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Second Crack At Cycling up Mauna Kea

Well, it’s been over 2 years since I last attempted cycling up Mauna Kea. The last time I only managed to reach 3,200 metres. That’s just past the visitor’s centre. With a poorly thought out strategy for reaching the top, compromised by having to travel to Mt Ventoux within 2 days of trying, and poor gear ratio choice, I failed.

This time though, I will have knowledge of what it takes. Knowing what gear ratios, tyres, and fuelling strategy, and the possibility of having a support vehicle, will be advantageous.

Mauna Kea Access road

The gear ratios are critical. I’ve chosen a 36/24 crankset, and 11/42 cassette. This is facilitated by using a Wolf-tooth Road Link. The tyres will be slightly wider than last time, and likely be Panaracer Gravelking SK 38s. This will be especially important for the gravel/dust section within the last 12kms.

Cycling up Mauna Kea is the hardest ride I’ve ever done. And although it doesn’t reach the height of Mt Evans in Colorado, it’s certainly tougher. Climbing 2,200+ metres in the last 18kms. This time, however, I’ll be riding from the Kona side of Hawai’i. This adds an additional 30kms each way, and 500 metres climbing. It’s already an extreme climb from Hilo, but from Kona it’s insane. The full ride, there and back, will be 200+ kms, and over 4,700 metres climbing. Given that it really should read 100km with 4,700 metres climbing, that makes it look all the more extreme. It’s a simple up and back exercise.

The view of Mauna Kea from Saddle Road, Hawai’i

So come mid-July, I’ll be privileged enough to give this climb a second crack, and the same for Mauna Loa. I’m just very fortunate to be able to do it.

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