An Incredible Tour of an Incredible Island

FROM THE MAUI BEACH PRESS

The genesis of MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERS make a pretty romantic story. Before they were married, sweethearts Jon and Cheryl Thuro used to drive up to Haleakala on moonlit nights in Jon’s 1958 Porsche Speedster. They would put the convertible’s top down, turn off the engine, and cruise down under the full moon.

Their enjoyment of these cruises, along with Jon’s interest in bicycles (particularly antiques), led to the formation of MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERSin 1983. The Haleakala bicycle cruise business has grown from a fleet of only one van and one trailer (for transporting riders up to Haleakala) to 15 vans and 15 trailers. MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERS has over 200 bicycles in use and a very well-trained, safety-minded and entertaining staff of cruise leaders.

Cheryl Thuro, who was born and raised on Maui, is in charge of the company’s office and reservations operation, while Jon takes care of the bikes, vans, and “cruising” part of the business. Jon designed the unique trailers used by MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERS, which utilize an A-frame design that allows room on the trailer for transporting gear so that cruisers can ride unencumbered in the van.

One of the Thuro’s biggest concerns since their first day of operation has been safety, and Jon claims that they have “the best safety record on the mountain.” They were instrumental in helping the National Park Service establish regulations for the bicycle cruise companies.

Safety features include brightly colored windbreaker suits worn by each rider, speedometers on the bikes of the cruise leaders to allow them to regulate the group’s speed, and the use of motorcycles helmets to prevent head injuries.

MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERS has also worked with the Maui County government to establish a good policy for allowing cars to pass on the winding road down Haleakala. Riders do no hold up cars for more than two minutes—enough time for the cruise leaders to direct the riders off to the side of the road.

With safety so thoroughly taken care of, cruisers can relax and enjoy their scenic ride down the magnificent slopes of Haleakala. They ride on comfortably bulky, single-speed bikes with the large, “bullhorn” handles that allow easy, leaning turns.

An adventure with MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERS starts with hotel pick-up in one of the company’s 15 vans, all named after people close to the Thuro’s: the Raggedy Ann , the Cheryl Ann, the Barbara Ann, the Carol Ann, the Lana Kay, the Chelsea Ann and the Gabrielle. The vans transport riders up to the top of Haleakala, where their cruise begins.

The company offers two cruises, the Sunrise and the Midday. The first hotel pickup for the Sunrise Cruise is at 2:15 a.m. during the winter months, 2:00 a.m. during the summer. Coffee and muffins are served before riders head down the mountain, with a “no host” breakfast stop halfway down at either Polli’s Mexican Cafe or the Kula Lodge, overlooking a beautiful view.

The first hotel pick-up for the Midday Cruise is at 7:00 a.m.. This cruise features a coffee and muffins to start things off, and a “no host” lunch at the Sunrise Market to wind things up.

Along the way (on both cruises) are plenty of stops for picture-taking and restroom-visiting. Again, safety is of the utmost concern. The average speed of the cruises-which usually includes 10–12 riders plus a cruise leader and the van driver who follows behind the group-ranges from about 18 to 27 miles per hour. The cruises begin slowly to allow riders to become accustomed to their bikes. There is a 10 minute time lapse between each group cruising down the mountain, to prevent any overlap.

At MAUI MOUNTAIN CRUISERS’ base camp and office, located at 15 S. Wakea Ave. in Kahului, visitors are invited to stop in and check out the T-shirts and sweatshirts designed by Jon Thuro, as well as his impressive collection of antique bicycles.

The cost of the Sunrise cruise per person is $185 which includes tax. The Midday cruise is $150 per person also including tax. There is a minimum height requirement of 4’10”, a minimum age limit of 12 years, and pregnant women and beginners are not allowed to ride. Reservations are required. Call 1-808-871-6014 internationally and on Maui or 1-800-232-6284 from the US Mainland and neighbor islands.

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