Haleakala Ride Tips? Clothing, Nutrition?

Hi all,

I am doing the ride up and down Halekala from Paia next week.

It’s likely to be 78-80 in Paia at the start (around 7 am) and forecast calls for a high of 60 and low of 48 for Haleakala with showers likely.

I’m planning on taking a light rain coat and arm and leg warmers with me for the top and ride back down.

I’m still debating on my mix of gels and drink mix versus more solid fueling options. I’m a sea level athlete used to cooler temperatures so I’ll take salt capsules to help with sodium loss from sweating and cramps.

I don’t know how long it will take me. I would think I could hold about 220 W the whole way. Currently weighing around 220 lbs.

Does anyone who has done this ride or similar rides have any suggestions?

Edit: I have been training specifically for this ride all year. I did a 55 mile gravel ride last month with 6,600 feet of elevation gain and steeper grades than the Haleakala climb. My experience with heat is pretty much limited to riding the bike course at the St. George 70.3 last year. I came off the bike there dehydrated and feeling pretty crappy from having sweated out all my sodium, so I will be careful not to make that mistake again.

I think it could take you anywhere from 5-6 hrs based on the info you provided (for the climb only). Do you think you’re fit enough to do such a long and uninterrupted climb? I think it’s good that you’re considering temperature, because it does indeed get very cold at the top (I have driven up there, didn’t get the chance to bike it unfortunately). Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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Thanks! Having some example of a time prediction helps.

I do think I have the fitness. I have been training for this ride all year. I did a 55 mile gravel ride with 6600’ of elevation gain last month to gauge my current fitness level. The last time I did a ride in the heat was the bike section of the St. George 70.3 in 2021. That was a good lesson on hydration and electrolytes for me…

I’ll go edit the original post to include the fitness info. Thanks again!

A thin skull cap is a nice add - the descent can be really cold, and keeping your head warm helps a lot. A good rear blinky is also good in case you find yourself riding in the middle of a cloud like I did a few years ago.

Do you have a set date for the ride, or flexibility? The weather up top can vary drastically one day to another - I rode it in lovely weather one time, and two days later drove up there in wind so bad I could barely stand up when I got out of the car.

I don’t have much to say about food except use stuff that’s worked for you before, and don’t get behind on your calorie intake.

It’s a spectacular ride - have an amazing time!

Thanks! The skullcap is a great suggestion. I’ll make sure to pack one.

I’m renting a bike and am locked into Tuesday, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates.

I’ll be sure to take a headlight and taillight for visibility!

Have you confirmed what gearing your rental bike has? When I was there in March earlier this year, my SL6 rental from West Maui Cycles had a 52/36 crankset and 11-30 cassette. Lucky for me, I wasn’t planning to do Haleakala(done it before, didn’t have time for it on that trip)

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I did this exact ride in 2017 starting from “Maui Cyclery” bike shop.

It took my wife and I 5.5hrs climbing and about 50mins or less descending it. I was 165lbs and we made lots of stops for her to either catch up, site see and making one large stop at Kula Market Place.

I didn’t have my power meter pedals on me so I imagine it was around 160w average so a 2.2kg/watt estimated average for the entire climb.

The best advice I can give you is have great gearing, stop at the first sign of needing a snack or water, and save energy for the decent because it is fast and can be technical depending on your skill level.

Don’t be afraid to stop at the little shops to grab a nice well deserved snack/treat. I would recommend trying to carry 3-4 bottles on your persons however.

Also - for the record I absolutely destroyed Café Des Amis after the ride - great food IMO

Be ready to grind… you just grind for hours at a time haha.

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Good point! I am renting from Maui Cyclery and the bike will be setup with good gearing for the ride.

Owner was on one of our local team’s podcasts, Donnie talks about Haleakala climbs and how not to freeze on the way down. recommended prior to climbing to the sun: ‎Mi Duole Cycling Podcast: Owner of Maui Cyclery on Apple Podcasts

Bon chance!


This is great! Thanks! I’ll definitely listen to that podcase episode right away and probably all of them since the topics look interesting to me.

I rode it in 2017, and had a great time. The rental bike had 34/28 as the lowest gear, which was higher than I wanted but was fine, and only really difficult for the steep section at the very top. I weighed 170 at the time, ride with power data here: Follow Roy on Strava to see this activity. Join for free.

I brought extra water, as there aren’t that many places to get food or water on the way up. I don’t have the details, but at the time I went there were only 3 or 4 places to get water on the way up. Also, I recall that the entry to the park only takes credit cards, not cash, so make sure you have a credit card with you. Bringing extra clothes is a good idea, as it can be cold on the way down. It was very windy on the top part of the descent for me, which made it quite tricky, and not that enjoyable.

Enjoy the ride!

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Thanks, Roy! I appreciate the tips and it’s nice to be able to see the segments from your Strava ride!

I did it a bit over a month ago. It’s a beautiful ride, quite amazing, the changes in terrain, definitely soak it up.

