Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Getting Off The Queen K Highway
The picture above is the classic view of the Ironman Hawaii bike course on the Queen K Hwy. It's straight, but unless you like looking at the same thing for five or so hours, I would not describe it as very scenic.
Yesterday, I took the road less traveled and headed straight up Palani to the upper level highway - Mamalahoa Highway. It's a 2000 ft., ear popping climb straight up from the Kona village. Note that if Ironman Hawaii ever wanted to really get rid of the drafting, this would be the route they should take - it would seperate the whole field rather dramatically right from the get go on the bike. Up at this elevation, it's a whole other world. Cooler. Often overcast with the occasional rain shower. The vegetation is lush. The traffic light along the road. The locals friendly with an eager shaka( hang loose sign) The view out to the left as you head north, is spectacular as you can see all the way down to the ocean and actually make out the Queen K highway far below.
After the initial climb the road does not flatten out but keeps going up and down and around numerous curves. It crosses a few more recent lava flows and you can ride this way all the way out to Waikoloa and then back along the Queen K if you like for a nice three hour loop at a decent pace. Your other option for a real epic ride is to carry on along the Mamalahoa Highway, to the "Saddle Road" and then begin the massive climb up to Mauna Kea, which tops out at 13,796 ft. My friend, Nigel Gray is contemplating having a go at this later in the week( He's not racing)
My apologies. I forgot the camera for this ride so no pics, but I am planning on doing the full Waikoloa loop tomorrow with a group of friends. Will remember to bring the camera.