Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sun, Nov 22

Maui summary:
- 7 rides in 10 days
- 340.7 miles, average: 48.5 miles
- ~30k ft climbing

Next year's idea: participate in the Maui Century, which happens to "always" (this and last year) fall on the same Sunday when I leave Maui.

This year's total so far: 2763 miles; with about 5 weeks left in this year, I should be able to finally hit the 3000-mile mark.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thu, Nov 19

Yesterday, on Day 11 of this year's Maui trip, I wrapped up my cycling with a ride up from Paia to the summit of Haleakala Crater. The ride begins at sea level and climbs up to an elevation of 10023 feet, or 3055 meters. Our group of 7 riders started at about 9am from the Maui Cyclery. The route goes up Baldwin Ave at a moderate grade, and not 10 minutes into the ride, we got showered with rain, and not for the only time during the whole ride. Blaming the West Maui ride from two days earlier, I didn't feel strong, and fell about 5 minutes behind before reaching the first stop after about mile 14 at Kula Lodge, at ~3200 ft elevation. Even before reaching Kula, I was certain, that I won't make it again up to the Summit, just like last year. After consuming electrolytes, Fig Newtons, energy bars and gels, and plenty of water, all of us resumed to take on the next two thirds of the climb. Haleakala Hwy / State Hwy 377 soon turns left to become Crater Rd / State Hwy 378. The mile marker starts at 0 miles, and from there it's another 22 miles of climbing. I hooked up with another rider, Sean, who realized that riding the first third up to Kula while red-lining, won't get him up to the Crater. It is always a good distraction from the pain and suffering if you can chat with another rider, so the the ride up to about 6000 feet felt easy and was uneventful, when soon after the wind and drizzle started to really question us about how much longer we would last on the mountain. At the 6500 ft marker, at the planned rest stop, we donned arm and leg warmers, jackets and over-sized gloves, as it had gotten cold, mostly due to the wind-chill. The two ride leaders, Donnie and Mark, as well as the Support Van driver, would turn back from here, as the National Park doesn't allow any tour operations within park boundaries. So in other words, for the remaining 3500 ft of climbing (or 13 miles), we would be on our own. The other three riders, Bill, Steve and Emily, had already taken off, so Sean and I loaded up on water and nutrition, and resumed our ride. The park entrance is not too far from there, at about 7000 ft elevation, and unlike motorists, cyclists only pay $5 park fee. The first Visitor Center appears close after the park entrance, and along with it a flat of the rear tire. In the end, I had to patch the tube after having found the hole in the tube and the thorn in the tire, and realized that the stem of the spare tube was too short for that rim. Long story short, we were soon on our way again. The grade of Crater Rd past the park entrance is fortunately less steep than prior to it, so the ride stretches out because of distance and not because of elevation gain. Between 7000 and 8000 ft, the weather got nasty again, after it was sunny at the Visitor Center. Sean started having cramps and repeated "I'm spent", with just 20% elevation or another few miles to go. I convinced him to keep going, because only with mutual effort, we would make it. If it weren't for him, just riding by myself, I probably would have turned back earlier. The weather cleared up, the grade got less steep (so I felt), and at 9000 ft, it was obvious that now only a volcano outbreak would prevent us from going all the way up. Just before reaching the second Visitor Center below the summit, Bill and Emily, were already on their way down, so maybe just 15-20 minutes ahead of us; Steve had already passed us 30 minutes earlier. The last half mile to the actual Summit parking lot is tough, after having had a rather mellow incline for the last 2000 ft. Now, at 10000 ft, 6 hours of climbing and about 12% grade, the computer just reported a speed of 3.9 mph. Elation then after having reached the parking lot, and having ridden up the short path to the shack at Pu'u'ula'ula Summit and 10023 ft elevation. The obligatory round of pictures were taken, but not much time spent on enjoying the view. By now it was around 3:30pm, and we had another 36 miles back to Paia. Riding down, we hit the same cold and wet weather at 8000 ft and below, and going 30+mph didn't help keeping us warmer. We briefly stopped at the Visitor Center at 7000 ft to rush into the building and warm up for a few minutes before they would close at 4pm. By now, the weather had also gotten worse at lower altitudes, and only at around 4500 ft, it felt like we're coming back into warmer climates and out of the clouds. At the State Hwy 377/378 intersection, I shed the wet gloves, and we continued down through Kula and Makawao before another rain shower welcomed us back to Paia. It was 4:55pm, and it's been a long day in the saddle with 72.3 mile distance, and 10331 ft total elevation gain. I decided then that this would also conclude the cycling for this year in Maui; there's nothing that can top an epic ride like this.

