Haleakala is a volcano on the island of Mau’i. Some people I’ve talked to show confusion when I mention it…. I guess, not everyone knows what it is.
My CYCLING (road bike) trek up the volcano, at the top of my bucket list. I never thought I’d go through with it. But this is what happens when we plan a last minute trip to Mau’i from O’ahu. I thought, O shit, I’m actually going to go through with this. So, here’s the story…
I usually get early starts and this was solidified by the advice of the LbS (Maui cycle in Paia), their write-up on climbinb Haleakala, and the advice of some locals here on O’ahu (namely the speedsters I encountered on the IT&B rides on Wednesday afternoon–Pau Hana)
A few days before, it looked like rain was going to wash this event out. I told myself, that I would go through with it, if the Ka ua (rain) came later, and was clear at the start in Kihei. Sure enough, the forecast lessened in rain, and it turned out to be a great day for riding.
0520: Get started. I knew that the earlier I started, the less likely I would hit inclimate weather on the way up, as the weather can change on a dime after about noonish. Headwinds hit me as I left Kihei (Pi’ilani rd) up to my turning point at Hansen Rd (Sugar Mill).. This was over riding up to Pai’a Town where the CTTS (Cycle To The Sun [June of each year) starts and goes up to the summit, went left on Pulehu (leads to the landfill), continued on Omaopio to the first hwy. Steady climb, got a little more challenging , then comes Lower Kimo (after u cross Hele Hwy [careful for crossing traffic- I think that’s the way CTTS go to the top] ) Even steeper gradient faced me on that road— 11-14%. Might of been the steepest portion of the whole ride. Most of the ride was an average 5% grade, with few reprieves. A reprise followed as I a made a “last water stop” at the Kula Lounge Restaurant for about 20 minutes. It was a welcome stop. . Refilled water bottles, did the voiding thing, and headed out for 22 miles of fun (the distance from the beginning of Crest Rd to the observation tower at 10,032’
Great views (videoed some of it on my fly6 camera) Yes, I encountered many that were going down as part of the various organized downhills from the park entrance. One said, downhill is fun, and of course, I responded with the opposite, “the FUN in in the uphill”(and working for it) I didn’t make any speed records, as I stopped a number of times for photos, saying, “I was here”, not because I was tired :-). I think, for a first time, multi-stops are required, because, you might not ever do it again. Save the faster times for the race,…. you know, CTTS in June. I packed up 3 water bottles, energy bars (in little pieces) energy gels, dried apricots, figs, salted nuts… so was loaded up, per se.
Reached park entrance @ 6700′. More pics and a water refill. There is an entry fee— $12 for bikes— was expecting it They even take CC’s. A few more pic stops, linked me up with an Aussie named John O’Brien. He said he saw me earlier, but I was ascending a little faster. At 8000′ at another pic stop, is where we met up and rode the rest of the way to the top. Good moral support, because as the air gets thinner, you start mindfckng yourself… With another it’s a little harder to do that because you’ve now become3 accountable to another…. and if you’ve gotten that far already, why stop now? That wasn’t in either of our programs. Last climb to the summit (10023′ shack) was 11%. and the final destination , though you could see it , was further than it looked. During climb in park, the clouds were rolling in— it never rained, however, as we got up to the top, there was no view. The clouds had socked us in. The temp went down from 64 to 48 in the matter of minutes. John descended… said it was hell (see his link) I got lucky and had planned for someone to meet me up at the top, so I didn’t have to descend. That was part of the deal… I’d do this if I didn’t have to go down this thing. And with the carbon frame problems that ended up sidelining this bike later on that month, it was a good thing that I didn’t risk descending, as the frame could’ve snapped (It was in pretty bad shape near the end of March— that’s another story in it’s own.
Never have been crazy about bombing down mountains, namely this one. I’m glad I didn’t have to do it. 🙂 But, am glad that I attempted this and can say, “yes, I’ve been here and done the whole thing”