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How to Prepare for Haleakala?

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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

How to Prepare for Haleakala?

Old 01-02-12, 03:57 AM
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happa95
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How to Prepare for Haleakala?

Hey guys (and gals),

This summer, my family is heading out to Maui for spring break and I thought that Maui would be a great place to get some riding in. I've heard that the famed ride up Haleakala is the ride to do so I'm trying to figure out if I'll be up to the task and what I'll need to bring.

Some background: I started riding in March (maybe April) at the urging of a friend. At the time, I had about a year of running background so I wasn't completely out of shape. I rode a fair amount into the summer, did a century, and then stopped entirely once school (and cross country season) started. Once or twice this school year, my friend has coerced me into doing a ride or two but that's been it. However, on Saturday, after not having ran (or biked) for at least a week, I completed a 60 mile ride with 6300 feet of climbing in the Santa Monica mountains. I feel like that demonstrated at least the ability to attempt Haleakala, if not complete it. What do you guys think?

What do you think I should do to prepare? What should I bring? Finally, does anyone have any suggestions on where to rent a bike (we're going to be staying in Lahaina and Hana).

Last edited by happa95; 01-02-12 at 05:06 AM.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:29 AM
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Keep practicing climbing. Do hill repeats. Bring food and water. If you're renting a bicycle, also bring your own pedals and shoes. Sorry, I don't know where to rent a bike in Hawaii.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:31 AM
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Most people rent bikes at the top of the mountain and coast down.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:34 AM
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I'm planning on doing that ride someday. My concern is the elevation, I think it is 8,000 feet at the national park and then up to 10,000 if you go "all the way"....

My main climbing route tops out at 4,000 after a 14.5 mile climb.

So where do you live? Do you have any hills? Better rent a bike with a 34/28....at least.
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Old 01-02-12, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Hunt-man View Post
I'm planning on doing that ride someday. My concern is the elevation, I think it is 8,000 feet at the national park and then up to 10,000 if you go "all the way"....

My main climbing route tops out at 4,000 after a 14.5 mile climb.

So where do you live? Do you have any hills? Better rent a bike with a 34/28....at least.
Or a triple with a 12/34 :-)
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Old 01-02-12, 12:38 PM
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The difficulty of the climb is not so much the steepness, but the fact that it's unrelenting. Except for stopping, you have almost no opportunity to rest. The steepest sections are a short (maybe 200-300 yards) after the intersection in Makawao and the final 1/3 of a mile to the summit.

The best ride report, by far, is the Chainreaction one. A google search should help you find it. If not, there should be a link in the ride report I did here a couple years ago. Print it out and study it. It will keep you from getting lost as well as offering you a lot of tips on what to do and where to rent a bike.

The second time I did the ride, I did the entire descent as well. It was the most amazing ride ever. I was lucky to have good weather both times I did it.

As for training tips, find the longest hill in your neighborhood and ride it over and over. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-12, 12:50 PM
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If you can do a century, you should be able to get up Haleakala.

I was glad to have a bike with a triple so I could spin as much as possible. The hardest part for me was the lower cadence climbing for 4 hours with no real rest other than just stoping, especially in the middle of winter when I hadn't been riding outside (Wisconsin). I trained for a couple months on my indoor trainer in a lower gear for several hours at a time. I still had to deal with crampling towards the top (despite about 5 bottle of sports drink and plenty of calories). It is hard to train your muscles for this without doing long steady climbs regularly. It is probably my best single day of cycling and I spent lots of time out in the mountains, etc..
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Old 01-02-12, 01:02 PM
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Having been up it in a car, I would think lots and lots of hill climbing will prepare you. I like to ride hills but nothing like that climb. I too would love to tackle that ride someday.
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Old 01-02-12, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Hunt-man View Post
I'm planning on doing that ride someday. My concern is the elevation, I think it is 8,000 feet at the national park and then up to 10,000 if you go "all the way"....

My main climbing route tops out at 4,000 after a 14.5 mile climb.

So where do you live? Do you have any hills? Better rent a bike with a 34/28....at least.
I live in Santa Monica, with a bunch of climbs in the mountains nearby. Most of them are clumped together, so it's easy to do them one after another. Also I'm not sure if it matters, but I'm 16, 5'4" and about 110 pounds.
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Old 01-02-12, 01:03 PM
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There are quite a few threads on this if you want to do a search. Here is one where the OP mentions renting a bike. Nice pictures and write up as well.

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ight=haleakala

Last edited by JoeB14; 01-02-12 at 01:03 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-02-12, 01:56 PM
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Long threshold or near threshold intervals.

You will likely be on the bike working for something like 4-5 hours, so some long rides for butt conditioning are good too.
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Old 01-02-12, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by happa95 View Post
I live in Santa Monica, with a bunch of climbs in the mountains nearby. Most of them are clumped together, so it's easy to do them one after another. Also I'm not sure if it matters, but I'm 16, 5'4" and about 110 pounds.
Try to get out to the Azusa area and climb up HWY 39 and Mount Baldy. I'm 16 too and I did the crystal lake climb(~25miles) pretty easily, Haleakala is a 35 mile climb so I think if you can climb 25miles easily you should be able to Haleakala. And if you get tired you can always just turn around and come back down.

