Friday, May 8, 2015

On the Road Again: Ocean, Sea and Sky

We've been hitting the road again these past few days - on our bikes. I love cycling, primarily I think because it gives me the opportunity to see things from a fresh perspective and to be out in the open air for prolonged periods. I also love the solitude and peacefulness of riding on a little used road where we can ride side by side and talk.

Of course, there are downsides, too, especially on busy highways. Noise. Car exhaust. Inattentive drivers and drivers with attitudes. Gravelly shoulders. No shoulders. It's all part of it.

On Tuesday, we rode 40 miles to Paia and back. That requires riding along busy highways practically the whole time and riding in headwinds of 20-25 mph, especially through Maui's main central valley. We thought again of an experience we had in the French Alps almost three years ago when we arrived at the top of a famous pass (Col du Galibier). There were tons of Dutch cyclists there, and one of them took our picture. Afterward, we asked him how they were able to train for these Alpine rides living in a flat terrain. "We ride against the wind," he replied, smiling. So we refer to cycling in Maui's main valley as riding in the Dutch Alps.

A view of the mountains in West Maui on the way to Lahaina

On Wednesday, we road to Lahaina and back - 50 miles total. This ride is along a busy road the entire way, but it's worth it for the scenery (see lead photo) as we ride next to the ocean on our left and the West Maui mountains on our right.

Mark and J-P on the beach Wednesday afternoon

We ride in the mornings, then head to the beach in the afternoons. On Wednesday, we ran into our good friends, Jean-Pierre (J-P) and Troy. We first met them three years ago and formed a bond. They were both Mormons in their youth, Troy having grown up in Salt Lake in a Mormon family, and J-P (much like myself) having joined the LDS Church as a young man in France. They met and lived in Salt Lake for a time, but moved to Canada 25 years ago.

Wednesday afternoon

Yesterday, we drove over to Paia, then rode from there to Kula, a community in the "Upcountry" (the slopes of Mount Haleakala). 32 Miles, 3300 vertical feet climbed. This ride offers nice views out over the valley and to the ocean beyond - on both sides of the island.

Haleakala Highway

A view out over the valley and, beyond, West Maui

This ride also offers the opportunity to see Jacaranda trees in bloom. We first saw these last year - giant green that are covered in purple blossoms that only grow (on Maui) in the Kula area. They have already peaked this year, but are still quite beautiful.

The ride up was our most challenging climb so far this cycling season, but the descent was pure fun. We hardly pedaled at all for 12 miles or so, careening down the shoulder of the Haleakala highway, sugar cane fields on either side of us, the ocean in view in the distance.

The beach yesterday afternoon with the tide coming in.

Today is a rest day. Tomorrow, we tackle riding all the way around West Maui - 66 miles. That should be interesting.

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