Life On Two Wheels

Along the river and toward the mountains a morning shadow shimmers across the road. The rays of the first light jet through the trees and across a figure gliding upon the road. His breath trails in short spurts, petrified as it hits the icy air. All is quiet except the slight sound of the athlete as he summons himself for yet another days work. Soon the rest of the world will bustle with life as well and the brief simplicity of cyclist and nature will disappear into the everyday struggle of life in full motion; the errands and intervals, the appointments and intersections, and the deadlines and finish lines OutPaceTheRace

Monday, December 24, 2007

No thanks, I think I'll keep my seat...

Kona, Hawaii
December 23, 2007

The reason I’m in Starbucks today isn’t because I want coffee, but because it’s the only place on the island cold enough to dawn my wool hat. As the propellers of Island Air flight 1281 with non-stop service to Kona fired up this morning, the sky was a haze of grey with a hint of lazy Hawaiian warmth peaking out from behind. When the engines were all in and the wheels were spun as one with the ground a burst of tropical rain let loose from the sky and immersed the island in the stifling yet radiant brilliance of the most remote nearly divine paradise on earth. We flew across the island and as I looked out the window I realized that Hilo is but an extension of the infestation abound on the island. The mere truth of the matter holds that the place is set in the middle of the pacific ocean, absolutely separate from the rest of the world and inhabited by those who are part of the culture, but only because they work as a unit and represent the jungle which they are both of. In Hilo I ordered coffee from a woman who had worked and lived in Hilo for all her life save a short visit to Orlando. She was impressed by the portly nature of the place, as those without native blood are intrigued by an island in the middle of the ocean on a map. On occasion those who venture into the islands feel isolated, secluded and distant, when in reality it would take days, weeks, even months to explore that which is hidden deep beneath the Hawaiian jungle. Perhaps it is this idea, the misfit nature of the common man on a place so foreign and intimidating, that one would feel claustrophobic in a world built beyond the means of man. And so I dawn my hat and prepare my exit, back into the place where things make sense and seasons change with time.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nord Bend is…

Thursday, December 20, 2007

...Under the weather again- not as bad, but equally cataclysmic.

When the time comes for me to head northeast, the storm will have passed; the morning of the 24th will find me among those of the Bend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tsunami Warning

I was catching up on the news this morning and found some that was a bit troubling.
An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 jolted Alaska's Aleutian Islands in the northern Pacific on Wednesday, Japan's weather agency said, triggering a tsunami advisory for Hawaii. -December 19th. I wonder how long it would take to get here. I changed my return date to the 23rd, so it has a couple days.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Hilo, Hawaii
Sunday, December 16, 2007

The view from Mauna Loa... 11,200 feet.

Haleaukala in the distance (I think). On the ground (lava rock) there, that's snow.

Mauna Loa Observation facilities, with more snow.

As the matter of fact holds, it’s winter at the moment. In which case the temperature’s steady at 78 degrees and, I guess, it rains more. Like, say… 20% of most days. It makes for an interesting experience, different in certain aspects than weather at home, mainly in regard to the temperature. Aside from that it’s pretty much the same.

I’ve been splitting most of my time between the gym, the bike and… versus; which’s taken an approach of late to covering the intricacies of ultimate fighting… most bizarre really, do people actually prefer fighting to fishing?… a joke of course. I never understood how they could afford a house when they were air’n fishin’ ‘n’ huntin’… even the token rugged outdoorsy type don’t watch that nonsense.

With that said, the riding here isn’t superb, though one can trespass the indignity of highway riding with some decent noise cancelling headphones equipped with the latest in FM technology. Dangerous you say in an already deadly environment? Perhaps the potential of self inflicted crime presides in such a case (muse carefully). The redundancy of riding on the edge of a highway travelled heavily is morally debilitating, but if one has a firm union with their inner mind, the continuance of exercise in such a time is austere in its simplicity.

