Sunday, February 10, 2008

HAWAII-2008-Haleakala, 10,023'

I spent so much time getting travel bike together (eg. 2 days before leaving I figure I'll want to take the chain off so buy and learn how to use Connex links), I really didn't pay attention to the original goal of the trip--riding up Halakala on Maui. Otherwise I certainly would have not left glove liners and knee warms at home for the downhill--and maybe rethought riding with a loaded fanny pack pressing on bladder, coupled with extra hydration meant lots of "tree" stops. At least I read the good story on the Chain Reaction site, and we planned to start the ride in Paia--at 0', clear across the island.

At first glance Haleakala doesn't look impressive as you don't see a majestic peak like Mt. Shasta or Mt. Diablo--as it goes clear into the clouds. But it takes up the whole South of Maui and looks like the Oakland Hills on steroid, a massive wall across the island
We were staying at lower dot to the left and planning to ride to the distant peak of Haleakala, dot on the right, hidden by clouds.

little bit of a pain taking apart-transporting-and then rebuilding my bike (@ 1 1/2 hours each-50 lb suitcase) for one ride but on the other hand Mike scrambled for an ill fitting rental and we later heard from another Club member who rode Haleakala on a badly fitted rental bike.

Stayed in a place with tiny rooms which would have been a dive in Northern California but was charming in Maui. Here prices were on steroids, a CO2 cartridge (screw in, 16g) was $10, as they have to boat them in. I wanted to stoke up on carbs so a bagel in a coffee shop caught my eye--nothing on it-- $3.50. Mauiflation. Paia is a nice oceanfront town with a main road running though it, kind of like Tomalas with more things to do and a lot warmer. Luckily soon found some locally baked (and reasonably priced) pumpkin bread, and later for dinner ate pizza baked in an open wood oven with the friendliest waitresses ever.

Haleakala from Paia--it is so big it looks real close, but it is at the other end of Maui, @14 miles away

Next morning we are psyched to start and are ready to go @7:10. Well I'm psyched to go. The sky is black over the left side of Haleakala, blue over the right side. Mike is still on India time and he says he isn't going if it is raining, and looks like he has little energy for the 10,000' climb. But he is a long distance bulldog so I just want to get him started.

The beginning of the ride is the toughest as from ground 0' you immediately start climbing.

Nothing bad, the whole ride is a constant 3-6%, but it seems like we were closer to the upper range at the beginning on tight legs. About every 2 minutes a car would pass on the road through ag land with a narrow shoulder. I was also worried about rain--but it seemed like the sky was getting a little clearer as we pressed on. I'm also po'd that my cyclocomputer died--but the road is marked with altitude markings, and this way I could just keep Mike's pace without trying to stay at a certain MPH. . Not to many turns on the ride, but aware that the Chain Reaction owner got lost we make sure we make a right in Hanamu, where traffic picks up a bit.

Mike is also unusually quiet, until a local come by, she is cycling to the base of Haleakala. There is a solid pack of white clouds about 5,000' up, so I stop and take loads of photos while Mike and local woman push on. Road is again quiet with the occasional car--but we have a good shoulder. .

3000' From the Chain Reaction site we are aware that no water is readily available so we stop at the Kula Marketplace, very nice place with local food and crafts, to get an extra water bottle to carry up. We are now at about 3,000' and haven't entered the park yet--this is where local woman turns around..

At about 3,000' looking back from where we started

4000' In a little while, at mile 14 of constant climbing, we get to the turn into the park, which indicates that summit is 22 miles away. Shoulder ends but now traffic really lessons--maybe a passing car every 10 minutes. Still clear so I stop often to get more shots of where we had been. One time the quiet is punctuated by something we'd see a few times--raincoat clad full facemask helmet tourists who were vanned to a higher elevation coasting downhill on cheap mountain bikes.

At about 4,000'("X" to right is where we started) --we haven't hit the first cloud level yet, and 6,000' to go.

Another pack of aliens coming down.
5000'-6000' We start passing thru layer of dreary, dark, stagnant clouds and it gets cooler very fast. I switch on blinking rear helmet light. Luckily once we pass through the clouds it is again sunny. Strange though--we've passed through cloud layers plenty of times on Mt. Diablo, but looking up--at about 9,000' , there is a second cloud layer of fast moving white clouds.
6500' Pay station--even $5 for bikes. Nice and sunny and you can see the endless switchbacks towards the top, 3500' more feet of climbing and 11 miles to the summit--with summit encased in white puffballs.

Mike at 6,500' we passed through one dark cloud layer, a second white layer waits for us at the top.
8,000 Time to stop and put back on our vests. 7 miles to go. It has been getting colder and colder--not only the 3 degrees you lose every 1,000'. The switchbacks are getting shorter and shorter so we are hitting the South side facing the Coast more and more--and every time we come around a blast of cold air is there to great us. Mike affected by the altitude, though I think he is more affected by being in India 3 days ago. I notice that i have to take long-slower breaths but altitude not really a problem.
Two STRANGE THINGS. Clouds that look like dry ice vapor and being blown across the road. And there is no vegetation--it looks like moonscape.
Road never gets steep--the ever changing wind is just annoying. Luckily close to here there is a visitors center and bathroom, which is a chance to get out of the cold wind. A few people congratulate us for riding to the top, but I really don't want to hear it as we aren't there yet. Gusts are so heavy Mike's bike blows over when he sets it near a rail.

