Posted by: Ian | April 12, 2010

West Maui

The shop that’s renting us bikes in Maui is having some trouble getting me the 58 cm Scott Speedster that I reserved some while in advance. I was told variously that they had one stolen and the replacement hasn’t come in, plus/or there is a rental return that’s late coming back. This is working out very well for me since they’re letting me keep the superior Litespeed for now.

This morning I took advantage of having the better bike and did a circuit of West Maui.

Paula dropped me off near the aquarium (which is over-hyped by Lonely Planet but does apparently have good jewellery shopping), where the big red marker is on the map. From there I sped along the highway, round past the whale-watching “Scenic Point” and on, in 14 quick miles, to Lahaina. Although progress on the highway’s bike lane is easy, I routed through the town for the colour and interest. Also, dropping a few mph gave my legs a rest.

Beyond Lahaina, I rejoined the highway and continued on. As the road turns North East I left the leeward side of the island and cycled into winds that gust down the channel between Maui and Molokai (which is cropped off this map). At the same time, the road began to rise into Kapulua. I knew before I set off that the gentle part of the ride would stop at around this point, and I was right. For the next 15 miles the road oscillated up and down, and although it never rose to more than 350 feet the extent of the undulation was greater than I’d foreseen. Frankly, it was harder than I was expecting. I saw my Garmin flash a grade of 20% in one steep section, which must have been the extreme. Nonetheless, the views out across the sea and inland were constantly beautiful and for most of this stretch the road surface was smooth.

There must be a moment, though my mind must have been elsewhere and I didn’t notice it, when the quality of the road changes significantly. It becomes narrower, no more than ten feet wide, and while a bike can pass a car with care it’s not easy for two cars to squeeze past each other. Fortunately, there were very few cars. Also, the even tarmac ran out, breaking into constant cracks and potholes. The temperature was rising too and, being a little more inland, there was no sea breeze. I noticed that I was running out of water. While there was little chance of finding a regular shop, there were a couple of roadsides whose signs promised fruit and drinks; possibly observing the sabbath, they were closed. I was in luck at the third place, where I was able not only to buy more water but also to try the banana bread and other snacks. It was delicious. I’d attach a link but the website blares out music upen loading, which is irritating.

Here instead is a photo, with the address, which I presume is ironic – it’s in the village of Kahakuloa. It’s also towards the start of a 6 mile ascent to just over 1,000 feet.

From the highest point there were stunning views across to Haleakala and I could see that the remainder of my ride would be most downhill or flat – and so it was. At Wailuku I checked my routing on Google Maps but otherwise I did the entire circuit without the use of maps. For the final drag I chose to speed through Kihei back to Wailea because it’s much more interesting than the Piilani highway.

By the time I got back to the apartment I’d covered 67.5 miles and cycled for 4 hours 44 minutes in about five and a half hours of elapsed time – I couldn’t resist taking some snaps en route. Although I burned only 20% fewer cals than I did on the ride up Haleakala, the West Maui circuit is much easier than that suggests by comparison. If only the Litespeed had a good saddle like a Charge Spoon it would have been totally enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Selle Italia saddle it’s fitted with seems like a Jesuitical device to cap the amount of pleasure you can have on a bike.

Last week I bought a pair of Skins recovery tights. I don’t know whether they work or not but I’ve been wearing them after my rides and I also put them on after my first run of the year a couple of days ago. I didn’t get the sore quads that were predicted for me after cycling up Haleakala in “tennis shoes” and I didn’t really suffer from running for 38 minutes with no recent form so the circumstantial evidence is in their favour. I’m wearing them now after my West Maui ride, and I believe that they help.

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