Category preparation

day 16 – post ride

once again, we attempted to sleep in. it will probably be a rough transition to the pacific time zone. i suppose tomorrow morning will be the judge of that. we grabbed a few pastries and juice from the continental breakfast at the hotel, then we made sure we had everything from the room. we walked around and enjoyed the cool morning for a bit, went back to the hotel and had the desk call us a cab.

time to go, time to fly. if you have the chance to see any of the places in my photos in person, consider yourself lucky. the hawaiian big island tour was an amazing experience and the best vacation i have ever had. i know sometime i will be back to hawaii, but this was really a perfect trip and won’t be easily overshadowed.

ready to fly.

the kona airport cracks me up. just a series of little island huts.

well i guess we’re going to fly over maui.

yes, we are going over maui.

mmmmhhhmmm, we’re still over maui, just a bit further.

goodbye for now big island.

the waves in the ocean give it a cracked appearance.

blurry nightlights of portland.

on the ground in pdx international airport.

day 15 – post ride

today we relaxed. we slept in(not really) as long as our internal clocks would allow. since we were up before sunrise every morning we didn’t really sleep late. we stopped by the tattoo shop so i could get a touchup on mine. the island had weathered me fairly well. there were a few shops that we wanted to revisit before it was time to pack everything up. we gathered a few things, had a small lunch and then began packing.

it was funny to see some of the clothes and other things we had in our luggage from before we left, like being reunited with something you had forgotten about. we packed everything, and it was time to disassemble the bicycles. once the bicycles were in the bags, we were officially ready to go, even though we still had a day to stay.

we went to kona brewery for our goodbye dinner and had some great food. a few others from the tour showed up and we had drinks with them. this would be the last time that we met with anyone from the group. our trip was finally done and we were ready to fly home. i had made the mistake of filling the insulated growler at kona brewery, and already had beer in the fridge at the hotel. it was enough to provide a nice sleep to close the night.

day 10 – hilo

today is a rest day. it’s not as if we won’t be riding at all, we just won’t be determined to get to a particular destination. leisure day is more appropriate than rest day.

sera and i had heard there would be a costume contest for the office, so we decided that while we were out we would try to find something to wear and enter it. also on the list of things to do was mehana brewery and big island candies. since the brewery didn’t open until noon, we went to the candy shop.

we texted another couple that was on the tour and they said they were almost there. while we were outside, we took our photo and sent it into the office for the costume contest. sadly, we submitted too late. the time difference is still taking a bit to get used to.

the greet you with coffee and samples. then more samples…then more and more. we had a lot of chocolate, cookies and brownies. plenty of samples. that is what really convinced us that we couldn’t just buy one thing, unless it was a gift box full of variety. we chose the medium sized one so it would both be portable and have a good selection. some of the other cyclists from the group were purchasing much more and sending it home via mail.

five of us slowly started our way three blocks over to the brewery. we knew it wasn’t open for another twenty minutes, but didn’t have anything else to do. we sat outside the fence waiting for the brewery to open. they came out a short time later, rolled back the gate and we poured in for our pours. they could sample as much as we needed to make a good informed decision, but they couldn’t let us drink more than the samples. we sampled plenty. eventually i purchased an insulated growler and had it filled so that we could have beer the next day. it wasn’t that we couldn’t get beer along the way, but it wouldn’t be cold. we decided to leave to grab lunch and meet everyone for the van tour.

the group leader had asked us early in the tour if we were interested in taking a tour van up to the top of mauna kea to see the sunset. yes we were. it was going to be a few hours to the top. after the group got in the van and we were ready to leave, the tour guide(dressed in a hotdog costume) took us over to rainbow falls which was on the way outside of hilo. it was a large waterfall, comparable to snoqualmie falls. climbing up the side of the lookout, there is a path to an extremely large banyan tree. the trunk of the tree was probably 40 feet wide, due to the branches/vines that come down. whenever one of these branches/vines touches the ground, it sprouts roots and becomes another extension of the tree. we only had a few minutes so we jumped back in the van for the remaining ride up the mountain.

the guide was full of tips and knowledge about the island and mountain. she offered history, facts about trees, the islands and was just overall loaded with info. we learned that between the visitors center and the peak was where they had tested the mars rover. looking out at the terrain in this area, it was visibly like i would imagine mars to be. we also learned about thirty-meter-telescope(tmt). tmt was supposed to have already began construction, but the supreme court had invalidated the tmt’s building permits. from my understanding, they are looking into other locations. there was an elected official at some point that said there would be no more than 13 telescopes/observatories in hawaii ever. tmt worked with some of the other groups to remove two of them so that they could make room for it. it’s a really interesting story(to me) about the fight for science and protecting sacred lands.

