From the Pepeʻekeo Sugar Mill gear cross highway 19 and head up into your next adventurous discovery bicycle tour. One of the most pleasant places to ride stretches the short distance between Pepeekeo and Honomu. Personally, it’s one of my favorites; I only wish it longer.
At the top, you’ll head across a short, seemingly non-descript segment that is often sunny and wonderfully flat. Pique your curiosity as you gaze down Airstrip Road. Why was it built? When was it in use? Who flew there? The earliest depiction which has been located of Pepeʻekeo Airstrip was on the 1966 USGS topo map. I suspect the strip was used by the sugar companies to distribute pesticides and fertilizers, but my curiosity remains and every time I ride by I wonder about the people who spent time there.
At the T intersection, head down Opua Road. Opua Road is one of the reasons I love to bicycle Hawaii. All of the miles, sweat, and climbs are suddenly worth it as the ocean unfolds before you, the fields are filled with pastoral horses and cattle, and you start to imagine yourself inhabiting one of the homesteads on this segment. Those gratitude challenge slots just got filled, a bucket list item checked off.
From here to Honomu is just a really pleasant ride, with a nice gradual descent on tightly packed gravel until you reach a roughly paved county road. The scenery has distractions galore, with horses and cows, ocean views, and sunny breezes. On the last segment, descend into gulch with a wide cane truck bridge crossing Honomu stream. Take a moment to get lost in time by noticing the old wiring along the edge of the road, while navigating over the running water and around any mudslide objects. The old gulch into Honomu is an amazing exposure to history and decay.
Youʻll find old telephone/electrical poles in the forest, the constant runoff, mudslides and rockfalls onto the road, a wide bridge designed for cane trucks, and a huge beautiful flowing river. The water is always flowing over the bridge and yet it both still stands and is still open to traffic. The bridge is probably not very sound infrastructure.
And then, welcome to Honomu town! Honomu is a quaint town, formerly an old sugar plantation. Honomu will be on my best architectural bicycle route with an array of some of the most beautiful buildings around, and a mecca of places to worship: the Hilo Coast United Church of Christ, Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church, Honomu Hongwanji Mission, Holy Ascension Orthodox Church and off our route is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
SIDEBAR: Ask yourself, to (climb) Akaka Falls or not?
TIP: Try the cookies and get a drink if you need, cuz it’s the last place to buy until you get to Laupahoehoe.
Honomu sugar co. mill photo