Sunday, April 5, 2009

Classic West Maui Loop

Steve and I headed out early Saturday for the classic West Maui road ride loop. The wind was already quite ferocious. We rode the loop clockwise, hoping the head wind wouldn't yet be too strong along the north shore heading out and getting full benefit of tail wind along the south shore later in the ride. Things didn't quite work out that way.

As we passed the last of the resorts on the west side of the island, we picked up another rider. Turned out to be John Baudhuin, founder and CEO of Mad Dogg Athletics. Spinning, Spinner bikes and Spinerval DVDs are just some of the products his company owns. He comes to Maui for a week every year and commented he hasn't seen wind like this along the north shore. Very pleasant guy to talk with. The three of us loosely hung together for the next 20 miles of wickedly curvaceous, hilly terrain. Much of the road is single lane wide Jeeps can barely fit on. Great for cyclists, especially early in the morning when the tourists are still eating breakfast and putting sunscreen on.

Steve heading up one of the walls

I was hoping to average 4hrs per day riding on the islands. Doesn't look like I'll hit that, so following my modus operandi so far this season, I opted for a little intensity during the ride. There are numerous 200ft walls along the north shore. The biggest climb gains nearly 1000ft in fits and spurts. After drilling about 5 or 6 of these, my legs were rather tenderized and I couldn't ride away from Steve anymore unless he let me. I needed some margin on the climbs. He is a skilled (or fearless?) descender. There are dozens of blind, single lane cliff ledge corners on this road. There is no way to get around a car should one come just as you rounded the turn at the same time. Steve had no trouble putting seconds on me down each descent packed with these sketchy turns.

Steve cresting another wall

The wind in spots was almost enough to force dabs, especially coming around these rock face corners into the wind. It was difficult to hold a line on the descents with wind hitting you in random directions. Soon enough, we'd get some tail wind.

After passing through the town of Wailuku, we picked up a slight descent with perfect tail wind. It was easy to hold speeds over 40mph, the road now with paved shoulders. In fact, there were minutes at a time where I was going 40-45mph and felt no net wind. That means the steady wind speed was at least 40mph, gusting much higher. Bombing down this gradual descent, we passed a cop on the shoulder with laser gun. I was doing 47mph. The speed limit was 45. He smiled and waved at us.

Kahakuloa Head

We stopped briefly to pick up some fluids to finish out the ride. The temp was hovering around 80F. A triathlete couple competing in Ironman Kona also stopped there. They were doing 20 minute intervals back and forth on that road with power taps on their TT bikes. The woman said they were holding 5mph in the opposite direction. I don't think she was joking.

Wrapping around the south side of West Maui, Steve and I expected to continue with at least partial tail wind. Nope. It was partial head wind. Just brutal. We still had 15+ miles to go, not a nice way to end a ride. We stopped at West Maui Cycles to see if rental MTBs are size were available yet. They were, and we pre-paid for pick-up later in the day. Plan is to do the Haleakala plummet on Sunday.

Other than high clouds, the summit of Haleakala stayed clear today

We finished the ride with 58.7 miles, about 4100ft of climbing per the Edge 705, in 3:20hrs riding time. I think it took my wife and I over 4hrs to do this loop on the tandem 4yrs ago. Topo 7.0 gives over 7500ft of climbing for this loop, which is simply wrong. When routes hug cliff edges, Topo grossly over estimates. The 705 barometric altimeter undermeasures on small rolling hills, but on this ride, it probably didn't miss much. Steve rode the loop counter-clockwise before the rest of us arrived on Maui. I just might have to see if I can work that in before hopping over to the big island in a few days.


Anonymous said...


Great trip write up and web site.

I tried the new Endurance Series DiNotte lights tonight. I had a 400 lumen dual light mounted on my helmet and a single large 800 lumen on my bar. Superb.


Dave said...

Your suffering sounds impressive. LOL, reminds me of a couple of rides this past Winter where I got very cold. Been working hard to get in shape for 6 Gaps and earned 5750' in 3.5 hours yesterday. I love Springtime in the mountains.
My newly rebuilt aero junk got me almost 47 mph into a headwind. But 45 mph on a 25 mph curve in the wind is a handful. Someday I might make it to HI.

Hill Junkie said...

Kevin - you could light up half the state with that set up. Any cars flash brights?

Dave - looking forward to the big climbs on the big island. Weather looks pretty dismal though. High prob's of precip, and at 14,000ft, that almost certainly means snow. Mauna Loa is not plowed to the summit.