was resting at the last stop before the beach. we skipped the nut factory to join him for shaved ice and ice cream. sera got mango shaved ice and i got toasted coconut ice cream. both were delicious. i kind of felt bad for the guy running it though. he was the only person there and the line of people kept accumulating. it took about 10 minutes for me to get my order after i had placed it. worth it though. we both enjoyed our frozen treats with david and learned about his ride while discussing the camp.

we stopped and picked up a few drinks on before returning to spencer beach. there isn’t much for beer selections over here, definitely not like the three breweries that we had visited. next to spencer beach is the pu’ukohola heiau national historic site. there are many traditional items from the time that kamehameha had ruled the islands. the main temple of kamehameha, pu’ukohola heiau, is still visible, along with a few other buildings made of stone. one of the larger temples, hale o kapuni heiau, was submerged at some point to make room for a loading dock in the harbor. it’s also rumored that it was built as a dedication to the shark gods. we were warned by the locals in the campground that swimming in this area could be dangerous with all of the sharks that still frequent the hale o kapuni heiau looking for something to eat. we didn’t snorkel over there and had no plans to after learning that. the sharks are supposed to be incredibly active early in the morning, but we didn’t get the chance to go say hello.

returning to camp, we hiked around a little, greeted others and prepared for dinner. dinner was to be catered tonight from a local restaurant. sera ordered pasta and i ordered pizza. that way we could share each with the other. the beer we had went well with dinner. it was also a tour member’s birthday and she was presented with a(small) cake. the sunset at spencer beach was amazing and both of us were a little sad knowing that this was the last night of the tour camping out. we made sure to rest for the ride in the morning so that we could get up early enough to beat the heat.

observatories from the hotel parking lot.

mauna kea from the hotel parking lot.

sera and jaik from the hotel parking lot.

the first moments of the day’s climb.

the first moments of the day’s climb.

sera hydrating along the climb.

looking to the road ahead.

looking to the east.

sera stretches while david moves in to overcome the lead.

mauna kea from the side of the road.

jaik with mauna kea in the background.

sera with mauna kea in the background.

sera is happy about a downhill ride in the sun.

sera and jaik with the hills.

the ocean just seems closer.

the windy road to the beach.

sera doesn’t know what to do with her hands.

tiger pose!

anuenue ice cream and shaved ice.

spencer beach.

the pavilion at spencer beach.

jaik and sera in the pavilion.

mauna kea and the observatories from spencer beach.

i finally got a good photo of a mongoose.

sera has a sunburn this big.

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.

day 11 – hilo to laupahoehoe beach

after a rest day, we were borderline restless. it was time again to get on the bicycles and move. today was our scheduled grocery and dinner day for the group. the only warning about the grocery store was that it would be about a quarter mile from the road…but we didn’t know if it would be left or right.

we decided to get an early start. not too early just a few minutes ahead of everyone else. the ride would take us through hilo, making for a few great photos, one of us with the king kamehameha statue. each of the hawaiian islands were supposed to have a kamehameha statue, but this one in particular was sent to kauai. the people of kauai refused it since king kamehameha had never actually conquered that island. when it was refused, it was sent back to hilo. as the story goes, the statue was in the bay at hilo on a ship when it fell off. the statue falling off of the ship was taken as a sign that king kamehameha wasn’t done conquering and was attempting to get back to kauai to complete his reign. they recovered the statue and placed it in hilo, making the big island the only one with two of these statues. the other is in the northern part of the big island, near kapaau.

the coastline of eastern hawaii north of hilo gets better with every mile. the views are amazing. after about ten miles of riding the rolling hills, our bodies became sore. we stopped at hawaii tropical botanical gardens for a quick rest to hydrate and stretch. while resting, we had a few other cyclists pass from the group. we left shortly after they passed and watched them stop at a smoothie stand that was another mile down the road.

after finally getting a few downhill moments, it seemed like we were ready to push the rest of the way. there isn’t much on this stretch of hawaii that we would be seeing aside from the beautiful coast. it wasn’t at all like the other side of the island. the other side was dry, hot and barren. this side was wet, lush and cool. moments through the morning were met with light sprinkling rain.

