Older blog entries for katzj (starting at number 136)

10 Year NCSSM Reunion: Has it really been that long?

I spent the weekend at my ten year high school reunion. A lot of people that I’ve mentioned this to have been somewhat surprised or responded along the lines of “I wouldn’t go to my high school reunion”. Which I can understand. But Science and Math is different than your typical high school. As a two-year residential magnet school, you end up getting to know people pretty well — it’s basically like going to college a couple of years early, only with a little bit more supervision. And so it’s the same sort of bond and friendships that a lot of people end up getting in college.

Kara and I flew down on Friday morning and then met up with a friend for lunch. We then spent some time just kind of relaxing before meeting up with a group of my friends from high school for dinner. It’s a good group although we don’t get together anywere near as frequently as we used to… for the first few years after high school, we made it a point to get together around New Year’s or at some point over the holidays. This has fallen off as we’ve all moved increasingly far apart distance-wise and have increasingly busy lives. It was good to get together and catch up, though, and especially in a smaller group environment.

Later in the evening was the sort of opening party/reception type thing and my class had a surprisingly good turn-out. The event was held at a bar in Durham (Tyler’s) which was fine. It was a little weird seeing people smoking indoors as that’s something kind of foreign after living in Massachusetts for almost six years. This probably contributed to the scratchy throat feeling I had the rest of the weekend. As I walked around, I was able to see and catch up with a ton more people; both that I had been friends with through high school or people I barely talked with. It was really nice as pretty much everyone is doing something that is kind of interesting now and it was cool to talk with them. None of the usual crap that people complain about with high school.

Saturday was the main day of reunion stuff but my group of friends started earlier with breakfast at Elmo’s on 9th St. As usual, Elmo’s was good and we got there just in time to beat the majority of the rush. Then, it was down to campus and we watched a presentation about some plans to expand the school. I’m not really sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it looks like a fair bit of work is going into making sure that things are nice and really trying to turn what had been a hospital hastily converted to a residential high school into a very nice residential high school. On the other, more people in the same sized space could be a bad thing. A day later and I’m still not sure where my opinion falls on the expansion. The rest of the day was filled with catching up with more people, walking around campus to see what had changed (both a lot and very little at the same time), our slide show (always fun to watch again) and the like.

Kara and I then skipped the evening’s festivities so that we could grab dinner with my parents as we haven’t seen them in a while and it’s unclear exactly when we’re going to be down again. It was a low-key evening and then rather than attend the late night party, we just watched Valkyrie in the hotel room.

This morning we slept in a bit more and then headed to campus for what had been billed as the faculty brunch. The location stated for it had been a little bit odd, and when we got there, we learned why — it was actually in PFM (the cafeteria). Also, the number of faculty present overall was pretty low at least that we saw.

We skipped out a little, though, so that we could grab lunch at the NC Farmer’s Market Restaurant with another group of friends. This was, as always, tasty and it was good to get to catch up with another group of friends. Then we met up with my sister and her husband and now we’re sitting at the airport waiting on our flight back to Boston. (Well, we were… home now. But I’m a day later posting it)

It was a fun weekend and it was great to catch up with a whole bunch of people. There were some people who I would have liked to have seen who couldn’t make it, but I got to see a lot of people that I hadn’t seen since our 5 year reunion or even longer for some of them. And while most are on Facebook, some aren’t. The event was better organized and a better set up than we had for the five year reunion, but there were a few things which bothered me and can hopefully be better for the next one…

  • The cost and especially the way the costs were organized was unclear. As it turns out, very few things were only for those who paid. This may be partially due to complaints over how much some things were, but it still wasn’t at all clear what you were paying for up-front.
  • Having the full schedule sooner would be nice — I think the final version was published a week or less ago. That’s just kind of poor for people trying to decide if they want to come or not and especially how to schedule their travel
  • Faculty presence was low. I vaguely remember complaining about this five years ago. I know it’s hard to get the faculty to come out, but some of it is communication with former faculty who have retired. They can’t come if they don’t know what’s going on.
  • Little interaction with current students. This is one that seems easily fixable but it’d be really nice to get a chance to have more current students around and talk with them and the like. Get the real story about what’s going on at the school; I didn’t trust the administration ten years ago, I don’t trust them now :-) Things like lunch yesterday or brunch today would have been perfect opportunities for them to be around, eating and join some alums. It would also be great for the current students to get to talk to people who have been there, done that, and are maybe doing something cool or interesting now. I would have liked it as a student and I would have liked it now as an alum.

