Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bikeless in Paradise

Everywhere I looked, bikes were all I could see. Surfers with their boards, students riding to class, kids goofing off, free-riders on the pump track,

triathletes getting in hill work, and teenagers cruising to the beach. Even mom's with their kids in tow. Everybody had a bike, but me.

Raja and I were stuck in Hawaii for Thanksgiving week without our bikes. It was tough, but we would have to make the best of it. We were forced to do other things.
What are other things? I thought cycling was the only thing.

This required creativity, thinking outside the box for us. We started each day at daylight with a hike or walk on the beach to watch the sunrise.

Strange how at home I can't drag my rumpus out of bed before 7:30 to save my life. And yet, every morning we were up and running, literally, by 6:30. Maybe it's because I had a reason to get up. A whole new day was before me of exploring life without a bike!

When I am without my bike, I'm forced to look around and notice things I have not seen before. They were always there. I just never took the time to look. Kind of like the ole "stop and smell the roses" experience, or plumeria in this case.

Have you ever smelled plumeria? It is intoxicating. Now I know why the island girls walk around with a flower in their hair. I've got to get me a plumeria tree for home.

Not everything you see is good. Even a tropical paradise has its trash and graffiti.

Even though we've ridden plenty of places on the island before, we resisted the urge to rent bikes. The rentals available were crappy at best, and would be more of a frustration than anything else. Besides, we needed to experience life through a lens other than that of 2 wheels. How about our own 2 feet?
Hiking was a great way to take in the tremendous views available at every turn.

Our hikes were not anything over the top, but the views were.

We did some hikes we always do on our yearly trek to Oahu, while adding some new ones to our list. Usually most every morning is begun with a hike up Kaiwa trail to watch the sunrise over Lanikai Beach. The trail continues on beyond the WWII bunkers we perch ourselves on for the sun show, but we've never explored much past the 500' vertical scramble required just to get to that point.

Thanksgiving Day was to be the day. After watching the light break over the horizon, we continued on the trail to heights unknown. The tiny narrow trail traverses over the spine of a number of hills that tower over the upscale community of Lanikai. Although the tranquil view of the hills looks calm and grass covered, it is anything but that. It is constant scrambling up and down a steep rocky trail with a green covering of thick waist to neck high foliage of kiawe trees.

With the entire loop now under our belt, we were ready for yet another challenge.
This Thanksgiving Day was one we wanted to be sure to remember. Our next adventure would be the hike up Koko Head.

This 1,200' climb in less than a mile is composed of remnants of railroad tracks leading to an Army radar post built during WWII. The cable winching system no longer moves soldiers and supplies to the top in tram cars. The only way to get to the top is via your own leg power. I've read there are over 1,100 steps to the top. Believe it.

Crossing over the bridge section is not for those afraid of heights.

Once you get to the end of the rail tracks, there's still an additional 200' scramble to the top. Once you conquer the climb, you are rewarded with a stunning 360 degree view. Wow! 1,200' climb in less than a mile. Impressive.

As challenging as the climb was, the descent was more difficult. If you're no longer a spring chicken, I recommend taking it easy coming down. Your knees will thank you. Needless to say, my legs were pretty sore the following day.

Time to take a break from hiking and turn to playing in the surf.

The kids make it look so easy. But don't be fooled. It takes a little know-how and experience to take on these waters.

Sunset Beach is not a place for beginners like us. We were content to watch the real surfers, while we played in ankle deep shore break.

Just like watching the Canucks huck their way down a Whistler downhill, the kite surfers at Kailua Beach make their sport look so easy. Of course, it's not, they just know what they're doing. Again, we could only stand by and watch. What a cool sport!

Each day, after hiking, smelling the flowers, eating fish, playing in the surf, and walking on the beach, the final activity of the day was the most strenuous. Okay, I'm kidding, not strenuous, the most beautiful. If you start the day watching the sun rise, then you must watch it set.

It was a tough challenge, but we managed to pull it off. A whole week without bikes! Guess what? I didn't shrivel up and die like I thought I would. Instead, I came away with some exciting, invigorating, and memorable experiences.

I picked some of my favorite pictures to share:

Double click on the slideshow to go to my web album.

As I make re-entry into the world of cycling, I know things will be ugly for a while. I'll just have to coach myself along with memories of warmth and sunshine. I hope it works. I may be thinking sunshine in my head, but my body will be feeling more like this.

Mahalo and Aloha!


Cam said...


Namrita O'Dea said...

absolutely beautiful!! i think it's great to do that once in a's amazing what you can experience WITHOUT a bike sometimes.

did i just say that??

Becky said...

WOW-squared!! That's really all that can be said about such a beautiful place. Good for you for enjoying it all even without a bike - So it IS possible... ;)