as we got closer to mile 26, i decided to look into where the grocery store would be. carefully examining the map showed there was a small town on the right, but not much on the left. i decided to take a chance at the right side and was happy to find the store. we sat outside the store and had lunch, resting and hydrating. when you have grocery duty for the day, the other riders are encouraged to help out with carrying things. as far as we knew, we were ahead of everyone. with the hopes of finishing shopping and having other cyclists outside and ready to carry things, i went in. this wasn’t a full sized grocery store. more like a double sized convenience store with produce and meat. i scanned the isles three times before going back to the front and getting a basket to fill. there wasn’t much for meals, but a lot of room for creativity. i had a budget, and with the remote village prices, i was nervous about exceeding. i grabbed a lot of stuff. then set the basket down by the register and got another. i scoffed at the prices of eggs. these were probably the most expensive eggs that i’ll ever buy in my lifetime, and i got two dozen. $18 for two dozen eggs, plus tax. there were only three dozen eggs there. i started feeling guilty about buying everything in the store, so i left at least one of everything that i was getting. they only had frozen chicken, and there were only four packages. i got three. i ended up spending half of what the budget was. the cashier gave me a reinforced wax produce box for the groceries since they had no bags. i started thinking that it would be easy to carry this box if needed. it weighed nearly fifty pounds. i went outside and sera was waiting with the bicycles, but hadn’t seen anyone show up yet. time to make things fit right. i removed the bungees from my tent, positioned things as best as i could and fastened the box to my rear rack. i know i was over capacity for weight on the rack, but that’s really what lifetime warranties are for.

i told her to stay a little bit behind me, so that she could pick up anything that fell. i didn’t expect things to fall. while we were about to leave the parking lot, a few others showed up. i explained that it was probably best to leave the box as it was with the way it was balanced. the tent was the only thing that didn’t make it up the hill on the way out of the village. sera carried that for me. we had about four miles to ride before camp. i hoped for a simple, straight, no hill road. the road ahead was exactly the opposite. there were amazing curves downhill revealing the coast a few hundred feet below, then steep inclines that made me wish grocery day wasn’t today. i saw this gold coin on the side of the road then asked sera to swing back and pick it up. it doesn’t look like much, though it’s a great little souvenir. we reached the top of that hill and saw another cyclist from the group. i suddenly realized that i wasn’t sure how much further we had to go and couldn’t let go of my handlebars to look at the cuesheet. i didn’t want to stop either. the momentum was the only thing really keeping me going. i yelled out and asked him to navigate for us. sure enough, he led us to the road that would lead to laupahoehoe beach. since we were going to the beach, it would be a big downhill from the road. the street that takes you to the beach is long, windy and littered with palms, branches and some fruit. one side drops down, the other side has a rock face and trees on it. it is one large switchback that takes you down to a wide open space in the beach park.

the pleasant part of getting to laupahoehoe beach was we had cold beer in the insulated growler that i had purchased the day before and a kitchen room inside the pavilion near our camp. we wouldn’t have to worry about the wind from the coast affecting the stoves and we would have running water for everything. as much as i love camp cooking, running water is truly a gift.

we setup camp, showered and relaxed until it was time to cook dinner. we had worked up a nice appetite and were ready to rest afterwards.


sera & king kamehameha.


jaik & king kamehameha.


jaik & sera with king kamehameha.


bicycles with the king.


sera & jaik barely north of hilo.


the view barely north from hilo.


somewhere in the hawaiian jungle.


one of the spectacular coastal views.


coastal view & nonplussed sera.


bicycles at the hawaii botanical gardens.


more of those amazing costal views.


coastal view with sera & jaik.


bicycles before the switchback.


lunchtime selfie.


$9.00 eggs.


grocery day! the tent had to switch bicycles, but the box made it the whole way with minimal adjustments.


campsite at laupahoehoe beach.


northern part of laupahoehoe beach.


middle area of laupahoehoe beach.


southern part of laupahoehoe beach.


the view inland from the campsite. the storm seemed to stop and hang out at the edge of the park.

day 09 – isaac hale beach to hilo

we awoke to a beautiful hawaiian morning at isaac hale beach. warm weather and sunshine were a great way to start the day. the morning would be retracing the steps we took yesterday to get to isaac hale, heading north to hilo. the beautiful downhill canopy that we had coasted through the day before would now be revisited, climbing uphill.

most of the group didn’t stop in to lava tree state monument on the way down, so we recommended it and stopped by there again on the way out. riding up to the monument was another beautiful view through the canopy we had enjoyed so much a day earlier. it was a nice warm morning and the air was sweet. stopping in the monument a second time gave us an opportunity to walk around more than we did yesterday. we saw many more trees and i was able to take a better photo of one of the caverns.

