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Cycle to the Sun - Cycle

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Paia, Hawaii
United States
Maui Cyclery
72F / 22C
Total Time = 3h 33m 34s
Overall Rank = 25/159
Age Group = M30-39
Age Group Rank = 6/20
Pre-race routine:

I came into the race at around 159 pounds. Pretty much the same weight I was in 2011 and 2012...about 10-15 pounds too heavy to really reach my potential. Since I'm only riding this year though, bike fitness is high.

We got into Paia and it was raining a little on the mountain, but generally good weather. The forecast for race day was clear skies though and that is exactly what we got. As we lined up at the start, we had a clear view of the mountain and the telescopes at the top. Very little to no wind, but at the same time not really humid. Basically perfect conditions.

I got my tubular issues straightened out, and I had the ideal setup. My CAAD10, 202's with Vittoria EVO CX tires, Quarq 975 50/34, SRAM Force with WiFli 12-32 cassette. Just under 16 pounds.

Event warmup:

Rode up Baldwin Ave for about 10 minutes.
  • 3h 33m 34s
  • 36 miles
  • 10.11 mile/hr

I lined up around 3 rows back as we were starting on a narrow path where we still managed to start around 6-7 wide. As the gun went off, and we made the turn onto Baldwin Ave, a group of about 40 quickly formed and I was near the back of it. The initial goal is to try and stay with the lead pack and benefit from the slight draft for the first 7ish miles then go into TT mode. I've managed to stay with the lead pack, or the chase pack the first 2 years I did this race, but I also faded later on in the race as well. Being that this is the first time I would do this race with power, I wanted to be a little more cautious about how hard I would chase.

The lead pack wasn't attacking, but just riding very steady and fairly hard. Guys were starting to peel off and lots of people around me were huffing and puffing. I felt okay, but even after the first 5 minutes, I was averaging over 260 watts. There was no way I could hold this for another 35 minutes till mile 7 where the race will naturally slit up at the first steep section.

I was hoping the pace would ease up, but after I saw Nguyen pull back, I knew that was a sign I should too. The first 2 years he's always come from behind to pass me at around 6k feet. So after 2.5 miles...I pulled the plug from the group and tried to get my watts back down and my HR out of the 170's. Sau and Lou both dropped back as well, and I thought they would be a good group to work with, but it was only a couple of minutes later when they started to put a little more effort in and suddenly I was by myself...probably around in 40th position now.

So my TT begins. I didn't really know how many watts I should be targeting, but in general I knew I wanted to keep my HR below 165 on the first half, and that translated to around 220-230 watts for the time being. Slowly small groups would come past me...basically those that didn't chase the first group off the gun...including the eventual female winner. I was feeling a little deflated, but I knew that we were less than 20% into the race and that many people ahead of me were going to blow up and that the best I can do is stay within myself and trust my plan will pay off in the end. By the time I reached the highway, I probably lost another 12 positions and outside the top 50.

Greg was driving support for our group (Joe, Will, Sau, and myself) which was a huge help. There are only 3 aid stations, and if you don't have any additional support, you need to take 2 bottles at each aid station. But with Greg, we could afford to just take one bottle and get another in between aid stations. So as I roll through the first aid station, I see a van that looks exactly like ours parked on the side of the road, but the right two wheels had sunk into a bush or something and it was completely bottomed out. Fark...not only is the rental van in my name, but now I will only have one bottle till the next aid station which is way too far. Greg wasn't in sight (I assumed he was looking for someone to help him) so I almost turned around to get another bottle...but I just kept riding hoping for the best.

Sure enough, 20 minutes later I saw Greg pulled over on the wasn't our van. I was completely overjoyed to see him and Greg thought it was simply that I really wanted a bottle...LOL. I was still completely on my own at this point, but I remember that I was able to clearly talk to Greg as I passed by, smile, and I felt fresh...despite me not gaining any ground on anyone yet.

As we made the left to the road that leads up Haleakala, I finally started to feel better. I think the 2x caffeinated gels were helping but I still knew we were only about a third done and I should feel good. Just that nobody was really passing me anymore. Power was slightly starting to dip into the 210-220 range, but HR was steady at around 165. I was doing some math in my head, and I was on pace for around 3:35 if I kept up the effort. I've usually come through this point on pace for sub 3:30...and faded bad on the second half. It was a bit uneasy to come through these mini check points slower than I ever have before, but trying to trust it would lead to the best result.

As we got out of the forested area, it was a lot easier to see my competition above and below me on the switchbacks. This is where my race fell apart in 2012, but I still felt okay now at 5k feet. Greg passed by on the vehicle and asked if I was okay or needed anything. Again, I confidently told him I was fine, which actually made me feel good about my plan just to be able to say that out loud to him. I could tell he was concerned about me because at this point I was around 10 minutes behind Joe and Bill, and around 6 minutes behind Sau. I was expecting to finish within 10 minutes of Bill, and ahead of to Greg it looked like I was having a bad day if those time gaps doubled. Greg also mentioned to me that Nguyen was hunting me down...believe me...I knew already.

So at around 5500', Nguyen was within 20 yards of me. Power was now in the 195-205 range and HR was starting to climb into the upper 160's. I fully expected my power to drop simply due to altitude, so I wasn't concerned about that. Nguyen passed me, but I stuck with my tempo and was able to hang around him. He'd accelerate a little and get 20 yards...then I'd be right back on his wheel...then he'd fold behind me for a bit. This was my focus now...not losing to Nguyen...again.

