Speaking of Fiare, we just had another grand adventure. We climbed Mauna Loa. The paved road ends at 3,353M (11,000 feet). The big challenge is to start at sea level and go all the way up. My friends at the bike store advised against that for a first go since I have never ridden at altitude. They recommended I start at the road that turns off the main highway. The start altitude is about 2,000M (~6,500 feet). The road is 30 km long (a little less than 15 miles) one way and the climb is 1,353M (~3,500 feet). The average grade is about 4.5%. While not the longest ride I have done, it was easily the most physically and mentally demanding. It is all uphill and there are some 8% grades in the last part of the ride to make this even more fun. I was riding at altitude so breathing was tough. It was cold. I had long sleeves and full finger gloves. I actually stayed pretty warm going up since you work bloody hard.
This was a group ride. We started with 4 and ended with 2 (don't worry, the other turned around). It took me a little under 3 hours to make the ascent. Whether that is good or bad, I don't know, but I am satisfied that I made it. Having the other rider pushed me to make it. I really believe I would have turned around at several points had I gone solo.
The top was interesting. No plants, no birds, no noise except the wind and whatever noise you make. The slopes of these volcanoes have been used for astronaut training for the lunar landings. The also simulate what a biosphere on Mars or the Moon might be like. While the utter barrenness offers a unique beauty, I am glad to live among the plants and animals of our biosphere.
Going down was fun! Like an hour long rollercoaster ride. At the bottom the other rider was done but I had a little more in me. I rode on the highway to another park and back to make for a 75km ride in total.
Dawn - There was just the smallest sliver of a nearly new Moon which can be seen if you zoom on the photo...
This was the starting point. The kipuka. A kipuka is an island of land that was surrounded by lava. These can be interesting because sometimes evolution takes some interesting turns in these isolated spots. The kipuka will be used as a reference to show progress of the ride.
Various rest stops.
Way, way, off in the distance is Hilo, my hometown...
Couple more rest stops. The elevation is painted onto the road pavement.
The top of the road. Made it!
After the descent, I found this line of cumulus clouds interesting...