I was up at 5am and ready to ride. By 9am I was still wanting to ride but my excitement was replaced with a bit of anxiety – how would my legs be? Who are the other campers and how would I compare?

As usual my anxiety was unfounded. Once on the road I felt great and had an awesome day on the bike. We drove out to a starting point east of Paia on Hana Highway. This was a new ride for me – it was not included in the camp last year, although we did ride the return stretch as part of our East Maui Loop.

The Hana Highway for me, is as close to a road built for cycling as you’ll find. dozens of hairpin turns with single lane bridges at the apexes. The bridges traverse rivers that come down off the slopes of Haleakala forming impressive waterfalls and swimming holes.

The sights, sounds and smells of the jungle take over your senses and the ride becomes much more than just a ride. Listening to the locals that ride it all the time they have the same excitement that us newbies do – it speaks to the awesomeness of the route.

Riding east was fun, we moved along at a steady pace and I pushed myself on a few of the climbs. At the turnaround point I decided to try and push harder for the entire ride. Across one of the many gorges I spied a steady climb and made my attack. Pulling away from the group felt good; last year it was the group pulling away from me! I steadily grew my lead (although they weren’t really chasing) and was working out how awesome this would look on TV – the helicopter zooming in on me and then pulling back, showing the incredible scenery, before zooming in on the chasers. The road is a seemingly never ending series of hairpin turns that provide ample opportunity to see your chasers, or the chasers to see the escapee, It was a lot of fun until I saw the only rider dressed in blue pull to the front of the group. At the point I knew my time alone was limited. Very quickly Ryder brought the group up to me. As he pulled along side I joked that I thought I could make it alone to the finish. He simply smirked, laughed, and was gone as I lamely attempted to keep up. In the pro vs joes battle, it’s pros 1, joes 0.

We rode most of the remainder of the ride together – back to Maui Cyclery in Paia. There I was met with an icy cold Longboard Lager. A great ending to a great start.

After making our way back to the hotel in the trucks – this year Ryder was the only rider with the legs to ride back – we enjoyed our massages before everyone went their separate ways for the evening.