Living Jackson

Benefits of cycling

MTB riding in Hawaii for one day


It’s going to be 7 degrees tomorrow—that’s
-14 celsius. Luckily I won’t be around to experience
it and neither will my bike. We’re going someplace warm. To pack my bike in this soft case I’m removing
the wheels, pedals, and handlebars, which get stowed away or strapped down to the inside
paneling. These bags aren’t cheap, but neither are
good mountain bikes. Plus, I can use it to carry all my gear. In the hands of professionals, I can rest
assured that my bike and gear will be handled with care, just like any other checked bag. For the privilege of leaving my bike with
the baggage throwers, American Airlines charges $150—each way, and I’ll need to rent a
car that can carry it. With only one day to ride, no reliable intel
on the trails, and the possibility of getting rained out, I could be doing all this for
nothing. Even if everything does work out, my bike
could still get lost, stolen, or smeashed. Only time will tell. I got a message saying my bike was lost—of
course. But after spending some time on the phone
with the airline I was able to track it down. It was on the other side of the airport, sitting
on a cart. I guess I should explain that I’m in Kauai
for my friend’s wedding. It’s the furthest Hawaiian island from the
mainland, and I knew nothing about it upon arriving here. It ended up being one of the most beautiful
places I’ve ever visited. It looks like a calendar. Every day you see rainbows—lots of rainbows,
and landscapes that don’t even look real. And Kauai is paradise for more than just people. For every awesome vista you gaze at you’ll
see at least a thousand of these rooster lookin’ guys called jungle fowl. I’m willing to bet they taste like chicken. Scenery and wildlife aside, Kauai looks a
lot like the mainland, with roads, traffic, strip malls, and of course, bike shops. This made it easy for me to meet Minh Hai
from Kauai cycles. He already knew who I was, and would be off
the same day I intended to ride. Minh Hai was even able to arrange a rental
for my friend, Nick. It was immediately obvious that we had found
the right guide. Minh Hai really knew where the fun stuff was. To whoever built this trail, it’s amazing. I promise never to tell anyone where it is. But even if I wanted to I couldn’t. Nothing in Kauai is marked, there are no trail
maps, and I’m not even sure what stuff we were or weren’t supposed to be riding. Without Minh Hai we would have been hopelessly
lost. The mountain biking community on Kauai consists
of only about 50 riders, and they’ve managed to carve little slices of paradise into this—paradise. Must be nice. Not only does the place look like a postcard,
but the dirt is like hot chocolate mix. It might be some of the most uniform and crazy
looking dirt I’ve ever seen. I could eat it. I did. As for the singletrack the good stuff is good. Really good. You need to work for it though as there are
a lot of ups and downs on Kauai’s trails. There’s also a lot of moto stuff which can
be kind of fun to session. Minh Hai also took us on an XC ride by the water. I was skeptical at first, but ended up seeing
some really memorable stuff. This tunnel is in the middle of know where. And this buoy forest is composed of—buoys that
floated over from Japan. Because we had started early, we were able
to ride a ton of spots in one day. This despite the fact that you almost never
go faster than 40mph on Kauai. There are lots of people there, and they’re
all on the same road. Still we fought traffic for what seemed like
hours to ride one feature that Minh Hai had to show me: A creek gap tucked away in the
woods. Without seeing it, I had no idea what I was
getting myself into. And as we were losing light, that creek gap was
great way to end our ride. After the rental car and baggage fees I had
spent almost $1000 for the chance to ride my bike in Kauai. And I only went there because of my friend,
John, the genius who decided to have a destination wedding on a remote island. But the nursery of stupid ideas is where the
greatest memories mature. I got to go to my best friend’s wedding,
and I got to ride somewhere that most people don’t get the chance to. Getting to do it on my own bike meant I’d
be on my A game. With Minh Hai’s local knowledge I even got
to eat legit food that most tourists never get to try. We may even get to ride with Minh Hai again
on the mainland. So as I pack my bike back up for the long
journey home, I feel it was all worth it: The costs, the hassles, and the risks, just
for one day on the trails. As always, you’re paying for the memories. Mahalo. I’ll see you next time.

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