|Steve's Maui Page - May 2007|
I just returned from a week long vacation on Maui. It goes without saying
that my bicycle went on vacation with us! This was a family vacation,
meaning that while Mom, Dad, my sister and her fiance were out sunning
themselves on the beach, I was out doing that thing I love...pedaling
my bike. Maui is not a bad place to ride. Warm, but not too hot. There
is a fair amount of traffic in certain areas, but most of those areas have
decent shoulders on which to ride. The West Maui loop is absolutely stunning.
For the most part, I was riding by myself. One notably exceptional highlight
was the ride up Haleakala. My sister's fiance, Paul, is a cyclist and former
record holder for the old 10 mile Dry Creek Time Trial. Paul rented a fairly
good performance road bike from West Maui Cycles and he and I made the 38 mile
ascent up the 10,000 foot dormant volcano. Paul and I were supported by a VERY
seasoned and experienced race support staff - my Dad! He offered unparalled and
unflinching sag support. He woke up early and drove us from our hotel to our
starting point. Then he proceeded to leap frog us all the way up the mountain
alternatively taking these photos and offering food and water. Really, we had
the easy bit of just pedaling...but it couldn't have been done without him!
We started from somewhere near the airport and it was about as fine a day for such
a climb as you could possibly get on Maui. Roughly 78 degrees at our 9:30am
start. Though sunny, looking up there was donut of a cloud surrounding a good
portion of this mighty mount.
The first 8 miles, or so, are just not very steep. But the real challenge to the
first few miles is the wind. Paul and I were challenged by a crossing head wind
that kept the pace down. But soon, as we gained a bit of elevation, the winds
diminished. The closer we got to cloud-level, the cooler it got and the calmer
the winds. By 4,000 feet we were completely enshrouded by the mist. The roads were
damp, but the light rain was a bit of a blessing. Since we were in the middle of a
cloud, it was roughly 60 degrees and we certainly had no worries of overheating.
As we kept climbing higher through the cloud, the temps started slowly rising again.
At somewhere around 6,000 feet, I saw something that was beautiful and unique. The
temperature increase was causing the moisture on the wet roads to evaporate quickly
such that it created a thin carpet of fog that lifted off the road and hovered at
no more than 2 or 3 feet above the ground. The gentle breezes and passing cars would
swirl the fog into patterns. As the climb carried us higher and closer to the
cloud ceiling, the occasional ray of light would pierce through the gray and collide
with the twisting tendrils of mist in a multi-spectral explosion. Oxygen deficiency
can provde such thrills!
At around 7,000 feet, the terrain becomes a bit lunar - or perhaps Martian. There is lots
of red rock, very little vegetation and switchback after switchback. The grade keeps
a fairly steady 4 to 6 percent nearly the entire climb. It isn't steep, but it just stays
at nearly a constant grade. Until you get to about 9,850 feet. And then all of a sudden
you have to drag yourself up this last steep pitch. The last bend, is SO worth it! Around
the final turn is that sign that says "Elev 10,000 feet" and the feeling is victorious!
They say the best things in life are free, but it does, in fact, cost $5 to get your bike
into the National Park that is Mount Haleakala. Seems a small price to pay for a memory that
will last a lifetime...