Thursday, December 16, 2010

Maui Cycling Camps

Well it begins to feel a bit like forever when I consider how long I have been training, coaching, hosting camps and being fully involved in this life we call the bicycle.

Recently we had inter-bike our annual N. American trade show. Whilst at Inter-bike I happened to bump into one of my old training partners and buddies Ryder Hesjedal. We immediately tried to match up our schedules to see if and when we could grab a coffee or a beer. We didn't match up anything for those days, but he mentioned that he would be back in Maui as usual over the winter and that he would be hosting a training camp sometime early in December. hmmmmmm

So I recently returned from Ryder Hesjedal and friends (Christian Vande Velde and Tyler Farrar) inauguaral commercial venture Dec 5-12 - Maui Cycling Camps. This was done in conjunction with a few other partners: Donnie Arnoult from Maui Cycling, Cody Graham from Media One, Victoria and our host hotel the Four Seasons, Maui.

I was delayed arriving grrr Air Canada and it cost me a full day on the bike. Anyway, we arrived to find the ladies (spouses) lounging around the pool while the training camp was circling the west lobe of Maui some 120 k (man was I bummed). They were on day 2 of the camp, having done a pre-amble 2-3 hours on day 1, I was coming in looking at their first rest day as day 1, ugh.

As the campers came back; there being 6 participants (full time), 3 Garmin boys, 2 coaches (Seamus McGrath and Myself), 1 mechanic (Troy Woodburn from Pro City, Victoria), 1 local guide (Donnie), 1 local Four Season representative (Ed), 2 Camp Coordinator and Cameraman (Cody and Adam from Media One) and a couple of part-time campers that changed every couple days, we sat down for lunch, the total nearly 20.

It's always a bit tough dropping in to an already gelled group, but jumping in two feet first is the only way. What a great crew, everyone from left to right, top to bottom was a stand up person and a cycling fan through and through.

Rest Day - Paddle board at the beach followed by an easy afternoon spin - Guest of the day Dave Kalaama teaching paddle board. Man had I known or seen the video before I met this guy, I would have dropped to my knees, check out the video with Laird Hamilton, this guy surfs the big, big, BIG waves. Anyway, what a day - resting my rested body for the future abuse.

Tour De Haiku - 3 hours 90 km - We shuttled over to the North side of the island and began in Paia. Up Baldwin ave, traversing towards Hana, down to Hookipa, back up to Haiku, the roads swooped, dove and climbed, what an awesome place to train. Then we rode back to Wailea through the main valley, how Maui gets it's name as the Valley Isle. Lunch, Beach, Hot Tub, call it a day.

East Maui Loop 150 km - Up at 6 am, breakfast of champions (buffet), meet in the 'Clubhouse' , our designated meeting room, 7am, pick massage times for post ride (I told you this was a pro-outfit) and into the Vans for a quick shuttle. We started at 3000 feet and descended for about 20 minutes, it was like DH mountain biking on a pump track. Then onto the 30 km of dirt, bumpy, unapproved, gnarly, painful can't really call it road. Whew, that's over and onto the 'gold' the Hana highway, built I'm sure for road bikes. I used to think Ryder was crazy training on a small island in the Pacific, now I know better. While everyone in N. America was under snow, rain or simply cold we were in HEAVEN.

A day off - thank gawd I needed a day off, feet up and movies in the hotel room. I got bit of a stomach distress and didn't want to think much about tomorrow's ride up the Volcano - Haleakala 10 100 feet.

Volcano, up the dormant Volcano, 60 km from sea level to the top, 10 G of nicely graded, switchbacking roads. The Garmin boys started at the hotel in Wailea approx 1 hour from Paia where us mere mortals started. Ryders record to the top from Paia is 2 hr 34 min or something crazy like that - doh, Tour de France guy! This would turn out to be a long day in the saddle with very little reprieve. Donnie has done the climb something like 400 times, come-on that's like 3 a week, yup the life of a bike guide. It's wasn't that bad, but it does take a more generous cog set, something like a 25 or 27 would be nice, spin it out. 4.5 hours later the entire group was swigging pop at the top, the early runners, the Garmin boys had retreated down already while I sat contemplatively in the clouds thinking about home, the snow, Ryders upcoming Tour, the 2011 season and the road that brought this whole crew together - It's just a bike right, but look what happens when we all get together, great things happen.

During the week, Ryder had his 30th birthday and we celebrated. On the last night with many miles and a Volcano under our belts we celebrated again. From Chile on a Volcano to Maui on a Volcano, I can't fathom what for me has been my 40th year- but when I reflect back on the years of riding with friends like Ryder, Seamus and meeting new people, it's the medium of the bike that brings our souls and our passions together and it burns like a 'Volcano'.

On another note, meeting Dave Kalaama and listening to him and Donnie talk about their respect for the 'watermen' of the islands (people who sport all sorts of ways in the water) and seeing Ryder and Cody revive the 'wheelmen' name, brought to light the absolute correctness of the term - Wheelman, because I am a WHEELMAN.

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