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. Outstanding job. Jealous as hell of the opportunity to do such a ride. Congrats!

  2. @Dr C
    Those are frackin awesome! Buddy of mine wants to integrate a credit card reader into heels for stripper, er, exotic dancers. Keep you from hitting the ATM for singles. But I digress. Back to cycling.

  3. Nice one, Frank! You managed to not disappoint the Followers.

    What? Gianni shirked his duties? He needs to go before the V-Board for that one.

    Oh, as an aside: am I the only one whose feet do not agree with the Sidi Ergo 2s? Had mine for awhile, they look awesome, but hurt my feet badly. Tried all sorts of combinations of socks, insoles, cleat movement…nothing seems to work. I LOVE my Genius 6.6s, didn’t think a model switch would matter. My soles hurt, my feet go numb, everything.

    Anyone else have this issues? A friend did tell me that many PROs don’t like ’em either, sticking with other models. (I use LOOK Keo pedals if that matters. But no issue with my other Sidi models.) Been waiting for over a year from them to break in, but no luck. They look so boss would hate the have to sell them, but they put me in the pain cave every time I wear them.

  4. @scaler911
    Practical sort of a buddy you have

    Talking cycling, I’d say the wearer of those would be be up for some hard riding, to state the bleedin obvious

  5. @Chris
    I think the roo bars are for maximal effect when swung at goolies level, as I suspect there are mostly worn by wimmin

    @Ron
    might try these puppies – I have these – unbelievably comfy, leaving all V to be shoved through the pedals instead of to stop you screaming with numbness – friggin massive picture……sorry @All

  6. Frank – impressive and inspiring! I am so sorry I missed the warm up and the live ride but I have enjoyed reading ALL the comments and the repechage*, because you were transformed and Pro, has inspired us all.

    A thought – that to join the elite and now singular club of V one should only be granted admission by taming the volcano in under 4:00.

    *appropriately ironic for Maui, the term comes from “re-fishing”.

  7. @Ron

    I’ve had a bit of trouble getting my 6.6s dialed. They felt like slippers when I tried them on in the store, but once the cleats went on and I started riding the feel of the insole and the cleat placement gave me fits. I put in Superfeet yellow insoles (the original insoles were crap) and went back to the shop to get the cleat placement and varus angle dialed and now they are much better.

  8. @whatheadwind, @fasthair, @Tom Sundsboe
    Thanks for your kind wishes, and welcome! Always great to see a new face around here.

    @zalamanda

    @frahnk, not only have you peaked, you climb well for your weight. anyhow what kind of cowboy outfit are you running here? why have I been demoted from a cat 3 to cat 4? what’s the big idea?

    Did you change your email address? Your level is tied to your email…

  9. @Marcus

    @frank
    Nice effort Fronk.
    Please let us know what proportion you believe the cause of your improvement was between:
    i) pacing better, training better and being fitter given its now your summer; and
    ii) not riding like a little bitch this time?

    More to come on the follow-up post, but in a word, not riding the bottom like the climb was my local 2k hill and thus not having completely fired off the guns with 6,000/40km of climbing to go was instrumental in improving my time.

    So, (ii), in other words.

  10. Dr. C – I’ve considered just selling them off & trying a different shoe. They’re in great shape. Just kind of sucks because I like other Sidis.

    Nate – My 6.6s took some time to get used to as well. I have some Super Feet yellow insoles in mine as well. Love the feel with them. Tried the insoles in the Ergo’s but no luck. I suppose I could try another insole. I typically like thick-ish socks, as I have very narrow feet, but I might need to try some ultra thin socks. Oh well, I’ll keep on trying.

  11. Frank – yeah, it could have been the (ii), but maybe just a year older, a year wiser. Plus, it’s the sign of a true sportsman to get better the second time ’round (or up!).

    Nice work. I hope they fill your local square in Seattle to welcome you back, like they did in Melbourne for Cuddles.

  12. Awesome job smashing your PR like that! I see that you’re ‘shortness challenged’ like I am, maybe more so. Is the route up on any of the tracking sites? (MMR or my preference, Strava).

  13. Amazing performance, Frank! (I would really like to put my climbing skills to a test at the Haleakala. Never have been above 2800 m before.)

  14. @G’phant

    Bravo on your PR.

    Yes, I drove up Crater Road and originally stenciled the altitudes (based on USGS). I repaint them and add a little every year before “Cyle to the Sun”. Thanks for the subtle spell check. I added the “E” yesterday afternoon. Send me a “V” stencil and I’ll strategically paint them on the route.

    I live on Crater Road, so this is my backyard. It is nice to be able to make a right turn out of my driveway and climb 6,000′ nonstop year round.

    Sunday 6am some “V” imposters will be leaving Twin Falls to Hana and back. I’ll be in Hana heading towards the group at about the same time rain, shine, tsunami, or earthquake. Oh, wake up that Gianni guy and bring him with you.

