Maui winter training: Day 4, The Road to Hana

The previous day Adam and I “took off” and ended up doing an 8 mile hike in the Iao valley. I have to remind myself that going on a hike doesn’t necessarily equate to taking it easy.

Today we rode the infamous road to Hana. Driving this road that follows the north coast of the island from the center to the eastern tip is one of the most popular tourist activities on the island. The road snakes though lush rainforest for about 40 miles over 59 mostly one-way bridges, and 620 corners. This is nothing short of heaven on two wheels. Starting in Wailuku it was going to at 110 mile day with 9600 feet of climbing, so we made sure to load up with a ton of GU and Brubars. The first 15 miles were pretty rough going directly into a constant 20 mph headwind across the flattish central agricultural section of Maui. 
The vegetation began to get progressively more tropical, the road narrowed, and the twists began. We had been warned that this road could be very dangerous because it was narrow (in some parts one lane), had blind corners, and was trafficked by rubbernecking tourists. We felt quite the opposite. The traffic was so slow that we were actually faster than the cars in many spots, allowing us to safely take the entire lane for most of the ride. It felt like we were off the front in a big race with our lane closed to traffic.

Picturesque detour to the beach.
It quickly became clear that we would have to inform Jeremy Clarkson (of Top Gear) that we had in fact found “the greatest road….in the world”. Endless hairpin turns over 1 lane bridges, immaculate pavement littered with bright red tropical flowers, and jaw dropping views of cliffs over the ocean and waterfalls. It is really impossible to adequately describe, and the photos fall far short of doing it justice.

Along the ride we met up with a local out for a lunch ride who pointed out a good spot to take a detour down to the beach. It was a good thing as it provided some of the best views of the day, and an excuse to grab some delicious mango bread before the main climb. The 1100 foot climb rewarded us with a gentle, but twisty descent for 10 miles down to Hana. 
Lots of cornering
We took a short break on the beach in Hana and grabbed some snacks at a stand before mounting up and heading back. We were certainly feeling a little fatigued by this point, but the road kept us motivated so we barely noticed it. 
The sun got lower in the sky and shown over the clouds as we rounded one of the many bends. I fortunately was able to capture Adam’s spontaneous celebration in a photo that pretty much sums up our general feelings of this ride. 
This sums up the feeling on the ride

Exiting the forest, we were pleasantly met with a ripping 20+ mph tailwind that allowed us to rip across the flat back to the hostel at 30mph. We immediately headed off to stuff our faces with delicious Thai food to make up for the 4400 calorie day.