Red-eye flights always suck. I have yet to sleep on a plane. I not only failed to sleep coming back from the islands, I stayed bright eyed awake the whole way until the sun came up again when we landed in Chicago. I think that was about 8hrs in the air. I refuse to take sleeping aids, although suffering through about 30 sleepless hours might make me reconsider.
On our last day, Saturday, I did a short ride up to village of Holualoa. There are some very nice roads to ride on the Kona side of the island with as much climbing as you can handle. I zig-zagged my way up, sometimes on back roads only about 1.5 lanes wide with no traffic. It is notably cooler at 1500ft. There are many small coffee farms up there. The sun was out, the first time since landing on the big island. Figures, being our last day and all. I barely developed tan lines after 12 days on the islands. I was wearing long layers half the time and much of the rest it wasn't sunny enough to pick up a tan.
Cathy, mom and I also visited a coffee plantation Saturday, one of the oldest on the island, Greenwell Coffee Farms. Having become a bit of a coffee snob over the last few years, I couldn't visit Kona and not visit a coffee farm. Mom and Cathy are into coffee too, but not like me. Greenwell gives short free tours showing how their coffee is processed. Many steps, you'd be surprised. They also have samples. Not much different than wine tasting I suppose, although I've never done that. They had a variety of roast levels (normally I like dark), a couple flavored options (I detest), peaberry (a coffee cherry with only one bean in it), and something they call Private Reserve. The Private Reserve was clearly my favorite and no accident it was the most expensive. It was not darkly roasted. I paid nearly $20 with tax to take a HALF POUND home with me. Yeah, that is the most I have ever spent on coffee. The most interesting thing of the tour? Ripe coffee cherries are actually sweet! It is ironic we spit out the pit of other cherries, yet we discard the cherry when making coffee. Coffee trees are a member of the gardenia family.
I didn't get in all the riding as planned for this trip. In fact, I hit only one of four planned summits, Haleakala. Even then, the weather had me thinking twice about riding all the way to the Haleakala Summit. The descent was dangerously cold, and the rangers at the entrance station warned us about hypothermia. On the bike, I rode 377 miles on and off road. That entailed 36,700ft of climbing. Not much, actually, for a two week Hill Junkie vacation. Saddle time tallied to 28 hours. There were also about 5hrs of hiking and 3hrs of snorkeling involved to round out physical activity.
On of the surprises riding a 29er for the first time was how big of a difference a few inches in wheel diameter makes when riding gnarly stuff. It took me a while to get used to it, in fact. I learned to carry speed into stuff I would have mightily braked for on a 26" bike and then ended up walking because I scrubbed the speed needed to carry through. The extra heft is noticeable climbing though, especially all the paved climbing I did with the 29er. I crawled up 16% grades. Going down 16% grades at 45mph, another effect kicked in that was very noticeable. Those big wheels make for some strong gyroscopes. The bike does not want to lean over easily or turn quickly when going fast. Maybe this isn't as big of a deal on tight singletrack when going slower, but I scared myself a couple times around fast switchbacks.
I was dismayed when I stepped on the scale yesterday. I suppose you can't feast on bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, french toast, omelets and much more every morning without greatly increasing volume to maintain weight. This morning I dropped nearly 4 lbs from yesterday afternoon, all water loss of course, but still higher than I want to be this time of year. Interestingly, my body fat was 7.4%, which is very low for a morning measurement. Perhaps I added only lean muscle mass?
My less than 2yr old Dom-6's with what they looked like when new below
I've been very disappointed in my Sidi Dominator 6 shoes. In less than two years, they are pretty much trashed. The hike-a-biking on Mauna Loa destroyed the soles. I have Dominator 4's that are about 8 years old with only the velcro getting weak. The 6's are failing all the way around - the tread is long gone (replaceable but expensive), the uppers are shredded and nearly worn through in spots, the carbon sole is chewed up beyond recognition, and the main tensioning ratchets have never worked right. These suckers cost over $400. Sidi normally has impeccable durability but has slipped with this model. I won't do carbon or replaceable treads again in MTB shoes. They are designed to fail soon.
Finally, a clip from our Haleakala descent. I haven't found an H.264 HD editor I like yet, so I used trial version of something that ain't bad. I may buy it. In the mean time, you'll get an annoying banner popping up throughout. I reduced the bit rate quite a bit from full High-Def, else the file size becomes unmanageable. You might have to click the link below the video window to access the the HD version uploaded to Vimeo. I believe they down-sample the version for embedding.
Haleakala Skyline Trail Plummet from D. Jansen on Vimeo
Steve and I started from the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala on Maui. The ride begins on Skyline Trail, wrapping behind the observatories on the summit. The next five miles or so follow a fissure line where numerous craters and vents lie. The scenery could be from Mars. To our left starting out, the south coast of east Maui is visible 10,000ft below. A little later in the clip, west Maui is visible through the haze below patchy clouds to the right. We had only high overcast this day, allowing views all the way down. Mamane Trail is first singletrack segment. A short segment of one-lane paved Waipoli Rd is taken to next singletrack, a three mile loop called Waiakoa Trail. In all, we dropped 10,000ft in about 35 miles. It was perhaps the best ride of the trip - it was cold up top but we didn't freeze, we didn't get rained or snowed on, the extreme wind for the duration of our stay was not much of a factor off-road, and it was one of the best visibility days up there.