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Exploring Hawaii's backroads by bicycle.

Four outfitters offer tours lasting a day to a week or more--on six islands

RISING BEFORE DAWN, we hop onto our bicycles and pedal into Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. We're midway through our multiday tour, and our cycle legs are now working to capacity. As we pedal along, the sun rises above a primeval landscape of steamy sulfur vents and dense tropical vegetation--a magical sight.

Before the week is up, our group of nine will also swim with sea turtles at a black sand beach, and bike along the lush Kona Coast. What a way to see the Islands!

Four outfitters offer bike trips on six islands (Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu). Some tours include hikes into steamy calderas and fern-fringed lava tubes, visits to ancient Polynesian ruins and historic Hawaiian landmarks, or even wine tasting.

You can choose between one-, six-, and eight-day trips. In general, you ride at your own pace, following detailed maps and route descriptions provided by the tour operator, and a sag wagon follows the last rider.

Although many of the routes feature long stretches of gentle downhill runs, you should expect--especially on multiday tours--to spend time pushing your pedals hard on uphill climbs, gripping the brakes on steep downhill sweeps, and bouncing over rough sections of road. Depending on the tour, you ride anywhere from 11 to 84 miles each day on paved and dirt roads. Cyclists who want to really work up a sweat can follow challenging alternative routes.

Trips are offered year-round, but the most popular season for cycling is October through April, when temperatures are slightly cooler. Higher elevations can be cool in the mornings and evenings, and rain is possible anywhere and at any time.

On multiday tours, accommodations usually range from luxury hotels to back-country bed-and-breakfast inns.

BIKE TOUR OPERATORS

Except where noted, tour prices are per person and include bike rentals, meals, and, on multiday tours, accommodations (double occupancy).

Reservations are advised for all one-day trips and are required for multiday tours. Write or call the outfitters for more information.

Backroads, 1516 Fifth St., Berkeley, Calif. 94710; (800) 245-3874. Eight-day, inn-to-inn road bike tours of the Big Island. Cost: $1,495. Bike rental: $129. Six-day camping trips. Cost: $658. Bike rental: $119.

Chris' Bike Adventures, Box 657, Kula, Maui 96790; (808) 871-2453. Day tours on the backroads of the Big Island, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai. Cost: $55 (includes snack only) to $148. (Lanai and Molokai are boat-bike tours.)

Outfitters Kauai, Box 1149, Koloa, Kauai 96756; (808) 742-9667 (office is in Poipu Beach). Twice-weekly day tours of Kokee State Park. Cost: $78 (includes lunch). A not-too-strenuous, mostly downhill run. The only real climb, a steep 10-minute sweatbreaker to a small reservoir, is optional.

Waimea Mountain Biking, 525 Kapahulu Ave., Box 443, Honolulu 96815; (808) 282-2453. Two-hour downhill natural history tours of North Valley on Oahu's north shore. Cost: $55 to $150 (includes a pass into Waimea Falls).
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Author:Davidson, Ben
Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:495
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