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Cycle to the Sun, race report...(9 posts)

Cycle to the Sun, race report...airwreck
Aug 19, 2003 3:53 PM
Already punished the folks over in mtbr passion with this, figured I'd share it where it really belongs also....

Sunday was Cycle to the Sun, my annual re-emergence from racing retirement, or is it exile?

The past few years I'd taken the no training approach, and this year thanks to part time employment I devised the "you'd think I'd have learned after twenty plus years of semi serious racing" training regime.

Actually, throughout the serious years, I had generally utilized racing as training, figured it was alot easier to combine the two, and get my results later in the season. Or, in other words, I am not the motivated to train type.

This year would be different, motivation seemed to magically appear, scientific methods would be employed, a goal would be set. The scientific part was easy, long lonely climbs on the road bike provide ample time to run the numbers. If I want to break the record I'd need to go 14 mph. Three hours, 12 mph. One minor missing detail, no cycling computer. Sure the S.O. had one on her bike to confirm our leisurely climbs together at 5 to 6 mph, but for the most part, I tried to ignore the fact that I needed to ride faster.

As the month to go mark loomed, I began realizing that my easy one hour rides would need some enhancement. Watch on the wrist I pushed it a bit up one of my favorite rides, 2000 feet, 6 miles, and managed 56 minutes. Felt good but the numbers didn't go well with the hopes.

Next week I took a crack at one ridiculous climb, 3400 feet, 7 miles, and surprised myself by clocking an hour and six minutes. Curiousity got the better of me and the next day found myself sampling the section of the race course that covered the same elevation as the previous days ride, except the 3400 feet is stretched out over 12 miles.

As I reached the seven mile mark with a thousand feet still to go, in an identical time as the previous day, reality sunk in that while I may be a strong(and dumb) climber I am not a fast climber.

Over the course of the next several days I succumb to overtraining/illness of some sort. My legs are worthless, but time is found to actually install a computer, and read Bicycling magazine, where I stumble upon the suggestion that I should be doing one mile intervals.

Ten days to go, I'm back at the 3,300 foot point of the course and headed up for some one mile intervals at my goal pace of 12 miles an hour and intending to reach the summit. It doesn't take long to find out how unrealistic 12 mph by one mile intervals are. And soon I'm realizing how unrealistic 10 mph by one mile intervals are. Eventually I realize how unrealistic intervals period are and I find a comfortable pace to churn towards the summit.

As I pedal along in quiet solitude, I find ample time to ponder the day when thought recognition software is developed how interesting it would be to see what truly transpires in the head during a three hour solitary uphill grind. But it's more than just a grind and one thought that occurs to me, road riding is not fun, it's work, but this ride is more like three hours of meditation in some kind of cycling monastery, or the grandest of houses of worship. It is eeerily quiet, only an occasional car. The air is clean and clear. The landscape barren. Thousands of feet above the Pacific ocean, and the clouds.

Approaching the summit at around 9,000 feet, despite this being only a training ride, delerium starts, accentuated by the sudden stunning glimpse into the crater itself.I'd been struggling to keep the average at 8 mph, but the final 3/4 mile 250 foot pitch does me in. I'm barely able to turn my 30x26, my average plummnets in that short stretch to 7.8. I'm not sure what to think of my time of 2 hours 48 minutes.

Two days later, one week to race day, and I'm back at the 3,300 feet starting point of before, ready to reach the summit again. No intervals this time, just find a comfortable pace, and feel good for t
favorite photos that someone else took...airwreck
Aug 19, 2003 3:57 PM has a bunch of nice photos of the race, plus results.

Here is the electric bike guy.

The lead pack passing a woman on her daily ride.

Spectators lining the course, sort of.

Everyones favorite ER doc John Mills, does the medical patrol from his bike.
Thanks for the Report!TheBigM
Aug 20, 2003 5:46 AM
Great story! I did that ride with Go Cycling Maui back in April. My time was nothing to get excited about, but at least I made it.

one more version...airwreck
Aug 19, 2003 3:58 PM
I tossed this together and sent it off to Velonews. It would be nice to get some coverage.

Sundays third running of the reincarnated Cycle to the Sun, the annual 36 mile, 10,000 foot hill climb event up Haleakala on Maui, was blessed with the most perfect weather imaginable, especially for a mountain that has a tendency to find itself in the path of the north pacific jet stream. Ray Brust of Honolulu made it three in a row, finishing in 2 hours 59 minutes. Despite the ideal conditions he was unable to better his personal best last year of 2 hours 50 minutes, calling that time "a fluke", before the start of this years race.

With memories of the 2001 edition and it's accompaning 70 mph wind gusts that forced winner Brust to walk the final pitch still haunting returning riders, this years starters only had to contend with a brisk left to right cross wind during the first 1500 feet of climbing. The top three men stayed together for most of the race with the 42 year old Brust edging 22 year old Thomas Novicoff by 23 seconds, with third place Adam Everest another 23 seconds back while the fourth place finisher rolled through some seven and half minutes later.

