Saturday, October 19, 2013

Honolulu Century 2013

This weekend many fibery friends are away at Rhinebeck. No doubt they'll have thrilling tales to relate upon their return, so here's a narrative of my time away.Honolulu Century Ride flag Most was spent on family business, which was mostly serious and unbloggable. Although while in Honolulu I did take some time to participate in the Honolulu Century Ride. I had a grand time, particularly as I rode only a third of the 100-mile route at a leisurely, jet-lagged pace on a rental bike. (The bike's front brake kept failing (!!!), necessitating frequent stops to try to fix it, so no love to the rental place.) Even so, I managed to catch Rider No. 1, the governor's chief of staff Bruce Coppa, and his escort – my big achievement, apart from reaching my stretch goal, finishing, and not being sore the next day.

The century ride began at the crack o' dawn in Kapiolani Park, which is at the eastern end of Waikiki Beach in the shadow of Diamond Head. The day started clear, but became overcast, which was nice for bicyclists, more difficult for photographers. In Hawai'i it's imperative to respect the sun.

Sunrise over Diamond Head

Pretty as the sunrise over Waikiki is, I'm not a fan of getting up at the crack o' dawn. Neither is the photographer who took this picture of me (accidentally headless) in my cycling polo, skort, and colorful armcoolers, which wick perspiration and provide sun protection. Some very serious riders were wearing legcoolers too, which made the usual very serious bicyclist outfit look even weirder. Alas, as the very serious riders were hammering much faster than me, I don't have any pix of them and their legcoolers.

Accidentally headless me

The route climbed around Diamond Head Crater and past Diamond Head Lighthouse, the finishing line of the Transpacific Yacht Race. The concrete tower replicates an older structure made of coral stone. (Notice the size of its third-order Fresnel lens relative to the railings.)

Diamond Head Lighthouse

From the lookouts on Diamond Head, one could spot Koko Crater, aka Heartbreak Hill. My goal was Sandy Beach, on the far side of Koko Crater; my stretch goal was Makapu'u Beach.

View from Diamond Head

Thanks to Honolulu's finest, the ride was easy and fun until Heartbreak Hill. (I was perturbed to notice how few riders thanked the many HPD officers directing traffic and keeping everyone safe. Not enough aloha!) The topography around Casa Jersey Knitter includes hills of similar volcanic origin and steepness, so getting up and over seemed drearily familiar.

Heartbreak Hill

Once past Koko Crater, I arrived at Sandy Beach much faster than anticipated. The beach is beautiful, with good, accessible changing, shower, and restroom facilities. However, the surf is notoriously rough, the currents are difficult to read, and the undertow is dangerous, so watersports are best left to strong, experienced swimmers and bodyboarders.

Sandy Beach

After a breather and some delightfully welcome cool water and snacks of delicious local fruit at the rest stop, I continued on into the wind to Makapu'u. I hate headwinds. There was a long climb, too. It was the toughest part of the ride. DIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE.

Climb to Makapu'u Summit

The reward was the glorious views from the Makapu'u Summit lookout, which actually is perched on a saddle point. It's as high as the auto road goes, but the true summit is even higher.

Makapu'u Summit

(The paved trail out to the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse includes some of the best places to spot the humpback whales that quite sensibly spend the winter in Hawaiian waters. The lighthouse has a hyperradiant Fresnel lens, the largest in the U.S. – notice how huge it is in relation to the railing. In the days before GPS, this beacon was a major aid to navigation.)

Makapu'u Lighthouse

This photo is from a different outing, when the sky and ocean looked prettier.)

From the summit saddle down to Makapu'u Beach the road is steep, narrow, winding with precipitous dropoffs, and heavily trafficked by cars and busses. That last makes it especially not fun on a bicycle with a dodgy front brake. Once at the famed bodysurfing beach, my stretch goal, I thought about going further. I felt pretty good (and the next rest stop in Kailua had free shave ice (!)), but more prudent thoughts prevailed. So I took a picture of the lighthouse from the beach and turned back to Waikiki.

View from Makapu'u Beach

The ride back for me was uneventful. Meanwhile, back in Waikiki the finish line had deflated.

Deflated finish line

Such things happen, but they don't deter intrepid cyclists.

Not a problem

Overall, the ride was outstandingly well organized – the volunteers were knowledgeable and helpful, the route was well-marked and well-policed, the rest areas well-stocked with refreshments and had nice facilities. Kudos to the Hawai'i Bicycling League!

Hanauma Bay singleton

There wasn't a whole lot of knitting while I was away, nor now that I'm back and trying to catch up, but at least Hanauma Bay is now a singleton. And the white balance of the new digicam is better – the photo was taken on an cloudy day. So, progress!

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