6 months to Haleakala
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  1. #1
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    6 months to Haleakala

    OK, its approx 6 months to the first week in April 2014. My wife and I are going to Maui and Kaui'i for our anniversery. We would like to climb Haleakala on bikes. I believe the distance is 36 - 38 miles with an average grade of 5.1 % to 10,000ft. We are going to do a tour with one of the local cycle businesses and they have a 6 hour cut off to do the ride. I'm thinking we should be able to do it under 5 hrs. That gives us 8 mph average over the 5 hrs, give or take.

    I been an enthusiast for 10 yrs, but never raced. I average 190 w for an hour on a trainer.
    My wife has been riding for 10 months but has completed a century and I have tortured her on 50 + mile rides with 3 - 4K elevation gain. She can maintain a 160 w average for an hour on a trainer.

    I am thinking maybe finding 20 watts each over 6 months of training. Is that realistic and what/where would we find a good training resource to accomplish our goals??

    Todd

  2. #2
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    I think you could probably achieve that, but I don't have any specific training advice. Actually, I think you could do the ride right now, assuming you can maintain close to that power level for the time required. I did the ride about 11 years ago (in my early 50's) in the winter (and at the low point in the yearly fitness curve) and I managed without any special training regimen. It's long, of course, but the grade is almost constant -- only a few short sections that are a little steeper (and kind of a kicker near the top).

    Is there a particular reason you're doing it with a touring company? Maybe you like having a group, but it's not really necessary to have support for this ride (you can't get lost, and you don't need a sag wagon if you bonk, since you can always turn around and coast down).

    Do you live and train at low altitude? If so, be aware that the altitude will be a significant factor. I've lived at sea level for some years now, but I grew up at 5,000 feet, and I re-adapt to altitude quickly, but above 8,000 feet I was feeling it.

    Don't forget to bring sunscreen to re-apply when you sweat it off, or the tropical high-altitude sun will get you (my nose was blistered).

    Are you bringing your own bikes, or renting? Either way, think about gearing. Since it's not so steep, you might think you can get away with moderate gearing, but the unrelenting length wll change that. I ride a lot of short steep grades around my home (some 15% and more), and I manage with 39x26 low gear. But on Maui I was very grateful that my rented bike had a triple.

    Enjoy. It is an absolutely spectacular place. You'll feel like you're riding to the top of the world.
    "None of us knows for sure what's out there; that's why we keep looking. Keep your faith; travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you, constantly." The 13th Doctor.

  3. #3
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    Initially, I wanted to do the ride myself. My wife then suggested we do it together but she would prefer to do it supported. I figured what the heck, if my wife was willing to grind up Haleakala with me, we could do it with a group ( for a few extra dollars of course).

    We ride in small mountains in central VA., 500 - 3600ft. Can be a bit brutal if you ride 50 - 100 miles, constantly up and down between the elevation. That still won't prepare us for lower oxygen levels above 5000ft.

    We are going to rent bikes, carbon fiber frames with compact cranks and 12 - 30 cassettes.

    My goal is to get us in good enough shape so we make the 6 hour cut off comfortably and not be completely exhausted at the top.

    Todd

  4. #4
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    Sounds like you have a good plan.

    My goal is to get us in good enough shape so we make the 6 hour cut off comfortably and not be completely exhausted at the top.
    I'd change that last part to "and still feel good enough to enjoy the descent."

    One more great thing about this ride is that when you wake up the next day, tired and sore, you're still on Maui!. You go lie in the sun on the beach, and life is good.

    IMG_1672.jpg
    "None of us knows for sure what's out there; that's why we keep looking. Keep your faith; travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you, constantly." The 13th Doctor.

  5. #5
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    I have the Hawaiian version of "Maui Rules To Live By" directly in front of me at my work desk.
    I used to have a T-shirt with "Hawaiian Rules To Live By" that I picked up at the Honolulu Stadium swap meet one Saturday morning when we lived on O'ahu. 2014 will 20 yrs since we moved back to the mainland. On really cold, nasty winter days I really envie Ryder Hesjedal. (He does his winter training on Maui)

    Todd
    Last edited by Flexnuphill; 10-01-2013 at 11:17 AM. Reason: spelling

  6. #6
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    This is one of those situations where strava is your friend. Strava Segment | Haleakala "World's Longest Paved Climb"

    625 people have done the climb in under 6 hours, the vast majority of posted rides on Strava. Of those approaching 6 hours, plenty did it at an average of under 200 watts.

