on November 4, 2000
There are two types of bike trips down the volcano. One takes you to the mountain top, 10,000 feet above sea level, then escorts your group down through the national park back to the bike shop or other meeting spot. In the national park no unescorted groups are allowed, there is no passing, and groups leave at five minute intervals on a first come-first served basis. The other type of tour takes you to the 6000' level just outside the park, cutting out about eight miles. From here you can be escorted, guided, or go at your own pace, depending on what you choose.
The classic trip from the top gets to the summit before sunrise, allows some time for looking around, especially if there are 10 or so groups ahead of yours, then coasts 33 miles downhill with one short section where you need to pedal.
We went with Aloha Bike Tours. Mark met us at Rice Park for a continental breakfast, (good muffins - my daughter recommends the chocolate-chocolate chip with hot chocolate) then took us up to 6000' before turning us loose. We went at our own pace, but stopped at check points for guidance, snacks and drinks from Mark. His route is different from most: it goes from Kula to the Tedeschi Winery instead of going to the Paia area like the others. Toward the winery, the scenery looks like Ireland or Scotland - rolling hills and grassland with grazing horses and cows. It looks like Ireland and Scotland, that is, if you overlook the occasional cactus. At the winery, Karen met us for a make your own sandwich lunch. Time's allowed for the winery tour and tasting. Aloha does one tour a day, with a maximum of 14 people. His only advertising these days is on the internet.
This seemed pricey, but everyone really enjoyed it, so I shouldn't complain. We got continental breakfast, snacks, lunch, the bike and gear (gloves, helmet, jacket if you need one). Oh yeah! With the gear we looked like real pro bikers! We also got a guided tour up to 6000', transportation back to the meeting site, bike adjustments, and guidance. Having gone on a guided trip, I'd have no hesitation going on my own, although others in the group would prefer to be guided again. An escorted trip where everyone goes at the same pace, stays in line and stops when the escort pulls over seems too regimented but is the only way to start at the top.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009