Epic Rides – Part 2

An epic ride by a cyclist on a highway cutting through a grassy hill.

Another Parksville ride has come and gone. As always, this epic ride had it’s high moments (tailwind and sun all the way home) and low moments (periods of hail and headwinds on the way there), but thankfully it ended with everyone safe and smiling. Since this is a ride that we do every year and it is always Epic I thought I would start with this one.

Victoria – Parksville

Most people think that this ride is simply a trip up the Trans Canada Highway. This would be the most direct route so we choose not to take it. Instead we stay on back roads and try to hug the eastern coast of Vancouver Island as much as possible. This route offers some amazing views and some very short steep punchy climbs.

If leaving from Victoria the first big impediment is the Malahat. While sketchy on good days, widening construction is making the Malahat a little more dangerous than normal at the moment so the Mill Bay Ferry is an option to cut out this stretch. However you get there, once over the Malahat you pop down into Mill Bay and travel along the water before a very short distance on the Highway. Once onto the back roads again you roll through country fields and vineyards. Cherry Point, Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay and Crofton are dotted along the way before an obligatory stop at the Willow Street Cafe in Chemainus which is the half way point of the ride.

After Chemainus, you travel through Ladysmith. Those looking to put in a little more distance can add in the rolling Yellow Point section on the way to Cedar. Once through the village of Cedar you pop onto the Nanaimo Parkway where you have a nice wide smooth lane off to the side. This stretch is deceivingly uphill on the way to Parksville, but at this point you are only about 45km from your destination. After Nanaimo you have a couple short climbs on Hwy 19 before hitting Nanoose Bay and one final longer grind up to Parksville. If leaving from Commonwealth Pool and traveling to the far side of Parksville the total distance of the ride is 177km (with the Yellow Point Loop).

Haleakala

If you have ever raced or ridden in Kona and you have approached Hawi at the north end of the Island you have seen a big Volcano off in the distance. This is Haleakala on the Island of Maui. I had always seen and heard about this climb that starts off at sea level in the small town of Pa’ia and climbs to over 10,000 feet at the summit.

A couple of years ago while on vacation Sandy and I decided to rent bikes and finally give it a go. I am very glad we did as this is truly one of the most epic climbs in the world. A couple of things about this climb; it is extremely long at 56km and weather conditions can change immensely. We were told to start out early in the day as clouds and rain usually come over towards mid day. While we had a pretty much perfect day, it was still very windy and chilly at the top. This is another ride where it pays to have someone meet you at the top with some warm clothes. The descent down from the top is worth it. Once past the park entrance at the 7000 foot mark the road really smooths out and you get some amazing switch backs that allow you to ride fast back down to Pa’ai and warmth (and some amazing Mai Tai’s).

Kohala Ridge

Another Hawaii Ride, but this time on the Big Island. While most people are familiar with the Ironman course and  the turn around in Hawi, many don’t get a chance to take the right turn just past the turn around and venture up to the Kohala Ridge. This ride will take you away from the stark desolation of the lava fields and up into some of the most beautiful, lush country side that is full of cattle ranches and horse farms.

Jays Trek Speed Concept with the views of the Big Island in the back ground.

Once you reach Hawi, you turn up highway 250 and this will take you all the way along the ridge towards the cowboy town of Waimea. The climb up from Hawi is steep, but once you make the initial ascent you get more rolling roads along the top. It is very important to note that this ride can be very windy and wet. If the trade winds are up you might want to delay doing this route. I remember it being un-rideable due to the strong winds at one particular camp.

Once you reach the end of highway 250 you make a right on highway 19 and this will take you back down to the Queen K which is the main highway to Kona and makes up most of the Ironman course. Highway 19 is a busy road with no real shoulder. You will be going fast, but it is still a pretty dangerous stretch so it is best to plan for this one on a Sunday.

This is an extremely long ride from Kona. My recommendation is to start from the resort area of Waikoloa where the round trip is just over 100km. The views on this ride more than make up for any of the pain you might encounter in your legs along the way!