What’s the cycle-mad enthusiast to do when they are on a family vacation? It’s pretty hard to spend quality time with your loved ones when you’re pounding out 100km or more a day. On the other hand, you don’t want to be denied your second (or is that first) love either so how do you make it work all around?

I am suggesting and coining the phrase mini-epic. What is a mini-epic? It’s a 4 hour window that allows you, dear rider to discover, explore and push yourself within close proximity of your vacation base.

Here’s my story and examples:

We’re in Waikiki for two weeks. I brought my road bike with me and since we fly with United on a premium ticket were able to waive all baggage fees. However, they are pretty good generally charging $25 or $35 extra for your bike depending on whether it’s a first or second bag.

I built my bike up on the day after arrival and gave it an hour’s shake out to make sure the setup was good. Always bring a floor pump with me, since it’s so much more accurate than hand pumping. I had to leave co2 cartridges at home, since airlines and security at airports seem to specifically target bikers knowing they have canisters squirrelled away in some corner of their pack.

Next step is to get connected with the local cycle community. I find this invaluable in terms of getting local advice on road conditions, route planning and general familiarity with the area. Also they often have group or store rides which makes your ride a lot more fun. Always good to connect. I make my new friends at Island Triathalon and Bike, which is conveniently located a five minute spin from my hotel.

Sure enough they suggest some great routes for me – Circle Diamond Head, out and back to Hanauma Bay and Tantalus Climb. They even offered me a place on a shortly departing store ride, but since I promised my wife and daughter to be back in an hour had to pass.

I pick up co2 there and a rear tail light (I’ve taken to keeping lights running day and night on the road). In discussion I learn about a race on the weekend, get invited to it, and a call placed for a ride for me on Sunday morning to get there. Sweet!

So going back to mini-epic, what do I mean? I mean a ride that will fill your soul and push you enough to feel it without wiping your energy out for the rest of the day. There are lots of great routes in close proximity to my hotel, three of which the staff at Island Triathalon and Bike gave me.

Diamond Head loop is an innocuous looking loop that circles the famous volcano close to Waikiki. It’s a glass smooth road for the most part and I hit it counter clockwise along the beachfront and through Kapiolani Park. It’s a beautiful lush space and have to work hard at keeping the pedals going, as there is something to stop and take a picture of every 50 feet.

Through the park your take a right turn onto Diamond Head road which runs past some well-kept properties and gorgeous tropical gardens and then up a slight hill to Diamond Head Lookout point. Here you can check out some amazing views and see the hardcore surfers and kite boarders in action. It’s a popular spot to chat with tourists and locals alike as you take in the action. Be warned, the wind is stiff, you’re riding straight into the prevailing Trades and you’ll be working hard each pedal stroke. It might also feel hot, kind of hot like a Wookie-sized hairdryer hot might feel.

Past the park you take a left onto Diamond Head road and circle back towards Waikiki. You can take a detour to the base of the hike up Diamond Head if you like, and if you have a CX bike feel free to shoulder it and run up the trail for a killer view. I’m on a much more sensible road bike and push hard instead up the false flat to the city again. Down Monsarrat Avenue, take a left turn and you’re back in Kapiolani Park ready for the next loop.

I should also mention most of this loop is a bike lane designated road, so even though it’s not always a defined lane it is always marked with a bike lane logo. This means (in theory) that drivers should recognize you on the road a bit better. However, as always stay super frosty on public roads and don’t hide in the curb.

So in closing, if you even have just an hour or 90 mins you can squeeze out several loops and still have time to soak up the amazing views. It’s time well spent. Even though your Strava will show a short ride, you’ll know better, and when your friends see the photos, they will too.

Next up is Hanauma Bay and back, followed by Tantalus Road climb.

Mahalo for reading.