Saturday, 17 January 2015

Riding The Big Island - Ride Report and Video!

I wanted to use this blog to chronicle some of my adventures since getting my bike last year, but I never had the time during the summer (too busy riding). Decided for my first post I'd do a bit of a write up of some riding I did while on vacation in Hawaii. Perhaps next summer, I'll have a bit more time to talk about my adventures here in the Americas.

The Bikes
We rented a V-Strom 650 and a KLR 650 from the good folks at Hawaiian Adventure Rentals and toured the big island in style! Started the day out in Captain Cook where we picked up the bikes. Jason had our two reserved bikes, a KLR650 and V-Strom 650 all ready to go. The bikes were in fantastic condition and had luggage. Signed a couple papers, loaded up the bikes  and off we went!

The Route (roughly)
Leg 1 - Captain Cook to Waimea
Jason's wife gave us some suggestions on some good roads and a route suggestion. We decided to start by heading up north through Kona to Waimea. I started out on the KLR. The road from Hawaiian Adventure Rentals to Kona is delightfully twisty and runs right along the coast. What a treat! The section from Kona to Waimea is significantly more straight but offers sea views and farms. We stopped in Waimea for some sushi for lunch at Aka Sushi Bar. Delicious! When we asked the waiter if he though we had ordered enough food for the two of us he said "Well, if you are planning on riding around the entire island, you might want a some more."
Japanese bike, Japanese Cuisine 

Leg 2 - Waimea to Waipio Valley
We decided to continue east to Waipio, one of the places I'd read had an excellent view. The road to the lookout is beautiful. It's covered in trees and is quite narrow and twisty.The parking lot/picnic area at Waipio Valley overlook is crowded and cramped. We had a look at the view, and headed back to the bikes.
Not Pictured: Crowds
Leg 3 - Waipio Valley to Low Store Deli and Fruit Stand
We started south towards Hilo. We were treated breathtaking sweeping corners and the occasional bridge. Each bridge crossing provided a magnificent sea view to the left and views of lush valleys and hillsides to the right - epic riding indeed. Even on the KLR (which my dad describes as an old farm tractor) the corners were way too much fun. Soon the corners ended and we were back on the straight. We were very quickly distracted by a 'Scenic Route' sign off to the left. I'm glad we took that turn because down that road was a small store called Low Store Deli and Fruit Stand. They advertised fresh fruit smoothies and did not disappoint! Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. 1.5 smoothies later, we were on our way again.
Low Store - Frickin' great smoothies
The bikes chillin' outside Low Store
Leg 4 - Low Store to Hilo
We reluctantly left the smoothie paradise, this time with me on the V-Strom. What a difference! Compared to the vibrating butt massager I had been riding, the 'Strom felt smooth as silk. The trip to Hilo was fun and had some narrow roads with a few single lane bridges. Realizing we had forgotten to set our trip odometers before leaving we though it would be wise to fill up the bikes in Hilo. The United States is absolutely ridiculous about their gasoline. The machines wont take a credit card without a zip code (which us Canadians do not have) so they expect you to go in to the store and magically guess how much fuel you'd like. After a bit of convincing, the cashier agreed to just hold onto the credit card until we were fueled and then charge it. What a hassle.

Leg 5 - Mountain Stage
The plan was to head West on Saddle Road to get back to the West coast and then follow the water back to the hotel in Kona. Again, we were distracted by a sign for an access road to Mauna Kea. We decided to take detour up the volcano. The road was twisty and I had a goofy grin on my face all the way up. The road was not busy at all, so imagine our surprise when we found a large building and enormous parking lot filled with vehicles near the summit.  Apparently this was the place to be to see the sunset. We dismounted and walked up the remainder of the volcano to have a gander at the gorgeous view. We didn't stay right until sunset because it was bloody cold up there and we were dressed for Hawaiian riding.

Leg 5 - How do You Get Down from a Mountain?
As we began our decent we had to drop through the cloud layer we were just above. Visibility went down as a result of the fog and night time. I couldn't help but recall the time my SV650S (witch has an identical engine to the V-Strom) lost a front cylinder due to fog condensing around the spark plug. Luckily, V-Strom 650 did not develop V-Strom 325 syndrome and we made it through the fog. The remaining ride was curvey and a bit cold, but I didn't want it to end. We arrived back at the hotel in the tired but smiling.
What a day
I cut together some Garmin VIRB helmet cam footage of the experience.