Even with those suggested improvements, it was a fun weekend and I figure I’ll probably be back for the fifteen in five years and look forward to seeing everyone again then. Even if it does make me feel old to see current students wandering around.

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Syndicated 2009-10-06 02:19:42 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Commuting Pedal Failures

One thing that’s quite nice about the new gig is that the office is in Kendall Square. Much, much, much better location-wise than Westford. It means that my commute is just about seven miles which is quite nice to do via bike. Also, if the weather’s bad or I feel lazy, I can take the bus to Alewife from right outside my house and then take the train in.

Unfortunately, I’ve now had two weird pedal failures in the past week. Last Thursday, I was leaving the office and clipped in. As I got about a block away, I noticed my foot moving weirdly on the pedal. As I pulled over to check it out, it became clear that the cleat was stuck in the pedal. After some investigation later, I realized that I lost one of the two screws holding the cleat into the plate in the shoe. It looks like the plate where the screw went in is actually pretty stripped. And in getting the cleat and shoe disengaged from the pedal, I essentially had to take the pedal apart so I decided to switch the pedals out for the plain SPDs instead of the slightly fancier SPDs that were on there.

Today, I was riding home and realized about halfway home that one of the pedals was coming unscrewed from the crank. I made it home without incident and re-installed the pedal without any noticeable problem, but I’m going to be keeping an eye on it over the next few days. Hopefully the crank isn’t stripped — it looked okay, but at this point, I’m a little cautious of it.

Maybe I should look at building a new commuter bike sooner rather than later :-) Although I really would like to get the Redline to last another year to year and a half.

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Syndicated 2009-09-15 02:34:31 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Review: Amazon Kindle 2

I had asked via twitter a while ago for opinions on the Kindle as I had been thinking off and on about getting one for a while. Responses were very positive with really one exception: the DRM aspect. And it’s something that bothered me, but I decided that the convenience benefit was enough to outweigh that for me at this point. Especially when I considered that I often buy books, read them, put them on a bookshelf for six months to a year and then drop them off at a book drop. Re-reading isn’t my usual, instead buying new books is :-) Especially as the primary purpose for the Kindle is more for pleasure reading as opposed to more technical stuff

Since I knew I’d end up reading a lot while I was on vacation, I figured I’d take advantage of Amazon’s good return policies and try it out. If I liked it, great. If I didn’t, I could certainly hit a bookstore to get “regular” books and return the Kindle when I got back home.

As lots of people have said, the packaging of the device is very good — Apple-like is really the best way I have to describe it. They really want you to buy into a full experience. I turned it on and had already set up a few “free sample” books to be on the device. And reading on it has turned out to be a great experience. The page turning was a little bit distracting at first with a little bit of a flicker, but after half an hour or so of reading on it, I don’t notice it any more than I notice turning the page of a regular book. One thing that I didn’t find at first (because I didn’t read the documentation) is that you can change the font size — this was pretty handy as I can definitely handle smaller than the default — I’m currently using the smallest and am pretty happy with it.

One of the obvious questions with the Kindle is battery life. With the wireless off, it was incredible (I didn’t apparently need to charge during most of my 10 day trip with it sporadically on). Leaving the wireless on I need to remember to charge it every three or four days. But the charge is pretty quick. Unfortunately, it uses microUSB instead of miniUSB, so it’s another cable to have to be carried bringing me to three (miniUSB, microUSB, iPhone).