I’m also a sea-level guy. I went really slow, Z1, basically. Rode with my son, who is a bit out of shape. I hired Don, Maui Cyclery, for a support vehicle. I didn’t know the area, and didn’t want to deal with stuff. Very fortunate that I did, as I consumed so much fluid and nutrition, it was nuts.

I burned about 4000cal, no way I could carry enough gels for that, in pockets, would need around 20+ gels. Even with the support vehicle, I ran out of water (support stopped just before the park), and had to hit the rest stop for fluids. It’s remarkably arid at the top.

I also had a problem at about 7000ft. I got a massive headache, it was insane and very hard to focus, felt like my head was going to explode. Upon talking to friends after the ride, they said it was the start of elevation sickness. My son thinks it was dehydration, but it could have been both. That said, the way down, the headache went away.

I think if I went harder, would have been better, but felt great the next day, so definitely wasn’t pushing too hard. It’s still a ton of calories though.

Another tip, sunblock, and reapply. It was nasty above the clouds, very strong sun, especially at 10,000ft. I got burned like you would not believe…and I’m already tanned from riding in CA sun. I came back a about 10 shades darker on some parts, and red on others. My face had bad tan lines from my helmet straps and sunglasses.

You will need credit to enter Haleakala National Park. Save the ticket, as it allows re-entry for 3 days, and you may want to hike the other side.

The descent, OMG, so awesome. Pinned it all the way. Massive cross-winds at the top though, tucked way down to be one with the bike and ripped every corner at 40+mph, a bit slick with rain in the clouds, but good otherwise.

Jacket for the top, definitely, it gets wicked cold and windy. But, on the way down, it warms up so fast, as the elevation drop is rapid.

Watch out for the stupid downhillers. Alot of newbies, that lose control. One lost it and almost went head-on into our support vehicle. Talking to Don after, few people die on that road because they don’t know what they are doing and get over their heads, and also give bikers a bad name with massive groups of people that don’t share the road. Those downhill shuttle companies give bikes with knobbies. Anyone who rides seriously knows that knobbies squirm on tarmac at high speeds. It’s just the nature of the g-forces, and slicks are better. Even fat touring tires are better than MTB knobbies. Just watch out those guys don’t slide into you, stay as far right, away from them, if you see them coming.

I never did a ride of that altitude gain before, so that was a rude awakening. I do climbs around 5500-6000ft, and do go to Tahoe for riding (but always have trouble up there). Don said the elevation gets, pretty much, everyone he goes with, in some form. It takes time to be familiar with what you’re getting into.

I rented a bike from Maui Cyclery (part of the package), got a Pinarello Grevil with GRX 2x11 Di2. I think it was a 46/30 crankset, it was good. All in all, I’m glad I hired, it took the stress of planning the ride out of my hands, and I just had fun. I brought my Garmin and Assioma DUO, and a kit, shoes, skullcap, and gloves. It was self-fit, so measured my bike before going, was good to go and close enough.


One fun thing - when I drove up Haleakala after biking it, I had bought a big bottle of water from the store, and drank most of it on the drive up. I capped it at the top and didn’t have any more on the drive back to sea level. At the bottom, the bottle was completely concave like I had crushed the air out of it, which went a long way towards explaining why my sea level-dwelling lungs were suffering so much at the top!

Add me to the list of people who used the support service from Maui Cyclery, once also renting a bike from them, and once riding my own bike but using their support van. It was really nice not to have to carry all my stuff the whole way, or worry about finding food, etc. If you’re going to do it on your own, some time researching places you can get food and water on the way up would be time well spent.

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To follow up to my post above, I did it unsupported, but had one of those big ‘bikepacking’ saddlebags for my extra food, water, and clothing. Without support you need to carry quite a bit of stuff, even if you don’t sweat terribly. I also live at sea level, and did plan for my power to drop a fair bit at the top due to altitude and fatigue.

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Thanks for all the details on your ride! It really helps give me a better idea of what to expect!

I am also doing the supported ride package through Maui Cyclery. I wasn’t sure what all that entailed but it sounds like I am in good hands with them.

I’ve ridden Haleakala 2x - once with Donnie and the other self- supported.

My couple of tips: water is available at Kula Market (there’s a hose tap around back if they happen to be closed when you get there) and also at the park visitor center and the small visitor center just below the summit. I used two large bottles and had plenty of water with those refills. As for clothing, expect that it will be at least 30F cooler at the summit than in Paia. Bring appropriate clothing!

The ride is never really steep except for the short last bit. Dial in that “all day” pace and don’t go into the red.


I really appreciate the tips, especially on where to find water! Thanks!

This will take you about 6 hours. Plan your food accordingly and like others said stop at Kula market for a water refill.

Bring a windbreaker at the very least, it can get very cold at the top, and rain unexpectedly.

This is one of my all-time favorite rides. ENJOY!

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It is a fun ride, but mostly just a grind. :slight_smile:

I would also suggest renting the bike for another day and doing the west loop going clockwise. I enjoyed this ride more than Haleakala.