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Gearing to climb Mt. Haleakala

Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

Gearing to climb Mt. Haleakala

Old 07-21-18, 07:03 PM
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Banzai
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Gearing to climb Mt. Haleakala

Anyone do this climb? What gearing did you use?

I'm currently running a 34-46 crank, with an 11-28. 34-28 is plenty adequate for nearly anything I encounter, but I'm wondering if at altitude I might be wishing for a 32t cog in back. My RD will clear it.
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Old 07-21-18, 09:14 PM
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It is a long climb, mostly steady and not steep. If you are not experienced with long climbs, I would bring one gear lower than you think you need in case you pace yourself poorly.
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Old 07-21-18, 10:09 PM
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Here's a technical answer if you have a powermeter: Determine what power you can ride with for 4-5 hrs. If you haven't done a lot of steady long TTs it will probably be about 70-75% of your FTP. Scale that back by 20% to account for altitude leaving you with around 56-60% of your FTP available for climbing. Now find a climb with a similar gradient to Haleakala and see what speed you climb when putting out 56-60% FTP. Choose your gearing to provide an RPM of 90 or so RPM at your predicted climbing speed.
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Old 07-22-18, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
It is a long climb, mostly steady and not steep. If you are not experienced with long climbs, I would bring one gear lower than you think you need in case you pace yourself poorly.
Definitely: and even if you are experienced with good sized hills, I'd recommend having an easier gear than you need. I'm not recommending that you actually use it, but even if a higher gear is perfectly sustainable, it's rather unnerving finding yourself only a fraction of the way up and in your lowest gear already. Of course, if you're taking on the mountain because you want that "on the edge" feeling, then don't go with anything too easy.
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Old 07-22-18, 05:40 AM
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Thanks. I dont have a power meter, but I do a pretty good job with RPE. I can probably approximate this test/experiment.
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Old 07-22-18, 06:26 PM
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When are you going to do it?

I might try tomorrow, but frankly, 5-6 hrs in the saddle doesn't appeal to me so much any more.

There are a number of alternate rides here that are worthwhile.
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Old 07-22-18, 06:42 PM
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Mid August.
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Old 07-22-18, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by f4rrest View Post
When are you going to do it?

I might try tomorrow, but frankly, 5-6 hrs in the saddle doesn't appeal to me so much any more.

There are a number of alternate rides here that are worthwhile.
True, it is an unrelenting 37-mile uphill schlog (is that a word? It looks wrong), but the scenery for the first 2/3 and then the views from the top are fantastic. Something about starting at daybreak, literally at sea level and ending your morning at 10K feet that cannot be duplicated in very many places. And the descent is likely one of the funnest on the planet.

I agree with whomever said bring a smaller gear than you think you would need. The last stretch is quite steep, the air is thin, and you've been climbing for 3-4 hours, perhaps through rain, cold, and fog during parts of it.
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Old 07-23-18, 02:52 AM
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Frankly the issue to me was more about water management than gearing. That said, I would have been happy to have a 34-32 gear when I did it, but the rental had 34-28 as lowest gear ratio.

Geoff
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Old 07-23-18, 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by patrickgm60 View Post
True, it is an unrelenting 37-mile uphill schlog (is that a word? It looks wrong), but the scenery for the first 2/3 and then the views from the top are fantastic. Something about starting at daybreak, literally at sea level and ending your morning at 10K feet that cannot be duplicated in very many places. And the descent is likely one of the funnest on the planet.

I agree with whomever said bring a smaller gear than you think you would need. The last stretch is quite steep, the air is thin, and you've been climbing for 3-4 hours, perhaps through rain, cold, and fog during parts of it.
Slog is a word, but funnest is not.
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Old 07-23-18, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Jofu View Post
Frankly the issue to me was more about water management than gearing. That said, I would have been happy to have a 34-32 gear when I did it, but the rental had 34-28 as lowest gear ratio.

Geoff
And just when I had decided that 34-28 would be good to get me to the top...
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Old 07-23-18, 02:01 PM
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The descent off sounds equally horrible. I remember coming down Mt. Lemmon and thinking, this really sucks. I just want to get off the bike and riding downhill requires a bit of concentrations too so it's not like you can zone out and go to your happy place. Can't imagine what this climb and descent would be like.

I'd go with the 32 cassette. Why not? Better to have the gear and not use it than to wish for one more during a super long climb like that and not have it.

Depends on who are riding for really. Do you want to be reasonably comfortable or do you want to impress luddites with their "any thing smaller than an 12/23 are *******" attitude?

Go with the 11/32 and enjoy!
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Old 07-23-18, 05:54 PM
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BTW, Sea to Stars race up to Mauna Kea Visitor Center is coming up 4 Aug.

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Old 07-23-18, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by aplcr0331 View Post
The descent off sounds equally horrible. I remember coming down Mt. Lemmon and thinking, this really sucks. I just want to get off the bike and riding downhill requires a bit of concentrations too so it's not like you can zone out and go to your happy place. Can't imagine what this climb and descent would be like.

I'd go with the 32 cassette. Why not? Better to have the gear and not use it than to wish for one more during a super long climb like that and not have it.

Depends on who are riding for really. Do you want to be reasonably comfortable or do you want to impress luddites with their "any thing smaller than an 12/23 are *******" attitude?

Go with the 11/32 and enjoy!
Can confirm, the ride down was super sketchy when we did it on our honeymoon. Didn't have an interest in the climb up at the time. Did the whole bus to the top thing, effectively coasted down from 6,500' over about 20 miles and into town.

