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Sunday, March 27, 2005



TRIATHLON TRAINING


Hazards on Kalanianaole
keep heads spinning

A few years ago I saw about 10 bicycles arranged in a semi-circle on trainers on the grass at Magic Island.

The bicycles were high-end models, $2,500 to $5,000. The owners, a bunch of professional types in tight Lycra shorts and bright, multi-color jerseys, were sitting on the grass getting tips for maintaining their expensive toys.

They were members of a training group. I didn't hang around long enough, but I assumed they later did some spinning.

I, too, enjoy taking my bike out when the weather is nice. I sometimes ride my cruiser to Kapiolani Community College on Saturdays to see what the vendors at the farmers market have to offer and down to Kapiolani Park to check out the cultural fairs.

But spinning on trainers in the middle of a park in gorgeous Hawaii weather is like going to France and eating at a McDonald's. And I pictured those professional types transporting their carbon fiber and titanium machines to and from the park in their luxury sport-utility vehicles.

I have since come to appreciate working out on trainers, especially on bad-weather days like yesterday. But I didn't mind yesterday's ride in the wind and the rain. Spinning for 2 hours on a trainer can be really boring.

However, trainers are perfect for short workouts and interval training. When you want to do 15-minute intervals at a 90 rpm cadence and 80 percent to 85 percent maximum effort, you don't want to keep looking down at your cyclometer and heart-rate monitor while riding on the road for obvious safety reasons.

I don't even know if there are any stretches of Kalanianaole Highway free of traffic lights that are long enough. And traffic lights are not the only obstacles.

Kalanianaole Highway between Kahala and Hawaii Kai is probably the most used stretch of Oahu roadway by cyclists. On weekends, whether riding by yourself or in a group, you will inevitably encounter another cyclist.

Our first group ride there was on the weekend following January's heavy rains that caused flooding and sewage spills on the highway. By the time we hit the road that Saturday, the floodwaters were gone. But they left behind collections of dirt and gravel.

The state Department of Transportation spokesman says a street sweeper cleans Kalanianaole Highway, from Ainakoa to Lunalilo Home Road, every five weeks. Moanalua, H-1, H-2 and H-3 freeways, Ala Moana Boulevard, Nimitz Highway and Wahiawa town are also swept every five weeks. Kalanianaole was swept just before the heavy rains.

When we got on the road I didn't notice much of a difference in the road condition. The five-week interval between sweeps allows dirt and gravel to accumulate in the same spots. For regular cyclists it has become second nature to avoid those spots. Some of my friends didn't even know the highway was swept regularly. They said they would see the same dirt pile or bits of broken glass every time they rode.

At least the heavy rains and flood waters washed away the broken glass. But in a few days there was more broken glass. I don't know why people throw their beer bottles on the side of the highway. I guess they don't care about the 5-cent refund.

Broken glass, dirt and gravel piles are not the only hazards on Kalanianaole. Runners enter the bicycle lane, where trash containers, trash bags and piles of tree trimmings block the sidewalk, always in front of the same homes. Kids and recreational cyclists sometimes like to ride in the bicycle lane in the opposite direction. And then there are the motorists who believe that if they put their flashers on, it's okay to park their vehicles in the bicycle lane.

Yesterday's ride was on Farrington Highway in Mokuleia. Next week's schedule is not yet out, but I'm sure we're going to ride Kalanianaole again, as well as do some spinning on trainers. I hope we spin at Kakaako Waterfront Park again so we can watch the sun set.


Reporter Nelson Daranciang is training with the best for next month's Honolulu Triathlon.



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