I’ve had a bike-it list going for a number of years, and have been fortunate enough to check off a number of them (Marmotte, Flanders, Arenberg), so when the opportunity to ride up Haleakala came along, I was all over it.
Mt Haleaka is a dormant shield volcano on Maui. It’s nothing special to look at from a distance, but it does boast a nicely paved road to its peak. You can actually ride uninterrupted from sea level (as in, on the beach) to the summit at 10,000 feet. How amazing is that? In anticipation of the climb, I spend a bunch of time reading up on other people’s rides up the beast (this one is great).
Here’s a clip from just above the tree line:
I was respectful of the mountain, so kept a steady sweetspot/threshold pace, loaded down with an extra bottle, vest, arm wamers and gloves: it was 30+ celcius, but it promised to be a lot cooler up at the top, which was hidden in the clouds.
I rode up into the clouds and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees while it began to rain, but I felt really good and had a good tempo going.
Annoying discovery: the US govenment is pretty lame these days, and federal employees are off the job…which means national parks are closed…which means the top of Haleakala is off limits. The park itself starts at 7000’ feet, where there is a big gate blocking the road. And apparently congress decided to keep a few forest rangers working, as I was turned around a few thousand feet short of my goal. My protests of arimiles accumulated and dreams dashed meant nothing to those guys. (Dear congress: I’m giving you the finger.)
By this time it was a few degrees above freezing and raining quite a bit, so I was willing to comply and make my way gingerly through the clouds - the random, slippery cattle guards aren’t fun to find by braille. Here’s a shot as I head back down into the mist.
Even if you don’t feel like riding up to the top, the roads through Maui Upcountry are really nice and worth spending time checking out.
So Congress’ efforts to ruin my ride were a drag, but on the upside, Haleakala isn’t the best ride on Maui. The West Maui Loop wins for sure! It’s a ~120 km (from Kihei) loop of one side of the island. It’s up and down along the coast for most of the loop, and has a couple quite steep pitches, and some amazing single-lane stuff that hugs the edges of the hills. Super fun!
It’s got about 3700’ of climbing, but you’d never know it b/c it’s broken up so you’re never climbing for more than five or seven minutes at a stretch. I was going ot hook up wiht the West Maui Cycles Wednesday mornind group ride, but they were taking the week off so I Han Soloed it and saw exactly one other cyclist and no more than 20 cars. Highly recommended.
Part of the one-lane section of the West Maui Loop. You can see the road snaking up the hills across the valley:
Also highly recommended is a stop at Julia’s banana bread stand, in a hamlet on the one-lane road section (it’s in the pic above). Hunger might be the best ingredient, but it was the best banana bread I’ve tasted.