continuing the ride towards pahoa again, there was a storm that looked like it was developing behind us. even so, we stopped at sirius coffee and sat out side just as we had done the day before. just like yesterday, a few cyclists stopped to also grab a coffee. once the coffee was finished, we started moving again. the storm behind us was catching up and there was another ahead of us. we pushed hard and were carried by the tailwind for a while.

we stopped just outside of kea’au to have a quick snack and drink a bit of water. after resting for a few minutes we saw another cyclist ride by. this was a good time to ride with him towards our destination winding through the eastern backroads of hilo around the airport. essentially, it was us relying on him to provide accurate directions without us having to look at our cuesheet or maps. while riding with him around the western edge of the airport, the storm that we had saw ahead of us finally put out a bit of rain. this was the first rain for the day, though we were riding with the storm both ahead and behind us. others had mentioned they were in the rain all day.

the three of us arrived at the destination, with another that had arrived shortly before us. sera and i quickly showered and were off to get lunch. after we had eaten we decided it would be better to prepare for the next day by purchasing some pants for each of us. we really just wanted to relax a bit too. we stopped into target and ross to find the cheapest warm clothes. sera found some leggings, i found some golf pants. i couldn’t help but laugh a little when i saw knit hats and scarves for sale in target. it just doesn’t seem necessary.

the beer we picked up while we were out clothes shopping doubled as a cold compress for my eye, which was becoming more swollen and irritated. when each beer would warm up, it was replaced with a cold one. i made sure not to let any go to waste. tomorrow is a well deserved rest day.




sera & jaik enjoying the morning before leaving the park.


cavern inside lava tree state monument.


a fallen tree inside lava tree state monument. you can see the hardened lava between the roots.


a tree inside lava tree state monument.


a tree inside lava tree state monument.


even though this tree perished when it was lava coated, now it has another tree growing on the top of it.


regional foliage.


someone got road spray from following too close.


a shower and a change of clothes later, we had drinks and lunch at coconut grill.


the results of sinus/orbital floor compression from diving with goggles.


alternating cold beer cans on my eye, i was able to reduce the swelling.

day 08 – hawaii volcanoes national park to isaac hale beach


waking early inside, we finally had a chance to shower before we left(inside). the solar showers that we’ve had prior to this have just been too cold to do that when we leave at sunrise. we picked up a few pair of aqua shoes from the military camp general store for later today. when we were back in kona, we attempted to swim with our sandals on, but it was too cumbersome.

our day was optionally 60 miles. it would be 42 miles to the side road, then we would have to either rent mountain bikes or hike for two miles each way. we could leave our bicycles and gear with the person renting the mountain bikes if we rented from him. if we did all of those things, we could possibly see the lava flowing into the ocean. we didn’t. we took the other option, about 42 miles. taking this option was a good choice. there were tide pools and a warming pond that was naturally heated by the volcano. it was all downhill today.

we began the descent down the side of the volcano in the rain. it was cold, though we didn’t get the worst of it. people behind us had complained about sleet stinging them on their legs, arms and face. coasting down at about 25 mph was nice, aside from the sidewinds blowing us either direction. about seven miles down the rain took a break. the same time the rain stopped, we started smelling orchids. there was an orchid farm that was near the road, offering free smells for about a mile. fourteen miles in we were still coasting steadily and the rain picked up again. we had hopes of arriving to the destination somewhat dry. it was beginning to look like that wasn’t going to happen.

on the side roads near hawaiian acres, we met a guy that was jogging. he was from south africa and told us about how he had lived all over the world and had moved here to get away from certain noise that interfered with his pyramids. i wasn’t sure what he was talking about. he took our photo and then a few other cyclists from the tour stopped and started talking with him. industrial mining engineer meet geologists. sera & jaik exit stage right.

we stopped in pahoa at sirius coffee for a break. we sat outside and sipped warm coffee, admiring the road splash all over our legs. rain was slowing and the clouds were beginning to separate. the coffee shop was near a small restaurant that a couple of others had stopped at. we saw a few others pass by, they were heading towards the long route. another couple from the tour stopped and got coffee at sirius while we were finishing our cups. we decided to take the somewhat clear sky as a sign to get out and ride before storms started again.

along route 132 we saw the sign for lava tree state monument and thought it would be a great stop. sure enough, it didn’t disappoint. the trees in the lava tree park were just as it sounds: various trees had been covered in several feet of lava, but ended up creating molds of lava around their trunks rather than burning and being enveloped. they appeared to be large lava spikes coming from the ground. we stayed for just a few moments before getting back to it.

