Mana Road is one of the oldest roads on the island, it was used before any of the paved roads were built. From where this road starts on the flank of Mauna Kea to where it ends up in Kamuela is about a one mile drop in elevation... Think Grand Canyon. There were some very big drops initially, some steep enough I doubted my ability to get back up them. Here's one looking down towards the native treeline, in the general direction of Hilo, which you can't see because it's below the clouds.
I should mention, while I did check all my bolts and fluids prior to this ride, I was running street tires and had very notchy headstock bearings. This will be a factor later on... Nearing the halfway point the road road goes through the top of the native forest, which is mostly Koa Acacia. Here is the first grove I encountered:
At this point the road turned from gravel to ROCKS, with very steep gullies. A couple times I had both brakes on and a foot on the nearest boulder, and still I was sliding down! One one particularly nasty downhill, 4WDs had dug out the slope going up and left a series of 1' vertical drops seperated by 45 degree slopes covered in loose gravel. My rear wheel dropped off one of these drops and the bike threatened to highside me down the hill so I did a rapid faceplant between two boulders, and the bike slid down the hill ending up almost upside down and dripping gas. I wasn't hurt, I thought, "Cool, the gear did it's job." (sorry, no photo, I was very busy at this point) The rough road continued, with many places that I had only a 4" track between huge boulders and motorcycle eating holes, I'm thinkin' "sheeit, it can't get any worse..." Do Or Die was becoming my motto for the day! In the middle of the Koa forest I stopped for a break at the Doctors Pit, the first real shade and the scene of an alleged murder in 1834. For more info Google: David Douglas Mana Road. He was a Scottish botanist, and only the second white man to reach the summit of Mauna Kea.
The Koa is a high altitude tree, growing mostly between 4-8000'. This is beautiful forest, grassy pastures, very few mosquitos, wild pig and turkey hunting. After the Trials section, the rocks gave way to loose powdery sand and I reached the midway point, the Keanakolu Ranger Station at about @8500', the highest point on the journey:
Not too long after this, I was riding happily along and looked a little too long at the scenery. I swerved to miss some rocks in the road and down I went again:
This time I had the time to take a picture, because I was having a hard time picking the bike up. It doesn't show in the picture, but the tank, seat and subframe are all resting on the berm. There was only one place I could stuff my leg under the bike at an angle, so I used my leg as a lever. This got it up enough to use my leg as a prop, so I could reposition my other leg for more leverage, and I finally got it back upright. Unfortunately the clutch perch had rotated on the bars, and it had put a tiny ding on my tank, a couple deep scratches and broken fins on the valve cover too. ...gotta remember to put the crappy valve covers on, next time... Not bad really, and off we go, More coming....