I rousted Frank early. The Sunday morning group ride rolls out at 6:30 am from Twin Falls. As I put bikes in the truck I saw a sky full of stars, a good indicator for a beautiful morning ride. I have been crazed to show Frank our local Sunday morning group ride and now he was on Maui it was finally going to happen. It is a casually deliberate ride along the north shore of the Haleakala volcano – the windward side, which is also the wet side. Frank is from Seattle and actually prefers to ride in the rain, I knew a little rain would not scare him off. We start at dawn to avoid the mid-day heat. A brief rain storm is a welcome way to cool off and still be dry twenty minutes later.
Some light mist was hitting the windshield as we came around the volcano, the wipers went on. This grew into a healthy, steady rain. We passed one rider using a headlight and rear flasher. I couldn’t tell who he was but I knew he was heading where we were heading. No one would be out on a bike at this hour for any other mission. When we finally pulled into the gravel parking area it was a proper wind/rain event. I wanted to invoke Peter Van Petegem’s beautiful line about how this weather was good for us. If the sun was over the horizon, no light was penetrating the clouds. My wife pulled up in a second car just long enough to curse the weather gods, bid us a fond farewell and head to a drier, warmer part of the island for a more civilized ride. Most reasonable people would have done just that.
We are not reasonable people. A few more unreasonable guys showed up. A reasonable girlfriend/cyclists was overjoyed to hear my wife had departed, she did too, leaving her shivering man and his bike behind. Starting a long ride wet is never great but it is warm here and we would get some dry and sun eventually. This group of unreasonable cyclists rolled out in good spirits. This was the Sunday group ride.
Frank had his new ultra-light carbon climbing wheels and their braking in wet conditions needed to be understood. He likes his brake calipers set very open (which I don’t get) but it made the testing even more exciting. Even my aluminum rims were only partially effective on roads this wet, I felt like I was pulling on the levers half the ride. Frank said the carbon rims worked well in these conditions; he could feel warm water coming off the wheels in the corners.
We reached the half-way point where coffee and food are enjoyed at an outdoor but sheltered picnic table. This was by far the wettest of these rides I’ve ever done. I’m not sure the rain stopped for one minute. Frank was in his element; talking cycling and being wet. Even through the rain and mist he understood this was a special route.
From our coffee stop in Nahiku, the strong continue on to Hana and the not-as-strong start the long initial climb back, happy the climbing will eventually put some warmth under the soaked lycra. Frank went to Hana, I headed back.
A friend and I spent the return ride diagnosing an annoying click coming from his bike. The rain never let up. Every descent was done squinting into the wet, hoping the piss poor visibility was sufficient to avoid mayhem. A moment behind another rider meant a face full of water coming off his rear wheel.
By the time I returned to the truck I had eaten everything in my pockets and rifled the glove box in the vain hope of finding something else edible. Every part of my kit was soaked many times through. Frank returned a bit later, buoyant, not the least bit annoyed at the weather. This was not a Rule #9 ride; we were not bad-asses for going out in these conditions, but we are not normal people.
This was a great ride.