    As with most training, specificity is key. Since you won't have regular time or access to climb 36 miles, the key is long chunks of time sub threshold at tempo and SST. Build that ability to go hard for a long time. Do long rides when you can, but 5 one hour rides will be more useful that 1 five hour ride. Threshold and VO2 work will help a little bit but generally you should never be going that hard during this event. Look at the types of training ironman and HIM triathletes do, this is a similar effort.

    The most important thing will end up being weight. If you and your wife are getting a couple months out from the event and getting nervous, consider deliberately losing 3-4% of your bodyweight. Power to weight will trump all else and spending a couple months losing weight will add up to real minutes on this climb.

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    Ok, so progressively longer times of sub threshold tempo and SST, that's kind of the direction I thought we should go.

    Both my wife and I are fairly lean now, I lost 3 lbs over the spring/summer training for a 5 day 350 mile self guided bike tour, my wife told me I looked gaunt. She got really lean training for her first century, so losing 3 - 4 % of our individual body mass is probably too much for us.

    I have found in the past that my body has a fat/caloric equilibrium that if I get too lean I feel like crap all the time.. probably over training and not eating enough at the right times.
    I suspect if we slowly ramp up our weekly riding what subcutaneous fat we do have will be burned off.

    Thanks for the tips,

    Todd

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    Depends on how much you weigh. Go to Bike Calculator to get an estimate of how much power you need to put out to make the time cutoff.
    190 watts for one hour is one thing, doing it for five hours is a completely different game.

    And I would not ignore doing 3+ hour training rides. I think they are important when you are targeting a five hour effort.

  9. #9
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    Absolutely, I think training 3 - 4 hrs once a week for 3 weeks per cycle (plus additional training) will put me at the 4 hr (give or take) ascend time. Coincidentally, based upon my wifes current ability and her target fitness we should both be able to ascend Haleakala at roughly the same pace.(give or take of course).
    Of course losing 3 - 4 % total body mass depends upon current weight. I'm 5' 8" and 147lbs, if I lost 4% over 6 months that would put me at 141 and looking like a world class tri athlete Nah too skinny for me. It's not like I'm a professional ... I am doing this for fun.

  10. #10
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    Great route - one of my favorites. If u have a garmin or similar, then maybe just take a look at the vertical rate per hr you can easily maintain on the longest local climbs u have. Averaging 1750' to 2000' an hr will get u to the top of the big volcano in under 6 hrs. As previously mentioned, this road is well engineered. The climbing is at a very consistent & efficient grade the entire way. Just bring an iPod

    Personally I'd skip the guided tour. It's nothing more than a long paved road to follow. No need to open your wallet to ride their rules in exchange for a few drinks & sandwiches. There may also be other clients which may create an undesired competitive component to your anniversary ride w/wife. You'll never hear the end of it if u end up dropping your wife to chase Bob from Nebraska

  11. #11
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    I have a Garmin, I can maintain 2500' to 2700' per hour over 45 minutes (the longest climb I have access to) at my current level of fitness. I agree about the supported ride, although I think my wife has a notion that I may end up dropping her to chase Bob from Nebraska, that's why she wants the group support.

    Ipod.. good idea, thanks.

  12. #12
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    You should be fine then. Sometimes it's the un acclimated super fit guys who end up with altitude sickness since they can ascend so fast. Seen this plenty of times on Mt Evans. Best to keep a moderate pace & enjoy the climb. Personally I don't get why guys duke it out with strangers on a once in a lifetime ride. You end up missing everything in exchange for a tunnel vision KOM slugfest. No one cares about average joe's best time on Haleakala anyway.

    Have fun

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by farva View Post
    You should be fine then. Sometimes it's the un acclimated super fit guys who end up with altitude sickness since they can ascend so fast. Seen this plenty of times on Mt Evans. Best to keep a moderate pace & enjoy the climb. Personally I don't get why guys duke it out with strangers on a once in a lifetime ride. You end up missing everything in exchange for a tunnel vision KOM slugfest. No one cares about average joe's best time on Haleakala anyway.

