Haleakala, Rematch: Some People Just Don’t Learn

Some of the elevation markers display a V at the center of the sun.

When Icarus flew too close to the sun, it was more than just the heat from the sun that caused his mighty fall; it was also the brilliance of his pride. As I contemplate my next ride up the Haleakala Highway and Crater Road which leads to the summit of Haleakala, I can’t help but wonder if the Road to the Sun together with my own pride won’t carry me too close to the sun as well.

It’s amazing how much of a climb is forgotten despite the fact that every meter is intimately experienced as we turn our pedals slowly up a grade; one gets the impression that each detail is forever burned into our memory. Riding parts of Haleakala in training, I am amazed at how inaccurate my memory of the climb is; sections I thought were short are many kilometers long; sections I thought were easy were in fact steep. Our memories are deeply distorted by our efforts and as such are not to be trusted.

This past Sunday, I did a reconnaissance ride from somewhere around 1,000′ to somewhere around 7,000′. As I rolled onto Crater Road to start the ascent along the shoulder to the crater itself, I was horrified to recognize how low the first switchback was where my body sent a palpable message to my brain to stop moving my legs during my January assault. It was at barely 3,700 feet – about a third of the way up the mountain. By 5,000 feet, I had completed the transition from suffering to death march. At 7,000 feet, with Gianni and my VMH becoming increasingly concerned I would climb in the car at any moment, the only thing keeping the pedals turning (albeit in squares) was the weight of my stubbornness.

The Trade Winds blow strongly on Maui in the summer, and the last thing I find myself craving is a headwind on the lower slopes, where the easier gradient is supposed to allow me to settle into a rhythm and ride into some sort of form. Based on weather reports, we have selected this Thursday, August 11 as the date for Frank vs. The Volcano, Part Deux. I have learned many lessons from both my previous effort and my reconnaissance. The only thing that remains to be done is to apply them, follow the plan, and pray to Merckx that I find good legs.

Last January, I rode the climb in four and a half hours. I hope to accomplish two things this time round: first, enjoy the climb a bit more (or at all) and second, improve on my time.

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159 Replies to “Haleakala, Rematch: Some People Just Don’t Learn”

  1. @Chris to quote a chum of mine, commentating on another chum’s hillclimbing efforts…”C’mon A%&y, any slower and that’s a trackstand”

    How we laughed.

  2. @Joe

    @Chris to quote a chum of mine, commentating on another chum’s hillclimbing efforts…”C’mon A%&y, any slower and that’s a trackstand”
    How we laughed.

    That’s great. Here’s another good one. My dad and I were out riding a few years back and I suggested we slow down. All he did was take his foot out of his pedal and touch it briefly to the ground. “OK, he said afterward.” “What did you do that for?”, I ask, incredulously. “Oh, I just wanted to make sure we were still moving at all before I commit to slowing down even more.”

  3. Bianchi Denti – Provides a bit of sanity to know I’m not the only one who has feet which do not get along with the Ergo 2s. Hmm, girl feet. This might be the issue. I’m a 42/43 with narrow feet, a kind of high arch, and very narrow heels. The Ergos might be for bear claw feet.

    A nine hour climb? That sounds horrible. Going that slowly for that long takes a massively strong constitution. I’d give up and head to the beach.

  4. You know what’s especially soul crushing? To fall below your Garmin’s speed-detection threshold and have it beep that it’s stopping and starting.

    Not only are you an egregious rule-breaker in some eyes, you have a stupid piece of electronics telling you you’re “too fat to bother to monitor”.

  5. @Ron
    In general, Sidi shoes fit people with narrow feet and high arches best, that’s why I wear them. Most other shoes make my foot feel like a cock in a sock.

  6. @Ron

    @Oli
    Agree with Oli – am in the same boat.

    Whilst this is somewhat counter-intuitive, Ron, I am guessing you may have got a size or a half size too big. This then places the ball of your foot further back in the shoe. As Sidis are so fitted, you end up getting the widest part of your foot squeezed as it sits back in “not the widest part” of the shoe…

    Regardless, as Tom Berenger said in Platoon, “Shut up and take the pain”.

  7. @Ron
    Cycling shoes are no different from other shoes; some will work and some don’t. Try a bunch before you decide on a brand, and don’t rely entirely on advice from others or how much you like how they look.

    As for the Pros, some don’t like the plastic buckle and feel you can get a more secure fit with the velcro, which is why they make both. Same goes for the the main buckle, though most are good with that one over a third velcro strap. The Genius is also lighter, which is another reason I heard some prefer it.

    As for footbeds, Superfeet are great, but are made for walking, not riding. They are also really heavy. Sidi makes a better footbed than the ones sold with their shoes, and some other companies (like Specialized?) make moldable ones. Ditch the Superfeet and get some cycling-specific footbeds before giving up, especially since you say you’ve got narrow feet – as @Oli points out, they are generally made for a narrow foot.

    Foot pain is awful, though, I had some ski boots that almost killed me, until I got the foot beds right. Agony.

  8. @Ron

    Holy cow, Jeff, that is NICE work! I want that framed over my bed!

    That’s mcsqueak’s work. It’s from his post to my LOOK 595 article. I made it my laptop wallpaper. It belongs in the cycling museum across the street from the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo. I am not worthy. A-Merckx.

  9. Great when random articles throw up a little proleptic irony.  The last couple of lines are an absolute Peach…at least you succeeded in one of your objectives!

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