St Francis Xavier
"Sal, you just gotta be odd"
George Brookshire, 1968
And so it was that when I first heard about bicycling down Haleakala about 12 years ago being a Maui attraction, my reaction was "how about riding up the volcano?". Hawaii had never been high on my list of places to go, so that notion was in a relatively cold space on my backburner until this summer. A family function was taking place in Maui. Luckily, I found a continuing ed. course that I could attend and thus use it to write off airfare and lodging. My date with the hill was on.
My initial plan was to go up the whole 10K foot climb and then down for a 88 mile ride. But between the conference and family function schedules, I only had a 6hour time slot available. So Geri left me off at Kula. I took 2 water bottles on account of the heat and my 3 lb camera on account of the scenery. I did not take any food- hey, it's only a 22 mile ride one way, right? and I figured the ride down would be effortless and thus not requiring calories. The ride, at the speed I was going, was not particularly demanding for the first 6000 ft of climbing. The geographic and climate change during such a short distance was quite remarkable- lots of photo ops with views that pictures do no justice to.
I probably saw 150 riders descending and encountered no one ascending. The road was rated as bike hazardous- much to my relief, cars were very courteous and supportive- lots of thumbs up signs (as opposed to middle fingers). Things got innaresting around 9000 feet of elevation- in addition to the scenery, the ride itself got a little breathtaking. Ger was waiting for me at the top. I remarked that I had a bit of a headache along with some nausea. It had also become about 30 degrees cooler. I looked covetously at her windbreaker- in similar circumstances you'd be thinking of stealth cross-dressing, too. Between assessing my condition- sweaty, nauseous and with a headache and the time left before we were scheduled to meet with the rest of the group, she objected strongly enough to keep me from wanting to push the issue. Downhill miles are junk miles anyway, I rationalized. So my bike and I got in the car and we drove down the volcano.
It was such a great ride, I was planning a whole day set aside for the 10K round trip version on a future visit. Until Hawaiian Airlines informed me on the return flight that I needed to pay $80 for my 38 pound, 26 inch bike case "because it's a bicycle" which is corporate-speak for "we feel like it and there's nothing you can do about it". Well folks, there is something I can do about it. If there are tourist areas and airlines with bike-unfriendly policies- boycott them. If it cramps their style to handle luggage containing bicycles, it cramps my style being on their plane. Make sure your friends and colleagues boycott them also. If you have access to public forum/publications, inform them about predatory behavior. Support airlines that value cyclists. Aloha.