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Haleakala. Another. Thread.

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

Haleakala. Another. Thread.

Old 05-08-09, 10:16 AM
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Haleakala. Another. Thread.

First week of April I went to Maui for a conference. I attended little of the conference, but in between sunbathing and copious umbrella drinks, I managed to squeeze about 200 miles of cycling including an up and down on Haleakala.

Cycling Haleakala has been well documented, but I’ll give some highlights.

-Read up on the ride prior to going. Chain reaction has an excellent blog as well as several other trip reports from people on BF, including
Oboeguy - https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ight=haleakala
Chimivee - https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ight=haleakala
These were very helpful in planning my ride.

-The Chain Reaction blog mentions turning Right when you see a sign on Olinda Road. The picture they provide is blurry, but the sign says ‘Oskie Rice’ and ‘Arena’ in red, white and blue. (sorry didn’t take a pic)
-There are two more three-way intersections on the ride, turn left/veer towards the summit on both
-Start early because a lot of clouds start to roll in by mid-afternoon
-Leave a window of days for the ride. It rained heavily at least one day I was there.

Concerns I had going in
-Was it going to be too steep? No. The bike I rented had a very generous 34x27 gearing and it was at least for me, more than enough to basically spin the entire mountain except for a few steeper sections. As a reference, I go up Mt Diablo in CA in a 34x23 The only really steep parts are a short section in the town of Makawao and the final pitch after the 2nd visitor center. I certainly suffered a lot on this ride, but I never thought that it was too steep or I didn’t have enough gearing (at least with that setup).
-Was it really going to be cold at the top? Kinda cold. I had a regular kit and brought along a vest, leg/knee warmers and long sleeve glove liners (glad I had these). With this I was definitely cool on the descent, but not uncomfortable
-Was I trained up enough? Could have used more training, particularly longer solo rides. And I was sick for three weeks leading up the trip
-Was it going to be windy? There was a 10-25 MPH wind everywhere on Maui it seemed when I was there, but luckily the winds on the mountain were not terrible.
-Was the altitude and oxygen going to affect me? Yes. I had never been on a bike above 3,800 feet and the last 3,000 feet of climbing were the kinda brutal.
-Was the descent gonna kill me? I am a nervous, crappy descender and even the chain-reaction blog said that the descent wasn’t very fun. Well I though it was great. Not steep or technical. Good sight lines for the most part. Wide roads especially below 6,500 and minimal car traffic. I was going conservative and still caught up to some cars on the descent. If you are at all an Ace descender then you can really doing some serious damage going down. The first mile or so of the descent has a rougher surface than then rest of the road.
-Would my back hold out? Have some back issues...the Cannondale was setup kinda plush so luckily no back pain.
-Would drinking 5 mai tais the day before be a problem? Did not help hydration status.

Did not regret
-bringing glove liners
-bringing an actual camera instead of just a cell phone camera (a Nikon cool pix camera)

Did regret
-screwing up my hydration status. I arrived at the Sunrise Market (3,500) and the Toll booth (about 6,800) with one of my bottles full when really I should have been empty at both. This I think contributed a lot to the suffering I had in the last 3000 feet. When you pass the Kula Market, you should be a ½ bottle because the Sunrise Market is pretty close. Also if you see a 6,000 ft marker painted on the ground, you should be at ½ bottle because the toll booth is getting close. The first visitor center is about a mile of climbing up the road from the toll booth (pay $5). At the toll booth you can get ½ a bottle of water from a plain spigot behind the building – then top off at the visitor center, thus saving the wt of two full bottles for about a mile. Also there is no water or restrooms at the actual summit. So stop at the 2nd visitor center if you need to.

Big props to
-West Maui Cycles. Located on the mountain side of the main highway through Lahaina behind Pizza Hut. Was able to rent a Cannodale Synapse with full Ultegra SL grouppo (50-34, 12-27), mavic equippe wheels with conti gatorskins, Fizik Aliante saddle. Also included in the rental was an extra tube, irons, patch kit, frame pump, and a ParkTool. Cost was 140 for 6 days. They take reservations on bikes for rentals greater than one week. The size 54 was the last one they had left in my size. They also had some 6-13’s with Dura Ace shifters, but I didn’t really check it out too much since they were out of my size in that. The bike was quite nice and in better condition that my beat down bike. I brought my own shoes and Keos. https://www.westmauicycles.com/
-The nice people from Reno who gave me some trail mix and granola bars at summit and the Korean family that offered me some grapes.

If you are renting consider
-bringing a bike computer of some sort.
-your own seat if you have seat issues. I don’t and the Fizik Aliante was fine for me.
-MP3 player. I dont use one when i ride and I know people have their own opinions, but its a long time to be on the bike by yourself and I really could have used it to boost the moral at higher altitudes or to take my mind of away from the constant "your're so stupid for trying to do this" and the "why arent you at the pool talking to the hot girl from Romania that you met yesterday" thougths that kept running through my head.

