We arrived in Maui last weekend, blurry-eyed and eager for rest. Jon launched his assault into what he fondly referred to as a “warm weather training camp”, and I slept. After a few days in prone position I got up and started really enjoying being away: sitting on the beach, running along the shoreline, riding my bike on the island.
Among the “must do” adventures of this time? West Maui Loop. I’d heard of the loop from a number of folks this iconic trip around the west part of the island (often considered the woman’s head) was a “must do” for cyclists, and so I wrote it down on my list. After a few rides we made a plan to tackle the loop. Jon would be completing the loop for a fifth time, me, the first.
Jon and I left for West Maui Loop late in the morning mid-last week, stuffing our pockets full of gels, salt pills, cash and pedalled towards the starting point, an intersection on the loop near the aquarium. We fought the traffic out of Lahaina and Kaanapali, and eventually the traffic died down, the road narrowed and we found ourselves on the ‘classic’ and much discussed part of the West Maui Loop bike ride.
What was left undiscussed to me was the difficulty of the West Maui Loop. I have come to assume anything Jon does that he reports is “fairly easy” is probably “moderate” to “slightly difficult” in most layman’s language. So I assumed I’d be in for a challenge. I was correct.
The loop is stunning, a visual spectacle not to be missed. The loop is windy and narrow, with large sections of poor pavement and tiny bridges. My breath was stolen at the sight of the cliffs in the distance, my courage tested on the narrow sections where cars often came nose to nose on single lanes, and my resolve strengthened with each hairpin turn and harrowing switchback. I swung through the whole gamut of emotions: joy, despair, excitement, fear. We climbed past the famous banana bread stand, and I took stock of my supply, running perilously low.
Jon unsurprisingly lead the ride all day, I tried to stay within eye sight of his back. I felt a deep sense of foreboding when I saw him riding back towards me, the heat of the sun on our backs, fuel supply low. Jon informed me the end of the loop was closed, meaning we had three choices: 1. turn back and ride the 81km back to civilization; 2. sit at the road construction and wait until the road reopened at 4:30pm; 3. bushwhack along the precarious cliff with our bicycles in hope that we could get around the road construction. We chose to sit and wait it out, one half water bottle and one half of banana bread between us, three hours on the clock.
We sat for 20 minutes when a man appeared in a Tahoe, and rolled down the window and asked us if we needed a ride (yes) and we crammed ourselves into the car for a lift back to the real world. He dropped us off at a gas station and Jon and I rode to town, delirious with thirst and hunger, and biked ourselves to the nearest mexican food place we could find where we sat stupidly and guzzled coke until our brains started working again.
Later, once full of food and water, washed and changed, I asked Jon how far we were from the finish. He scrunched his face, thought for a minute, and said, “90%?”
90%?!? UGH. Now I have to go back and finish.