On the Saturday of last week I road to the visitor center at Mauna Kea, a superb location really, nestled quaintly on the edge of the world at 9200 feet; easily accessed by a winding little road which accumulates an average grade of 17% in the last 5 miles. It’s especially easy on the legs when you’ve already put 6500’ feet into ‘em and are feeling a bit queasy from express altitude ascension- well, not really, but it does sound cool. After the visitor center the road turns to a well packed, road bike accessible route to the summit at ~14,000 feet… but as I approached they forced me to yield articulating tales of lost hikers, rapid response teams and thermal cameras. After a moment of calculated thought I decided to forego my savvy little plan to foil their summit defenses and fill my bottles before descent… which gave an uncomfortably vivid fleeting feeling.

The elevation between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea is less than a few hundred feet, but the various observation laboratories are situated atop the latter… somehow the location of the laboratories fabricates the misconception that Mauna Loa is to Mauna Kea as Mount Rainier is to Mount Everest. In truth the two are separated by but a few hundred feet. A few days ago the knowledge was bestowed unto I that the road to the observation center on Mauna Loa was paved all the way… Yesterday I set out to determine the quality of the road and various view points and happened upon the gem of the big island. I have never set my eyes upon anything as mystical as such. The road to the summit traverses dormant lava flows all the way to the top where the zenith of three other mountains gather too in the sky like islands in the clouds. I think two of them were Haleaukala (Maui) and Mauna Kea, but the third I know not. When I arrived at the top I spent a moment gathering the image in my mind before noticing the approach of some rather inhospitable mountains… and pairing that with the time 5:00pm (I got off to a late start 1:00) I figured that the time at once was one of perfection to depart. The elevation where the road on Mauna Loa turns to an impassable gravel compound is 11,200 feet. The temperature was 28 degrees and a bit of wind enabled the feeling of utter desolation to effectively set in. On the way down I entered the cloud & the weather began. The rain was very light but it was so cold, rainy and windy that everything pretty much went numb- which isn’t exactly superb given the grade of the road and the state of it’s pave. I just about died. Half an hour later It was pitch dark and I was still descending, fortunately a last minute thought had me grab a tail light and a little visibility headlight when I was heading out. The tail light was adequate, but the odds bode very poorly when riding at 35 miles an hour on a winding road coupled with driving rain. Fortunately the passing of cars was fairly infrequent and the reflectors lining the center and sides of the road were very good, they must be designed to catch even the most unworthy radiance in the night… so I could, despite impending circumstances tell which way the road was going. And, alas, Hilo was never a more welcome sight.

Mauna Kea froma Mauna Loa.

It was a bit fresh on top.

There in the background, that's lava rock. uh...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mid Pacific

Hilo, Hawaii
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hilo doesn’t get much credit for what it actually is. It’s the only locally owned plot of ground in the Hawaiian Islands. It has managed to retain all of its original splendor and contrary to the cultural standpoint of the other islands, it hasn’t lost any of the “aloha” spirit- which is to say that pretty much anyone is welcome provided they’re coming with the same idea in mind. I could imagine that the philosophy could turn bitter pretty quick with a barrage of choice words via the mouth of a stateside proprietor. But they don’t seem to fire until fired upon, if you know what I’m say’n.
I’ve been to all the Islands and I’ve never felt this way before. The place literally calls to you; it’s such a beguiling place. The people are actually at home here, they don’t have anything to prove, they’ve got what they want and they’re content with how they got it and where their course in life is leading. The course of which will lead them to a life spent in paradise. It’s a bit droll ‘cause 87 miles from Hilo on the other side of the island is Kona, where the price of a 300 square foot condo goes for that which you can retire on, compared with the price in Hilo... synonymous with that of the condemned.
You think when you get to Hawaii first of the endless beaches of perfection, right? In Hilo these beaches come at a steep price, unless a swimmer of strength you are. The best water hole I’ve ever swam in is in Hilo. And believe it or not, it hasn’t much of a beach. There’s about a 15 foot sanded entrance to a lagoon that’s otherwise surrounded by “rocky beach” before heading out to the open sea. There’re fish ‘n’ turtles, waves, clear water, etc., etc. It’s great if you’re ready to brave the elements, otherwise…

