Sunday, 4 October 2009

kona diary - day 6

Today I took a ride south out of town, off in the direction of Captian Cook, on a loop known as The Painted Church Loop. The route heads out of town on the very rideable Highway 11, steadily climbing up, up, up through Honalo, Kealakekua and all the coffee plantations up there, before taking a minor road off to the right for the Painted Church loop. Having risen beyond 1500ft, you loose a lot of height on this loop, and climb again back to the highway the end of the circuit before heading home the way you came. In theory, that is – I got curious and chose a different, apparently parallel (but actually not) return route, and was enjoying the scenery and steady climb so much that it was half an hour or so before I realized by mistake and that the view I’d been admiring through the heavy greenery up there was actually Kona airport and the energy lab, a long way below, and behind me. I’d over –shot the town and was on my way up Mauna Kea!
However, despite riding a good hour longer than intended I found the ride so refreshing that it was worth the extra time on the road. It felt so good to be out off the intensity off Kona; away from that awful stretch off Queen K highway, which is now pretty busy with very fit looking people on very expensive looking bikes, matching kit and aero helmets hammering along the shoulder. Not to mention the stiffeling heat of the town – as soon as the road exceeds about 200ft the scenery becomes a lot fresher and its noticeably cooler and sheltered from the winds. The roads are lined with fragrant fruit trees – mango, papaya and passion fruit (or guava?) which offer up delicious scent as you ride by. A little higher and I wondered what the tall bushes with red berries that now surrounded me. Of course- coffeee! I had never seem it growing before …and here I was now riding through the plantations. The towns up there were small, simple towns with faded looking buildings – churches, a cafes, a gas station & food mart and many art galleries in each. And of course kona coffee outlets! I cruised through each, absorbing it like a tourist, having left the anxious triathlete way down the slope in Kailua.

The little loop at the end of the highway took me on much smaller and winding roads. Past farms and plantation – dropping down the mountain side before beginning the ascent back to the highway. i stopped to check out an avacado tree that was dropping its fruit into they road, ate a couple (not many shops out here) and stuffed a few in my pocket for tomorrow’s breakfast. Briefly wondered about the wisdom off picking up and eating strange fruits of the side of the road but couple not resist trying the honey scented yellow tings that were also frequently scattered at the roadside. Inside was a bright orange sweet sour pulp covering soft balck seeds – just like the inside of a passion fruit, but not all wrinkly and brown like those we get in the UK. Delicious and very refreshing – will have to go to the market in town and find out what they call them.

At the end of the ride, after my accidental detour, the return to town down a wonderful long switch-backed road- emerging about 300m from our hotel!

What a wonderful and relaxing ride.

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