Friday, Sept. 29, 2023|
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KAILUA-KONA — It took a little longer than he planned — another whole day, in fact — but ‘Bike Man’ made it to the summit of Mauna Kea during the weekend.
It was difficult, Brian Fulghum, known around Kailua-Kona for wearing a costume and cape, said about the ride from Kailua Pier to the top of the 13,796-foot-tall mountain.
But in the bigger picture, it was a piece of cake, too.
“Knowing how to get the more out of life with a physical challenge is more difficult,” said Fulghum, who is partially blind. “The day-in, day-out, that’s harder than this.”
Fulghum’s ride was meant to send the message that people with disabilities can still achieve anything they set out to do. He left the pier on his bike before the sun rose Saturday morning. He arrived before 2 p.m. at Mauna Kea Access Road. After a lunch break with his support vehicle crew, he rode 8 miles to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, where he camped out.
“I was so bushed,” he said. “I literally crashed into a bush in my sleeping bag.”
The next morning, he rode the final 3,500 feet and 9 miles to the summit through grueling sand and gravel.
“Oh, I don’t know how much I can do at this point,” he remembers thinking during the final push.
But he persevered, holding his bike above his head in triumph after reaching the summit at about 1:40 p.m. Sunday, a roughly 80-mile ride.
“Actually, I had a blast,” he said.
Steve Opp drove the support vehicle during the weekend with his fiancee, Ashley Reeves. They said there were never any moments of panic or trouble. In fact, Fulghum made it look easy, and wore a smile at every checkpoint along the route.
“He really is at home on a bicycle,” Opp said.
Now, Fulghum will try and write a book about his time riding along the entire length of the Mississippi River in 2011 in a quest to continue sharing the message that anything can be achieved once a person’s mind is made up.
But before that, a celebration was in order to note the accomplishment — pizza and stout, of course.
“Something with a lot of carbs,” Fulghum said.
Email Tom Hasslinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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