Cogal Report: East Maui Loop 2013
I didn’t want to climb the Eiger, I wanted to have climbed the Eiger.
– Jon Krakauer, Eiger Dreams
This Cogal seemed like a good idea to Frank. Right up until he understood we had to be riding at 5:25am to meet up for espresso or muffins, or dense fuel omelette loaded with cheese and sausage (Peter only). This ride had been weighing heavily on my psyche for a long time and I needed to get it underway. I needed to have done the East Maui Loop. Long distances and climbing are two of the many weak points of my cycling. This was by no means the Too Much on 100 slog; the East Maui Loop was 50% the distance and 80% of the climbing.
Frank proclaimed he was going to do this cogal without fuel. Frank is other worldly. He is from Mars and I, evidently, am from some outer orbiting pussy planet. I had stuffed one of my rear pockets with Clif products. Hell yes, bonking is dumb and I didn’t need to add that to my list worries. Why would one propose such Rule #91 folly? To meet the Man with the Hammer, a confirmed date with him, to really get it square in the forehead? No, Mr. Body Dismorphia wants to lose weight. With tongue cleanly bitten off I mimed that it was a fine idea.
After a zero dark thirty start we met the other riders, most of whom had no idea what a Cogal was. They were just up for a day of riding through the many climates and geographies of the East Maui Loop, followed by pizza and beer gorging. Frank and I were the only East Loop virgins on this ride. @mauibike was our guide but with one road and no turns, he didn’t have to worry about us getting lost.
Everyone returned to their starting points. Frank suffered a non-fixable flat with five miles to go and had to call in the support truck. He will have to come back to finish this one. It was a hell of a ride. I’m glad to have done it. Everyone else treated it like an easy roll around session. Rob even added some climbing after dragging me along.
The beer and pizza made us whole again.
At a cozy 160km with and a few thousand meters of climbing, this ride has been given something of mythical status by Gianni ever since our first trip out to Maui a few years ago. Poor tarmac, dirt roads, loads of climbing, and heat all add their unique elements to Maui’s already unique climate.
Being a small island just big enough to have distinct climates in different areas, there is a tropical rainforest on the north and northeast sides of the island, desert in the south, and normal in the isthmus that runs between East and West Maui. That makes this ride the only ride I’ve ever been on that takes you through all these weather zones in one day. I’d experienced part of this when riding the Kaupo ride with my friend Dave Ezzy on our last trip, and I was thrilled at the chance to ride the whole thing.
Bad roads and peer pressure meant a last-minute change to clinchers, as the wheels I had brought were my Café Roubaix climbing wheels and it was (repeatedly) postulated that I might destroy them when introducing fat ass, carbon, and potholes. I scrambled to get tires and valve extenders sorted out and claimed the VMH’s Zipp 404s for the ride. This turned out to be a bad idea as the extender I bought sucked, and the inner tubes I repurposed from her wheels were old and cracked and destined to fail just prior to us completing the ride. You’ve never been doing this so long that you can’t learn a basic lesson: never change your equipment the night before an important ride.
I had a rough night; I stayed up late writing, and staying up late writing customarily requires ample portions of wine. When I finally got to sleep, it was soon interrupted by phone calls from work when the servers chose to fail. I was awake just long enough to realize how hung over I was going to feel in the morning and how few hours were left before the alarm would go off.
Hangover, no food, and coffee seemed like an excellent way to meet the Man with the Hammer, and though I brought a Clif bar and a few shots by way of escape chute should I need it, I was determined to run the tank empty. This endeavor was aided somewhat by losing a bidon on the Maui Pavé.
This is dragging on, so I’ll stop after making a few final points. First, this is an amazing ride and despite the pouring rain, was one of the most beautiful I’ve done – full stop. Second, riding from desert into rain forest is one of the coolest things you’ll ever do. Third – and this is mostly just for the islanders – that tarmac on the back end of the island is rough, but it is nothing like the Pavé of Northern France and Belgium.
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