All the reasons and excuses I didn't make it up the volcano
I made an attempt at climbing Mt Haleakala in Maui (I know, it's hard, but somebody had to go there). It is 10000' of non-stop climbing over 36 miles and a 5.3% average grade. I didn't make it, getting up to just short of 6000' before I just had to stop. Now 6000' is still a lot of climbing and by far the longest climb I've ever done so I don't feel too bad about it. But still, I really, really wanted to get to the top and tell the world about it. (BF is not the world, I mean my non-cyclist world.)
Anyway, as I was riding today back here in Brooklyn, actually the first ride since my attempt 10 days ago, I was going through in my head all the reasons I didn't make it so here goes:
1. Training. I started training in September, not the best time to get serious about this as the weather is starting to change. But I did lots of rides. The biggest problem though is there aren't any hills that could really be called training that I can get to and back with a day of riding. Bear Mountain is the longest accessible one, and that was 1500' and the same 5.3% grade overall. I did it on a cool day and had no trouble at all. But 1500' is NOT 10000'. I also went and did Alpine hill just about every weekend. This is steeper, but not very long. It definitely slows you down but still, not very long. I would try to simulate hills on all the smaller climbs by going to a higher gear but that wasn't all that useful. And forget about the trainer...
2. Dont get sick. I felt a scratchy throat the day before we left, and it only got worse over the week+ that I was there before it started getting better. I arrived on a Monday, and didn't do the ride until the next Monday because of it. I was going to try on Sunday but it was raining steadily that morning so I did a different ride.
3. Take your own bike. While the rental that I used was actually a really nice bike, a Fuji Altamira carbon fiber, ultegra equipped, I would have preferred to be on my own bike with my own setup.
4. Get lower gears. Again, I'd have put on lower gears on my own bike. I ended up with a 34/27 as the low, not bad but another step or two would have been nice.
5. Have someone meet you at the top. You have to carry a lot of clothes to do the downhill, and really I'd have rather not carried that stuff. This isn't about being self sufficient, it is about doing the climb. I had too much stuff that I was carrying. If you going to carry, keep it on the frame.
6. Lose 30 pounds. Yea, I'm a little overweight.
7. Lose 30 years. I'm 59. The last time I was in Maui I was 30, and 30 pounds lighter too.
8. Have a good idea of the entire route. I should have taken a cue sheet, not because I'd get lost, but I didn't know where all the steeper parts are. I quit just as it was getting less steep. If I'd have known I'd have persevered, maybe. I didn't know that I'd been at a 6.5 to 8% grade for the last couple of miles. I thought I was just running out of steam. It "leveled" off to 4 - 5%, a much easier grade to spin.
9. Keep eating and drinking. This I did. Eat before you run out of steam, drink regularly.
10. Don't wait for your last day. Because I was sick I waited. Make the attempt earlier in your trip as there will then be a second chance. I might have quit not long after I started with the intent of trying again without the extra stuff.
11. Survey the road. Mt Haleakala is a destination for everyone visiting Maui. I should have done the drive up before the ride.
12. Stand up occasionally. I did, but maybe if I'd stretched on the last switchback before I just gave up I'd have more in me. Maybe I did but I don't remember. I was beat.
13. An offering to the volcano gods. I didn't do this and they were probably angry.
All in all still a good day, and the downhill is a blast. My brother-in-law happened to be having lunch with his family at the outdoor cafe at the very end of the ride and saw me. He ordered me a beer, and I finished his kids mostly uneaten lunch, every last bit, and then went back to the condo and ate again. A great ending.