See a few pictures of my journey at
For turn by turn directions consult the cue sheet here.
The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated major island group on Earth - 2,400 miles from the nearest continent. Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands (727 square miles). Maui is known as the "Valley Isle". Maui is made up of two large valconos with a valley full of sugar cane between them. The smaller mountain on the west is West Maui Mountain, the larger mountain on the east is Haleakala ("house of the sun"). Haleakala is 10,023 feet tall and is still classified as an active volcano even though it hasn't errupted for 200+ years.
Back in December 2002
had an article about a ride up Haleakala volcano/mountain. It has since disappeared from their website but I was able to find it via the
after I returned from Maui. Click
for the article.
- Mike Jacoubowsky 11/2005
cyclinginteractive.com - Rick Schultz 2005
sansoucie.com - Kathryn Harrington and Marc San Soucie 11/2004
pages.prodigy.net/hamachi - Gordon Hamachi 02/2004
www.briandesousa.com - Brian DeSousa 09/2002
home.pacbell.net/d_swiger - Dan Swiger 08/2001?
actcarchive.home.att.net - Don Axtell 12/2000
diablocyclists.org - Tom Roberts ??
- National Weather Service Forecast Haleakala Summit
www.accuweather.com - Kahului HI (airport city)
Hawaii Weather Today - Glenn James tropical weather analysis
Maui weather Today - Glenn James weather forecast for the Maui central valley
Haleakala Crater Cam - Haleakala Crater Live Camera
University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy - Mees Solar Observatory - great source of historical weather data for the Haleakala Mtn summit
Current Haleakala Weather - Mees Solar Observatory
Two things I failed to consider about the bike:
1. The TREK 1000 had a triple chain ring, but it was only an 8 speed cassette. My road bike has a 9 speed cassette. I really needed that one lower gear so I could spin on the steep parts of the mountain.
2. The bike had STI thumb shifters which took a little getting used to.
I had to sign a rental agreement promising not ride the bike down Haleakala Mountain. Apparently the other significant decents on the island were ok, but not Haleakala. Whatever. I also had to put a $630 deposit down on the bike in case I lost it, totalled it or took it home in my suitcase.
Two most important things to bring were shoes and pedals. I used their helmet so I didn't have to pack my helmet. Of course you need biking clothes, gloves, jacket and water bottles. Note that these rental bikes come with no computers. You can use a GPS or attach a your own computer to the rental bike. I used both: Garmin Forerunner 301 and Cateye Strada wireless computer.
I test rode the bike for a few minutes and it shifted and handled fine. But the front brake did little. I returned to the shop with 3 comments on the front brake: the pads where badly worn (below the wear indicators), the front brake provided little stopping ability and it made a weird noise. The employee removed the from wheel and I thought he was going to replace the pads - makes sense. Instead he took a file to brake pads. I kid you not - he actually made them thinner! Then he "tested" the brakes by pushing his body weight against the bike with the front brake pressed on. Hmmm, how does that simulate adult body weight flying down a hill (or mountain, wink, wink)? Yikes!
South Maui Bicycles
1993 South Kihei Road # 5
Kihei (808) 874-0068
10-6 Mon-Sat, closed Sun
South Maui Bicycles- website outdated and not very informative as of 08/2008
Island Biker Maui
415 Dairy Road
Kahului, Hawaii 96732
Island Biker Maui- nice website - shop in Kahului, the airport town
West Maui Cycles
1087 Limahana Pl, #6
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
West Maui Cycles- nice website, nice store, nice bikes
Some riders chose to drive the route ahead of their rides to get the lay of the land but I decided I didn't want to do that for a couple reasons: 1) I didn't want to psych myself out about how hard or doable this route was and 2) I wanted to enjoy the experince of my initial mountain ascent from my bike where I could soak it in (literally as you'll see later). Did I mention that it rains a lot on parts of Maui? Well more on that later.
