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Haleakala A 10K ft Volcano Ride

posted by DL Byron on December 29, 2005

10K Ft Volcano It was 4 hours up and 1:17 down Haleakala. We rode at a moderate pace, easy, steady, but it was still a hard day in the saddle. The work, sweat, and back pain was rewarded with an exhilarating, banked, switchbacking descent at 25 - 45 mph. The road was as fun as the roller-coaster ride earlier in the week. The tourist that are driven to the top and ride mountain bikes down couldn’t hear me mocking them underneath their full-face helmets (I’d yell, “climb it next time!”), as we rode by and so much the better. By the time we flew down the Volcano, they were long gone and so was everybody else. We didn’t see anyone until we got back to the resort. Going into the turns, I wedged my knees into the top tube, anchored the outside leg on the pedal, scrubbed speed with the front, let go through the apex, and yelled out a “woohoo!”

Notes on the ride:

  • Clear, bright weather at elevation, but it was still cold on the windward side of the switchbacks — we’d alternate every mile between a freezing blast and nice breeze
  • No refreshments at the ranger stations — we should’ve brought more food
  • Our Polars were off by 480 ft, not sure why, maybe the barometric pressure in the tropics
  • We started at Kula, Rice Park — the Cycle to the Sun starts at sea level
  • Once of out the resort area, Maui is an great place to ride, we had no issues with cars. There are Share the Road signs everywhere, generous shoulders, and bike lanes.

Haleakala is enormous, way bigger than it looks and we realized that about 1/2 way through. I lost count of the switchbacks, but I’d count a mile marker on each one. The ranger station is at 9K, 700 and something feet. It’s another few hundred feet to the observatory. I was feeling good and tried to punch it up the final grade, at 19%, and had to back that right down. I crawled up to the 10K ft marker, took a photo, turned around, and headed down. As I learned in Colorado, at elevation, I feel like I’m riding with a hangover: headache, dry mouth, achy legs.

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