I looked like Darth Vader, standing there ready to go for a bike ride in Hawaii. Only this wasn’t any ride. I was going to be biking down the side of a volcano on Maui, whipping along like a black blur minus a really cool cape. Well, at least that’s what I thought I looked like.
Maui Easy Riders picked up our Maui Visitor Bureau group at sea level in Baldwin Park. From there we drove through the little hippie town of Paia, where we later stopped for some Flatbread Pizza, and on up through Makawao to 6500 feet in elevation. It was there, just outside the entrance to Haleakala National Park, that we began our descent back to the ocean.
Regulations and safety rules covered – no reading the newspaper while biking, how dare they tell Lord Vader what he can’t do! – we pulled on our rain protective gear. We would, after all, be biking through a cloud. Yes, a cloud. We had driven so high up on a windy road that looked like WWWWW that we were now above the clouds. From there it was all downhill.
Back and forth across the hairpin turns, we descended hundreds of feet at a time, peaking out at speeds of 34 miles per hour. It didn’t feel like it, either, as the wind could hardly whip through my hair – I had an awesome black helmet on, after all. And without a cape to do my speed justice, I just felt really cool perched on my TIE Fighter.
OK, I mean on my bike. Either way I looked and felt pretty damn cool. Almost like that biking movie from the ‘80s, Rad, where I would perform some cool backflips on my bike. In the end, though, it probably looked more like the little wooden jumps I constructed with my neighborhood friends that netted me about four inches of big air.
Our group stopped occasionally, taking time to savor the moment and squawk about the views just below the clouds. From there we could see the width of the waist of Maui, all of seven miles from north to south. It was a magnificent sight, seeing the island sprawl before us as if we owned it.
Oh, alright, I wasn’t Vader. I just felt like it as I flew down the mountain in my black suit. They finally stripped me of it, though, as the temperatures climbed the more we descended. At a point, breaking the rule of removing my hand from the handlebars, I unzipped the coat because I was sweating so much. I was not sad to see the full outfit go in favor of my shorts and t-shirt.
Of course, yeah, that’s exactly when it started raining on us – just as we passed through Makawao. It didn’t matter, though. The rain was a little chilly, but refreshing. And it passed as we rode back through Paia and started to parallel the ocean, pedaling on toward Baldwin Beach.
We had pedaled – oh, alright, we coasted – 24 miles down the side of a volcano. Sure, it is believed to be dormant, having last erupted in the late late 1700s, but no one else need know that; it sounds so much cooler when Darth Vader can say he soared down the side of a volcano in all of his glory, opposed to just coasting downhill on a bike.