I did a lot of research on the route up the mountain via the others accounts on the Internet and drew the route on Bikely.com to get an idea. I used Google Maps to look at each part of the route. I divided the uphill route into 3 parts:
The elevation markings: sometimes you will find them painted on the road, sometimes you will find a sign and sometimes both. One time there were both markings but they were 50 feet apart - go figure. I had noticed a 1000' marking on Baldwin Ave but didn't realize it was the elevation mark - thus no picture of it. I didn't see any marking for 2000' but may have missed it.
The climbing starts immediately as you head southeast (away from the water) on Baldwin Avenue. It's a nice route and traffic was light. All the locals gave me plenty of space when passing. Only one person passed close: a tourist in a rented car in a big hurry. Perhaps he was late for breakfast.
You pass an old sugar cane plant, pretty views of the valley, a pair of pretty churches, a field of horses, a couple wrecked cars and a nice little park. At one point I saw a washing machine in the middle of a dirt field - how strange.
Around the 6.5 mile mark you enter the town of Makawao. At Makawao Avenue (7.0 mile mark), Baldwin Ave become Olinda Road and the road steepens considerably for half a mile or so. At 8.0 mile is the right turn onto Hanamu Road - you don't want to miss it! Oskie Rice Arena/Maui Roping Club is on your left at this intersection. Along Hanamu Road you will encounter many speed bumps as they attempt to keep the speed down to 20 mph. The next intersection, with Kealaloa Ave, comes up fast so be prepared, you need to go left here. Another .3 miles takes you to Haleakala Highway, you turn left at the stop sign (uphill of course). I stopped to call my wife at this point. I had ridden about 9 miles and was feeling it in my legs a bit. At this point I was about 25% done mileage wise with the ride uphill. Elevation wise I would guess around 2000 ft but I wasn't sure since I hadn't seen any elevation signs or markings.
Up the road a ways I passed the 2500 ft elevation sign and marker on the pavement as you ride through a nicely wooded section. A short time later I encountered the first group of downhill riders. They looked rather odd in those large motorcycle helmets (great for safety). I smiled and waved at them but most of them had their game faces on and were concentrating on the road ahead of them.
Just past the 14 mile mark you see the big brown signs to Haleakala National Park and you turn left on Crater Road (East Highway 378). I encountered a second group of downhill riders here. I stopped to take some pictures and a couple of cyclists passed by me headed uphill: the first was a thirty something male wearing a kit. The second was a fifty-ish male. I briefly consider tagging up with him for the long climb up Crater Road but decided it would be better for me to ride my own pace.
After the first bend, on your left, is the Sunrise Market - a great place to stop for food and water and to rest at the picnic table. Last chance to purchase food. When you see the 3500 ft elevation sign you are past the Sunrise Market - it's just behind you on the opposite side of the road. I missed it initially and doubled back for Gatorade, a Payday bar and rest. Lots of homes in this area. A sign indicates a rash of burglaries in the area. Great view looking over the valley below. So you have ridden about 14 miles from sea level and have had a nice warmup.
The uphill fun starts here: a series of 21 (or so depending on how you count them) switchbacks over the next 6 or 7 miles. Some are tight, others less so. After 6 miles or so I stopped to rest, drink and take some pictures. A man and women were approaching on bikes so I took their picture as they went by. I stopped at a scenic turnout on the downhill side of the road. A young guy on a fancy motorcycle stopped there also. We spoke briefly - I told him it looked like he was having fun. He had passed me a couple times. I could always hear him coming and going as he ripped through the turns. Took some more pictures and continued my way uphill across a series of cattle guards.
As I hit the cattle guard immediately below the entrance to Haleakala National Park I felt a twinge in the thigh muscle on my right leg. Stopped for more pictures and to pay the park entrance fee. It's $5.00 for bikes. Tip: if you return by automobile within 3 days then you can show your receipt and get $5.00 off the $10.00 auto fee. Unless, of course, you decided to ride in rain for 30 miles and soaked your receipt to the point it had no ink left on it. It was foggy/misty here so I put my jacket back on.