    Have fun
    Yeah, no worries about me racing up that hill in under 2 1/2 hours.. I'm really excited about the ride. Maybe I'll update our training progress in a month or two and/or write a short bit about the ride itself.

    Fun will be had.

    T

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flexnuphill View Post
    Absolutely, I think training 3 - 4 hrs once a week for 3 weeks per cycle (plus additional training) will put me at the 4 hr (give or take) ascend time. Coincidentally, based upon my wifes current ability and her target fitness we should both be able to ascend Haleakala at roughly the same pace.(give or take of course).
    Of course losing 3 - 4 % total body mass depends upon current weight. I'm 5' 8" and 147lbs, if I lost 4% over 6 months that would put me at 141 and looking like a world class tri athlete Nah too skinny for me. It's not like I'm a professional ... I am doing this for fun.
    I'm sure you could lose the 5 pounds no problem but you're probably already skinny enough. Thats the problem with giving general advice on the internet, theres no way of knowing if you're 147 lbs or 247 lbs.

  15. #15
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    Haleakala Gate Closed.jpgHaleakala Gate Closed JW.jpg
    Hope the shutdown is over before your ride in April. We knew the park would be closed, but thought we could enjoy a ride to the park entrance at 6700' with little or no traffic.

  16. #16
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    Good luck this is a really cool climb, and the view to spectacular!

  17. #17
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    My wife and I did this back in 2007. We took our own bikes. Having to adjust fit on a rental bike that we were unfamiliar with on a 5+ hour climb was a concern. Something to consider

    We trained each weekend on the mountains in SoCal -- 5000' altitude at 6-7% for eight months. My wife is not a climber so she had to condition herself for the extended climb

    Some considerations:
    There is no support on this route. A group supported ride will take care of this issue. If not you have to bring your own food and water. Tools in case of mechanicals will also be an issue if no SAG vehicle present.

    Once you get into the park, there is a ranger station/gift shop that you have to pay entrance fee. There are bathrooms there. the only other rest rooms will be at the very top.

    The weather conditions at the bottom are very different than at the very top. So you may start hot and humid and end up in rainy cold and dark conditions at the top. For self support we brought cold weather gear when nearing the top. The extra gear does add to the challenge of the ride. Again a SAG vehicle would eliminate this challenge.

    My wife trained on SoCal mountains every week. But she's not a climber and the journey to the top took us 9 hours. We stopped often for breaks and for occasional mechanical issues. Some suggested above 7000', to lower air pressure in our tires.

    The descent at altitude can be cold, wet, and depending on time of year --very dark. SO illumination and visibility may be a factor too. Some of the roads back to Piaia are with cars on narrow roads and it is VERY DARK if the sun goes down on your descent. It's not a very challenging descent and very uninteresting. I mention this because after several hours in the saddle, you may simply want a SAG vehicle to take you off the mountain. The gratification is in the climb.

    Tradition starts in village of Piaia (Sea level) then climb to the top. In doing so, I am told this is the only place on planet Earth where one can climb from 0 to 10000 on the same road.

    I hope that helps.

  18. #18
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    I have to disagree with skipping the descent. Descending back down was the most fun I may have ever had on a bicycle. The views were spectacular and you're basically going as fast as traffic so there are not a lot of passing cars. Any downhill MTBers are easy to pass. I'd recommend a wind breaker and light gloves for the first 4000 feet of descent.

    For me the last 1000 vertical feet uphill were torture. I was in the 34x25 going maybe 5mph. It's really not possible to acclimate to the altitude because you're likely staying at the beach.
    Last edited by DrSmile; 10-09-2013 at 09:28 AM.
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  19. #19
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    Thanks for the encouragement. I hope the Gov't shut down has ended by next April as well.

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    Thanks for the insight Squeegy200. My wife is not a climber either but she is determined as heck to make a good effort. I think if I can get her to my approx current level of cycling fitness she'll do just fine.

    We both are running 34 x 30 gearing at the moment and I have no problem (other than the usual suffering) at a 6% grade for 45 minutes using 34 x 26. The rentals have the exact setup so I'm thinking 34 x 30 and 6 months of training should get us up the hill in reasonable form.