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Knock on wood

Hilo, Hawaii
Sunday, December 01, 2007

I’m shocked, shocked to find that Hilo is the second largest city in the Hawaiian Islands! Where are the people? Where is the metro-area? Isn’t that usually synonymous with places of population? I guess mixing Hawaii with population is a mistake in itself, though the highways are more congested than most any that I’ve left tread of tire on. The most memorable experience of such was when I went to Hawaii for the first time… to Oahu of course, and went ahead and did some training. The riding is superb on all the islands if you don’t mind putting your life on the line 10 times a ride, which of course, being an infidel ‘n all, I don’t mind atoll (at all). On this first visit I was on a training regime that called for a 4.5 hour ride I think, and since the islands are “sooo small” I thought I’ll just ride around Oahu a couple times and it’ll be perfect. Once I got all the way around (once) and was coming through Honolulu I was on the verge of 6+ hours and about ready to fuel my thirst with a nice refreshing drink of ocean water. The streets of Honolulu are of by far the worst design in the world (even worse than Seattle) and entirely jam packed with cars during the day. Since I didn’t get hit that day I left feeling pretty invincible, and on top of that I was even more intrigued by the area contained in the island… but most of all, I left knowing that all the islands had the most spectacular climbing in the world. So if you’re a cycling enthusiast looking for some good hard riding Hawaii will provide it, just be ready to don you’re lead suit…if you’re mortal, you’ll probably need it.
I rode yesterday for 4 hours. I looked at a map and decided on a couple routes, one of which was off highway 11, called Stainback Highway. On Google earth it looked like a little road that went off into the jungle. It turned out to be a nice little road that went up, and up, and up, and continued to go up 4800 feet from sea level until it culminated at the Hawaii State Correctional facility. Nice place I must say, though I met only a fairly pretentious looking fence and a most jovial security guard at the top, the view was superlative. The guard in reality wasn’t too friendly as most people, probably, are not who work in the pin. It was just that all the way up the road there were these signs that were most informative in regard to the repercussions of continuing on the road; misdemeanor, class c felony… etc., etc. But everything looked so old that I was sure that the road would elapse at some old, rundown prison that was no longer in service… so regardless of the signs I was a bit surprised to actually come to the gate of a functioning state prison. The conversation went like this, “probably can’t go in there, huh?”
“No sir.” And then I went back down the hill taking a quick glimpse of Mauna Kea up above and the elevation reading on the Garmin of 1600m.

A chat with David Millar

In the meantime, a foot of snow fell this morning in Nord Bend! If I'd been home, i'd be having some good conversation with myself on the trainer & wheel'n in the XLT with the Michelins on the way to the gym. Apparently the snow that is falling at the moment will turn to rain tonight... which will, no doubt, give cause for a bit of rain and conclude in some heavy flooding to boot. Maybe after today they will rename North Bend, Nord Atoll. It's actually a better name, I think...
Severe Weather Alert

The killing season

Kona, Hawaii
Friday, November 30, 2007

Aside from the 3:30 wake up this morning it’s brilliant to finally be an occupier of the land. The place is warm ‘n sunny and the mountain couldn’t look taller. Of course with the cloud coverage of today you can see little but the trunk of it, which makes the magnitude ever more daunting. Here on the side of Kona, the vegetation is rather sparse, and if my opinion is of any worth… the place blows. It’s initially flat before hitting the mountain and absolutely infested with a parasitic brand of tourists- the kind that prefer to give suffrage to the innumerable visitor catches. Not to mention that walking doesn’t come easily to the lot of ‘em. They make me ill, and infinitely at odds with the crowds of the aforesaid. No wonder the locals feel like they’re being oppressed or something. Nevertheless, there are some locals around who’re liv’n the high life and biding they’re time… not to say it’s Boulder or anything though… nor is it Washington... and you probably wonder why. & I’ll tell you, it’s not cold & the season doesn’t call for an increase in suicides. I’ll be making my way to the other side of the island in about 2.5 hours via Island Air… a trendy local brand that brings out the mahalo and aloha in everyone. What’s strange is that the flight across the island costs less than a 20 minute taxi ride. Explain to me how that can be… it must be subsidized by the state or something.