KOKEE — About 90 bicyclists charged up the mountain on Kauai’s Westside in the 10th annual Pedal to the Meadow bicycle hillclimb race Saturday.
“Here we are 10 years in,” said Mary Williamson, event director or operations. “It’s a small community, small island and a very small sport. So as a result, we get to know each other personally. In those 10 years, there have been wonderful friendships, great joys in people’s lives.”
Cyclists started in Kekaha and biked about 16 miles and elevated about 3,800 feet to the finish line in the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow in Kokee State Park.
Caleb Barville, 17, of Kona finished first overall at 1 hour, 3 minutes.
“The race was a great experience for me. I haven’t done any other big races like this other than Sea to Stars last year on Big Island,” Barville said. “I wasn’t in my top form then because I was a year off from cutting my Achilles (tendon) in half. Did that in July 2017. I’ve just been really training hard for this thing.”
Barville later this year will compete at Junior Nationals in Maryland.
“A lot of people on the other island have been super helpful and supportive of that,” the 17-year-old said. “I’m using this race as part of the training and get some great racing experience with other super-fast guys.”
Carl Nethercutt of Honolulu was second overall at 1 hour, 5 minutes.
Rick Beach, a Wailua native and three-time winner of the race, finished third overall with a time of 1 hour, 7 minutes.
“A good, nice steady start. Everybody was just kind of watching each other,” Beach said. “Caleb from the Big Island punched it a little bit after the bridge and got a nice gap on the rest of us. It was starting to thin out, and Nethercutt went after him. I tried to chase them down steadily, but they were just going a little too hot for me. It’s like, ‘Alright. I’m just going to go my own pace.’”
Beach is one of a few of cyclists who have raced in all 10 Pedal to the Meadow events.
“Just an awesome event. Just glad that Mary and Binney (Williamson) keep putting it on,” Beach said. “I come over from Oahu, and people from Maui and the Big Island come over to do it. It’s one of the best races of the year, for sure.”
Winona Chen of Kona was the first female rider to cross the finish line and placed 18th overall with a time of 1 hour, 23 mintues.
“I’m super-stoked to be here. I love this race,” Chen said. “It’s a really pretty course, even though you’re not really watching the course so much while you’re going uphill. And it’s so well-organized. Everybody’s attitude and energy is so awesome. I just love being part of it.”
She said of being the top-female placer: “I’m so happy. I was just like, “Yay!” I was so relieved, too. I’m just so stoked.”
Pedal to the Meadow is a USA Cycling-sanctioned event hosted by Bicycle Racing Kauai.
It is the main event of the Kauai Omnium. The weekend concludes today on the Westside with the Mana Time Trial and then the Cycle on the Strip Criterim at Kauai Raceway Park in Mana.
Williamson said people are free to attend the criterium at Kauai Raceway Park.
She added that the hillclimb race also serves to raise awareness of road safety.
“Part of this is to remind everybody to share the road with aloha,” she said. “If you think about it, everybody here on a bicycle drives a car, but it isn’t true the other way around. Most people who drive cars are not cyclists. So, the awareness needs to be ramped up.”
Full results: pedaltothemeadow.com.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.