I am not a morning person. I am even less of a "let's get up at 2 am and ride down a mountain at dawn" kind of guy.
Still, my spouse has talked about doing this for 11 years. I am slightly disabled and had been able to put this off. But, I am much healthier now - and decided to treat the spouse with this activity.
There's no way I can cushion the horror getting up at 2 am. At least, you don't have to drive. They come and get you in a big van. Sometimes, the back seat's what's left. This isn't a limo and it's the same van they use to haul the bike trailer up to the volcano park. So, get in the back and go to sleep.
When they say dress in layers, they mean it. The crater is darned cold. Here's a tip. Put on your "biking clothes", then pull on jeans, a tee-shirt and a long sleeved sweatshirt. You'll need it. The crater is around 30 degrees at this time of day. If you have a windbreaker, take that. It's really crowded at the rim, and we seemed to find a lot people are remarkable stupid at the time of day, with endless pointless chatter, singing of stupid songs and generally annoying behavior. Don't let this ruin a great experience. Just move along. You don't have to be at the rail to see the sunrise. Really.
Once you're through with the touring around the crater, you'll hop back in the van and ride down just past the entrance of the park. The guides will make you demonstrate your bicycling skill as part of the safety briefing. If you're not comfortable on a bike, or as they say "haven't been on one since the Carter administration", you can hop back on the van and get a narrated tour. Out of courtesy to others, if you're not comfortable on a bike - don't do this tour. You'll make it an unpleasant day for everyone.
The bikes are big, heavy, single speed mountain bikes. Don't worry about pedaling. Unless you have a schmuck at the front who brakes way too often and doesn't understand how to build up speed to reduce the need to pedal, you'll only have two spots where you pedal for a very short distance Interval between riders is kept at 30 feet for safety and you will ride single file
I haven't been on a bike in eight years due to advancing arthritis, knee and hip problems. But, I had absolutely no problems at all. The ride was exhilarating! We rode down switchbacks, through eucalyptus groves and fields of lavender.
The Sunrise Cafe is where you stop for breakfast, in Kula. Lots of stars have homes there. You probably won't see any - and the cafe is pretty basic. Still, it's a pleasant stop and you're close to the end of the ride.
Our guides were great fun. Very bright, passionate, and clearly love their work. At each stop, they took photos for us and gave us a nice tour of each area and what we were seeing.
I would have loved to have kept on gong, but the ride came to an all-too-soon end. The guides loaded up the bikes, and we rode back to their base camp, an office next door to the BadAss Coffee shop. I am so glad we had the opportunity to do this finally, and we loved it.
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