Of course, by the time Thursday morning neared, the Islands were buzzing with news about the impending Hurricane Iselle, which was supposed to bring heavy rain and winds to the Island starting later on that day. As we picked up the bikes on Wednesday from Kona Bike Rentals, I asked the guy behind the counter if we were crazy for trying to get a ride in. He assured us that we were not and that he would be riding also. With my fears being soothed, I was handed a Blue RC8, which was just about the sexiest bike I've ever sat on.
The ride itself was pretty simple. We started off by zipping down a hill and then turning north on HI-19. That ended up being the only real turn, as we cruised along the highway all the way to the resort about 21 miles ahead. The highway itself was one lane each way, but it had by far the widest shoulder I've ever ridden on. It was seriously almost larger than the actual care lane; I could have probably ridden four abreast in parts and still been just fine. The pavement was smooth and obstruction free, and while the landscape undulated up and down with a generally upwards profile as we headed north, none of the inclines were steep and all of it was very rideable.
Scenery wise, I was worried that the route would not be particularly good looking, as we had driven some of it on our way from the airport and it seemed rather lifeless. However, that was not the case; we were surrounded on both sides with ghostly remnants of old lava flows with distant views of the still ocean on one side and the towering volcanoes on the others. Some photos:
We left and headed back the same route. Although the storm had not reared its head yet, we did notice that it seemed to get windier as we made our way to Waikoloa during the first half. The wind came and went; at times is was gentle and cooling, while other times it was oppressive and halting. There were some instances were I could not even coast down a hill without losing speed because of the wind blowing straight into our faces. However, the way back was the other side of this coin - we felt no wind at all because it was directly behind us. Of course, this made it feel twice as hot, but ultimately we were able to crank the pedals and get some major speed on our way back. The mile markers seemed to fly by us as we ran through the high gears, powered up hills, and hammered through the flats.
On the way back we stopped at a scenic lookout, which was one of the highlights of the ride for me:
This ended up being a really fun day and I am glad that I didn't chicken out because of the weather report. We got plenty of wind, but nothing resembling stormy weather. In fact, riding conditions were about as perfect as they could be! Today was a good reminder that while I'm currently focused on running, I need to spend more time with my bike.
P.S. the RC8 was amazing. I was worried I would hate it because the setup is much more aggressive that my bike at home, but it ended up being the fastest and most responsive bike I've ever ridden. And it was so light! I want one.