Thursday, November 22, 2018

Maui Postcard

Tree on Pulehu Road
Sometimes Maui feels like one big tropical traffic jam. Outside my condo, the cars crawl up and down South Kihei Road, bumper to bumper in the late afternoon. Many of the roads in the middle of the island are packed with a steady stream of bland rental cars and Toyota trucks from dawn til dusk. It's a bit depressing. The scenery is stunning, but if you want to ride a bike around here, you don't dare take your eyes off the road for long.

Sure, Kihei has bike lanes, of the paint-on-the-road variety, but they don't feel especially safe to me. A lot of the drivers here are either elderly or from Alberta or both. That thin layer of paint doesn't offer much protection. I feel about as safe cycling in Kihei as I do around a seniors home in Leduc.

But with a little effort, you can get away from the traffic, and that's when Maui cycling becomes transcendent. You find a perfect spot, a stretch of car-free road, a breath-taking view of the ocean, some weird tropical bird, or a majestic tree--like this one on Pulehu Road--and you remember that this place was once paradise, and, in some hard-to-reach places, it still is.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Tom Winder's Famous Ride

The 1890s was the Golden Age of long-distance bicycle-travel books. While Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Karl Kron, and Thomas Stevens proved the concept in the 1880s, it was the decade of the 90s, with the rise of the safety bicycle, that saw the phenomenon take off, as bicycle travel captured the mainstream imagination. Adventurer-authors such as Sachtleben and Allen, Annie Londonderry, Frank Lenz, Fanny Workman, and John Foster Fraser not only pedaled far and wide, they wrote compelling accounts of their travels, devoured by an audience hungry for glimpses of the world as seen from the saddle. One of the lesser known and underappreciated books from this vibrant period is American Tom Winder’s Famous Twenty Thousand Mile Ride (1895). I only heard of it thanks to Duncan Jamieson’s indispensable overview of the history of bicycle travel, The Self-Propelled Voyager: How the Cycle Revolutionized Travel. But I’d include Winder’s book in that list of Golden Age classics.