Haleakala Ride Fail - Back Issues

Thanks again to everyone who gave me tips on how to approach riding Haleakala. I didn’t finish the ride, but I still had a good experience.

I would highly recommend talking to Donnie at Maui Cyclery. He got me setup with a very nice Scott road bike with appropriate gearing for climbing all day. He still supported my ride even though the other two guys who were supposed to ride that day canceled and it was just me. He’s a great guy with awesome service.

So, I had all the right nutrition, gear, a nice bike and the legs for the ride, but my 42 year old back decided not to cooperate that day. I was having serious back pain and tightness an hour into the ride so I stopped and stretched really well and kept going. I stopped to stretch again 30 minutes later and shortly after that I knew I was screwed. I thought I would be good after a recent (an admittedly somewhat painful) 55 mile gravel ride with tons of elevation, but I guess never having any flats or descents to rest my back made a big difference.

I"m confident that I had the fitness to finish the ride, so now I know I need to really focus on some strength and mobility work. I’d been doing the Foundation Training 12 minute workout and some additional core work about 3 times a week for a while, but I think adding some real lifting might be what I need (deadlifts, squats, lunges, etc).

As a side note, if anyone has the chance to hit the MTB trails on Maui at the Kahakapao Recreational Area, I highly recommend it. It’s all under the cover of trees so you get out of the sun for a while, the scenery is great, and the trails are well maintained and very fun to ride.

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I feel your pain. When I start to do long climbs like this, I also get bad low back pain. I have had three back surgeries for herniated disc and am now fused L4/L5.

I recently did a 155 mile ride, no back pain. On a different ride, anything longer than a 30 minute climb and my back will start to hurt.

I did some cursory research and discovered that a lot of the pain comes from the extra power required when climbing and how it makes your hips rotate a bit, and then this makes your spine have to bend to maintain your position on the bike. This causes your back pain.

Here is an article about it. I found that stretching my tight hamstrings helped.

Lower back pain from cycling: Why it happens and how to prevent it - CyclingTips

Good luck!

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Thanks for the link and info! Sorry to hear about your discs. I’m glad to hear you’re still good on the flats.

Best of luck with your cycling!

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I’m glad you still enjoyed yourself - doing even part of that ride is a beautiful day out on a bike!

It sounds like you already have some good core and strength training options, but if you’re looking for more, I really like a lot of the exercises in Tom Danielson’s book Core Advantage.

Sorry to hear you didn’t make it. I imagine it would be tough on a not-yours bike. I wonder if there were fit issues with that specific frame?

I may be headed to Maui in the fall. I’ve driven Haleakala, would love to ride it… just not sure the family vacation is the time to beg out of a day and go tackle it. Maybe I’ll buy my wife something nice… :slight_smile:

I somehow managed to pull it off during my family vacation. It helped to have this be part of the conversation during the planning, and the day was picked for the ride way ahead of time - it was a go no matter what the weather was - luckily it was quite nice on that day.
I really enjoyed my ride up it - my take is it at least worth asking if that is something that could fit into the trip :slight_smile: (I’m not that fast, my elapsed time was 8:36, self supported, started at 7AM so I was back in time for dinner.)
I really liked this ride so I find myself advocating for people to do it quite often :slight_smile:


Thinking I could do the climb in 4hrs give or take, so total ride maybe 5-5:30. Maybe if we take the nanny with us (which I don’t think we plan to), I can do it. Otherwise, 6 and 3 year olds probably preclude this ride for now! :slightly_smiling_face:


At that age, I think a day off will be hard :slight_smile: Mine were 10 and 12 or so at the time, so much easier to handle for one person.

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Yep…. There are the paddle boards, there’s the ocean. Go! See you in six hours. :rofl:


I also made the ride part of the planning process months before the actual trip. My wife just planned on a low key day hanging out on the beach and at the pool with the kids while I was away that day.

There is an LV store in Whaler’s Village in Ka’anapali. I took my wife there after she agreed to drive the EAST Maui Loop as a support vehicle for me as I biked it this year. It’s probably the best ride in Maui but some really sketchy roads in parts.


Well, it’s getting real and we are taking the nanny because we are getting a condo/house anyway and her husband is gone so she’s like, uh, yes, I’ll come. :rofl:

Maybe I’ll convince the wife to take a spa day for herself………. :sunglasses:


Had that dynamic as well, but as others have mentioned, make sure it’s in the plan. Spa day for the wife was in the plan as well.

I got the bike from Donnie a few days earlier and was able to ride “local” before the climb. For a reasonable amount, Donnie’s shop will sag you on the climb up to 6500 ft. where the park begins. Then you’re on your own. Take warm layers. And enjoy the ride down. 36 miles of pure payoff for the 36 miles of climbing. Side note: Donnie reminds riders to open the spouts on their bottles when descending fast from the top. Closed bottles pop their lids as pressure increases. Don’t have that every day… #dotheride


We’ll see if it happens. I would guess not this time. Fortunately, I can get direct flights to Maui from San Diego for not very expensive, so this might be a thing I plan with some friends and go do as a cycling buddy trip instead of intermingled with a family vacay.

Like roll straight down the hill, into Mama’s Fish House and knock back a Mai Tai or two for recovery.


Mama’s Fish House, a Mai Tai, and oxygen… amazing how sea level helps with the recovery!



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