Up the road about a mile from the park entrance is the lower Visitors Center complete with a nice bathroom, water fountain, gift shop and cell phone reception. I called my wife from here to check in - cell reception for AT&T Wireless was fine here. I took some pictures here including one of the flowering Silversword - what an interesting plant. It was foggy here and misting. At this point I was about 70% done uphill mileage wise with the ride. Elevation wise I was between 7000 and 8000 ft.
Somewhere in here my legs started cramping, both of them. Big thigh muscles were protesting all this uphill climbing. Cramps were bad so I had to stop repeatedly all the way to the summit. I'd rest for a couple minutes, drink some fluids and stretch my legs a little. Back on the bike I would pedal gingerly for a while - wish I had that extra low gear here. Sometimes I'd make it only 2/10's of mile before the cramping would return, other times I made it about a mile. After several miles of this I decided to shift to a harder gear and to stand and pedal. That seemed to help, no more cramps in the thighs but then my legs got really tired and my feet started to tingle. If I sat down then the cramps returned after a while. So I limped the last several miles like this in the rain. I hoped for a dry spot to rest and recover but there really isn't any cover or shelter for these last 10 miles until you reach the top.
I finally made it to the top and saw the Visitors Center but I didn't want to stop until I had reached the summit. I turned right and continued toward the summit. A park ranger got out of his truck to take a picture and document the water flow on the road. I yelled "are we there yet" to him - he laughed and said I had 3/4 mile to go. This final 3/4 mile is rather cruel as the grade kicks up to about 10% when you are at your most tired. In my lowest gear I stood on the pedals and cranked away. My legs were very tired from all the standing on the pedals - it seemd to take forever to do the last quarter mile. It was raining harder at the top, 2-3" of rain flooded the road in places. Finally I crested Red Hill to the summit and stopped at the elevation sign: 10,000 feet! Then across the parking lot and rode up the wheelchair ramp/sidewalk to the very top 10,023 feet! I had made it. I went inside the observatory to get out of the wind and rain. I ate some food and drank some fluids. Then back outside to get some pictures of the bike at the top and a pic of the Garmin and bike computer - all in the rain. There was little visibility so no way to "enjoy the veiw". Tried to call my wife but there was no cell reception at the summit. I would have to wait for another day to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain.
I had hoped to summit in about 6 hours, then be gone from the higher elevations when the rain rolled in. Well that didn't happen for a varity of reasons: I stopped to take 49 pictures, make several phone calls, many rest stops to deal with leg cramps etc. All in all I wasn't too disappointed since completing the climb safely was goal number one. The tempature at summit for this day was: average: 45, high: 53, low: 39. At the time I summited the temp was somewhere between 40-43 degrees. Add a little wind and some rain and you can understand why I was so cold.
As I was leaving it was raining even harder. It was windy, cold and raining and I was tired and soaked. I thought about stopping at the upper Visitors Center but I really wanted out of the rain and down off the mountain. I was worried about my family being worried about me since they had not heard from me for some time (3+ hours). Down the hill I headed in the hard rain, water spraying off the front wheel all over me.
The downhill part is suppose to be fun, the reward for the long journey up the mountain. I was very cold by now and riding downhill doesn't generate much body heat since you are coasting most of the time.
I had to moderate my speed since: it was raining and windy, visibility was poor, I was tired, I was very cold and there was tons of water washing sideways across the road. I was very determined to get down the mountain without crashing. So you can imagine all the braking that happened over the next 22 miles. I would estimate my speed to be 15-20 most of the way down Crater Road - the GPS speed profile seems to confirm this. I stopped occasionaly to rest my hands from the constant braking. Part way down the bike began to shake - I assumed a broken spoke had knocked a wheel out alignment. I stopped and checked both wheels - no problems. Back on the bike, headed downhill, it began to shake again. I suddenly realized that it was me shaking from the cold that was cuasing the vibration on the bike! I really wished I had rain gear and arm/leg warmers at this point.