It was at this point that everything clicked. Nguyen wasn't getting away anytime soon, I found a good tempo and just rode steady. After the second aid station at 6k feet I figured now is the time to start racing a bit. One of the female overall contenders who came up to me with Nguyen was now on my wheel and we were starting to pick off riders up the road with regularity. She asked where the other two women were ahead and I said they couldn't be too far, but they were on their own when the passed me and she had a chance with so much of the race left. She said she's from Utah, so she's no stranger to climbing. She asked if she could sit on my wheel as she noticed I was riding steady and I was more than happy to help. It gave me a mental boost as I finally felt like I was in race mode, and my legs were feeling pretty good...especially compared to 2012.

Nguyen put in a couple more surges, but at around 7000' he was just trying to hang onto my wheel with the lady in tow. She asked me to ease up a tad bit, and I did for a few minutes. Honestly it was a good idea, but at the same time, it was another boost to my confidence that I had made the right decisions early to feel this good now. At around 7500' though, I saw Sau up the road. He was blown...but he was still turning over the cranks and would still have an awesome race.

At this point, there were around 4 people trying to stay with me, so I didn't feel too bad about the lady who wanted help as there were others that could ride more her pace...I wanted to make my final move with 45ish minutes left. I power was still in the low 200's...good considering that we were close to 8500' of elevation and I was picking off more and more riders. I saw Lou and Carl up the road and quickly caught up to them, but they both reacted a little so we rode together for about 5 minutes before dropping off.

I still didn't feel one twinge yet, and while I knew 3:30 wasn't quite in reach, I did want to make sure that I got as close as possible. Way in the distance was one more rider I could see, so that too was my mark. I let my HR drift up near 173-175 the last 20 minutes and when we finally hit the lower parking lot the inside of my right leg started to bite. The worst part of the course lied just ahead...half a mile averaging 9%...with short sections above 20%. I tried to massage it out a bit just before it kicked up and had to hold myself back a little. Thank God for 34/32!!! As I made the final switch back, the guy up ahead was still 30 yards away from me, and I was about 100 yards from the finish. He was slowly turning the cranks over, so I figured I would just go for it and deal with the cramp if it happens. I popped down on the cassette and jumped out of the saddle. Averaged 571 watts for 14 seconds peaking at 727 and I swear to God I got him at the line by half a wheel but the results showed differently. They were using a high speed camera designed for racing, but it still needs some user input to match the number to the time the camera records. I jokingly insist that they just assigned me the second time by mistake. I didn't protest, it was all in good fun and didn't matter as he wasn't in my AG.

I felt great. I finally paced this race right, and even managed a slight negative split in terms of the first 5k feet versus the second 5k. In general, the guys who do really well ride those splits very evenly.

Joe and Bill were only about 8 minutes ahead of me and they kind of blew up sticking with that front group for too long. Still solid races for them, but considering they were on a pace to beat me by over 20 minutes, I knew I made the right decision early on to drop back. That and the winning time was 2:47...which is quite fast and requires you to hammer the whole ride...not just cruise the first 10ish miles in the draft then hammer the steeper portions of the course.

Sau ended up finishing 3:46...still an awesome effort given how little he rides in comparison to the rest of us. My nutrition was the same as always for this race. Just sports drink, water, and gels. I ended up drinking around 6 full bottles (3 sport drink) and 4 gels.

I want to do this race again, but I really need to get under 150 pounds. Either way, an awesome race, well put on, and great after party. A bucket list item for a bike enthusiast.
What would you do differently?:

Not try at all to stick with the first group and maybe sit in with the second group for the first 5-7 miles. I'm not in the same class as the guys going sub 3 hours (there were 9 guys that went 3:03 or faster) and the small draft isn't worth it. Hang with the smarter people in the 3:20-3:40 range early on.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:


Last updated: 2014-06-29 12:00 AM
03:33:34 | 36 miles | 10.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 6/20
Overall: 25/159
Performance: Good
Avg HR 167, AP 214, NP 217 First 5000' - 1:47:01 (164 HR, 225 watts), Second 5000' 1:46:33 (170 HR, 203 watts)
Wind: Some
Course: From sea level in Paia to the upper parking lot at the top of Haleakala. 35.5 miles, 10,000 feet of climbing.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 83
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2014-06-30 11:24 AM

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Subject: Cycle to the Sun

2014-06-30 12:54 PM
in reply to: #5019397

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Cycle to the Sun

Wow! Great job on sticking to your game plan, racing hard at the end, helping others and on an all around stellar day. A lot to be proud of for sure.

2014-06-30 2:11 PM
in reply to: #5019397

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Subject: RE: Cycle to the Sun

Wow, what a testament to patience, knowing the course and experience.   Great job.  And a negative split?  Insane

2014-06-30 3:05 PM
in reply to: #5019397

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Cycle to the Sun
Great race and report, Jason. Nothing better than a smart plan with great nice to be picking people off exactly where you've struggled in the past!
2014-06-30 3:52 PM
in reply to: #5019397

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Cycle to the Sun

Congratulations on a well executed race Jason!  Sounds like something I'd really like to try some day!

2014-07-01 5:21 PM
in reply to: #5019397

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2000500100100100100 home in The ATL
Subject: RE: Cycle to the Sun

Great read, Jason - sounds like you have almost got this race dialed in. You have definitely put it on my list. 

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