Monday, February 10, 2014

The Maui Report Part II - The Ride to Kihei

Part Two – The Ride to Kihei


There and Back Again


Thar be Whales!


Fish Tacos?  Sure, why not?

I survived the ride up and down the Haleakala Volcano, mostly.  And in accordance with our strict vacation itinerary, (yeah right) the next day was an easy 50 mile ride to the seaside town of Kihei and back.  I say easy, but nothing is easy after you spend more than 7 hours in the saddle and leave your body and legs depleted of all hope and happiness.

The idea was to preview the marathon route before Sunday, get a little cross training in, and enjoy a pleasant ride along the Maui coast. 

What we did not anticipate were the Kona winds (traditionally, Maui enjoys the benefit of the much calmer tradewinds) or the amount of whale watching we would experience this time of year.

We started after breakfast, the sun already well into the sky.  Our pace was light, with Charla in the lead, and me doggedly plugging along behind her.  My legs felt like jello, but I was determined to make the most of what looked like a beautiful day.

Signs along the road were constant reminders of why we were on Maui to begin with.
We had been warned by the B&B owner that the traffic could be intense and not bicycle friendly with all the tourists in town.  What we actually experienced was altogether different.  Drivers were courteous, and obeyed the rules almost without exception.  While not protected or guarded, the expansive bike lanes gave us plenty of room to maneuver and kept us far enough away from traffic that we actually felt quite safe.

The bike lane symbol is even wearing a helmet!
The tunnel along the coast of West Maui even had a bicycle button to push that would activate a light warning vehicles that you were passing through the tunnel.

Of course, we have been riding the past 4 years in El Paso, where every driver seems to have a homicidal urge towards all forms of life around them and traffic laws are just suggestions. 

Something else that I had noticed on my ride up the volcano was evident today.  The roads everywhere were like butter.  They were so smooth that I can recall every bumpy spot of the previous day’s 72 miles (there were 6 total, 4 of which were cattle guards near the Haleakala Park).  

Buttery smooth roads with wide bike lanes made for incredible riding.
We cruised around the coast and down towards Kihei.  There was some light rain and a breeze off the ocean that propelled us along.  In Kihei, we enjoyed a brunch of fish tacos before perusing the local market. 

Grilled mahi mahi with all the taco fixins.
My first fish tacos ever, and they are awesome!

Our ride back was a little more interesting.  Once out of Kihei, the Kona Winds that had given us a push in the morning were now blowing harder rain and a strong breeze off the ocean into our faces.  The uphill climb past Ma’alaea was a lot harder, but my legs had regained some of their vigor and I was able to easily spin up the coastline.  The headwind easily measured 15 mph that afternoon, but, and I can’t explain why, it seemed so much easier to handle than back in El Paso.  In EP, any headwind over 10 mph makes any ride miserable and sucks the fun right out.  Apparently, even a stiff headwind can be fun in paradise.

Into the headwind I felt strong enough to pull for Char for a bit.
Back along the West Maui coast Char and I had to stop several times.  Just off shore, the whales were playing. 

Never in my life have I experienced anything like it.  We had, apparently, chosen the right month to visit Maui as there were whales everywhere you looked.

"Admiral, there be whales here!" - Scotty
Cell phone pics don't do them justice.  They were hurling their entire bodies out of the water (called breaching and lunging) and lob tailing just a 100 yards offshore.  Close enough that you could hear them over the traffic that had just ground to a halt to watch.

We eventually left the whales behind and cruised into town.  Our recon of the marathon route complete and our bike riding in Maui finished.

The only thing left to do (other than have an awesome time on a tropical island) was to get ready for and then complete our first tropical marathon.  Too easy!

Training in style!