Saturday, April 18, 2009

Maui--Friday, February 27, 2009

One of the big attractions on the island of Maui is catching sunrise from the top of Mt. Haleakala. The island's mountain slopes and ocean winds cause the area near the top of Mt. Haleakala to be shrouded in clouds, but the peak itself rises above the top, so in sunrise, you get to see the sun poke up through the clouds while you look down. From the photos we had seen, it was pretty cool. The first risk however is that sometimes the top of the volcano is covered as well and the sunrise is a dud. The second risk is not getting to the top in time. Most people make an attempt to catch sunrise early in their stays, so if it's a dud, they can re-try, and some people start the journey at 4am. Well,

Jean and I are NOT most people. We waited until our second to last day, and we waited until the last second to get out the door. I'll take the blame on the latter part, as I underestimated the drive time. I forget what time exactly we left, but I do remember seeing that early morning glow get brighter and brighter, and still thinking of how far we had to go. The road up the volcano is narrow, winding, and sometimes treacherous, but I was not about to miss a photo-op. We passed the gate (the volcano is in a national park) and didn't get optimistic information from the ranger in regards to our estimated drive time and the predicted time of sunrise, but still, we kept driving up. And up, and up. We pulled in to the parking lot at the top of the volcano (which, incidentally, it's weird to write a sentence that includes the words "parking lot at the top of the volcano") and leapt out of the car just in time to hear the crowd of people (maybe 100 or more, many wrapped in blankets) grumble about the fact that the sunrise was late. What luck! We had enough time to turn the cameras on and start snapping away... yeah! The sun rise was VERY cool! With that item checked off on our list, we jumped back in our ride and made our way back down the volcano. Jean had an appointment with the spa, and I had an appointment with some mountain bike trails.

I went to Poli Poli state park which was on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala, and this area appeared to the best (if only) mountain biking on the island. Now, as far as mountain biking goes, I'm pretty committed to this whole singlespeed movement. I'll allow myself gears on my road/commuter bikes, and my cyclocross bike (for now), but for mountain biking, one gear is the way to go. The bike I had with me in Hawaii was geared though, with a 1x8 gearing. I allow this because the bike truly is multi-purpose (road, off-road, touring, commuting). It didn't really matter because soon enough, it was a de facto single speed--I dropped it into the largest cog and just started climbing. I only got up to about 8000ft, about 2000ft shy of the volcano's peak. I really had wanted to get to the top, but I really didn't know how far I had to go, and I just kept pedaling and pedaling and pedaling, hoping to be able to see the peak to guage the distance. Every turn in the trail gave me another spot to say to myself "I'll just get to that next turn...". Eventually, I was starting to get a little tired (i.e., out of shape), and whipped out the GPS to see what my elevation was, knowning that my goal was about 10,050. When it said that I was only at about 8,250 I decided to turn around. Am I weak? Yeah, sadly, I'd say I am. Although, 3,000ft of climbing on a 30+lb in February was still a great work out.

With the rigid cromoly fork on the front, I think I got more of a work out on the way down though. Ouch. I do love the hardtail, but give me some front wheel travel. Anyway, on the way down, I took some of the side trails for some singletrack bliss. All in all, this day of riding was worth bringing the bike.

I made my way back to the rental car and then made my way back down the twisty road to the state park.

In retrospect, I did LOTS of up and down switchback driving--first UP to the top of Mt. Haleakala, then back down Mt. Haleakala to Makawao, then up the twisty road to the cottage, then back down the twisty road to Makawao, then up the twisty road to Poli Poli state park, then back down that same road, then back up to the cottage, then back to Makawao and over to Kihei, then back up to the cottage... Oy!

Kihei? Yeah, we went for sushi again. That killer sushi restaurant, Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar had two Maui locations so we figured we'd try a different one. Bad idea. We waited nearly an hour after placing our order to get our food, and it wasn't worth the wait. We were very disappointed, but it's better than a chop stick in the eye.

Anyway, once back at our cottage, sadly it was time to start the bike disassembly and time to start packing.

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