the stretch from lava tree state monument to isaac hale beach park was a tropical wonderland. a large variety of trees were scattered across the horizon with the ocean in the background. koa, monkeypod, palms, banyans and many others provided shelter along the road to the point that we didn’t realize that it was raining until after they had cleared. we continued to the beach park where it looked like it would be raining for a bit. the new weather app that i had purchased said the rain would stop in fifteen minutes and the sky would clear. it didn’t look like it would happen, but sure enough, the sun broke through and everything started drying out. we setup camp while others started arriving.

after we ate lunch we rode a few miles east to the neighborhood where the tidepools were. we locked up our bikes to each other, put on our aqua shoes and started snorkelling. the first tide pool was filled with a few fish, the second was about 35 feet deep and had much more in it. i don’t think i mentioned that i am scuba certified. i have a nice mask that won’t work though. the lower trim would rest right on my moustache, which won’t seal properly. while we were preparing for the hawaii tour, i had done some research on what mask would work great. goggles were the response from everyone. i had ordered us both a set of nice goggles to make sure we didn’t miss the opportunity. so, snorkelling with the goggles is different, there’s more pressure in certain areas. from a cycling accident a few years ago, i’ve got a shattered orbital floor on my right eye. i didn’t take into consideration that diving would create too much pressure on the goggles, pushing on my sinus and old injury. a few times i dove down to the bottom of the tide pools. each time, i felt the pressure of the goggles pushing hard against the shattered floor. it did get irritated, but not instantly.

after spending around an hour in the tide pools, we started making our way back. the tide pools are east of isaac hale beach park, through the kii lava flow of 1955. it looks much older, but i really don’t know how to date lava flows(i’m sure it’d be hot!). the lava flow is only about a mile wide in this area, and it’s a tropical canopy before and after. the warming pond is just west of the lava flow. it doesn’t look like much from the road, just a small beach area. the water flows in from the ocean through a small opening. the water is heated by the lava below the floor of the warming pond. we relaxed in here for another hour, swimming around and getting a cool rain from above.

after getting back to camp, we explored around isaac hale beach a bit. we found some beautiful views and fern tiki carvings. it was getting close to dinner time and that our long day of activities was coming to a close. during dinner the feral cats of the park continually tried to find food to scavenge. the sound of the ocean waves made it incredibly easy to sleep.


photo credit goes to the noise-evading former industrial mining engineer south african pyramid guy.


resting outside of sirius coffee.


just look at that road spray.


a few lava coated trees in lava tree state monument.


caverns inside the lava tree state monument.


caverns inside the lava tree state monument.


sera coasting on the way to isaac hale beach park.


just look at that canopy.


predicted rain for fifteen more minutes.


fifteen minutes later, the rain and clouds start to disappear.


setup while it’s dry-ish.


the road between camp and the other road to the tide pools has been washed out a few times.


kii lava flow of 1955.


tide pools here we come.


tiki carvings on the beach at isaac hale beach.


coastal views at isaac hale beach park.


coastal views at isaac hale beach park.


coastal views at isaac hale beach park.


sera wearing my hoodie at the end of the pier next to the boat launch in isaac hale beach park.


day 07 – hawaii volcanoes national park


finally a rest day. i know we have only been riding for a few days but it’s been a lot of climbing. the kilauea military camp is a nice place to rest. the food isn’t great…i’m not sure if we got what we ordered any meal, but it was close and we were hungry. it’s nice having a mattress and a bar both close to each other.

we made our way to the hawaiian volcano observatory at the jaggar museum. there are some very interesting lava samples on display and quite a bit of information about hawaii’s volcanoes and the different types of lava that flow. some of the more interesting display samples were pele’s hair and tears. the lava creates teardrops of volcanic glass that also have such fine strands with them that they look like hair. it’s incredible to see these as well as the vastness of the kilauea crater. we could have hoped for better weather, since we couldn’t see all the way across the crater, but apparently it rains here all the time. at night you can see the red glow of lava steam in the sky.

back at the military camp, there was a halloween party in one of the buildings. it looked like it would get out of control shortly. we decided to skip it due to our early bedtimes and routine.


jaik & sera in front of kilauea crater, with hale ma’uma’u volcano crater in the distance.


jaik in front of kilauea crater, with hale ma’uma’u volcano crater in the distance.


sera in front of kilauea crater, with hale ma’uma’u volcano crater in the distance.

