By: Joel Fletcher
We take vacations for a number of different reasons, to escape the daily grind of work, to spend time with family and friends, and to view and explore new places and experience a new culture. Bringing your bike will allow you to see even more than you normally would otherwise. Ali and I recently took a vacation to Hawaii and we were amazed at the magic in that area, which is made even better by exploring with a bicycle. Before traveling, be sure to research the places you will be taking your vacation, look at the roads most ridden, research what food options the locals eat, and check out your map for different scenic spots to stop for a photo. Strava heatmaps are a great way to view the roads that are most ridden in the area you are visiting.
The first thing I like to do when riding in a new spot on vacation is check out what the best local foods are and where the locals like to eat. While recently in Hawaii, we found that there are numerous road-ride food stands that are always stocked with banana bread and some of the best varieties of bananas you will ever find! We also ate our weight in poké and Hawaiian plate lunch, two local fares that are abundant in every Hawaiian town and are great refueling after a long ride.
We stopped on almost every ride and grabbed some of the best and freshest roadside foods you could ever want. Shave ice is something that a lot of people have had the pleasure of trying but unless you have had a true traditional Hawaiian Shaved Ice you haven’t enjoyed the real thing. This is one of the best after-ride sweet treats and when you are coming from 35 degrees and raining to 85 degrees with humidity in December, something like shaved ice is the best thing to keep you cool and comfortable after riding. We like to search Google Maps to find some of the best local foods in new places.
Vacations with your bikes will also allow you to check out some of the local sights. Hawaii for example has goats, both wild and at farms all over the state on every island. If you are an animal lover and want to spend some time with some of the cutest animals, take a stop at a local goat farm and go in for a pet. Just make sure to watch your kit, goats will literally eat anything and everything.
History and historic sights are something that is always made better when you are exploring those by bike. Hawaii has a large number of old churches as Christianity was introduced to the islands by missionaries. Before the arrival of Christianity, the islands and people who lived on the islands all had different gods and demi-gods and worshiped Hawaiin culture. There are tons of cute historic churches tucked away in even the more remote areas. Sure you could drive to most of them but why spend an hour in a car when you can get that ocean breeze in your hair while pedaling to them.
Make sure you mark out and stop at sites like this when you go on vacation. Usually, the remote locations will give way to amazing bike riding on your way to see them.
We spend so many hours, days, weeks, and years staring at a training plan and a cycling computer and vacations are a nice way to take a step back from that. If you want to truly unplug, take some time away from that structure and just ride. Ride for an hour, ride for 6 hours, or whatever you feel like on that day. The numbers, plans, and structure will be there when you get back.
When we take vacations and bring our bikes, it is different than riding at home. You are riding roads you have never been on before, you don’t know what is going to be around that next corner, and that bit of mystery will make you feel like a kid again, riding for the first time. If you take anything away from this story, please stop and enjoy the places you travel to. Vacations will go by so fast, and when you are on the plane heading home, you don’t want to have any regrets.