Epic Ride - West Maui Loop, Hawaii
Most people while vacationing in Hawaii spend their time enjoying the beach, playing in the warm ocean, snorkeling, sight seeing tours, or feasting at a Luau. I am no longer that person, well I still enjoy the beach and the ocean, and I still like to eat, but now I look for opportunities for epic bike rides. This year my wife booked us a trip to Maui, this was our first time on Maui and we had heard that it wouldn't disappoint. My wife and I love the Big Island of Hawaii, and it was hard to pass going back to visit a new island.
As soon as I found out that we were going, I began researching the cycling scene on Maui. Two epic rides kept coming up on my online research. The infamous Haleakala climb and the West Maui Loop were the two big ones that kept coming up. I knew right away that 10,000+ feet of climbing was something that I was not ready to attempt on this vacation, so I focused on the 60 mile West Maui Loop. After contemplating trying to fly my own bike over I ended up taking the easier route and rented a bike. There are a few different options for bike rentals on the island but I ended up going with West Maui Cycles ( http://www.westmauicycles.com/ ) they had plenty of options and reasonable prices for some really high end road bikes. I ended up renting a Specialized Roubaix Expert with Ultegra electronic shifting, which I really enjoyed and now wish I had on my own bike! West Maui Cycles also had some excellent information on their website about various rides on the island. This was an added benefit as I was planning to attempt this ride solo. I'm still pretty new at this cycling thing so the idea of a 60 mile ride around a remote part of a distant Hawaiian island was a bit intimidating. As we were traveling to Maui in February I knew that the weather could potentially be an issue so I kept my fingers crossed and prayed for sunny skies. I only rented the bike for two days, this was suppose to be a get away with my wife not a multi day cycling excursion and I knew that I would be pressing my luck if I was to take off on my own for more that a day or so. In hindsight, I wish I had rented the bike for a couple of extra days. Mostly due to the fact of the weather and February still being technically winter? Or I guess at least one of the rainier months for Maui. The first couple of days of our stay in Maui were absolutely gorgeous! Of course, the day I picked up the bike it rained so hard that the streets were starting to flood. As our hotel was only 3 miles from West Maui Cycles I decided I might as well get a wet ride in and ride it back to the hotel and pray that the storm moves out and clears up for the day of my ride. As luck would have it, the weather report called for sun and light wind. I was up early and ready to go by 8am, the first 10 miles of highway riding from Kaanapali wasn't super exciting. But that all changed as soon as the highway ended, the road tightened up, and I pulled off for my first photo stop above Honolua Bay.
Back on the bike, every mile another spectacular view, whales breaching in the distance, blue skies and blue water on one side, a tropical green volcano jutting up into the sky on the other side of the road. Every mile that ticked by, brought another beautiful sight and a feeling of remoteness on road not traveled by many. In fact for the majority of the rural areas of the Maui Loop ride I only saw about a dozen cars. In a couple of spots very close up, as the road barley had room for a small car and cyclist to share. For much of the ride I was very much alone and I enjoyed it. It was myself, the road, and the island and I was loving it. About 20 miles into the ride I dropped into the beautiful little village of Kahakuloa or better known as the banana bread town. With at least three options for banana bread it is a must stop, the most popular with cyclists is Lorraine’s, she has free water, tubes, and of course banana bread. Don't over do it though, as soon as you begin to leave Kahakuloa you being about a 5 mile climb with a max 10% grade and tops out a little over 1,000 feet in elevation. Then the downhill fun begins, tight one lane roads, wet slippery pavement, blind corners, and increasing tourist traffic begins to pick up as well so be aware and watch your speed but don't miss the amazing views and waterfalls along the way. Back to civilization in Waiehu and the beginning of highway riding and the 25+ mile slog back to Kaanapali. The West Maui Loop offers a little bit of everything and is a must do for anyone who loves to cycle, it truly is an epic ride.