Fast moving clouds come up the side of the volcano behind me
9,000'-Now clouds are shooting up the side of the Volcano closest to the ocean and zooming across the road in front of us. Can't see much as cottonball layer is on all sides--though we are in the sun. I like to stand when climbing, which is usually counterproductive in the wind--but a few times I catch a tailwind and zoom 1/4' mile until the wind shifts again. Soon there a sign says "Summit 2 miles."

Within 2 miles of the top the clouds fly over the road. Where did the trees go???

Mike in the distance close to the summit with clouds behind him and the moon between us.,
10,023'-Now you can finally see the summit. The road kicks up a little but nothing bad. Still no vegetation, still have to negotiate the ever changing wind, still no view except for white clouds. See a small observation shed at the summit-man, I'll be happy to get in there. Ride up the ramp with visitors applauding congratulating us, they can't believe we rode to the top. It took us almost 7 hours--a real snail of a time but goal was to get to the top and sightsee and we had lots of long stops and Kodak moments. Celebrate by eating another delicious Cliff Bar--shouldn't there be steak waiting for us!. I start emptying out my fanny pack of clothes for the trip down, realizing I didn't bring enough. (eg no knee warmers or buff, no glove liners though I scored some surgical gloves.)

Traditional photo from 10,023'-a few Diablo Cyclist clubmates had photos taken years earlier from exact the spot.

Crappy photo taken of red crater--but it was so cold and windy I didn't even want to walk a few more feet to take photo over the rails.
I am finally hurting I AM FREEZING IN HAWAII !!!--the first 2,000' of altitude loss is no fun. Severe cross wind and my being cold has me shaking. We only saw one rider all day going up--he was wearing a tri-top, now going down he is wearing a garbage bag. I get to the $$$ station where Mike is waiting for me and flop to the ground--ranger comes out to see what is wrong. Nothing, I just want to lay on the asphalt to warm up my back. Mike assures me it is not that cold but I don't trust him, I'm not a happy camper until I get some hot coffee at the Kalu Market.
From then on it is just a fast ride, with tailwind, back to Paia. Mike almost gets wiped out by a dog on an extendo-leash 1/2 mile from from Paia. Final stats-a little less than 7 hours to the top of Haleakala, around 2 hours on the return trip.

All of a sudden riding in Hawaii is over, as next day we'd fly back to Honolulu, and the next day I'd fly home. Back to the friendly Flatbead Company Pizza cafe--then spent 1 1/2 hours breaking down the Jamis-Rex-S & S Travel Bike on the patio of the Lodge, under a dim 50 watt bulb. Yeah, I wish it was faster putting together and taking apart the bike--I figure I should get it down to an hour, and even with a regular suitcase it is heavy and a bit of a pain to lug around. Ideally the rental option is the way to go but as Mike and Tom (another Triple Crown clubmate) found that lots of times you get stuck with an ill fitting bike. Forget a full sized travel bike--super unwieldy in a huge case, and apart from airlines surcharges, cabs and commuter buses had additional fees for them. Shit--on the way home United tried to surcharge my suitcase though it is regulation size and 50 lbs exactly. One clerk started ranting that as a bike is in there (stupid me-I answered honestly), THEY CHARGE. Had to wait for another clerk who examined the suitcase as I pointed out all there is are pipes. No surcharge--but to avoid the hassle she said next time say it is "bicycle wheels."

I'm with Jamis S&S Bike by one of another small beach in Oahu,
Jamis Bike in front of the quirky Nalu Kai Lodge on Maui.Jamis, with stock 105 parts worked out well and after I fine tuned (which I should have done right away) derailleur shifted great., and I should have gotten a new odomoter. I covered the couplings with rubber tubing and lizard skins to keep out grime, which worked nicely. Connex links worked great for taking off the chain. I didn't like the strange shaped ergo bars, but my mantra is that as I got bike for it's fair component package for virtually free, I wasn't going to upgrade anything (except the saddle.) And great that bike fitted me really well. Next time I just have to get a bigger carry on bag for the shoes and helmet.
Postscript: The ride UP Halleakala was great as it is sooo strange and different than anything else ever done, and going uphill lets you savior the nuances. We were surprised to see the downhill tour companies (thought they were banned after a few bike deaths) and apparently the tour directors tell their flock to say witty things like "you are going the wrong way," which we heard often and seems to be an often repeated remark according to other web recaps. Funny how perspective differs. One guy, Tom Adams, aka CrazyBikeGuy, writes after doing the downhill tour, "We passed a few dedicated riders who were biking to the top on road bikes. It didn't look like fun...This (the downhill) is a fun ride, with great views, and you don't have to be a cyclist to enjoy it. I don't think I had to pedal more than a few times in the whole trip." At the other end of the spectrum is Mike Jacoubowsky of Chain Reaction Bicycle. He writes "heading downhill with trail-a- bikes in tow? Not my idea of a good time! The descent, I'd later discover, is almost mind numbing in length. In a way it is easier going up than down." I agree with Mike.

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