Cycle to the Sun

Human Powered Racing Athletes Chad and Tammy Dalrymple took on the aptly named Race to the Sun last week on Maui. This is a race that climbs the famous Haleakala Volcano. Here is Tammy’s report from the race.

I don’t normally post a race report but thought I would share a few details on this one that we experienced…..

First of all, I’d totally recommend doing this – what a great way to do the formal course – with support and timing! In some ways it feels like a small, grass-roots race (only 200 people) but also attracts many elite and accomplished cyclists – many of whom cycle on teams or have a cycling background. We were just amazed by some of the top times – unbelievable! Many of the people who enter are locals, or from neighboring islands – and talking to some of the locals after – many of them do this ride once a week (which just seems crazy to me (ha ha). Chad and I had done this a few years ago but we realize we did not ride the formal course so the times we were expecting were a bit off. It was also alot hotter than when we did it and usually the race itself is held in August and we were told it was much cooler in August than June. The night before the race we were looking up at Haleakala from where we were staying and saw cloud and rain – so we didn’t know what to expect. But morning of the race was clear and sunny (and hot) even at 6:30 am start from Paihia. At the top it was 20 degrees which was very unusual – usually you have to change right away into warm clothing.

We started sort of middle of the pack (and that’s where we pretty much stayed). We couldn’t believe how fast the elites took off – like bats out of hell on a 20 km time trial – and the whole race is uphill and is all HC,1, 2, 3, and category 4 climbs. Chad and I were both with the second group for the first part of the ride – and 40 minutes in I noticed that Chad had dropped back – and he later told me that he had started cramping (yes, it happened very early – despite salt tablets and proper nutrition) and fell off the pace. (He wasn’t the only one – cramping from the heat seemed to be the big issue for many people on the day – including many of the elites). Shortly after I had a short mechanical with my chain – which only took 30 seconds to correct jumping quickly off my bike, but I lost the small group I was with (including 2 girls in my age group) so did the rest pretty much solo back and forth with a few other guys. (To be honest I was slightly relieved – because I found the pace a little hot and was happy to do my own pace – but it had sure been nice to have a some wheels and probably would have made me work harder). There are three aid stations and by the first one I had already gone through two water bottles and here I made an error of only taking one bottle instead of two. This hurt me a little as I rode without fluid for about 40 minutes after finishing it and from then on, always took two bottles.

Once you get on the crater itself, the ride is switchback after switchback – with markers – every 500 feet – getting steeper and steeper as you go. Near the top it gets very very steep – like Neild road – Strava records it as an HC climb – which is steeper than a category 1 climb. And man, that hurts after 4 1/2 hours of climbing! Also, to our surprise – right at the top we were SWARMED with insects. Apparently this happens 3 days out of the year and happened on race day. It was actually scary – and during one of the crazy steep climbs right before the finish. I had them in my mouth, in my jersey, my helmet and all over my arms, legs and sunglasses – it was like a black clouds of insects – and I just kept hoping they didn’t bite or sting. Chad passed two guys right on this steep part who were being swarmed and freaking out. We laughed about it after – but it was certainly an unexpected part of the ride for everyone. Met lots of people after and heard many stories of the day – mostly we were just in awe of the talent surrounding us. I posted my ride on strava and was able to see what Gillian Carlton had accomplished on many of the segments when she did the ride a while back – WOW!!!

All in all – would recommend this one for the bucket list – a cool and fun thing to do!

 

 

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