My bicycle ride down from Haleakala

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   The alarm wakes me at 2 am. Dress in cycling shorts under throw-away khakis, tee shirt under turtleneck under rain jacket, gobble a banana, and I'm out by 2:25 for a moonlit drive from Wailea up the south coast to the sugar mill, then east past Pai'a, Mama's Fish, the surfing area (where I see my first moonlight rainbow!) and finally uphill 1.7 miles to Ha'i'ku and the Haleakala bike shop.
   Three vans wait with bikes on the roof, ladders behind, seats inside. From 3 till 4, 29 people sign releases and credit card forms, get fitted for motorcycle helmets, and get ski gloves and rain suits. The shop would be an awful nuisance to the other stores in shopping center (which was built as a pineapple processing plant) - but they won't open until the ride is over and everyone is gone.
   Jim drives 7 of us up the mountain for an hour, talking continuously. As the oldest person on board, I'm assigned the front passenger seat. Jim sees a moonbow. I'm on the wrong side, so I don't see it, but I'm glad for his confirmation that the one I saw earlier was real. He passes up one parking/watching area as being too crowded and finds another at about 9700 ft high, on a road that's closed for construction. The moon has just set; there's lightness in the east. 100 or so, most in yellow rainsuits, with 98 or so cameras (and one tripod), shiver as we wait.


The clouds redden. 16760haleaklaclouds.jpg
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The ground appears from the darkness and gradually turns to green erosion valley and red volcanic cones.
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The clouds lose their color; the sun glares suddenly in our eyes; everybody immediately heads to their van. Jim snaps me shivering in front of our van.

   Normally, the escorted tours are allowed to leave from here, but because of the construction they must leave with us from 6700 feet - not that far away. In the parking lot, I get my bike, put on the helmet, raise my seat several times, practice a bit, and cautiously descend. From Jim's safety lecture, I expect lots of traffic, but there's only one or two escorted groups, no cars.
   I'm cold and hungry, so I stop at the first possible place, Sunrise Market, at the end of Crater Road in Kula. I'm the day's first customer, for coffee and banana bread. An escorted tour passes, with car in front and van behind. Are they in formation or in lock-step? The sign across the street says we're still 3500 feet up.
Mail has already been delivered, so I pass people coming out for it in various states of not quite dressed. This house has a spectacular view.
   I'm hungry again as I continue down to the quaintness-preserved town of Makawao, where the famous Komodo Bakery sells only grossly sugar-coated donuts of numerous types. Olividas (sp?), the corner Mexican, has a sign "Closed until bike tours are gone." So no more breakfast. It's warmer here and I'm sweating, so I stuff my rain jacket in my backpack. The weather has been sunny all the way to Makawao, but now I have to outrun a rain shower. The road is wet, so on my way back to the shop, where I'm the first to arrive, I get considerably spattered. The stains won't wash out of my turtleneck and pants, so I have to throw them out after one more mountain excursion. Drive back to the hotel in 9 am traffic, stopping in Pai'a to buy Danish for today and a muffin for tomorrow.

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