the visitors center was our stop for dinner. the group had packed fried chicken and some veggies. growing up next to the michigan space center and always dreaming of being an astronaut, i had developed a craving for astronaut ice cream. they had it for sale inside the visitors center. it was a nice treat to reminisce and complete the meal. there are nightly observation parties at the visitors center, but we weren’t staying there. the road ahead was limited to 4×4 vehicles. our big van was pushing hard to get up, and a short time later we reached the crest. there we were, on the top of the tallest mountain on earth. far above the clouds, only observatories, tour vans and tourists were around. we put on heavy jackets with the temperature bordering freezing. the sunset from above the clouds was amazing and well worth the journey up. the photos attached are great, but really it’s something that you should experience yourself.

there was an early evening constellation viewing party planned for us that was cancelled. as it turns out, mauna kea has an average of 340 clear nights per year. this was one of the nights where it wasn’t as clear. the dryness and clear sky alongside the height of the mountain make it a perfect place for observatories. the only thing left for the day was to return and get sleep. since it was bordering eight o’clock, everyone was tired. our bodies have adjusted to sleep schedules that make it almost impossible to stay up much later than that.


early morning puffy eye treatment from the snorkelling pressure a few days ago.


halloween costumes…not bad for a total of $6.


just outside the tasting room in mehana brewery.


just outside the tasting room in mehana brewery.


sera @ rainbow falls.


the aforementioned banyan tree. it looks small, but i am at least 50 feet away.


sera & jaik, leggings and golf pants. special appearance with mud on the shoes.


rainbow falls.


observing the observatories.


this was the actual crest of mauna kea, we were not allowed to climb up there(people die).


observatories and a bed of clouds.


 sunshine bathing observatories.


it’s probably not noticable that sera & jaik are getting cold on top of mauna kea.


sunset is beginning, mauna kahalawai on maui can bee seen peeking through the clouds in the distance.


more sunset, different shade, same observatories.


sunset is progressing, mauna kahalawai on maui can bee seen peeking through the clouds in the distance.


sunset is happening, mauna kahalawai on maui can bee seen peeking through the clouds in the distance.

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 03 – pre ride


we had a spontaneous stop at the tattoo parlour, then had to run back and switch rooms at the hotel. the adventure cycling association includes monday night in the hotel with the tour purchase, in a premium room…which i thought i already had. the only difference was the bed and it was on the fourth floor. uncle billy’s is an interesting place. if it was anymore expensive, i would be complaining about certain things. it’s not though. if you’re looking for a place to stay and aren’t picky, it’s fine.

so. we run out, get matching pineapple tattoos, then run back, switch rooms, and run downstairs to meet with the rest of the tour group. they’re all dressed up and ready to go. i love riding in comfortable clothes, but i’ve never been really comfortable in skin tight cycling gear. maybe a club fit jersey, but that’s about it. i had purchased a pair of cycling shorts for the ride, and i wasn’t excited to get to wear them. they fit though. i did try them on. so i ride in some walkshorts and tank tops, psh, whatever. i can hear it now: what about saddle sores? i’ve never had a saddle sore on my brooks flyer special. sure, the breakin time wasn’t the most comfortable, but now I wouldn’t trade it for anything. i could ride for centuries(and have) without getting sores, but enough about that. i’ll keep my butt out of your business.

the tour group is composed of twelve riders and two adventure cycling leaders. everyone has different experience levels and touring experience. some people toured in the 1980’s, some toured every year for the past few years. it was a good mix of people and according to the tour organizer, this is a special mix of people due to the amount of both couples and women. tonight at eight is the last chance to stow anything unnecessary in the luggage that is going to storage, and tomorrow is the beginning of the tour. anticipation for the ride to start is heavy with us.

day 02 – pre ride

today was another relax day. last night we assembled the bicycles even though we were tired. today we took them for a ride to make sure they were in working order and to pick up things that we couldn’t bring with us…sunscreen, aloe, etc. it was also a good time to test out the snorkelling gear we brought with us. i learned that when you tell someone “just don’t use your nose when you’re underwater”, it doesn’t translate as easy as you would think. we did find a place down the street from the uncle billy’s that had the best mai tai’s and coconut crusted onion rings. there are a ton of little shops around the coast of kona that we visited and checked out. i even had a few minutes of some ukulele lessons that i didn’t expect. riding the bicycles was nice after having not rode them for five days. back at the hotel, we had the chance to meet a few others from the tour and make some new friends.

sera & mai tai.


jaik & mai tai.

day 01 – pre ride

traveling was okay. the first flight departed from portland and went to seattle quickly. even though it was eight-thirty in the morning, there seemed to be a large number of people who were all consuming fritos for breakfast. there was a goal for the hour layover in seattle: get a refund. halfway through the first flight I realized that i was double charged for the baggage fees. no problem. alaska air issued a refund and made sure everything else was fine. the flight left seattle and it was time to head to hawaii.