If you are gonna bring your own bike and do not have a direct maui flight
-luggage does not always make the connection from Honolulu to Maui on time (arriving on a later flight). Our luggage arrive about 3 hours later. They delivered it to our hotel. But if I had an expensive bike, i think i would feel obligated to sit around until it showed up. also no one seems to be really watching the stranded luggage at all.

-After 8,000 feet the combination of physical fatigue, poor hydration, altitude and oxygen really caught up with me. I was getting headaches. I was having concentration issues and I was getting confused. After 9,000 feet I couldn’t have been going more than 5 or 6 mph and I remember my bike weaving in the lane. Serious mental anguish at this point. You could see the summit ahead, but it never seemed to get closer. Like it was a mirage – that was torture. At least for me the last mile was one of the worst things I’ve ever been through.
-At the summit people looked at me like I was Buzz Aldrin just back from the moon. People were pretty amazed that anyone would ride up the mountain. At the visitor center a couple of people took a picture with me and bunch of random tourists asked me a bunch of questions about the ride. After talking to me, i guy from italy (a cyclist) was really thinking about renting all the gear and heading up himself before his trip was done.
-Only encountered one other cyclist – a strong racer from Washington state who went up in a 39x25!
-People still go down Haleakala on beach cruisers – a lot of them. The new law is that the tour has to start outside the national park boundary (about 6,500 ft)
-My ears popped on the descent

Post ride meal
-Banyan Tree, Four Seasons Kapalua: Maui onion and white bean soup, Kobe ribeye and local lobster, pineapple and banana bread pudding. Two baskets of bread and every scrap of food not eaten on the rest of my family's plates.

Can you do it?

Yes. I am a non-racer, average/above average B team rider. If you live in the Bay Area and can make it up Mt Diablo then you can train up a bit and definitely make it. And if you are used to spending hours on the bike then you will be fine. You will hurt. But you will be fine.

"only" 22 miles from this point. this is after Sunrise Market (the last food stop at 3,500 ft)

the 'Switchbacks' at around 4,000-4,500 ft. Flying down this on the descent was awesome

after emerging from the cloud layer somewhere above 7,000 feet. riding in the clouds is not nearly is fun as it sounds. mostly its just cold and damp

the famous 9,000 foot sign. my own personal hell got worse from here.

I rode up 10,000 ft just to take this stupid photo

Last edited by save10; 05-08-09 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 05-08-09, 10:19 AM
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Excellent post.Thank you.
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Old 05-08-09, 10:31 AM
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Nice report!
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Old 05-08-09, 10:34 AM
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Wow, what a great ride. Great info. Makes me want to go to HI and try it out. I coasted down it years ago with my family, very easy and relaxing. Now I want to climb it.
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Old 05-08-09, 12:02 PM
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Best post i've seen since joining. Went to Maui on my honeymoon in '98 and saw two guys riding up while we cruised pass on our way to the top for a horseback ride into the crater. I've been wanting to go back ever since to ride it myself!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
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Old 05-08-09, 12:05 PM
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Nice pics...
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Old 05-08-09, 12:09 PM
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this is my dream ride
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Old 05-08-09, 12:22 PM
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sounds as though you got lucky on the weather. I rode up with these guys https://www.gocyclingmaui.com/index.html. Great experience and I wouldnt do it any other way.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rollin
excellent post.thank you.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:37 PM
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Ditto with the crowd. First rate job, both the ride and report.

You might submit it to a bike magazine. It's better written then much of the stuff in there.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:47 PM
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very nice
averaging 5% uphill for 38miles, though? i'd jump off a cliff half way up just to end my misery!
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Old 05-08-09, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rollin
excellent post.thank you.
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Old 05-08-09, 02:09 PM
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Great job! I would like to climb Haleakala as well. How long did it take you to reach the summit?
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Old 05-08-09, 02:15 PM
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Awesome. You convinced me--next time we're over there, I'm doing it. Great looking bike for a rental, too.
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Old 05-08-09, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Sprocket Man
Great job! I would like to climb Haleakala as well. How long did it take you to reach the summit?

Thanks for all the feed back everyone.

I'm not sure how long it took actually. I left the car around 8:30am and got back to the car around 3:30-4pm. but that included going up/down and all the stops. I didnt have watch or computer and I turned my phone off.
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Old 05-08-09, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso
Awesome. You convinced me--next time we're over there, I'm doing it. Great looking bike for a rental, too.
yeah I read oboeguy's report and that convinced me. I signed up for this conference in Maui, but my secret goal from the beginning was to go up this mountain. but i had nagging doubts about my ability to do it. I almost convinced myself to leave all my gear at home. I did some lovely practice rides along the Maui coast on the days leading up to it and tried to tell myself that I couldnt do it. and even as I was going up - I kept try to tell myself that I should turn around.
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