Riding in the Santa Monicas is not going to help you at riding at altitude. Most peaks there don't get over 5000ft.

Last edited by fishymamba; 01-02-12 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 01-02-12, 02:19 PM
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I'm native to those slopes so for what it is worth here are my 2cents or so:

Conditioning will be really important as the climb has no breaks other than you choosing to stop. Altitude WILL be a factor. You are a sea level dweller and will be staying at sea level. You will feel that impact as you ride in the 5000-10000ft level. Anticipate that reality and know that it will slow you down and punish you (yeah sufferfest!).

Weather can absolutely be a game changing factor. You said "spring" but really you can expect a WIDE range of weather year round. Starting early is super important for better chance at clear weather. When the clouds role in it is wet, pea soup riding that can go from warm and sunny to frigid cold, wet (w/ or without rain), slippery, and 10ft visibility in a few minutes. Plan accordingly for clothing, lights, etc. Remember the motto "be prepared" as it can be immensely important in the fast changing environment on the upper slopes.

Quality bike setup is important. On the climb poorly adjusted gears will be an infuriating problem. IF you plan on descending, make absolutely sure everything is adjusted and tightened perfectly and most important CHECK THAT THE RENTAL BIKE HAS PERFECT BRAKES THAT ARE PERFECTLY ADJUSTED!!!!! I repeat; check the brakes and pad at rental time!!!!! Also important if you are not really familiar with road descending skills you want to be SUPER careful and perhaps even consider getting a lift down if weather is less than optimal (or even if it is clear and dry). It is a very long and winding decent so if you are tired, not a good descender, and are on unfamiliar rental equipment it CAN BE dangerous. There is a reason the downhill bike tours require full face helmets. History has taught some very hard lessons (ie crashes and fatalities).

On that note, it is a road that requires careful, steady riding as there are not huge shoulders and MOST drivers are paying more attention to the view (and often their hangovers) than they are to you riding your bike. Again, a reason to start early before the tourist traffic gets really heavy and the weather roles in. Another thing to note is to make sure to use sunscreen. It is a long ride at altitude and you can get a wicked sunburn that can ruin the rest of your trip so take care.

Most of all, just be careful and enjoy. It is a gorgeous locale and with proper prep and technique can be problem free and very enjoyable suffering (yum, yum). Take some time to stop periodically and check out the attractions along the way. Bring food and h20 as well. Oh, and coming from Lahaina leave really early. It sounds excessive but I'd look at starting out driving at close to 4:00-4:30am to make sure to be starting your ride just after sunrise. By that time the sunrise folks should be at the top and hopefully not tearing up the road trying "not to miss it."

Have fun and aloha!!

Last edited by HokuLoa; 01-02-12 at 04:06 PM. Reason: spelling horror
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Old 01-02-12, 04:08 PM
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Last year on my honeymoon my wife and i road down the mountain, and by ride i mean coast. One thing to remember if you do it early in the morning it will be COLD and it often rains.
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Old 01-03-12, 02:15 PM
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We just booked a trip to Maui in April, so I've been paying close attention to all the Haleakala threads. I even went back and re-read all the old threads. There is some really good info out there.
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Old 01-03-12, 02:24 PM
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Hill repeats on Latigo.

I've been over to Maui lots of times. Didn't get the chance to ride up in Aug as I planned but what the heck. As mentioned above....weather is changeable by the hour. I've ridden down in the rain and had sun at the bottom. Fog definately a factor. Temps at the top in Spring can be pretty cold.

Also noted by others...very limited shoulders and lots of tourists looking at the view, not you. Be visible and aware.
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Old 01-03-12, 04:23 PM
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Make sure to rent a bike ahead of arrival. I was just there and somewhat ambivalent about Hale and when I checked on bikes at the local shop they had none.

You might also want to look at the West loop around the island. Nice ride as well. It was pretty windy while I was there but the summit looked dry the whole week. Enjoy!
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Old 01-03-12, 04:59 PM
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In Santa Monica, you have enough nearby hills to OWN that climb. Yes, it's a big one, but you can build rides of similar altitude quite readily in the Santa Monica mountains. One of my favorite toughest rides was a 'Double Latigo' -> 'Piuma' -> Mulholland Highway -> Topanga Canyon road back to Santa Monica.

I suspect that the altitude will hurt you more than the actual climbing - you're pretty small and light to begin with and sounds like you're a pretty good climber already if you're going 6300 feet without a problem. I only do 6-8000 elevation climbs on big-time training days, so you're in pretty good shape.
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Old 01-03-12, 05:44 PM
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I did Haleakala a few years ago and will have another go in April. A couple of things I'll do differently:

1. Leave earlier. I didn't get on the road until after 9. Although it wasn't't particularly hot, I still sweat a ton because of the humidity. On a related note...
2. Drink more sports drink. I cramped pretty badly just before entering the park.
3. Ride my own bike. Last time I rented a bike from West Maui Cycling. Great shop, but there's nothing like being on your own bike.
4. Lose 10 pounds. Self explanatory.
5. Do more long climbing repeats. For me, that means thinking of it as Mt. Rose x 3.

Last edited by caloso; 01-03-12 at 07:13 PM.
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