Today's ride took us up Mt. Haleakala, Maui's 10,000 ft. volcanic peak. It was a fitting task for what the gang has deemed "Suffer Sundays".
Things started off innocently enough, with an hour of flat riding before we started upwards for another 3.5 hours of steady climbing. Coach Lance's final words of, umm, encouragement(?) as we started off were that "this workout will be one that you'll remember for the rest of the year". No doubt, Lance. No doubt. Personally, I'd never climbed for that long, so I was sure there would be some "opportunity for growth"--as I've euphemistically been referring to the challenges of late--though I sort of presumed that it would primarily be on the way up Haleakala.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I did some good suffering in those hours of climbing, but the real challenge was yet to come. My attempts to hang onto Linsey and Magali's wheel were shorter lived than I would have liked. . .not that any of us were talking much, anyway. I spent the remainder of the ride up shifting my focus between my HR monitor, ungluing my sticky salt tabs, and deciding which yummy flavor of Clif bar I was going to tackle next. Oh, that and steering clear of the tourists who had paid money to be driven up the mountain, dumped off with a mountain bike, BMX helmet, zero bike handling skills, and a ski parka to bomb down to the bottom. Pretty sure the lack of understanding was mutual. Anyway, Ironman training makes you pretty adept at passing the time with this sort of mental gymnastics, and it wasn't until the last 15' or so when I started to get really over it. REALLY over it. Besides the sore legs, cramping back, and desire for something that did not contain oats as the primary ingredient, it was absolutely FREEZING.
This was where the real "character building" and team bonding began. The rain was pouring down, and all of my warm clothes were in the support vehicle. Long story short, all of us were pretty much in the same boat--blue lips, chattering teeth, frozen hands, lack of mental clarity by the time the car reached us. Apparently, stage I hypothermia symptoms did not engender confidence in our descending capabilities. One by one, nearly all of us were scooped up by the support truck, which by now had become a SAG wagon. With 9 soaking wet, shivering triathletes--and their bikes--piled into one double cab pick up, we were quite a sight (and smell, for that matter). As someone put it: "even sardines would find this uncomfortable". Poor Justin, who ironically is known as "Big Boy" was actually the worst off, as this was one occasion I was actually not envious of his rocket metabolism, which had completely burned through all of his fuel, leaving him bonked and unable to raise his core temperature.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and smart decision making by Lance and Mark, a total crisis was averted, and an hour later the "hypothermia in Hawaii" war stories and jokes had already begun. Incredible how some of the toughest experiences create the best memories. Yes, Lance, this workout is definitely one that we will all remember for the rest of the year. And beyond.
Haleakala by the numbers:
10,023: vertical feet from sea level
9,500: vertical feet I climbed before being turned around. (Next year. Next year!)
37: degrees in farenheit at the top. and raining.
3.5: number of Clif bars consumed--1 almond fudge, 1 apricot, and 1.5 chocolate chip. (new personal record)
53.6: miles traveled in 4 hours and 42 minutes of riding ( 3:42 of it up the mountain)
10.7: ave speed in mph. solid.