Cycling is set to return with Hilo time trial

  • West Hawaii today file photo Time trial organizer Jennifer Real said social distancing comes naturally with the format of the event.

They’re back!

After months of having a void sports calendar due to COVID-19, Hawaii Cycling Club announced the return of their 2020 events, starting with the Hilo Climbing Time Trial scheduled for Saturday.

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“I think people are excited to have something to look forward to,” said Ninole’s Jennifer Real, the event organizer. “I really wanted people to have some sort of competitive outlet and I think people need that. You can only Zwift race so much so I just want people to have an option.”

The 12-mile cycling event will begin at Komohana and Puainako Street in Hilo at 8:30 a.m., with riders utilizing the wide shoulder of the new Saddle Road. Cyclists will start separately on 30-second intervals, which is the normal format for all time trials, and will be competing against the clock.

“A time trial is social distancing because if you are not social distancing then you are cheating,” laughed Real, who is a general and internal medicine hospitalist and also the medical director for North Hawaii Hospice. “As a doctor who admits COVID patients to the hospital, I know this can be done safely. It seems like a lot of decisions that are made about what can be open and what is OK is not necessarily science based. But I understand science and COVID, and I feel very comfortable that we can hold a time trial safely.”

The 12-mile point-to-point course will feature a total elevation gain of 2,521 feet, offering a quad-busting challenge for serious competitors while providing a welcome and new experience for the novice.

“It’s mostly pretty steady climbing, there’s nothing incredibly steep about it,” Real said. “That’s why I chose to do it that way. No. 1, there’s a huge shoulder to ride on. When they built the new Saddle (Road), they built this new, giant shoulder. And it’s also a good distance where it’s still a challenge for the really strong racers, but it’s not too intimidating for anyone. I think anyone who rides a bike on a regular basis can do this and you get pretty nice views of Maunakea and Mauna Loa as you climb up the Saddle.”

Real said that all registration will be done online and in advance.

“There will be no morning registration so we don’t have to have anyone checking in or signing waivers,” she said. “Bib numbers will also be assigned in advance, and in the end, instead of having snacks and talk story and all that stuff that we normally do, people will just bring their own water and snacks.”

Real, who began this event last year to replace the former Mauna Loa Time Trial, said she currently had 14 riders on the registrant list and expects to see a turnout of somewhere in the 20s. The event will be limited to 30 participants.

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“I know a lot of people wait till the last minute (to register) and a lot of people were wondering if it really is going to happen and maybe waiting to sign up for that reason,” Real said. “Other than that, there are a lot of names on the list that I don’t know, which I think is awesome. Which is why I wanted to do this on the Hilo side to bring out people to events that normally don’t do Kona side time trials. As of right now, we only have one woman signed up so she’s going to need some competition.”

Online registration is open until Tuesday at bikereg.com/hiloclimbing2020. Biba will be issued between 8-8:20 a.m. For more information, email Jennifer Real at jsreal@gmail.com.

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