Friday, September 25, 2015

A bike, An Island and a Volcano....what could be better?

It seems like a lifetime ago that I've been motivated to sit down and put words on paper....(or computer in this case)
It's been a pretty challenging year since my life was turned upside down and yet I've managed to get through it. Mostly thanks to God, my girls and some very close friends.
But that's not what this blog is about. It's about riding and I've been doing a lot. Riding for me has given me purpose, kept me fit and most importantly, kept me somewhat sane....not that I've ever been too sane anyway.

Back around the holidays, a bunch of us got together for dinner and as usually happens, the beer and wine flowed freely and as also usually happens, the discussion turned to rides we had done and rides we wanted to do. One of our group mentioned riding up Haleakala as something he had done and just how tough it was. This of course led to the idea that we should plan a group trip to Maui with the goal of riding up the volcano....I mean after all, it's only 36 miles, how tough could it be? (this may have been the alcohol talking)
It was then and there decided that we would do this and we would begin planning and training immediately. (interesting that Chris, who started the discussion wanted no part in this upcoming adventure)

Long story short, the planning happened, 4 of us committed to doing the ride, and for some of the others, the training also began. For me....well not so much. I rode regularly, but not at the level I should have been for the upcoming ride.
What's the big deal you ask? Yes, I did say it's only 36 miles but I forgot to mention you ride from sea level to 10,000 ft in those 36 miles...add to this is rated as the 2nd most difficult climb on a bike in the US and you'll understand why I was having trouble sleeping.

There were some last minute calls back and forth to see if we were still going as Hurricane Ignacio as also supposed to be heading towards the islands. We decided, the heck with it and agreed we were still moving forward thereby sealing the name, Team Poor Judgement.

We landed on Saturday, got settled in to the house we rented (amazing btw) and, while Bob assembled his and Leticia's very cool travel bikes, I walked around the corner to Maui Cyclery  to pick up my rental bike. Wow, these guys are awesome. Great group of guys, that know their stuff and rent nice equipment. I ended up with a Carbon Orbea with disc brakes.

Sunday morning, we started out early (6:30am) with Leticia and I riding out in a light rain and Bob starting the driving in the van as sag support. (backstory, TPJ was supposed to include Keith and his wife Shelly and son Patrick, to do the sag, but he was still in CA trying to resolve bike issues - Bob and I decided to tag team so Leticia could do the whole ride)

The ride, even with the light and sometimes not so light rain, started out nice. It was warm, the climb was gentle, and the scenery was beautiful.

The climb continues like that for roughly the first third of the route. As a matter of fact it was a downright pleasant ride to that point.

 Eventually though, we hit the middle section and the road got steeper. The pretty, scenic route becomes a series of switchbacks that seem to never end. At this point you just plug a good song into the ipod and begin to grind away....trying to find a pace that keeps you moving but doesn't allow you to blow up.

Bob and I tag-teamed the drive. One of us would take the van, drive up a ways, unload our bike and ride back down to meet the others. We'd ride to the van and the other person would repeat the process. It allows everyone to ride and although you don't get all the miles, you get enough.

Eventually, we got to the official park entrance with sits right about 7000ft and the rain that hadn't been too bad, got serious...along with a pretty strong wind which had us blowing sideways so decided to call it for the day. (total for week - approx 24 miles/6000ft of climbing)

Monday, The three of us got up early again, drove to the 7000ft level and finished the ride to the top.  No, we hadn't done the 0-10,000ft that we set out to do, but we still felt a sense of accomplishment. (total for week 36 miles/10000ft)

Monday afternoon, we heard from Keith that he got his old bike running, had booked their flights and would be joining us Tuesday.

Tuesday we decided to mix things up a bit and decided to hike instead of riding. We hiked along a really cool river to a series of waterfalls. It was a very nice day, a beautiful hike and a nice change of pace.

Tuesday, Keith, Shelly and their son Patrick showed up so another assault on the mountain was put in motion. This time, Shelly and Patrick would sag while Bob, Leticia, Keith and I headed up the hill on the bikes.

Wednesday we started out with gorgeous weather, no rain, but crazy humidity....I was as wet from sweating as I had been a couple of days earlier from rain.

The ride went well and knowing how the climb played out helped quite a bit. At about 4000ft Keith started struggling with cramping issues and although we regularly stopped so he could stretch, he wasn't quitting. Eventually, with the help of at least 20 enduralytes to keep Keith from locking up, I once again found myself at the 7000ft entrance to the park.
Being of the, "been there, done that" mentality I wished Keith good luck and godspeed I turned around and headed downhill for a beer,

What I didn't realize was that the rain and clouds had come in behind us as we were climbing so the ride down was a little more treacherous than I had bargained for....thankfully, I had thrown my jacket in my pocket and the disc brakes on the bike did what they're supposed to do.
The clouds and rain tended to hover between 5-7000ft so once you get down the mountain a little way, things clear up and the ride becomes a fast, beautiful downhill roller coaster.

Turns out the Enduralytes kicked in and Keith recovered from his leg cramps to finish strong.
(total for week - approx 84 miles and 17000ft)

Friday morning we again got up early, (not sure why all my vacations leave me exhausted) and headed out to ride the Road to Hana. I had driven this road in a minivan, my wife and 2 kids a long time ago and remembered it as a full day of winding, twisting, car-sickness inducing hell. Funny how that's exactly what it was, but on a bike it became twisting, turning bicycle nirvana.

We started at 6:00 am to avoid traffic and at the half way point turned around. As we came back, the line of cars headed out reinforced our rare moment of good judgement. (total for week - approx 115 miles/21000ft)

Friday night I heard a rumor circulating among Team Poor Judgement that Leticia really wanted to do the bottom to top ride and was looking for someone to ride with....I, being weak minded and of poor judgement immediately chimed in with "I'm in"...

Saturday again found us on Baldwin Ave headed up...and up....and up. The weather was great, the views were amazing and we just had a really nice day on the bike making circles and heading upwards. Bob sagged for us and we took our time, stopping regularly to refuel, drink, take pictures, etc. Eventually we reached the top, made the final checkmark on this item on the bucket list and piled in the van for the ride down the hill and dinner. What an awesome week! (weekly total 187 miles and 31000 ft)


Johnny White said...

I'm still laughing at the Team Poor Judgement quip. But after reading your account, which was well written by the way, and the pictures of the ride, it seemed like one of the best weeks you could possibly ever have. Even though you might be poor in judgement, maybe you can yourselves Team Good Karma.

Rich Sims said...

Thanks - it really was a great week, we were just glad Hurricane Ignacio decided to go elsewhere during our vacation