Steve, myself, Emily, Bill, Donnie, Sean at the Kula Lodge rest stop

Happy on Arrival

Team Effort

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tue, Nov 17

Day 6, as said, was a a repeat of the Paia to Keanae Peninsula ride, except for a side trip to Wailua Village, an isolated taro-farming community; total mileage / climbing: 53.2 miles / 5534 ft.

Day 7 was a rest day.

Day 8, an early morning ride to Lookout Point and back, 33.3 miles.

Day 9: in anticipation to ride Haleakala on Day 11 (Wednesday), this was supposed to be a longer ride, followed by a rest day on Tuesday (today, Day 10). After having talked to two other cyclists here who rode around West Maui, it reduced my objections to ride on this hilly route. The North-west / north corner is usually rather breezy and rainy, but the radar didn't really show any rain until I actually got drenched for the first time, a few miles before Kahakuloa. The ride through that village was treacherous, with slippery metal plates over a one-lane bridge, and then the tires having no grip on a small and steep incline, so that I had to walk the bike up the incline. From thereon, the road surface got worse, and a while later, it started to rain again, just before State Highway 340 begins. The descent into Wailuku would have really been awesome and fast, if the road would have been dry; instead, with lots of water running on the road, and brakes not working as efficiently, 20 mph was the maximum speed I could achieve. Before reaching Wailuku, the rain ceased, and I stopped for a moment to drain the water from my shoes. The ride back south on Highway 30 to Maalaea Harbor was fast, as I took advantage of strong headwinds and a decline, reaching 40 mph. From there, another 16 miles to Ka'anapali, for a total of 60.7 miles and 4k ft of climbing.

Day 10, today, resting and pondering whether to ride Haleakala tomorrow, or this time ride all the way to Hana.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thu, Nov 12

Day 3: Morning ride to the Lookout Point along Hwy 30, and back to Kaanapali for a total of 32 miles in 1:50h. Picked up a Subway sandwich on the return, took a nap, had lunch, and somehow got around the afternoon. Dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate, a cheap place that serves Hawaiian food. Hawaiian beer and the Hawaiian performance from next door's Luau made it pretty authentic. Mission accomplished.

Vista Point Hwy 30

Day 4, Wednesday, was a ride from Paia up to Kula. Five of us, two ride leaders and three clients, headed up Baldwin Ave, and soon dropped one rider who had ambitions to ride up Haleakala without any arm warmers, vest and leg warmers; I don't think he made it very far. Four remaining, we continued through Makawao, and soon it fortunately cooled down which helped us significantly with the climbing. Rest stop was at La Provence. Cappucino and tasty pastries was all we consumed there today, definitely I have to come back here. The remaining ride was fast and uneventful; total: 35 miles, 4044 ft climbing.
After Monday's Two-Pizza lunch at the Flatbread Company, I was lucky again there as I got the Buy-One-Get-One-Free-Beer Special. The evening was concluded with the usual Mai Tai's.

At Hookipa, famous surfing spot on the North Shore

Day 5, today, was supposed to be an easy recovery ride up from Kaanapali, but after having to fix a flat before even leaving, and realizing then that the tire had a side-wall cut with the tube lurking through, I decided to ditch the bike and instead drive around West Maui. This is a trip by itself, not for the faint-hearted due to one-lane roads and lot of rocks on the road.

If the weather holds, tomorrow's ride will be a repeat of Monday's ride, from Paia to Keanae Peninsula and back.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mon, Nov 9

Day 2 in Maui. The motto for this vacation is "Bike, Mai Tai, Eat, Sleep, Repeat" (or any other order). Started with a Mai-Tai yesterday after I arrived, and in the morning today, I picked up the rental bike from Donnie Arnoult's Maui Cyclery, and rode 55 miles from Paia to Keanae Peninsula and back. The route is Hana Highway, and despite the rolling (5678 ft of climbing out and back), narrow and winding road, it's actually fun riding this stretch because cars are usually slower, and at times even can't pass. So the road belongs to you. At Keanae Peninsula I stopped for a few minutes before heading back. 27 miles later, back in Paia, it was time for lunch. Thanks to someone who forgot to put mushrooms on my 12" pizza at the Flatbread Company, I got to enjoy two pizzas for the prize of one. If you like pizza and come to Paia, this is the place to go. After returning to Kaanapali, I met up with two friends, who had just arrived and were thirsty for some drinks, and this is how we ended up having a couple of Happy Hour Mai-Tai's. Wasn't this a perfect day ? Now it's time to sleep; the bike wants to ride at 7am.