Winter riding made easy: Tales from Oahu’s Tantalus climb

There I was in February just flying up a Hawaiian road that bisected a golf course off Sandy Beach.

Okay guilty. I wasn’t flying up the hill because I was in winter shape. That means, I had no shape.

If you have already, or want to, cycle on Oahu, then you will like this.

My ride was the back half of the Makapu’u Lighthouse ride that is a go-to for locals and tourists. And I can confirm, well, it’s a beauty. Obviously.

Waikiki has a weekly meetup ride for the local elites, at 420pm on Tuesdays.

I did not accept the invitation. LOL. I’m not that kind of cyclist.

There is another weekly Tuesday ride, 7 a.m., which climbs Tantalus mountain.

So I kinda did both, solo, and slow. But, I wore my Tour de Victoria jersey. And yes. Every cyclist noticed it and mentioned it. As they should.  

Here’s how it went down. I stayed on the Zoo end of Waikiki. I rented a badass 60 inch frame Bianchi Impulso (I liked it! I don’t know much about bikes but it was a really nice bike) from Hawaii Triathlon (near the zoo) and headed out to do the Makapu’u ride at 5 p.m.. I didn’t have enough daylight (basically I’m too slow) to do the whole thing. I turned around at Sandy Beach (this all makes sense if you look at a map) and when I was eating some sugar gummy on a hill when a cyclist passed me.

Immediately I shoved the remaining gummies and wrapper into my jersey pocket and caught up. Turns out the dude is my age from Japan, via Vancouver. He lives in the Japanese backcountry where his wife and son grow and sell mushrooms and he’s a teacher. He was with a class of students in Waikiki for a week and snuck out for a ride. We split the short distance home back to Waikiki. I always love the feeling of being a leadout man. I pretend I’m leading Peter Sagan, even though it’s usually my wife on her commuter. So, this time I could tell he was right on my wheel. Also, he knew the way to navigate the highway, which has a huge bike lane, but then turns into a freeway, which is super annoying.

Luckily my friend played along, even though I could barely keep up with his pulls. Right away I knew he was way stronger. He was so cool. I asked, ‘Am I going fast enough’” at like 28 km/h.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said.

He was happy. I was happy.

That was the first night of my 24 hour bike rental.

Friend steered me home. I was grateful. I gave him a like on Strava. He reciprocated.

TANTALUS

The next morning I showed up early to do the Tuesday morning Tantalus ride. Thankfully the only locals who showed up to do it had actually already done it, needed to go to work, and were finishing when the group “conversational ride” was supposed to happen. I could not have kept up with those guys. With way too much Hawai’in craft beer in me I soft pedalled up the Tantalus for the views I shared on this blog.

If you go to Oahu. Go up Tantalus. It’s a beauty.

Travis Paterson is a cycling advocate, fan of pro cycling and reporter for Oak Bay News. This year he will be riding the 160km for the first time!

Leave a Comment