Haleakala Volcano Bike Ride

by chris cunningham

On vacation you’re supposed to sleep in, not get up at 2:30 in the morning. But that’s what you have to do if you want to see a sunrise on top of a volcano and then bike down it for 30 miles. Good fun though, and no injuries! After going bed only slightly earlier then normal we got up quickly and grabbed our stuff and went down to the lobby and waited. It’s really dark and there’s no one else around and you start questioning if it’s going to be really worth it. Bed sounds really nice.

The day before I rang Maui Downhill to double check the reservation and they didn’t have it on file! Hmmm… I do have the email print out but they had no record of me and no payment information. I checked my bank and there was a payment to them. They seemed to take my word for it eventually but not without a lot of questions. They even told me a couple of times that they were full. The main reason I wanted to fly over to Maui was to ride bikes down the volcano! Had it not happened I would have been very peeved about it. So I’m not sure what happened but it all worked out.

The van was prompt, and on our way to the start we picked up a few more bleary eyed bikers. After we arrived at Maui Downhill they had some pastries and warm drinks for us. We also had to get some gear like helmets, gloves, sweet yellow jackets, and pants. We loaded up in the van with a trailer full of bikes behind us and headed up the volcano! Woo hoo! The driver of the van will follow behind us to provide a block as we ride down the hill, and our guide will be out in front of us showing the way.

It was still pitch black out when we arrived for the sunrise. Everyone sat in the van but Liza and I got out and goofed around. I borrowed Liza’s still camera to shoot some pictures of the Milky Way, but after a few of those we started sticking our heads in the shot and it became a mission of holding still and holding our breath for 30 second exposures. Which isn’t exactly easy to do. When you’re cold, hungry, tired…

So, the sun finally came up and can say it wasn’t all that spectacular since we didn’t have any clouds. It just kinda got light out without any big display. It was pretty but I could imagine what it would be like with some nice big tropical south pacific clouds to bounce around in. After the sun came up we suited up and hopped on our bikes to begin the ride down. Unfortunately we couldn’t ride down from the summit because someone had died the month before and all the tour operators were on a kind of lock down. From a heart attack, not a crash.

The ride down was really nice and smooth, but really quick. We stopped for some breakfast at a little roadside cafe before heading the rest of the way down. The whole trip down was probably an hour and a half but we were a pretty quick group according to the guide. we went through a grove of eucalyptus trees that smelled sooo good. Really nice and then we came to the end where we hopped back into the van and they took us back to the base. All in all a really great time. They shuttled us back to hotel where I was so exhausted I just wanted to sleep the rest of the day. Which I did. It’s our last night on Maui so we went down the beach to the other resorts and did a little shopping and ate at one of the restaurants along the beach. Beautiful night out.