Ride Down the Volcano
 

Ride Down the Volcano

Since there is a paved highway all the way to the top of Haleakala's summit, one can get on a bike at the top and coast all the way down.

A number of companies have sprung upin Maui specializing in this. There's "Maui Downhill", "Maui Mountain Cruisers", "Maui Mountain Riders" and surely a host of others that I've missed.

2006-04-14 04:00

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The company Expedia hires is "Maui Mountain Cruisers" and what better seal of quality than a signed photo of the cheerleaders of the Baltimore Ravens?

After forcing myself out of bed at 0300 we were taken to the top of Haleakala. At 0530, this is what the horizon looks like.

2006-04-14 05:31

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 06:00

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

You can see the clouds coming in from the sea, striking the hills like a giant wave frozen in time.

Then, suddenly, a point of light appears at the horizon.

2006-04-14 06:01

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 06:03

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The point quickly grows into the full sun.

The valley below is lit up.

2006-04-14 06:08

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 06:09

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The valley seen is often mistaken for an extinct volcano, but this is not the case. The valley that crosses the southern part of Maui started as two valleys, one in the north and one in the south. As the porous volcanic rock eroded, the valleys extended toward the summit and finally merged, producing a valley that crosses the Haleakala mountain.

Standard gear for downhill cruising - rain coat and pants, helmet and skiing gloves. The gloves are needed to keep the hands warm at altitude, and the rain gear are used when passing through the clouds (100% humidity) on the way down. It also has the purpose of making the column look like a bike-mounted half platoon of Papa Smurfs.

2006-04-14 07:40

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 08:02

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

Pause for proof-of-being-here pictures.

View down toward the eastern side of the island.

2006-04-14 08:03

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 09:20

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The trip down includes a stop at Makawao. Here you can check out some art galleries, such as Julie Galeeva[a], whose art is far better than her opening hours (closed when I was there), and Sherri Reeve[b].

Obviously the local black market currency. (I really have no idea what this is about. Maybe if you find an avocado you can cash it in here.)

2006-04-14 09:35

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 10:31

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The trip ended at (I think) Holy Ghost Church. This is a statue commemorating Father Damien's battle to help victims of the plague that scoured the island.

Other notable priests include Father Louie. Father Louie Funk. I can't think of a cooler name. I'm sure the name alone was enough for him to "get on up" to sainthood.

2006-04-14 10:38

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

2006-04-14 10:35

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The church. The downhill guide told me that the architecture was full of sacred geometry to channel spiritual power from the surroundings, and that the arches were just like the ones at the bottom of the WTC, making those twin towers, in effect, churches. Anyway. Now you know it, too.

The bus used to transport the bikes and trail behind the column of bikers, making sure that no car rams our asses. Who Katrina Farrah is is a mystery.

2006-04-14 10:38

Haleakala Highway, USA Grand Tour 2006

The sunrise was just awesome.

So how as the ride? Well, in one word: Slow. You rarely get to go at maximum (legal) speed, which is a bit poor, but I guess that's what you get when you have a ten-person group and the speed is set by the slowest one.