As my wife planned our winter vacation to Hawaii she asked if I might want to rent a Harley for a day and take off for a ride. “Of course I do!” So as she planned our flights, hotel and a hundred other things, I booked a rental HD RoadKing for a day on Maui. It would be a day before new years eve and two before my 46th birthday, and I would be up on two wheels. A cousin traveling with us rented a Heritage Softail to be my riding partner for the day. There must be some nice riding in Hawaii right? An excited internet search netted me several possibilities. Haleakala crater. This would be a two and a half hours ride where you to ascend to an elevation of 10,023 feet. The vistas from the top of Maui is a view of the islands of Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe to the West, and to the East, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and the Big Island’s volcanoes in the distance. It can snow in December and January up that high, so a cold ride for a beautiful view was not on our Hawaiian agenda. Iao Valley. This would be a fairly short ride from Lahaina where we rented our bikes, about 30 - 45 minutes. This valley was described by Mark Twain as the "Yosemite of the Pacific." But what is The Iao Needle? It’s a monolith of rock. The 2250 foot basalt core remained after water washed away the weaker stones surrounding it. Beautiful views of the West Maui Mountains show one million years of erosion. Interesting but we rented bike in paradise so we could ride! A geology lesson could wait for another day. Road to Hana. We then read about the infamous "Road to Hana". It would be a 70 mile ride one way from our start in Lahaina. That’s only 140 miles return. surely we could find a way to ride away the rest of the day upon our return. The road sounds like a bikers dream. A 50 mile stretch of the road promises 600 hairpin corners and 54 one-way bridges. Must be a typo, but it sounds cool. Book it. After arriving in Lahaina at 9 am on Dec 30th we kissed the wives good bye. I’m sure some exciting outlet stores awaited most of our group. We adorned our blue jeans and t-shirts and then saddled up. The helmets we had brought from home stayed firmly affixed... in our saddle bags. Not only are there no helmet laws here, but no-one seems to wear one. We don’t want to stick out as tourists. Our white skin protected by spf 40 and our thinning scalps by a ball cap locked on backwards. The rental guy advised we get familiar with the bikes before we head out. Hello Mr. Harley, let’s ride! First we rode across Maui to the north shore. The ride starts out with a beautiful 15 minute ride along the South facing beaches of Maui. I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Ahhh, to heck with it, I think I’ll just give in and smile. The highway North took us through fields of sugar cane before reaching a quaint little town called Kahului on the North shore. There we stopped to watch some surfers take on some 15 foot waves! It’s a short stop for a can of Guava juice. We have 600 hairpins awaiting us. The road to Hana snakes along a steep cliff-like shoreline giving the rider only brief glimpses to the ocean below. As we ride East along this narrow road our shoulders almost brush the steep cliff face on our right side. The rain forest to out left obscures almost all signs of the steep cliff below and doesn’t often reveal our proximity to the Pacific waters. The “two lane highway” is more like a one lane road with a dotted yellow line dividing it’s width. The pavement is pristine and it is refreshingly free of potholes and frost heaves. As much as I regret not getting a crotch rocket for the curvy road we are on, I am glad that the 350 kg bike beneath me limits me gearbox to first and second gears. Speed, combined with looking at the Antherium flowers growing wild in every ditch would no doubt end our ride most abruptly. So we brake at most every corner and only pour on the throttle when the stretch ahead of us measures longer than a Harley dealerships garage floor. I’m glad we strike imposing figures on our American Iron. Vespas would not garner us the little respect we get from the oncoming cars filled with tourists and the pickup trucks laden with locals going the other direction. It’s tempting to stop at every open vista or stone railed bridge and take out the camera. But a few feet to pull aside is a scarce commodity on this busy goat trail they call a highway. Just a few miles short of Hana I spot a fish taco stand. I point it out to Dale on the bike behind me. He knows it’s the only stop we must make on the way back. Hana greets us with open skies and a remote island feel. There is obviously some heritage here as buildings are made of stone and the architecture of another era. My concern for the moment is to top up my gas tank at the only station in town. We grab some Hawaiian cigars , peel of the shirt and walk the tiny beach. Only a few locals are in the water, and no-one is building castles in the sand. our shoulders are tight from the 70 mile ride from the rental shop. But it was only 70 miles! Oh, and it took us over 4 hours! Now we just need to ride it all back again. After some fish tacos that is. My conclusions about taking The Road to Hana are important if you plan on the ride anytime in the future. Wet corners are much more slippery than we are used to at home. Perhaps the smooth road surface combined with a growth of moss and other rotting vegetation means for slips where one wouldn’t expect slips. Enjoy every corner and don’t go too fast. Once you feel weary of the turns and the challenge is routine, it’s time to turn around. Hana holds little that you can’t find on other parts of the island. Stop at some of the islands treasures along the way. Black Sand Beach and Seven Pools are two worth resting your shoulders at. The following morning at sunrise my wife and I had a couple hours before the Harley needed to be returned. We headed west and followed Hwy 30 North along the shoreline. The road was very similar to the Hana Highway in shape and construction. But the vistas to the ocean were wide open. There was little to no rain forest obstructing our view of the many rock cliffs and beaches. Every corner revealed a valley very different from the last. Yucca plants and palm trees spotted the sheer cliff faces beside the road. Bring your camera and a lunch. This road is traveled very infrequently by tourists and the passing locals are few and far between. Don’t expect a fish taco stand around the next corner. It isn’t there. This is a ride I hesitate to tell many about, because it seems it is the best kept secret on the beautiful island of Maui. Aloha.