Interestingly, half the top 20 men were aged 40 and over, five were 30 and over, and 65 years young William Oldham of Orinda, CA, finished 21st overall with a time of 3 hours, 50 minutes.

Kate Johnson of Honolulu won the womens race with a time of four hours and one minute. The top three women kept a close race as well with three minutes seperating them, finishing 33rd, 34th and 35th overall, with age again a factor as well at 40, 38 and 40 years old each, while 51 years young Lorenn Walker of Waialua, HI, finished ahead of nearly half the field in 46th overall and 4 hours 20 minutes.
oops, here is the rest of part one...airwreck
Aug 19, 2003 4:00 PM
Two days later, one week to race day, and I'm back at the 3,300 feet starting point of before, ready to reach the summit again. No intervals this time, just find a comfortable pace, and feel good for the top. 8 mph average seems to be my magic number, I hold it to the top, and the clock reads 2:41.

A goal is formulated, seeing as the race is two days after my birthday, and by chance my time last year was 4:40, I decide I want to wipe a bit less than an hour from that and do 3 hours plus my age, figuring that riding in the group should net me a couple extra mph's in the average somewhere.

I survive the worry, last minute bike adjustments, and a couple difficult mountain bike rides over the final week and actually feel tinges of confidence as start time approaches. I contemplate doing the race sans cyclo computer, relying on instinct alone, but common sense prevails. Julie wakes the morning of the race to tell me she dreamed I rode a 3:59.

It's race day and the previous days rain and clouds on the mountain have disappeared. The racers gather for the start accompanied by the performance of a powerful Hawaiian chant. We are off, the stiff left to right breeze and the race director's request for a single file line means no one gets a break.

I want to hang with the lead group, survival instincts tell me that the 14+ mph pace isn't in my best interest, and I let them go. I feel I'm not working too hard and hanging in there at 12 mph average. My efforts are mostly solitary, there is an occasional huffing wheezing double chain ringed type nearby, but my steady cadence does not work for them. I can only wonder what they expect to do three hours later if they are panting like this now.

The 3300 foot starting point for my training rides is approaching and the 12 mph average is starting to slip, I take my first and only look at my elapsed time, hoping to see one hour, but I see 1:10.

3500 to 7,000 is the grind, and the battle now becomes between me and my speedometer. I am riding by myself, out of over 130 starters, I see no one ahead and no one behind. I wonder if I am working to hard to keep my pace at 10 mph. I know from my last weeks experience that a tenth lost from the average is hard to regain.

8,000 feet and I've given up on 10 mph. 8,000 feet is when I start thinking that at some point I'll need to surge. People are starting to say "you're almost there". But I remind myself of training rides like Piiholo, 2,000 feet of climbing, 56 minutes. Maybe not yet.

Trying to hang at 9.5 mph, two miles to go. Again I think of surging. I think of how I would blow last week trying to do a two mile time trial up a 500 foot climb. Maybe not yet.

Only the 3/4 mile final brutal pitch now, I don't need my first gear, I'm sprinting, but I'm not. Crossing the line, hitting the button for my time, I realize the finish photographer has probably just pressed his shutter as my teeth hit my lower lip in the forming of an f...3:48.

Later I realize that I will be 61 years old before my goal will allow a 4 hour plus race.

Congrats & great story!!!flying
Aug 19, 2003 4:13 PM
Great story with lots of feel ;-)
I did that race back in 89 & 90 When Tom Resh from Colorado was winning in 2:45 ish I think?
You know I would have to look back at my logs but I think you had the exact same time as mine in 90. I am pretty sure it was 3:40 something ;-)
Anyway thanks for the great read!
back in the big money days...airwreck
Aug 19, 2003 6:26 PM
I'm hoping to get around to chronicling the history of the race and posting old results, ala the Mount Evans site.

I can't recall the year I actually finished in the money, or my time.

This race is really a redeemer for me after spending many years (80's) blowing up at Evans, and Haleakala also for that matter. It was nice to kind of get it under control for a change.

Did you recognize the name Scott Burns in the results? He is from Leadville originally and has some Colorado racing experience as well. We've both been on Maui a number of years and it was good to see him come out of retirement again.

back in the big money days...flying
Aug 19, 2003 9:17 PM
No I dont know Scott Burns, I am born & raised here but did remember that a Tom Resh from Colorado won in 90 ;-)
I actually remember he was on the U.S. national men's cycling Team.
At that time the race was sponsored by a Japanese Employment service called Wake I think? Anyway it was great race & well supported with many riders. It was great to see the pics you pointed too. Thanks again for the story I really enjoyed it.
Great report!t0adman
Aug 20, 2003 11:05 AM
I love that island, and mountain, but have never riden to the top. My riding partner did the ride just last Christmas. My next trip I plan to rent (or ship) a bike and grind it out. Just seeing those pics makes me miss Puamana where we have a family place.