Riding the mountain trails

ANAHOLA — More than 100 riders took on Kauai’s mountain terrain in the 63rd annual Labor Day Hare and Hound race Saturday in Anahola.

In the race, racers drove their dirt bikes along a 39-mile course and gathered checks along the way. There were 27 checks that the riders went after.

Contestants competed in divisions varying by skill level within two classes: an A class (expert) and a B class (intermediate). Results depend on how many checks a rider collected and how long it took them to complete the course.

“It was a pretty awesome day. Dry condition made for people finishing the race and getting all their checkpoints,” said Bertram Almeida, president of host organization Garden Island Motorcycle Club.

“I think there’s a lot of happy racers,” he continued. “Typically, this is a race where a very small percentage actually finish. But this year, because the conditions were favorable, we had a lot of people finishing with all their checks. For a lot of people, just finishing the race is an achievement.”

The race began 8 a.m., and riders started turning in checks during the afternoon.

Grayson Gonsalves of Kapaa has competed in numerous hare and hound races.

“Today was good. Surprisingly dry. This race is usually wet,” Gonsalves said. “Quicker than normal. Usually, it could range anywhere from five to eight hours with a three gas-check race. … But it was nice.”

Gonsalves added what he likes about the hare and hound race is that “you’re not riding around in circles.”

“You’re actually get to see nice scenery, cross rivers (and) a lot of mountain terrain,” he said. “It’s just hard. It’s not anything you can find anywhere else, and it’s our home. So we get to ride places, where people don’t get to walk, on our dirt bikes. It’s just cool.”

Final results won’t be available until tonight’s luau and awards ceremony at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

The event alternates yearly between Omao and Anahola.

“The Anahola area has been known for riding for years and years,” Almeida said. “They incorporated a lot of the old school trails. The trail cutters, (they started cutting) nine months ago. … They mapped it out and it came out to about 39 miles. The heroes are the trail cutters that make the event happen.”

Steve Kessler of Omao rode in previous contests in Omao but this year was his first trying the race in Anahola.

“I rode the C class before (in Omao), but that was like, nothing compared to this,” Kessler said. “I guess guys come up here just to see if they can finish, the Anahola race. I figured, he (Almeida) was telling me, ‘You just got to do it.’ A couple of other guys were like, ‘Just do it.’ I didn’t finish the whole thing, but I made it as far as I could.”

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