It was somewhere along here that I realized a couple advantages to riding in the rain: 1) there was practically no automobile traffic to contend with 2) the cool tempatures and rain kept the wheel rims rather cool even though I was braking almost constantly.
Finally I made to the lower Visitors Center. It was warmer in the restroom out of the rain and wind. I called my wife to let her know I was halfway down Crater Road and still in one piece. I could hardly hold the phone to my ear I was shaking so much. I was convinced that the rain would stop at the lower Visitors Center since this is where it had began on the way up. No such luck - it continued to rain on me until I was a couple miles from the Haleakala Highway. I had planned to stop at the Sunrise Market to rest and get more food but they were closed (this was about 3pm in the afternoon). I stopped at the intersection with Haleakala Highway to call my wife to let her know I was down the steep part of the mountain, out of the rain, into warmer tempatures and feeling much better.
Once I left Crater Road the ride down Haleakala Highway was much more enjoyable as it wasn't raining and was warmer. I would note that the automobile traffic was heavier. My speed increased to 20-30 mph on the straighter parts, slowing for the curves as necessasary. At some places the shoulder disappears and you must get into the traffic lane to avoid the gaurd rails that jut out. After 6 miles I turned right on Highway 37. To add icing to the cake I had a flat front tire near Makawao Road. Thankfully the flat happened on straight section of highway after I was done with Crater Road and the rain! A few minutes later I was back on the road cruising about 30 mph. I might have gone faster but there was a fair bit of road construction in this area. A right turn onto Highway 36 into the trade winds for about 4 miles to Pa'ia.
My journey ended about 4:36pm, 10:01 after I had started. I was happy and relieved to be done!
|Description||Mileage||Clock Time||Riding Time||Flats||Pictures|
My kind wife was nice enough to come fetch me from Pi'ai after my long journey. She took a low resolution picture of me on her phone camera since my good camera (Nikon E4500) had expired from the rain. My jacket pocket had filled with water and soaked the camera. I was annoyed with myself for not storing the camera in a ziplock bag before the decent. Man was I dirty - my legs were a weird shade of gray from all the road grime of 30 miles of rain. My shoes were soaked. I was tired and sore but happy to have completed the journey I started some 10 hours before. Luckily the absence of rain the final 18 or so miles and fast pace allowed the bike and I to dry out a bit. We loaded the bike into car and I changed into some dry clothes.
We drove to a Starbucks in Kahului for some warm coffee then made the drive back to Kihei were we dined on Maui Zaui pizza from Round Table Pizza (highly recommended) and Primo beer.
Once back in Saint Louis I realized I had neglected to take a photo of the geological marker at the very top of Mt. Haleakala. I guess somehow the rain, wind and cold had distracted me. No photo of me at the top either, so you'll just have to take my word about it.
Here's my route as recorded by my Garmin GPS:
We drove to the Mt. Haleakala summit a couple days later. About halfway up Crater Rd we encountered a unicyclist. Unbelieveable! Mt Haleakala is tough climb on two wheels so we couldn't believe our eyes to see someone riding a unicycle. The unicycle had an unusually large wheel and he seemed to making good progress. At the summit we met his son who was waiting for him. His son noted that no one had ever climbed Mt. Haleakala on a unicycle and his Dad wanted to be the first. I told how impressed I was and wished his Dad luck. It was crazy windy at the summit. On the is day (8/5) the average wind speed at the summit was 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph! We didn't see him summit as we went for a hike down the Sliding Sands Trail to Ka Lu'u o ka O'o cone. How fitting that it rained on my daughter and I during this event also. Once home I did some research on the web and learned his name is Mike Tierney and he has done many big climbs on his custom unicycle. Very inspiring. Read the article here: Maui News You can read more about Mike and his exploits here: Aspen Times
Here's my route as recorded by my Garmin GPS:
Here's my route as recorded by my Garmin GPS:
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