It started at 6:00am for breakfast followed by team meeting at 8:00am. Or at least I thought it was 8:00am. It was 7:00 and at 7:45 when I rolled in the meeting was pretty much done. Everyone was totally cool about it and caught me up on the plan. The bikes had been loaded on the vans and we were going to make the 30 minute drive to Paia where we’d start our ride from Maui Cyclery. The drive over to the starting point was fun as I sat with Tyler Farrar and Svein Tuft. They answered all of my questions and chatted openly – no arrogance nor any hints of being protective, etc.
Arriving at Maui Cyclery our bikes were ready for riding, loaded with two bottles each – one with water, one with an electrolyte-replacement drink, a table of foods and supplements was available, and the guides, mechanics and helpers were all in great spirits to send us on our way.
The ride started with a second category 10k climb up Baldwin. I wanted to push myself a bit and see how my cracked rib would react, and how much it would impede my riding. Thankfully it was OK, and although it restricted my a bit it was definitely bearable. On the ride up my group fell behind a bit so I decided to bridge the gap to the lead bunch. As our group pulled away from the pack we could look back at points and see the chase group. I think we had a few minutes on Ryder but the reality was it didn’t matter. He came across the gap, up the hill, like were standing still. It was quite impressive to see how quickly he closed on our lead group (which in included Tyler Farrar and Svein Tuft, although they were just cruising.)
Decent was fast and furious. The patchwork asphalt made for some harrowing moments for the joes, but not for the pros. Drafting and watching Ryder and Tyler descend (in their matching team kits) was a great thrill. The lines they carved were perfect, and in many cases too demanding and technical for me to take.
We cut through a section of rain forest with a serpentine winding road. Once getting to the end of the road we joined the Hana highway and rode as a group along North Shore and back to Maui Cyclery. Once there we discussed the options: hopping in the van, riding the direct route back to the hotel, or extending the ride with Ryder, Tyler and Svein – I went with the pros. So did Rob from Orillia. I was surprised that no one else did as this is a cycling trip to ride with the pros. I’m taking every opportunity to ride, especially when it’s with the pros.
We did another 80k with a fun climb filled with precarious drop offs, and a terribly rough and winding upper portion. On the decent again I gave chase to the pros only to see first hand how much faster and confident they are on their bikes. The tail end of the ride was ridden at a nice pace, with me enjoying the draft behind Ryder and Svein.
Back at hotel we handed the bikes back to the mechanics and headed for lunch. Just like breakfast the food was terrific.
Post lunch we all had massages. I think I fell asleep a couple of times. Only thing that kept me awake was when the masseuse put pressure on my back causing pressure on my cracked rib. Otherwise it was an amazing way to end the day – getting a pro rider massage after riding 110k with three pros, and a phenomenal group of joes.