day 06 – punalu’u beach to hawaii volcanoes national park

it was a good night’s sleep. waking on time is easy now, but your body doesn’t really wake up until you’re pedaling. after a quick breakfast and filling of the water bottles it was time to move.

the first few miles weren’t bad. it was going to be a long day of climbing for us though. we only had the opportunity to fill the water bottles before we left and about six miles in at pahala. after that, there wasn’t any water. when i say there wasn’t any water, that also means there aren’t any houses. you couldn’t stop and find a hose somewhere. no water at all after six miles. the convenience store that we stopped at got a bit of business. we purchased four 50 oz bottles, two gatorades and a few other things. our bottles were almost on empty when we reached the store, so most of it went to refill those. a few other cyclists from the tour passed the convenience store to head to the grocery store that was just past it.

on the way out of pahala, we saw a few more cyclists from the tour that were resting and waiting for the others that had passed us towards the grocery store. there were a few people that didn’t stop because of their larger water surplus they were carrying. from there it was only about 24 more miles.

pahala was a change in weather for us as well. there was a tailwind and tropical humidity and heat up until then. after pahala there was a headwind and dry heat. the headwind was the only thing to keep us cool in the climb. we stopped every few miles to get a drink and catch our breath. the climb was becoming trying on us with the combination of the heat and wind.

the day before was sera’s first day riding more than 45 miles. this would be another achievement for her, climbing up to 4000 feet from sea level. we stopped at the hawaii volcanoes national park entrance sign to have lunch. another cyclist was there resting when we arrived. he had let us know that one other was ahead of him. when they were both there resting, they had saw one from our group ride by in the back of a pickup truck. we rested for about twenty minutes while eating lunch and rehydrating. this wasn’t near the end of the day. this was only 17 miles in. thirteen more miles to go.

about ten miles from the destination, we stopped to rest. i had laid out on the side of the road. there was a slight sprinkle, more of a mist that was very welcoming after the dry heat we had just endured. we still had about 40 ounces of water left between the two of us, so it appeared we had got just the right amount. the higher we climbed, the more the rain picked up. seven miles away and it started pouring. the heat was gone, and the headwind was still there. one of the tour leaders was pacing with us, leapfrogging with alternating stops. it was great to have someone to help motivating us to keep moving. the three of us were getting exhausted from the day and it was just barely past noon.

the last few miles seemed to stretch forever. the road we had been on all day barely curved. you could see for miles in both directions. the final curve was what we were waiting for. this meant that there was only a few miles left and the actual entrance to the park. what we didn’t expect was that there was a slight downhill that carried us those last few miles in the rain.


black sand beach/punalu’u beach in the morning.


sera & jaik at the nps entrance for hawaii volcanoes national park.


showing off that red sunburned nose.

day 05 – ho’okena beach to punalu’u beach

the morning climb up that hill from yesterday was ridiculous. two miles, 850 feet of climbing. yes, when you break it down it doesn’t seem like that much. that was all i did on the way up. break it down into small chunks. we stopped a few times for water, once to walk for a moment, mostly to just catch our breath. at the top there was promise of drinkable water. what seemed like hours getting to the top was more like a half hour. it wasn’t bad. while we were up at the top rinsing the sweat off of ourselves and filling water bottles, we saw others make it to the up. a few kept going, a few stopped to join in the water prize.

fruity judy’s was just a few miles down the road. a fruit stand on the side of the road. next stop. got it. we rode uphill for a little while. the uphill seems to be there more than the downhill. i am continually looking at the elevation maps, looking for the slightest of a downhill to feel rewarded. the fruit stand was empty aside from a few rotting unidentified fruits. we had a snack(not the fruit) and shared with a few others from the group that made it there at the same time as us.

beautiful rides ahead! we had planned on possibly taking an alternative route at mile 34, down to the green sand beach. that would add another 26 miles round trip, and about 1300ft of climbing on our return to the road. we passed the alternative route, knowing that the extra mileage, hiking, and climbing associated with the green sand beach may prove more than we needed for the day. plus there was a bakery a few miles ahead. the bakery was also on the way eight miles downhill. downhill.

punalu’u bakery was an excellent spot. we ate malasadas in a few flavors, had coffee and got a packaged dinner. the group had decided that it would be easier than attempting cooking that night.

