I thought a lot about which ride I wanted to do on my last riding day, and the first day of 2010.
The Kohala Mountains route is an awesome ride and the one I would most like to do again. But, what would Lance do? Yeah, he would punish himself on Kaloko Drive. So I set out to do Kaloko again.
When I got to the market where I refilled my water last time, I experienced a glitch....it is New Year's Day.....almost everything is closed. Uhmmm...what am I going to do for water. I started climbing up Hina Lani St, and ran across a couple of folks working on a construction project. They pointed me to a gas station not too far off my route that was open, and I topped up there. Unfortunately, I was not coming back the same way, so how to hydrate on the way home was still an issue. 2 bottles will be gone by the top.
I cranked up to the top of Hina Lani.....climbs are always easier the second time around. Then up the Belt Rd for a mile or so to the base of Kaloko. Last time, I did Kaloko at 85% effort, because I did not know what to expect. That turned out to be too hard, as I still cracked on the last section. This time, I just decided to peg it at threshold the whole way....f*ck it. I had to get back to home base to go to lunch with the family, so I would not have time to do the bonus 15% section at the top. I noticed that my forearms were actually tired (and sore afterwards) from pulling on the bars. It turns out that your upper body does actually do work when you are cycling.
Since I was worried about water for the way home, I was looking out for a spigot that looked like it would have decent water. About 4 miles up I saw a skanky looking spigot....hmmmmm, looks like Kamehameha's Revenge on tap. I found another one a half mile further up the road that looked clean enough. Marked it on the GPS so that I would not fly past it at 45mph on the way down.
Closing in on the top I had a pleasant surprise. I thought Kaloko had 8 switchbacks, and I had just turned number 5. Looking on the Garmin I realized that there are only 6 switchbacks.....sweet! Last one coming up! I charged up to the top, stopped for 20 seconds to feel good about myself (dry heaving is how I express that I feel good about myself), check my time and put my base layer back on for warmth, and charged back down to make it to lunch. 90 mins up from the Queen K last time, 85 mins this time (55 mins for just Kaloko).
I stopped at the spigot, which was just inside a gated driveway.....ooops, laser intruder detection system. Spotted and avoided. They like to set the dogs on intruders in the Hawaiian hinterlands, so best to be sneaky and not have to hurry on escorted by an angry mongrel. The water out of the spigot did not look so good, with a couple of little bits floating in my bottle. Hmmmm....dehydration by not drinking is a better option than dehydration by explosive diarrhea.
Fortunately, my route home had a gas station where I was able to buy water, which I put into the untainted bottle. I will say it again....you go through a lot of water in Hawaii. I used a big bottle every 45 mins on climbs and when it was warm on the flats. Plan ahead for where you will get water. I also used electrolytes to help absorption and maintain adequate blood electrolyte levels. If you stay hydrated, when you get home you can have a fruity cocktail. If not, you are drinking water. If you get severely dehydrated on the Queen K, the sun will burn you to a crisp and you will just be a slight bump on the asphalt by sunset.
The descent down Kaloko would be fun on a bike that was less noodley. Very steep, good pavement, and big sweeping turns. Plan ahead on the brakes at the bottom....it is hard to scrub off 45mph on an 8% downgrade. The first time I did it I brought arm warmers, because it is cooler at 5,000 feet. This time I skipped them.....you don't need them. It is still close to 70º and you are back down at the Belt Rd in 10 minutes. The sweat is blasted dry in the first minute.
Yeah....up in 55 mins, down in 10. That is how steep it is. Plus, you don't really feel cold when you are wide-eyed with terror going around a corner on a noodle at 45mph.
Overall the riding in Hawaii has been amazing. The scale of things is just so much greater than in Marin. Madame Pele definitely beat me around, but my legs are probably better for it, and my mental approach to climbing is definitely better. Looking forward to next year.