Monday, December 2, 2013
Post #20: Bikeography Part XIV -- Aloha Bikeist
This is Fredric:
Fredric is from Sweden and came all the way to San Diego just to ride with the Bikeist (fresh off his awesome Hawaiian vacation). Like all Scandinavians, he is large and possesses super-human strength. Here he is pictured lifting my do-everything urban assault bike like Godzilla tossing around a Datsun. Me and my anti-cyclist buddy, Mark, took him on a tour around Coronado, down the Strand to IB for a massive breakfast burrito (that he swallowed whole), and back into the constant Northerly head-wind that I think he managed to reverse just through his sheer momentum. Most impressively, he actually managed to make my old Cannondale go fast. My helmet is off to you my Swedish Bikeist friend and an open invitation is offered to all of my loyal world-wide readers to come ride the urban assault bike and be featured right here in this blog!
My last post (from Kailua Beach on Oahu) provides an excellent segue to the next installment in the epic, neverending, Bikeography as the next stop of my Navy adventure brought me to Pearl Harbor for a wonderful two years. While Hawaii was every bit the paradise I expected (and knew from previous visits) it to be, it wasn't, exactly a paradise for those of us on bikes. Don't get me wrong -- there were some great rides to be had (with the Tantalus loop and the ride from Schofield Barracks to Kaena Point and back being my favorites), but the cycling infrastructure was severely lacking. Bike routes were few and poorly marked, bike lanes were random and would suddenly disappear in high traffic areas, leaving cyclists to fend for themselves, and, quite frankly, what could be one of the crown jewels of Oahu, the Pearl Harbor Bike Path, is a disgrace.
Sure, I had been spoiled after riding the well-maintained Mount Vernon Trail every day for two years, but, in every way that path was great, the Pearl Harbor path was awful. As I had in DC, I picked my neighborhood based upon its proximity to a major bike path. With just a two mile commute, the short stretch I used every morning was convenient and safely kept me off of the Kam Highway. However, the miles of trail that stretched westward from Aiea to the leeward part of the island was full of pot-holes, roots, poorly patched pavement, broken glass, homeless encampments and more feral cats than you could possibly imagine.
My friend Ken had good stories about some of the sketchy encounters he had with folks mis-using the path, and, as a major player in the Oahu fitness culture, has railed against the condition of the trail (which he uses every day) for years. Why his complaints have fallen on deaf ears is beyond me. Hawaii's bikeists deserve better.
Enough negativity, though -- so un-Hawaiian. More typical of my Oahu experience was the Aloha spirit shown to me by a local farmer at the end of a challenging day on the Bad Boy. I had parked at Schofield Barracks to do the aforementioned out-and-back to Kaena point (about 50 miles), but ran into difficulty when I decided to take a backroad back up the hill to Schofield. The road went through a beautiful, tree-lined area, but was harrowing due to its twisting climb and the horrible rumble-strip, hemispheric buttons that lined the right side of the road making it impossible to use the narrow shoulder. I might have just powered up the hill, but suffered two flats on the climb (thanks to thorns) and then had to fight a slow leak after I used my last patch. I was able to go about a mile at a time before needing to pull the hand-pump out again until I just gave up and started pushing the bike. After pushing for about a mile I came upon the farmer mending a gate to a sugar cane field. I asked him how much further it was to Schofield and he said it was about five miles. After I thanked him and started walking on, he called to his wife who was sitting in their pick-up truck that had a generator hitched to it. She started the truck, he un-hitched the generator, and they both insisted that I climb in the back with my bike. After I climbed in, the farmer opened the cooler in the bed and tossed me a cold Keystone. I have to admit that, beer snobbery aside, that beer, consumed while whizzing past sugar cane fields above the North Shore in the bed of a local pick-up, was probably the tastiest I have ever had . . .