Friday, March 6, 2015

Tier 3 - The Crater - Haleakala Climb

Along the Haleakala crater climb
Sometimes the biggest struggles give the biggest rewards. Haleakala was one of them. 

The ride to the peak of the Haleakala crater was definitely worth the anticipation I've been having all month. It was a game of optimization i.e. sunlight, nutrition, elevation gain, and battery power.  

It was a 17 hours journey on the road riding at low intensity for me starting and finishing at Napali. My right large toe is still feeling a little numb from some minor nerve damage, but should heal in a few months (sounds worst than it is, I think the running blisters had some cause). I figured I was feeling good fitness wise, and wanted to tact on some extra mileage getting to Paia, which is a small town at almost sea-level. Besides, I wanted to get the most value out of my rental bike since they were charging me more than the rental van. Given the day I had yesterday, I was just glad to be exploring new grounds. Along the way I bumped into a father and son from Southern California and encountered a couple more cyclists on two separate occasions, ironically both from Vancouver. It gets pretty lonely out here, since many tourists and locals probably think you're crazy to be riding up (instead of just down to see the sun rise, which is popular tourist thing to do). For most of the ride up, I only saw tourist groups leading rides to go down. I would try a friendly hand wave like we normally do to fellow cyclists and none but the instructor out front would return any gestures. Perhaps they were too uptight holding on for dear life. It was neat because every time I waved, the given instructor at the front of the pack would wave back with a Shaka sign.

Good thing I over packed my nutrition, since they only have filtered water near the park entrance. No food, no gas, no problem!

Felt like I was inside an ant farm going up the countless switchbacks

The view was stunning. 

The cold parts of the ride was sandwiched in the middle with the clouds. Warm at top and bottom  elevations. Biking into the clouds was a dream come true! The clouds would just eat up the entire view as we got closer to the park entrance! The clouds would drift across the roads.

Got a bit distracted watching people paragliding and reading mantra messages on the road.
A Vancouver rider was kind enough to offer a couple tips when approaching the summit. 
1) the grade gets a bit steeper to 10% as you approach the summit
2) the cool place to take a picture is at 10,023 feet (not at the silly 10,000 feet sign)
Panorama at 10,000 feet, looking upon the extra 23 ft lookout
A cheeky little pedestrian path gets you a little bit higher, which is not accessible by cars. The traffic on the roads up to this point have been fairly light, which is surprising given it was Martin Luther King Day, a National holiday. Park fees was waived too, yipee!

Yup, rookie mistake to still have two bottle of liquids left. Guess it was a bit overkill to biked with 5 bottles of Gatorade. :D
The trek down was a blast (see video below)....until I got a flat. I had just two CO2 cartridges, and had to manually pick out the glass. It was quite the adrenaline rush, knowing that I was 100k+ away from the accomodation, and my friends were out in middle of Hana with no phone reception until hours later. Luckily I was able to eventually put my skills to the test and made it back on the tires. It was nice to be able to finish strong, my garmin, and gopro were running low on battery as well. I did bring a spare phone battery but luckily didn't need to use it (otherwise I really would had been stuck). It all worked out in end, not sure I want to think about what would happened if not. Like I said earlier the biggest struggles are the most rewarding.    
Some minor casualties from the ride...should have worn gloves...

Here's a fun test, can you guess which picture is the sun rise and the sun set? :D


Some video highlights from the ride...

Haleakala Climb from Winston Guo on Vimeo.

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