Sounded great, but the company we rented from gave us these trashed bikes with drum brakes and rain brought visibility down to just a few feet from like 6,000' to maybe 3,500'. We had to ride the brakes the whole way down, and I spent most of the switchbacks trying to get rain drops off the inside of my glasses with my index finger. Was very much an if I survive this, it's going to be a crazy memory kind of thing. Bone dry by the time we hit town though. The temperature differences between elevation are something you definitely need to be prepared for.
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Old 07-23-18, 06:04 PM
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I was happy to have a 34F - 32R low gear on this Blue Ridge Parkway climb. 3200 feet, mostly 5% to 6% grades. It was nice to sit and spin at a reasonably high cadence. I used the 34-32 for most of the climb.
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Old 07-23-18, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
And just when I had decided that 34-28 would be good to get me to the top...
Haha... For what it's worth while I love climbing, I'm not a particularly strong rider, so don't let my own experience sway your decision to stick with 34-28! If you've done many 5-6% climbs with it, then you should be fine. As others have said, just pace yourself.

Geoff
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Old 07-23-18, 08:37 PM
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I ended up skipping it and headed towards Hana instead.

Now I kinda regret it, because after the Hana ride I had plenty of gas left.

To rub it in, as I turned in the rental bike in paia near the bottom of the climb, a family rode by with full face helmets, having just come off the climb.

Anyhow, if you're going to ride Haleakala and need a rental, use Maui cyclery. The Strava segment literally starts from in front of their shop. Donnie, the owner is an awesome guide, and the bikes are great. I highly recommend hydraulic disc equipped bikes, such as their Scott Addict.

​​​​
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Old 07-24-18, 09:45 AM
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I'm taking my Ritchey Breakaway Cross with me to do the ride, so I have time to sort out my gearing options now before I leave.

Going to go out again today and do some self-evaluation on a couple of hills. I'm pretty certain a 34-28 shallow gear will get me up...I'm a pretty fit guy, and do fast 75+mile group rides with decent regularity on weekends...but I don't want to be out of options 2/3 of the way up.

I also don't want to have stupid jumps in my gears, which is why I'm not just putting on the wider cassette. Granted, 11-28 ten speed already has big gaps, but going to 32 will put a couple more in there.
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Old 07-24-18, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
I'm taking my Ritchey Breakaway Cross with me to do the ride, so I have time to sort out my gearing options now before I leave.

Going to go out again today and do some self-evaluation on a couple of hills. I'm pretty certain a 34-28 shallow gear will get me up...I'm a pretty fit guy, and do fast 75+mile group rides with decent regularity on weekends...but I don't want to be out of options 2/3 of the way up.

I also don't want to have stupid jumps in my gears, which is why I'm not just putting on the wider cassette. Granted, 11-28 ten speed already has big gaps, but going to 32 will put a couple more in there.
Your username and photo make me wonder... are you an F16 pilot? Can you fit a bike case in one of those, or are you going on a real vacation? Would be pretty badass to arrive somewhere in a fighter, unload a bike box from some compartment, and then pedal off the base.
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Old 07-24-18, 03:11 PM
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There's nothing steep on Haleakala until near the very top. The rental bike I used had a 34x30 granny, and I only used that near the top because I was cramping up by that point. Go way easier than you think on this climb. No macho Strava record attempt, or trying to hold FTP. You may be fit as a fiddle, but there is no training for a continuous 35 mile hill with almost no break, in tropical weather. There is no escape the heat and especially the humidity, if you don't have support, make sure you are prepared with enough fluids. Gearing will be the least of your concerns. The grade isn't hard at all.
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Old 07-24-18, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by scott967 View Post
BTW, Sea to Stars race up to Mauna Kea Visitor Center is coming up 4 Aug.

scott s.
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I drove a jeep up there about 10 years ago. Jeep sounded like it wanted to die lol

Doing it on a bike would be a blast.
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Old 07-24-18, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
I'm taking my Ritchey Breakaway Cross with me to do the ride, so I have time to sort out my gearing options now before I leave.

Going to go out again today and do some self-evaluation on a couple of hills. I'm pretty certain a 34-28 shallow gear will get me up...I'm a pretty fit guy, and do fast 75+mile group rides with decent regularity on weekends...but I don't want to be out of options 2/3 of the way up.

I also don't want to have stupid jumps in my gears, which is why I'm not just putting on the wider cassette. Granted, 11-28 ten speed already has big gaps, but going to 32 will put a couple more in there.
Probably not in any of the ratios you're going to be using though. Most cassettes would remove something in the 12-19 range to get wider gearing.
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Old 07-24-18, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
Your username and photo make me wonder... are you an F16 pilot? Can you fit a bike case in one of those, or are you going on a real vacation? Would be pretty badass to arrive somewhere in a fighter, unload a bike box from some compartment, and then pedal off the base.
Ha! Yeah, real vacation. The Ritchey case definitely wont fit in the travel pod.

Shes going as checked luggage.
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Old 07-24-18, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
Probably not in any of the ratios you're going to be using though. Most cassettes would remove something in the 12-19 range to get wider gearing.
Good point.
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Old 07-31-18, 04:18 AM
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I rented from West Maui Cycles. Their options were a Tarmac with 36-28 low gear, or a Roubaix with 34-32. I went with the Roubaix. I used the 28 or smaller just about the whole way up except the entrance to the Park, and the very very top.

In the end, I kinda wished I hadnt given myself the bailout of the 32, and pushed myself to get up on the 28. But at the bottom of the mountain I wasnt to know if Id even get that far. The guy I passed just below the Park Entrance, who had blown up somewhere around Kula, but determined to go all the way anyway, was presumably happy to have as low a gear as possible.
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