If I asked you… what is the best one day loop ride in the world? I would imagine that the answer might vary from person to person. Perhaps there are those who would choose "The Black Hills" or "Route 66" as they have accomplished those.
HOWEVER.... in this riders opinion all those answers would be WRONG!!!! (and we invite you to challenge us on this)
What if I told you there was a ride that was seldom ventured upon by most bikers, yet still within the borders of the US of A. One that involves volcanos, welcoming locals, military history, waterfalls, hundreds of miles of ocean views, winding roads, national parks, jungles, deserts, high mountain passes, awesome hidden restaurants, and a plethora of general stores upon which you could enjoy a cold one and look out upon life and think; Damn … its good to be alive! Yes, that’s correct. It's a unicorn of a ride, mythical in proportions and as unobtainable to some as might be a horned magical animal.
I recently had the opportunity (representing LRS) to embark on such a journey on the big Hawaiian island of Kona. I am pleased to share our ride report with you for LRS.
Most people aren't able to ship their bike to the island, unless their last name is Bezos, Musk or Buffet, which limits the number of bikes on the road. Sure, there are plenty of tourists on the island, but as far as feeling free and open on the road Hawaii is the place to be.
After doing some research we had found two great places that will rent you the bike of your dreams, and we will leave their links below.
You might not be able to fit your Bagger in your carry-on… but a 9 inch Mega Curve windshield fits nicely. All I had to do was pop it on the bike with a T27 star wrench, put an island music station on the radio and we were off on the ride of a lifetime.
Listen… it's an island and there are only two directions to drive for the most part, clockwise or counterclockwise. As a ring road the island lends itself to getting anywhere you want to be by taking the longest possible route, but in Hawaii the longest possible route is a pleasure.
Start: Desert and turtles and shaved ice
What does the desert, sea turtles and shaved ice all have in common? The west coast of Kona! The west side of the island is full of lava fields with sparse vegetation, and while driving across this section of the island one could be forgiven for mistaking the landscape as that of Death Valley. The black sand beaches of this part of the island are inviting to the sea turtles who love to bask in the warmth of the sun on the blacktop. In my opinion, the best shaved ice on the island is from the BISIC at the Kings' Island Shops. When you are on vacation there is nothing better than condensed milk, sugar and ice in the morning!!
Winding Road: Riding from the west, headed to the village of Waimea you will hit a section of winding road as good as any I have ridden before, matching curves and danger. This road takes you up the slope of an active volcano…which in my mind could explode at any moment (which somehow intensifies the thrill).
Stop 1: Waimea Village - Nestled in the saddle of two volcanoes, this Hawaiian town is home to some really cool folks from all walks of life. You get a great sense of community combined with a feeling of individuality and patriotism all in one. You can hit a farmers market, flea market, BBQ, and a few museums in under an hour. What makes this area cool is that it straddles the eastern and western parts of the island and the transition from desert to lush tropical paradise happens over the course of a few blocks.
Stop 2: Waipi’o Valley
This might be the most beautiful place on earth and you might recognize it from your apple screen saver. It's definitely one of the best views on the island and is home to a dozen amazing waterfalls. As far as road side lookouts, it's one of the best on the planet.
Stop 3. More of everything, and everything in between
It would take days to write about all there is to see on a ride around the Big Island. But, I have just a few minutes to show you. Check out this short highlight reel of roads, views and best moments of the ride.
Stop 4. Classic Hilo
Stop 5. Lava Cafe
There's nothing more important during a long day of riding than stopping for lunch. I can't speak highly enough to the great service and spectacular food at the Lava Rock Café. I happened upon it while gassing up and was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the food and the laid back atmosphere was. I left with a full belly and a smile.
Stop 6. Volcanoes National Park
I'm a sucker for a good national park, and Volcanoes didn't disappoint. Besides the views of the craters and the great winding roads built by the Hawaiian CCC, there is a Lava-tube that visitors can hike through. It gives one a good sense of the power of the earth to create and destroy land. I took the family back the next day so we could walk through the lava tube together.
Sections of the islands are blanketed with streams of lava making it look like the surface of the moon.
Stop 7 Southern most part of USA
Stop 5 Sunset in paradise