Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Like a Virgin

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.


  1. Cool pictures Kris! I remember thinking the same thing about the eucalyptus forests in Australia. Cool trees and they smell great. I tried to grow one but our winter killed it.

    As for mountain biking in Hawaii, I ran into the same thing as you. I looked into renting a bike and going riding on one of our trips to Oahu. Turns out that there is little-to-no trail mileage open to bikes. Saw some stories of some guys poaching trails in really remote areas but that was about it. Bummer. Because the potential for biking is amazing in Hawaii.

  2. When you make it to heaven, you'll get 70!

  3. I rode an ATV on the mountain side in North Kohala (yes... it was private property) on the Big Island before the morning twilight, through cow pastures, and up on to a hill to catch the sunrise. The color of the sky was incredible, I will never forget it.