Boxing Day Ride with Axel Merckx


On the side of a highway, next to windswept sugar cane fields

As we accelerated into the first rise of a 4-mile climb up Waihee Valley, Axel Merckx said to the group, “now how social you going to be?” 3.5 miles later, regrouping for the descent, he answered his own question with, “not very social!”

Windy, climb

A windy, climb in Maui

The Boxing Day Ride is an annual, day after Xmas ride hosted by South Maui Bicycles and Axel attended as a guest of the shop. He vacations in Maui with family, like most of the ride attendees do. Many of them were on bikes rented from the shop.

So what’s it like to ride with a former Pro and the son of cycling’s most celebrated legend? Like any other accomplished roadie, you ride steady, go when they go, and don’t make too much small talk (that’s if you can go that hard and talk at all).

Pro tip for social rides and fondos: even the pros come back and get their wives on hard climbs, like Axel did half way up to milepost 10, through the remains of the group.

Riding shoulder to shoulder, I gave Axel props for focusing on the next gen of racers and directing the Bontrager Livestrong Cycling Team. We stopped short of any more difficult or controversial discussions about the state of the sport. We’re both on vacation and this was a social ride. And it got even more social back into town at 34MPH, with a tailwind past sugar cane fields.

Back into town

Back into town, looking for the final sprint


The Boxing Day Ride is photomapped on Google with high-rez photos on G+ and Flickr. Also see Andrew’s strava upload for the effort. His suffer score was 86. After 3 hours of sleep before the ride and plane legs, I’d rate my suffering at 87 on the climb.

You can ride with Axel during his next Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan, on Sunday, July 7th, 2013.

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