  15. @mauibike

    @G’phant

    I live on Crater Road, so this is my backyard. It is nice to be able to make a right turn out of my driveway and climb 6,000″² nonstop year round.

    I cannot find the velomoskrit to express how jealous I am of this.

  16. @Ron
    I had to sell the White ladies to Frank because they didn’t fit me right though I loved them dearly. I already owned some Specialized S-Works shoes as Dr C recommended and they are wicked nice. The boa lacing is better but not as cool as the 3 different buckle systems of Sidi. Italians…fuggetaboutit

    What? Gianni shirked his duties? He needs to go before The V-Board for that one.

    Frank is house/pet sitting for me so I figured I actually better go somewhere, so I left.

  17. @scaler

    Excellent post
    Merckx said that was one of the most difficult things he did and made alot of comments of the psychology behind that ride which is so far beyond the V we know, it was likened to a transfiguration

  18. @Gianni
    Mind he doesn’t shave the toupé off your rodent avatar while you’re away. Greenland? Yearning for the mainland? The Faroe Islands too much like home? And if Fronk’s riding sub-4, you’d better get home and get your best under 3:20, because he seems to be closing in on your PB…

  19. @Steampunk

    Mind he doesn’t shave the toupé off your rodent avatar while you’re away. Greenland? Yearning for the mainland? The Faroe Islands too much like home? And if Fronk’s riding sub-4, you’d better get home and get your best under 3:20, because he seems to be closing in on your PB…

    He has already blown apart any PB of mine, still, let’s see how fast he is in twenty years…
    I’m actually by-passing Greenland this time, wife and I are visiting friends in Switzerland, France and Ireland. We have to get our monies worth once we leave paradise. All without bikes, what a world, what a world…

  20. @Dr C

    @Chris
    I think the roo bars are for maximal effect when swung at goolies level, as I suspect there are mostly worn by wimmin

    There is something about square toed ladies shoes that shouts “move along please, you’re barking up the wrong tree!”

  21. @Mikeweb

    Awesome job smashing your PR like that! I see that you’re ‘shortness challenged’ like I am, maybe more so. Is the route up on any of the tracking sites? (MMR or my preference, Strava).

    http://app.strava.com/segments/623325 is the Cycle to the Sun route, Frank’s time puts him in the top 10 although neither Vaughters’ nor Weight of a Nation’s times are there.

  22. @Mikael Liddy

    On the other end of the spectrum, the slowest person on Strava took 9 hours… can you imagine suffering up that for 9 hours? Good on them for finishing though!

  23. @mcsqueak

    @Mikael Liddy
    On the other end of the spectrum, the slowest person on Strava took 9 hours… can you imagine suffering up that for 9 hours? Good on them for finishing though!

    No shit. Last time I sat on the bike for 9-10 hours, I wanted to kill myself.

  24. @mcsqueak

    @Mikael Liddy
    On the other end of the spectrum, the slowest person on Strava took 9 hours… can you imagine suffering up that for 9 hours? Good on them for finishing though!

    Yup, that’s some serious Grinta for not getting off & turning around.

  25. @Ron

    Nice one, Frank! You managed to not disappoint the Followers.
    What? Gianni shirked his duties? He needs to go before The V-Board for that one.
    Oh, as an aside: am I the only one whose feet do not agree with the Sidi Ergo 2s? Had mine for awhile, they look awesome, but hurt my feet badly. Tried all sorts of combinations of socks, insoles, cleat movement…nothing seems to work. I LOVE my Genius 6.6s, didn’t think a model switch would matter. My soles hurt, my feet go numb, everything.
    Anyone else have this issues? A friend did tell me that many PROs don’t like ’em either, sticking with other models. (I use LOOK Keo pedals if that matters. But no issue with my other Sidi models.) Been waiting for over a year from them to break in, but no luck. They look so boss would hate the have to sell them, but they put me in the pain cave every time I wear them.

    @Ron Yes Yes!! I bought some about 3 months ago, also use them with Keos, and they kill me riding long distances and/or super steep hills. Dull pain across the arches. Could be them punishing me for pedalling squares when fatigue sets in (in which case, chapeau to Sidi for an excellent design feature!!), but I doubt it. I specifically chose Sidis on the recommendation they would suit my narrow girly foot too. Still, they helped me to my first ever win last week, so I’m continuing to look for a solution. I’ll let you know if anything works.

  26. @Mikael Liddy

    @mcsqueak

    @Mikael Liddy
    On the other end of the spectrum, the slowest person on Strava took 9 hours… can you imagine suffering up that for 9 hours? Good on them for finishing though!

    Yup, that’s some serious Grinta for not getting off & turning around.

    That’s less than 4mph, that’s some serious balance for not falling off!

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