Eucalyptus trees are gorgeous, tall, lean, and extremely colorful. The picture above (taken with my cell phone camera) doesn't even begin to capture the majesty of these forests. I don't know how they grow on their own, naturally, because I have only seen man-made eucalyptus forests. On the East-side of the Big Island of Hawaii, along the Hamakua Coast they grow likes weeds on Miracle Grow, spaced about six feet apart and stretching nearly 100 feet towards the open arms of the baby-blue sky.
To an observant eye, it's easy to get a sense if something is natural or not. These forests look deliberately hand-crafted. A little Google digging reveals that a company called Tradewinds Forest Products planted the trees all over the eastern side of the island, over 14,000 acres. This part of the island is already lush and tropical, exotic plants cover the rolling hills where the tall, lime-green grass doesn't. All of this, of course, looks out over the South Pacific. Paradise, truly. Every hill-top has a breathtaking view.
These forests, scattered along the hills of Hawaii are perfect for mountain biking. And I do mean perfect. I would just stand in the midst of them and imagine a tight single-track running through it. Heaven. The Big Island is world famous for cycling, THE Ironman is held here, so all manner of cycling, running and swimming athletes come here to train. I thought for sure that at the epicenter of such athletic cycling interest that there would be a rich mountain biking scene. Especially considering the seemingly endless areas to ride.
I found a local bike shop, Bike Works (a sponsor of the Ironman) and talked to the manager about the mountain bike scene on the Big Island, hoping I could hook up with a few locals, rent a bike and go hit the eucalyptus forest. I was shocked and disappointed to find out that no one mountain bikes here. No one! He referred to mountain biking here as "poaching", because nearly all the land here is private.
Too bad. If someone were to press the interests of mountain biking here I think that it might just be the best in the world. Oh well, for now it remains completely untouched and pure, like a paradisaical virgin.