i completely forgot the adapter for the iphone 7 to be able to use headphones for the movies i brought. the flight crew announced that they had tablets for rent to make the six hour flight easier. three movies later and the collected them for landing.

the kona international airport is neat. there aren’t really any walls. you land, then walk across the tarmac to a small cluster of open buildings. thirty seconds after you walk in, you’re out the other side at baggage claim next to the taxis.

after baggage was claimed, it was time for check-in at the hotel. hunger overcame us and there was a small place across the street that announced on their chalkboard sign how wonderful their happy hour specials were. happy hour was 12-6. we sat down and ordered mai-tais then saw someone from the tour. we had actually met two others from the tour after landing. we were all waiting for the bicycles to come out from baggage. we invited over the woman from the bar. her boyfriend was at the bike shop getting his bike. it was mentioned that his frame was too large for conventional bike bags, so he had shipped it. the bike shop had received it and put it together for him. she texted to see where he was, but he had made a pit stop at a bar along the way.

a few drinks later he arrived. we ordered some food, had another couple drinks and made plans for later. it was time to visit the pool and shed some of the heat that layered us. only being in kona for about five hours after traveling for the entire morning and losing three hours was beginning to take a toll on us. it turns out that we weren’t the only ones. the plans we made fell through due to exhaustion from everyone. this was the first early night of many to come.

2016-10-22-07-26-07portland’s iconic airport carpet.


captain milton will take us to seattle.


just a shot of the plane…smallest plane i’ve been on.


above the clouds between portland and seattle.


time to leave seattle.


first glimpse of hawaii.


i can see the ground!


flying along the horn of the big island.


one of the northeastern beaches on the big island.


now that we’re here, time for some photos.


we’re not actually waiting for a cab, this is the baggage claim area.


waiting for baggage & bicycles.


mai tai’s at the kona canoe club.


sera fell while facetiming her sister. the bruise was a nice way to start a bicycle tour.

Zero days…12 hours.

here’s the last update. bags are packed, we’re ready to roll. two bike bags, two rolling luggage and one duffle bag. not really anxious, but more impatient on being ready to go. time for dinner then rest.

10 days away

only seven days remaining before the flight takes off. i spent the weekend making adjustments on my trusty bicycle, and the past two days oiling and waxing my saddle. the weekend came to a close with my bike being fully tuned up and washed clean. almost everything needed for the tour has been purchased and packed, with the exception of a handful of things left to purchase. those last items will be picked up when the plane lands, and the bicycle is assembled. mail is on hold, work is set(maybe?), and packing(and repacking) has finished. i’ll probably have the bicycles packed up on wednesday next week, so that i don’t have to consider doing it the night before. i even put my two-legged pletcher back on the bike after riding without it for a year. i think it’s just temporary and will come off again after the tour.

i found a bicycle very similar to the r20 that was stolen a few years ago, for sale, within my price range, and in excellent shape. the only issue i have run into with it is purchasing it and getting it shipped here while i am away on tour. fingers crossed.

i am not nearly as nervous as i was when i did the sea-key tour last year, but i wasn’t really nervous for that. before that tour began, i just felt unsettled, like something was about to change. i am looking forward to getting away and sleeping in the tent again for a few weeks. i have thought through everything and am ready to go. seven days left…tick tock.

33 Days

so much time has passed since my last update. i was planning on doing more updates. i am still ecstatic about the upcoming tour and can’t wait to provide more info.

just like the sea-key ride, i am making sure everything is all set before i go. i have rebuilt much of the AWOLxPoler, including a new rear rack, new crankset and chainrings, new rear cassette, new rims, new tires, new cables(brakes and shifters) and a few other things. i had an issue with my panniers that came with the bicycle and reached out to the supplier. they said they would be sending me a new pair! for some reason my new cable set didn’t come with barrel adjusters and since i put the cables in, i don’t want to take them out. i purchased the adjusters and am not looking forward to taking everything out again. this morning before work, i flipped the brackets on my rear rack to make it a little lower. last week i reached out to Poler because the panniers that came with my bicycle were coming apart at a seam. it was fixable. they let me know that they would be more than willing to send me the last pair of panniers they had in stock. how could i say no to free bike stuff.

i went camping this weekend with rei. it was good to get out some of the equipment that is going on the tour and make sure everything is in order. kayaking and hiking were planned too, but due to weather, kayaking was canceled. i met a ton of all around awesome people. we had dinner together, hiked and learned some new stuff. with just over a month left, it definitely feels like it is time to start preparing.

a few weeks ago there was a ride around vancouver with a friend of mine who gave a great tour of the area. it was nice to get out and ride for a bit. it also made me feel like i should be riding more. maybe i will setup the trainer and get some miles in over the next few weeks when i have free time.

as it stands right now, i only need to buy a few small things before the tour. everything seems like it is falling into place.2016-09-17-14-54-47