Monday, February 23, 2015

Tier 2 - The Loop - West Maui Loop

Panorama of a little scenic point North of Waihee along Hwy 340

Next up on my to-do's list was to bike the West Maui Loop. When Brian and I drove the loop a day before in the clockwise direction, we noticed a few blind turns as the road narrows to a single lane for both directions.  It's about a 100km loop and can be done in both CW and CCW directions.

A jurassic park ride feel with long grass
brushing the car
I elected to follow the majority of the cyclists we saw during the drive and go in the CCW direction. If you start near Lahaina, a CCW loop means you can get all the boring flat stuff out of the way and finish with the best parts of the ride. The turns in general would be wider and provide a greater sighting distance when turning, however you'll run the small risk of falling over the cliff-side. The climbs are also slightly less steeper than in the CW direction. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad as it was quite the brake and turn exercise, and I was quick on my ears and fingers to react for any sudden turns and oncoming traffic. I briefly touched my rims at one point and they were as hot as molten lava (haha maybe not quite but still lots of braking and turning). The ride truly was spectacular!

There was also on-going construction during the weekdays with sections of the loop being closed. I managed to sneak this ride in on a Sunday luckily and really glad I did otherwise I would had missed out (insert ... discovery channel life/death gloomy background sound effects). 
Lovely weather and mostly smooth roads (despite the picture).

The folks at West Maui Cycles prepared an excellent bike for me. I fitted a little gopro cam for some highlights of ride which can seen below.
This gem. Specialized Roubaix

The north sections of the ride was where the adventure begins. Very rugged with many ups and downs. Approx. 26 degrees C. 65% humidity.

I managed to do the entire ride with three bottle of liquids and maybe a couple jels. 

A handy reference I used: 

West Maui Loop from Winston Guo on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Tier 1 - The Race - Maui Oceanfront Marathon RR #MOM

Aloha Maui!

So last month, I had planned for a few days with some close school friends to spend some quality time, which was meant to lump together celebrating one's bachelor's party and another leaving Vancouver party. On top of that, I couldn't resist but got greedy and sneaked in a race a day in advance of the gang arriving. Ooopsies call it a racation and then some of sorts... :)

And then the biggest triathlete's dilemma crossed my mind.  

This happened. Spending a bit too much time on Google-Earth, shameless to admit, I was caught on social media ogling the countless switchbacks up to the Haleakala National Park. At least 21 to be precise! :D
Jaws dropping... 

Run a scenic point-to-point marathon along the oceanfront and witness the most spectacular sun rise or bike up the volcano via countless switchbacks?

It was the perfect curse because doing one would had prevented my legs from doing the other! My heart was torn equally in both. :/ (also something perhaps is really wrong with me for getting all giddy and excited for this) :D

So the ambitious list was narrowed well before I arrived:
Tier 1 - the race (Half Marathon) - my friends at home would had never forgiven me if I did anything shorter (at least that's the impression I got). ;)
Tier 2 - the loop (West Maui Loop) - actually one of the better riding routes.
Tier 3 - the crater (Haleakala Climb) majority claimed this was a must (FB poll said 53%)! 

The evenings and small gaps in between would be salvaged by spending time with friends. I know, it was a huge undertaking and compromise for my very very selfish endeavours, but I knew the gang didn't understand the whys but in the end they would eventually forgive me (I can only hope). :D   

My odd logic was that I had to eventually come back to Hawaii to do a marathon one day (there will be potentially two much bigger fishes to fry - the famously known no cut-off times Honolulu Marathon and of course the big kahuna M-dot World Champs).

Luckily, Brian wanted to come out of racing retirement to do this race with me in Maui. My bribe to him was that I'll let him use my garmin and neon singlet from the Chicago Marathon.

Fortunately Brian picked the 10k event, so I didn't need to sweat about him. Both the half and 10k started at the same out and back from the finish line in this little cute former royal capital, Lahaina. Louis from Calgary also rocked his run van shirt to support us.

Me, Louis (middle), and Brian (right).  Credit to Joy we met at the Hostel for helping us with taking this pic
My eyes closed again. No more flashes please...

This race was really well supported by the local community. There was two contests (one for the marathoners and another for half marathoners) for the top two aid stations represented by local school teams, clubs, and Maui non-profits groups. We voted by email after the race and the winning teams would get some moolah. Fresh pineapples and fruits and post food were all fabulous. A couple musicians were playing some Hawaiian theme songs to compliment the race atmosphere. Awards was self-serve which made it quite efficient (I really liked that idea, partly because I was rushing for Tier 2). The race organizer was really approachable and friendly and offered to take our pictures. Apparently there was also a boat cruise to celebrate the volunteers and you could purchase tickets to go along...too bad for me tho. 

Along the route, you would see people with their surf boards and the sun blazing. I had some nasty blisters and my last 5k were painfully slow. I remembered I got smoked by at least 4 runners in the back half. I had a second wind surge between 11-14k. It wasn't pretty to say the least for the last 5k but I toughed it out. It got hot quick. I'm thankful for the showers systems at the finishing shoot. Huge respect goes out to all those brave late marathoner finishers!
There was certainly incentive to finish quicker, because 19 degrees C quickly got hotter as the sun came out. 

Both Brian and I got top of our respective distances in our AGs (by absolute luck for me).
I was more excited for Brian. :)
I was suprised by the large numbers of Canadians particularly ones from BC, many were here racing! In the end, I ran no where close to my PB but still I'll take it given the moderate heat and high humidity. Nobody was close enough back nor front for a potential photo finish fortunately for me and my ambitious upcoming course of events. After crossing the finish line, I was relieved to saying to myself "Alright that's tier 1. Time to rush to the bike shop while gingerly walking on my large blisters for Tier 2!".