Sunday, 08 September 2013

The full loop of Wailuna takes a modicum of commitment.

I can’t say I was confident that my fitness level was going to be adequate to pull it off, but at least I knew what I was in for. The weather forecast for the weekend called for over 50% probability of precipitation on both days, so Jeff and the stand-up crew were out, regardless of the actual observed weather conditions. It did indeed rain like a muther on Saturday morning around sunrise, so I wasn’t particularly confident that the ride would really happen, but with no further rainfall and only partial overcast skies on Sunday, the word went out. Only Chris, Root, and I were partaking of the torture, so we decided to forego the monotony of yet another Ditch ride and see the elephant in the hills above Pearl City.

Chris and I were starting to believe that Root had been replaced by an alien double, since for the second consecutive time, he showed up on time, even with the heinous traffic from the freeway lane closures. I wasn’t relishing the whole uphill part that made up the first part of the afternoon’s adventure, but the road climb from the park to the end of the road went off uninterrupted, though my legs were definitely not happy at the end. Entering the trail system, we climbed along the doubletrack past the water tank to the swamp gum rest stop. I did have to make several stops to rest. I obviously wasn’t doing as good as I would have been two years ago, but it wasn’t like the first few times I rode this trail. Since the trail was a steady ascent punctuated by numerous steep pitches, advance knowledge of where to conserve energy for an upcoming grind, or where to carry momentum to help with an approaching uphill section was a definite advantage. Chris found some leftover energy snacks from last week’s ride in his feed pocket. They smelled funny. He threw them out. No point in getting explosive diarrhea from tainted chews, though of course, at this very moment, there are probably some feral animals out there spasmodically voiding their bowels after finding those.

The fun open doubletrack just after the gum trees looked like it had been graded. The evil erosion-groove-moonscape climb right after didn’t look much different, but making the turn up intp the grassy section up to the koa tree rest, there were more indications of vehicular traffic. There used to be one large koa tree overhanging the road at the rest stop. It had been unceremoniously pulled down and tossed to the side to block the overgrown workaround trail to the right. We figured this was as far is it went, but as I went up what was once ferny singletrack, there were big chevron-treaded tier tracks and big scoops of ground taken out of the middle. It looks like they tried driving a backhoe up, but it was slipping, so the backed it up, using the excavator as an arm to drag it uphill. The signs of equipment traffic ended at the first set of powerline poles, so the assumption is there was some HECO work up there within the past six months or so.

We climbed the various pitches and descended the occasional rooty slopes to the melaleuca rest stop. While taking a break, a dude on a Specialized went by us and waited just ahead. We expected other riders to pass, but he was alone. When we continued past him after our break, he said this was the first time he had been on the trail. I told him he was about halfway done with the climb, but I guess that may have discouraged him, since that was the last we saw of him. The upper extent of the trail in the koa grove was nice and dry, but the steep up to the last powerline pole was as horrible as usual.

While we were taking our final break at the top, it drizzled a little. It wasn’t enough to make mud, but it was enough to make the grass and roots slippery and to make brakes howl. The descent began clear and open, although the lawn was tall and looked like there hadn’t been a lot of traffic in recent months. Around the powerline poles, the ferns were overgrown, making navigation challenging and pedaling painful, both from the added resistance and the ferns cutting at the flesh. The ‘ohia rest was almost unrecognizable, as it had been fully grown in by California grass. We didn’t linger, as another squall was moving down from the summit, and we wanted to stay ahead of the rain. Once onto the plateau, we continued mostly non-stop to the exit, only briefly stopping for social niceties with the riders at the jump garden bench, and the sidetrack by the hairpin turn. The setting sun was in our faces, so the flat lighting made jumps difficult to visually perceive, and the tire dust made it even more challenging for the second and third riders. There were more riders out at the street. It was a busy day on the Royal Summit side. There were only four fools on the Wailuna side.

All the roads back to the park had been recently repaved, so that added a bit of a feeling of safety to the road descent to Komo Mai. The climb back to the park was painful as expected. I had been too long in the saddle for sitting comfort, but in no condition to stand-climb. Just as we reached the cars, I got the first twinges of cramping in my quads. There was nothing left. I had gone through two packs of Shot Bloks and emptied all three liters in my hydration pack. That probably was what saved me from getting a post-ride heatstroke headache. The after-action debrief and food was at Taco Bell. The chicken in my smothered chicken burrito was awfully steaky: I guess Princess didn’t hear me, or the manager assembling it couldn’t read the monitor.

D = 10.1 km (6.28-miles), Vavr = 9.3 km/h (5.8-mph), Vmax = 61.6 km/h (38.3-mph), T = 1-hour, 5-minutes (actual trail time about three hours)

GPS says: D = 12.4 km (7.7-miles), Vavr = 7.9 km/h (4.9-mph), Vmax = 59.8 km/h (37.2-mph), T = 1-hour, 35-minutes, Ascent/descent = 358m (1174.5’) (minimum altitude = 96m, maximum altitude = 454m)

Pictures here

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