Cruising down a Volcano with Maui Easy Riders
I’ll admit I was a little intimidated when I learned that my #seeMaui itinerary had me riding a bike down Haleakala Volcano. At over 10,000 feet above sea level, it’s roughly 25% higher than the peak of Whistler Mountain.
Translation – this ain’t no bunny hill!
I had visions of full suspension downhill bikes shooting down steep rocky trails, passing steamy craters and black, barren lava fields. What did I sign myself up for?!
But these nervous thoughts quickly disappeared when the white tour van rolled up.
The company is called Maui Easy Riders for a reason – guests are provided shiny chrome “easy rider” bikes to cruise down the volcano. The tour is not meant to be hardcore and dangerous. It’s meant to be relaxing and fun.
The weather was indecisive that day.
As the van zigged and zagged up the side of the volcano, it passed through thick clouds and pockets of rain. At times, we couldn’t see 20 feet in front of us.
Sure, it would have been great to have had sunshine and clear blue skies, but there’s something oddly inviting about the misty, damp atmosphere. One thing was for sure – this mysterious environment was nothing like the sandy beaches and palm trees that we’ve come to associate with the Hawaiian islands.
We geared up just below the entrance to Haleakala National Park. Each rider is provided a jacket, pants and helmet to protect themselves from the elements.
I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true – we looked bad ass!
If you’re looking for exercise or an intense workout, this is not the trip for you. We rarely pedaled forward. Instead, we just sat back on soft cushion seats and steered the bike down the volcano.
The terrain is surprisingly mellow (well, it’s mellow when compared to downhill mountain biking). The entire bike ride is on freshly paved asphalt, with a gradual vertical drop down a series of switchbacks.
Our team traveled in a single line down the road, gripping our hand brakes as we passed through sharp hairpins. The road was wet near the top, at times spitting rain into our eyes and mouth. A small price to pay for this unusual travel experience.
The pace was good – not too fast, not too slow. Although Matt from Landlopers.com will have a different opinion (he’s a huge fan of downhill bike riding in the rain!).
The scariest part of the tour was the oncoming traffic that was driving up to see the volcano crater in Haleakala National Park. Most of the drivers are tourists, so they’re not familiar with the windy road and its continuous flow of bike riders.
Because of the thick overcast, we didn’t stop to take photos until about half way down the volcano, when we had cleared the cloud cover.
The panoramic views are spectacular and helped put the geography of the island into perspective. It’s a much bigger island than we expected!
Our fun guides posing for a photo. I’m thinking this one should go on the next round of company brochures – what do you think?
When we reached our final destination at Baldwin Park we had traveled 25 miles, dropped over 9,000 feet in elevation and hit a top speed of 34 miles per hour. The tour took about 3 hours, with a brief stop in the town of Makawao.
To watch video footage from our trip, check out this post on Jason’s Travels.
Thinking about cruising down a volcano in Maui?
Check out Maui Easy Riders and tell them the Traveling Canucks sent you. We like that they are a small tour operator with a big focus on safety and having a good time.