One way to handle the “Big 4-0”.

Cycle To The Sun is a once-a-year bicycle race here on Maui that draws entrants from all over the world. It starts at the little town of Paia (elevation: sea level) and finishes at the rim of Haleakala* crater (elevation: 10,023 feet). Start to finish, it’s 36 miles and up hill pretty much every inch of the way. Whenever I take visiting friends and relatives up to the rim of the crater, we almost always pass a dozen or so hardy people laboring up what is billed as “the longest, steepest, paved road on Earth.” Most are training for the big race, which is held in August.

For several weeks, my son-in-law, Pete, has been training on his bicycle, too … taking longer and longer segments of that punishing route in each session. Pete turned 40 yesterday and had resolved that it would be a good, symbolic day for him to attempt the entire route. To his everlasting credit, he did it. (That’s Pete in the photo above.) His time was 5:01, which computes to an average of 7.2 mph.

As he was catching his breath up at the top, accepting well-deserved congratulations and a bit of champagne from a group of friends, another rider puffed up the hill and stopped next to him.

Pete: “Good job, man!”

Guy: “Thanks.”

Pete: “What was your time?”

Guy: “3:08.”

Pete: “Oh.”

But make no mistake: the 3:08 time means that guy is really in the “elite” category of riders. The best time among all Maui residents in this year’s race was 3:19.

Pete’s my hero today.

* “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian.