Haleakala, Rematch: Some People Just Don’t Learn
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.