Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Bike Ride

LOVE my new bike.  Love it.
I joined about 75 other cyclists for Go Cycling Maui's holiday pancake ride on Sunday.  In a word...AMAZING.

The weather called for gusty trades and scattered showers.  The wind howled all night and was blowing a good 25 mph when I got up, so I thought I was in for headwind hell, but it was blissfully calm by the time I got to Keokea park for the start.  It was also 54-freakin-degrees.

If you are reading this and you live somewhere where outdoor winter riding is not an option, and it gets freezing cold, you have every right to call me a wimp.  But geez, I am a tropical island girl and anything below 70F has me running for my sweatshirt.  I am always worried I am going to be cold, then 15-20 minutes into a ride or run I am calling myself ridiculous and thankful (usually) that I didn't bundle up.  With the ride starting at 3,500ft and a call for wind and rain, I added a couple of layers - my YMX long sleeve shirt, a sleeveless cycling jersey AND my new Athleta Quarter Mile Half Zip.  I was still cold for the first 20 minutes or so, as we raced downhill into Ulupalakua in the shadow of Haleakala, but I warmed up just enough by the turnaround to strip off the outermost layer.  It only got up to about 65 degrees, so was still a bit cool, but comfortable.
How most of the road looked.

I got a new bike in October - a Trek Madone 4.7 - and love every minute on it.  I was especially looking forward to this ride because I haven't had the opportunity to ride this route before.  It was SPECTACULAR!

At the turn-around, looking toward Kaupo.
Nearly the entire route was newly paved (a cyclist's dream!).  The twisting, winding roads meander around the southern edge of Haleakala, through Keokea, Ulupalakua and out past Kahikinui for what ends up to be about 40 miles.  It's  definitely not a beginner's ride, though - all that fast, steep downhill riding at the beginning means lots of climbing on the way back.  But if you've got the legs for it, you won't be disappointed.

Kahikinui Wind Farm
We started the ride at 7:00 a.m. and headed toward Kaupo.  There was virtually zero traffic in either direction the entire ride since most of the tourist traffic comes around from Hana in the early afternoon.  It was windless until we climbed out of Ulupalakua and rounded the curve far above Wailea, then BAM, smacked in the face with a good 20-25mph headwind.  The saving grace was that a good part of the start of the ride would be downhill, and we would have a tailwind for the uphill on the way back.

On the return we got a glimpse of the new wind farm going up on the backside of the island along with breathtaking views of Maui's leeward coast.  I was completely caught up in the scenery and enjoyed every minute of the ride.

Not long after I took the last picture, I was cruising up over a hill and just as a crested it I looked up at the brilliant blue sky.  I took my eyes off the road at just the wrong moment and hit a small pile of lava rocks that had spilled onto the road from the nearby hillside.  As my bike pitched over the pile I was immediately thankful I wasn't going any faster because I think I would have crashed.  It was bad enough, however, as I realized I had my first ever mid-ride flat tire.  Leave it to me to find the one pile of debris on an otherwise immaculate stretch of road!

I limped over to the shoulder, thankful I had a spare and knew how to change the tire, but also knowing that it would probably take me awhile since I can count on one hand how many times I've changed a tire in practice.  And since this ride was mostly unsupported AND I was near the back of the pack of riders, I knew help wouldn't appear any time soon.

Just as I was pulling over, another cyclist heading out (and not with our ride), stopped and asked if he could help.  Not 10 minutes later I was back on the road again - special MAHALO to Dave of Makawao for lending me his expertise!

I caught up to my friend Sarah on the way back and we rode together to the finish.  It was a bit of a trudge climbing back out of Ulupalakua, but an overall great ride.  

I can't wait to get out there again!

Happy Holidays!