    Every account I've read has mentioned the last 1000 vert feet. Sounds like we will be saying the same thing to our cycling friends as we talk about the ride.

    I too am looking forward to both the ascent and descent. I have been up and down the mountain in the drivers seat of a car and basically missed everything there is to see. Part of the beauty of cycling for me is that I get to travel slow enough to smell the roses.... the dead skunks,deer and squirrels.

    T

  21. #21
    garytingley
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    Racing this in 2008, it took just over 3 hours. The more difficult aspect was the non stop climbing, the gradients and thin air at the summit were also noticeable.

    Training: gradually upping the mileage, incorporate the longest climbs you can find. Work to get comfortable staying seated for extended climbs. Mix in as much high L3 tempo work as you can successfully recover from. Let me know if you need any direct advice on the climb strategy.
    http://garytingley.com | USAC Level 1 Professional Cycling Coach, MS, CPBT, CSIT | Power-based Coaching for Road Racing, Criterium, Time Trial, MTB, CX, Gravel & Ultra Cycling / RAAM

  22. #22
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    Hello Gary,

    So I'm thinking 4 - 5 hours maybe 5 1/2. I have a plan to gradually up the milage to a mountainous century. I have done half of my mountainous century in 2 1/2 hours with a 10 min pee and snack stop. The best climb I have is one that averages 6 % over 5.5 miles, I have to ride 22 miles over several shorter but steeper grades to get to this one.
    I have no doubt this will be a challenge, I would really like to peak as close to the ride as best I can without burning myself out. Neither my wife or I are spring chickens so I'm finding that I don't recover as fast as I used to from a really hard effort.

    As we get closer to the date I'll give you a shout for extended climbing tips.

    Thanks

    T

  23. #23
    garytingley
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    That's a doable time - note to pace it at the start, it is a long ride and only gets more difficult near the summit when the cover is reduced and wind picks up, air is thin
    http://garytingley.com | USAC Level 1 Professional Cycling Coach, MS, CPBT, CSIT | Power-based Coaching for Road Racing, Criterium, Time Trial, MTB, CX, Gravel & Ultra Cycling / RAAM

  24. #24
    CHT
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    I did this ride in August, starting in Paia and going to the summit and then back to Paia. It sounds like you have a good plan. Having done it "guided" (the quotes are intentional) it's definitely a ride you can do unsupported so long as you stock some bars and supplemental water. There are enough stops to fill your bottles, and at least one food stop. I'm not sure who you are using, but I would ask some detailed questions about what kind of support they provide. No bicycle tour company is permitted to past 6700 feet where the gatehouse is located. The guide I was with did not provide much insight to the area and climb, and dropped me off at the gate. The remainder of the ride up and the descent back I was on my own. Also, does the 6 hour cut off include coming back down to Paia. The descent can take from 1-1.5 hours. Knowing what I know now, I would have done it unsupported and just carried what I needed. I used them because it was very cheap and my week long rental was from the same shop. The support with respect to food, flat repair, etc., was nice to have, but not an absolute necessity. For the descent, it does get very cold and often wet (from the clouds). A windbreaker and knee/leg warmers is highly recommended. Training-wise, I didn't really train for the ride as this was toward the end/peak of my racing season and I had substantial miles at elevation in my legs. As mentioned by others, there is no killer grade, although the last pitch after the main parking lot is a little painful. However, it's essentially straight up from Paia to the summit, so keep the pace steady and sustainable. If you feel good, there is always opportunity towards the end to kick it into high gear. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
    It's better to burn out, then to fade away....

  25. #25
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    Hello CHT,

    I did not know the guides dropped you off at the gate, very useful infor. My wife may change her mind about guidance if they only take you up the easiest 2/3rds of the ride.

    From my understanding, the six hour cut off is ascend time so six hours would be plenty of time to ride 6700 ft.

    Theoretically, I am in the build phase of training, almost funny though, I am currently battling the flu. My body has been suffering on the couch and in bed, not on my bike.


    T
    Last edited by Flexnuphill; 10-16-2013 at 04:46 AM. Reason: spelling

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