Fruit-Farming Paulina Cycles Hawaii

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OR: Tell us about yourself, Paulina!

PN: My name is Paulina and I was born in Chile. I've lived in New York since the age of 7, in the suburbs of NYC. I currently live on the Big Island of Hawaii, having moved here about a year ago. These days I spend most of my days focusing on creating a sustainable, off-grid, permaculture food paradise to live in. My boyfriend and I are tending the land and have been busy planting lots of fruit trees, gardens, and building a shipping container home! In our free time we enjoy going on scenic bike rides around the island and eating local fruits.

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We have a YouTube channel: OffGridHawaii!

OR: How did you fall in love with bicycling?

PN: My main reason for starting cycling was because my sister had the idea of riding bikes to the Woodstock Fruit Festival instead of driving there, as a fun adventure. She had ridden across the country the year before and really got me excited about riding a bike long distance. So about 3 months before the tour to the Festival I chose to get a bike and start training.  

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OR: What’s the Woodstock Fruit Festival?!

PN: The Woodstock Fruit Festival is a one week raw vegan/fruitarian retreat held in Diamond Point, NY. It's located in a summer camp venue with lakefront access and other fun activities. There are various talks and lectures about health and wellness, a bunch of fitness activities, social interaction games and entertainment such as game shows and talent show. It's a really fun time where I get to reconnect with my "fruitarian" friends and meet awesome new people.

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OR: What was that bike tour to the Festival like for you?

PN: It was the first time I’d done an overnight bike tour. This was in 2013, it took 4 days and I did it with my friend Kyle and my sister and her boyfriend. It was so exciting because back then (I know, it wasn't even that far back) we didn't have Garmin GPS technology to lead the way for us. So we had to spend a lot of time figuring out where we were and where we were going, and finding good places to camp. Yeah, we weren't super prepared for the journey... but that's what made it memorable and exciting.

I really fell in love with cycling and started to incorporate it more consistently, until eventually it took over my running routine.

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OR: How did being a runner first affect your cycling?

PN: I think that definitely helped me when I started because my cardio fitness was already good. I gradually stopped running and now cycling is my main sport. Now to help my cycling I just focus on making sure my muscles aren't too tight.

OR: What kind of bike do you ride?

PN: In NY I rode a Novara Carema Pro road bike. Here on the Big Island I have a Specialized Diverge DSW (bright orange). It's considered an adventure/gravel bike, so it's like a road bike but with slightly wider tires.

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OR: What role does your bicycle play in your life?

PN: My bikes have become my main source of exercise ever since I stopped focusing on running. It's a pretty important role for me because I highly value exercise and staying cardiovascularly fit. I also use my bike to commute to work and other places not too far away. It's always really nice when you can combine exercise and commuting. It makes me feel extra badass, helping to create a healthy body and healthy planet.

OR: How far do you ride?

PN: I typically enjoy riding around 20-40 miles when I'm being consistent. When I'm just getting back to a routine I usually just ride up to 10 miles at a time. I really enjoy the occasional long ride over 50 miles and beyond! The longest I've ridden is 100 miles in a day. (We have two videos about these rides on our YouTube channel!)

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OR: What do you think about while you’re riding?

PN: A state of mind that helps me be a better cyclist is to learn to be more aware and gracious while on the road. What I mean by that is to make sure that I am doing everything in my power to make it easier for others on the road (pedestrians/drivers)  to coexist with me as I ride my bike. This means signaling with my hands and voice, wearing visible clothes, having front and tail lights, and giving people the right of way if I doubt that they are letting me pass. Always siding in the side of caution.

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OR: What else helps you be a better bicyclist?

PN: Having good accessories definitely help me feel more comfortable. My helmet is highly visible neon orange, I made sure to invest in high power tail and front lights that are easy to recharge, and my bike itself is comfortable, in good working order and has great brakes.

Overall just my experience riding on different roads, terrains and weather situations has helped me become more comfortable over time. When I am on my bike I am fearless. Unless there is a vicious dog chasing me (all too common in the boonies of Hawaii).

OR: Have you ever been sexually harassed while riding a bike?

PN: I don't recall ever being sexually harassed while on my bike, but maybe just normal harassed by haters. Such as being told in an angry voice "to get the *&$# off the road!" Or being honked at obnoxiously. These are dinitely very rare occasions for me and happened probably less than 5 times since I started riding 6 years ago.

OR: If so, did you feel like the act of biking made you more vulnerable to this harassment?

PN: Well, this harassment was directly caused by the fact that I was riding my bike on the road with some angry motorists. But I get it, people get frustrated in life and take their anger out on the innocent happy bike rider on "their" lane.

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OR: What advice would you offer to a woman who wants to bike more, but is afraid to do so?

PN: Don't let fear stop you! My first advice would be to find other experienced riders to ride with while you start getting used to getting out there consistently. This is important because they can teach you about the laws of the road and offer tips and advice. I also recommend finding bike paths and quiet roads to ride on until you become comfortable riding your bike. If safety is tour concern, definitely absolutely always wear a helmet, carry your spare toolkit (and learn how to use it) and carry any extra "weapon" like pepper spray or a knife if you legitimately fear getting attacked.

Then you'll find that the more you ride, the easier it will become to ride more! All it takes is just starting.

OR: Anything else to share?

PN: Always carry extra water with you on the bike, not only because you want to stay well hydrated but because you can squirt water into a vicious dog's face if it tries to attack you, and the dog will quiver in fear and leave you alone.

OR: And... as a fruit farmer, what’s your favorite fruit?

PN: It's so hard to choose just one favorite! I have a top pick for mainland fruit and it's figs. Blueberries and persimmons take a close 2nd.

My favorite fruit in Hawaii is pitaya, aka: dragon fruit! It's just the coolest and I love all the crunchy seeds. My next two favorites are Rollinia and Durian. Yumm...

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Want to read more about Paulina's projects?  Check it out on YouTube: OffGridHawaii & OffGrid Instagram! She also does more cycling-related posts on her personal Instagram, PiolaAppleseed.

Want more stories from female adventurers? They're all here.

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