When I finally booked my ticket to Hawaii for the first time, I had no idea what was in store for me or how it was going to change my life. Honestly, I would have never bought the ticket if it weren’t for a friend that I met four years earlier—Chris Puder, or “Mendo,” as the Californian transplant is called.
In 2010, I found myself wandering aimlessly solo through Mexico with the wonder of a child and the reliability of a single cylinder Enduro to look after me. Now I realize that I was searching for my own identity, but back then I wanted an adventure, and that’s exactly what I got. As it happened, I crossed paths in Mazatlan, Mexico, with a group of three guys from California who had the same “plan.” For one week, we tore up the twisty wild roads of the west coast by day and hit the town equally hard by night. It was beautiful, but like everything, it came to an end. As we split ways, I never thought I would see those guys again, but four years later (thanks to Facebook), I am outside the airport about to get into Mendo’s truck. I’ll be staying with him for a week and riding one of the best places in America, Maui.
There are two main motorcycle rental outfits in Maui. Aloha Motorsports has the Harley guys covered, and Maui Moto Adventures has adventure spec’ed KLR 650s. I pick neither because, luckily for me, Mendo has an extra bike (a Yamaha WR450F) that I can use for a week, but only if I put some fresh rubber on it for him. (Perhaps renting wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.)
Bloody knuckles, bent tire irons, and a few hundred bucks later, the tires are on and we can ride. I’m earning my keep. The next day we gear up to explore a new trail with the unofficial “Maui Dual Sport Club.” Maybe it’s his endless wheelies or his uber relaxed personality, but Mendo runs the show.