punalu’u beach is also known as the black sand beach and is very inviting. the beach stretches along the northern edge of the park to the southern half where the lava rocks rise from the beach creating tide pools. there appears to be a series of wave breaks created naturally a few hundred feet from the beach. four buildings are strewn along the southern end, enclosing picnic areas, bathrooms, and other shelters. the other unexpected things in the park are roaches. roaches everywhere. we made sure that there wasn’t open food in our bags and that they were closed as much as possible. we setup camp in the least roachy place, while still having a beautiful view of the coast and ocean. walking around, we found a sea turtle snacking on algae and other items in a tide pool.

dinner was great, with everyone sharing stories and eating their packaged meals. we had ordered shoyu pork and kalua pork. both were excellent and we had malasadas to make it a complete meal. after dinner there was the map meeting warning us of the next day’s climb including limited water supply.

the only thing left to do was make sure we were well rested for the upcoming challenge. it was much quieter than the night before.


almost walked into this when i stopped to relieve myself on the side of the road.


perhaps i was on the side of the road somewhere.


stopped at the grocery for a few things.


sera, stuart(in the background) and i at the grocery.


just look at those lava fields.


just look at those lava fields.


this was the road on the way to the bakery. it became much more steep on the descent.


if you look far into the coast, you can see where we’ll be camping.


beautiful coast.


sea turtle just poking out for a breath.2016-10-26-17-35-59

resting at camp after a cool shower.


a few cyclists and the tent airing out.

day 04 – kona to ho’okena beach

we had set the boundaries for beginning and end of day rituals. today was the first day.
6am – wake up and get ready
7am – breakfast is ready/pack your lunch
8am – you should be riding or leaving to ride
lunch anytime you want
4pm – dinner should be started
5pm – dinner is ready
715pm – map meeting
without knowing how things would pan out for speed, others on the tour, and really not sure of what to expect for the terrain we left a few minutes early. it isn’t that we didn’t know what to expect, we had maps, elevation maps, route maps, scenery maps, all sorts of maps. i’ve got maps for days. they were there to help. during our orientation yesterday, we had the first map meeting to go over any changes in the route or road changes. these are also scheduled for every evening after dinner. i didn’t think there would be to many changes, but the roads are changing here all the time.

the first five and a half miles were along the western coast, spanning from kona to keauhou. nice, flat, sea level riding. then the first climbing began. it started with a steep incline, probably close to 12 degrees. i don’t think anyone expected it. almost a mile up, there was a scenic point that we pulled off into. it was a great first stop for water and to catch our breath. as much as we thought we would be ready, it seemed like this was going to be tougher than we expected. while resting, we had three others show up that had the same things in mind. not wanting to be off the bicycles for too long, we finished our moment of rest and got right back into it. only about six more miles of climbing for this half of the ride.

the scenery was amazing. really just breathtaking. i knew it was going to be beautiful, though i guess i didn’t expect this much. after eighteen miles of riding we decided to stop at the paleaku botanical gardens. it was originally going to be a quick stop, just for water and shade. it was getting hot. very humid as well. when we rode into the parking lot and leaned our bicycles along the fence, a woman walked out and said to bring them in and put them in the courtyard where she could see them. then we saw the sign for coffee. mmmm coffee. this has got to be the best coffee in all of hawaii. it was made by a company called kona lisa. it was also their macadamia nut flavor. if you get the chance to either try it on the big island or order it online, take this chance to sip and enjoy it(not a sponsor). after a couple of calls and the coffee, it was time to go again. on the way up to the road, we saw a few cyclists pass the entrance. we had sat long enough for most of them to pass us.

there were a few other noteworthy sights along the side of the road where the people that had passed us went. we thought we’d continue on. we started coming up to an intersection that i knew we had notes about from the map meeting. there was also construction on this intersection. we stopped in front of one of the trucks and asked where the road was we were looking for. it was straight ahead. the truck we pulled up in front of had blocked our view of the road ahead.

five miles later of a primarily downhill ride with beautiful scenery and then it was time to turn off to go to the beach. we were warned about this hill. it was two miles down, rough pavement, potholes, and curves. our bicycles fully loaded wouldn’t make the decent any easier. by the end of it, i thought for sure we would have to find a bike shop to get new brake pads by the end of the tour. we ended up being the first to arrive at the camp. it was a pleasant surprise.

slowly others started to arrive, setting up camp and then getting ready for dinner. at dinner we learned one of the people on the tour wouldn’t be continuing. an old injury she had was irritating her. we all said our goodbyes and then promptly went to sleep. as relaxing as the sound of the waves were, the sound of the frogs was much louder. somewhere there were earplugs they had given us at the orientation.

ho’okena beach


ho’okena beach


sera & jaik @ ho’okena beach