October 28, 2009

The road to Haleakala

Yesterday was a great day of R&R. I am seriously humbled by what cool friends i have and the encouragement, prayers and laughs I am getting from everyone. I am not bummed about the race at all. I found perspective and that is exactly why I love racing. Experiencing all the support and gaining a deeper understanding of what exactly my passion for "this" trail time is all about is priceless.

My whiplash, hip and pretty much my entire left side were pretty stiff but getting out of bed and into the beauty of Maui was the best thing for me. Monique and I drove around and took a nap or two on some beaches. Doing nothing in the right place sure feels good! We got a little snorkel and swim session in between more naps and before sunset bagged a nice little hike. I was feeling better already!

We had planned to check out Haleakala but we really did not look into any of the details for the route, miles, etc. It turns out that it is just our style. It adds adventure to all of our trips! Monique wanted to drive to the top and watch the sunrise but I wanted to give riding it a crack. Plus, I could sleep in a bit...

My head has been jacked the last two days but I felt good this morning and my back was 100%. Despite my crash, I have had more rest in the last two weeks than I have had all year... My body was rested, tapered, carbo loaded up and I was itching to ride! I figured we could see how far we could get and if my hip and leg would loosen up on the ride it may even help. . . ?

ready for the road ahead

We started our ride from the beach nice and slow. We really had no idea what we were in for (and we liked that) so we packed all the calories we had with us and filled our bottles and bladders with liquids. We were off for an adventure!

The first ten minutes were pretty slow and at twenty minutes I told Monique I didn't think it was going to work out. She was still feeling the fatigue from the race and we just about called it quits at the hour mark. We had reached the town of Paia and realized that paradise was all around. I was starting to loosen up just as we had realized that our most enjoyable days on a trip are usually after a race when we get to explore and spend time playing without any plans. We were going to make the most of our day so we stopped for coffee and then I rigged up a tow line from our spare tubes and some velcro to pull Monique along. It was the perfect balance for our energy levels today.

I really had no idea how high this dang volcano was above sea level! Seriously!! Most of the time we got a gimps of it the clouds were covering most of the mountain. I was guessing about three to four thousand feet but we would be in for a BIG surprise. We kept cranking along and before long we had reached 2,000 then 3,000 and 4,000 feet. When we got tired, we stopped. When we were hungry we ate. We were lost in the bliss and cleansing that only a long day of climbing on the bike can resolve. The climate and ecosystems were changing all around us as we climbed and kept our minds and conversation rolling like our wheels beneath us. I love to ride my bike!

climbing up from the North shore

Somewhere around 5,000 feet we rode into the clouds. I remember telling Monique that we MUST be near the top now. At about 6,500 feet we broke through the top of the clouds and we saw the road switch back and forth into the sky. Oh, crap! I started comparing this to other climbs I have done and really only Palomar comes close. The main climb is about an hour and change but we had made a few hour long climbs already behind us and we had a long way to go.

By the time we reached the peak we ended up climbing over 6.5 hours and over 10,000 feet in elevation gain. Where else can you climb for 37 miles without any downhill? The last 3,000 feet to the peak we had entered the National Forest. I had already burned through all of my rocket fuel and we had consumed every bar, cookie, banana, nuun wafer and calorie we had. The rangers informed us that there was no food sold inside the park. I just about chewed his arm off... However, we could now see the peak and every last painful switchback along the way. It looked glorious and we were loving it! Thoughts about my swollen hip were long out of my mind and we were boarding on an epic. If we could only manage to get ourselves lost it could get real interesting...

I quickly realized that if I had not been carbo loaded, tapered and motivated (not to mention unaware of how long it would take) we would have never made the trip. Sometimes the desire to explore and enjoy the ride can get you to the top of some pretty big mountains but in this case a bit of blissful ignorance made the work component disappear. This was raw fun. It is in some ways the most work I have put in on the bike and the opportunity to tow Monique was just icing on the cake. Thank you God! THIS was exactly what i needed.

View of "the other side"

We made it!

Another day in paradise with my best friend and teammate! It was pretty cold at the top and we didnt stick around for long. We could not wait to get back and... as James would say "eat our faces off"! The climb was in the bag and the views we had the entire was down were just part of the reward. It sorted us out like only a long day on the bike will do. If you have been there you know exactly what I am talking about.

The road back down was also enlightening. I had to laugh when I saw some sections and thought to myself while we were climbing that the peak was just around the corner. It kept my focus off of my injuries and on the goal of reaching the peak. We never thought of bagging this climb with Moniques fatigue and my numerous issues. Did we really think we could only put in a three hour day max? You can usually do a lot more than you think you can do if you just get rolling along with it... We rounded out our day with a nice eight hours on the bike and an evening of putting the calories back in and sharing stories. I love it.


Pedal Circles said...

Slater - you aren't just an animal you are a MONSTER!!

That's awesome and inspiring :)

jameson said...

sounds rad dude... i gotta do that ride next time i am over there.... but maybe on a road bike.

Luke said...

solid climb dude! it's always nice to get up above the clouds like that. i need more of that in my life!

Sarah Weeger said...

you guys are so awesome. :)

Unknown said...

i know how you feel dude. nothing compares to a long day in the saddle with the wife!

thanks for the idea too! next time i feel a little shaky I will just have allison tow me with some inner tubes! :)