The selection of books seems to be pretty good. Not everything that I’ve looked for, but the vast majority. Pricing is okay, usually a little cheaper than the price for the dead-tree version and the over-the-air delivery is wonderful. Especially when sitting in an airport between flights.

In terms of reading on it, the screen is incredibly nice. I had my doubts, but they’re entirely gone. Reading in bed? Check (just be sure there’s a light). Reading outside beside the pool? Check. On a plane? On the couch? … And so on. The screen is incredibly readable and I don’t end up with any of the eye strain problems that I sometimes get after staring at a laptop screen or a monitor for long periods of time. How well it worked in sunlight is one thing that really surprised me. Obviously it’s supposed to be one of the strengths of the screen, but I’m wary of marketing-speak :-) But I really had no problem sitting and reading it even in direct sunlight.

Downsides? There are a couple. The biggest is the DRM stuff. It’d be nice to be able to share books (eg, if Kara decided she wanted to get a Kindle also so that we could both read the same books). It’d also be nice to have some sort of library functionality, although the samples are a big help in deciding whether it’s worth paying for a book.

The other real downside is the case that I got — the Patagonia neoprene case. It’s okay in that it protects it pretty well; it’s kind of crappy to use while reading, though and I’ve taken to taking the Kindle out of the case when I’m reading from it. Other case suggestions would be appreciated since I’m certainly going to keep the Kindle at this point.

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Syndicated 2009-09-14 02:40:21 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Garmin 705 Tip: Sending Routes Between Devices

While I think I’m pretty good with the capabilities of the Garmin Edge 705, I learned a new trick with it last weekend. We were planning to do a century up to Cape Ann and Gloucester and I had mapped out a route with Bikely and loaded it onto my GPS. I sent out the link to everyone else who was planning to come, but Charles had not pre-loaded it onto his. Instead, he said that you can actually transfer routes, courses, etc between devices wirelessly!

It’s actually pretty simple — you hit the menu button, go to Settings, then “ANT+” and then Send on the device doing the sending and Receive on the one doing the receiving. And then, voila, you’ve sent the route between Garmins.

Very very cool, and something I’ll definitely have to keep in mind for future rides to new places as more and more of the team start getting the 605 and 705.

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Syndicated 2009-09-07 18:51:56 from Jeremy's Thoughts

First Week at HubSpot

As I wrap up my first week at HubSpot, I have a few observations that are at least sort of interesting.

  • Real hardware. I’m pretty happy with my current laptop so I just got a desktop machine to use at work. The box I got is a Dell quad core with 8 GB of RAM. Nice box overall and Fedora installed with no problems. The nVidia graphics work fine for 2d and even xrandr seems to be doing the right thing. One thing that is annoying is that Dell is still shipping machines with VT turned off in the BIOS. Once I turned that on, though, KVM is also working pretty well on the box
  • Windows is both just as annoying as ever, less annoying and more annoying. You can run it in a virtual machine without real problems. But installing things, the terminals, etc are all still a pain. Stability is a bit improved. The whole “run as administrator” nonsense is a real pain when you’re trying to get a lot of stuff going.
  • Coming in at the end of the scrum cycle seems to sort of be a good thing. Get to see the final push and then the demos from that cycle followed by getting to sit in on the planning for the next sprint. I won’t be on a scrum team until the next sprint and so hopefully I’ll have a better frame of reference¡
  • Commuting to Kendall Square works really well for me. Okay, I knew this from riding into MIT but it’s still a takeaway. The bike ride in is a nice length; shorter would be fine, but longer really isn’t as practical.
  • Complex build processes exist everywhere and are despised everywhere. But it always seems like a build and deployment process is the last thing cared about.
  • I’m having a lot of fun being back in a startup environment.

So yeah, all in all, its been a good week. Now for a long weekend. Two four day weeks in a row for me I guess.

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Syndicated 2009-09-04 23:35:28 from Jeremy's Thoughts

The New Chapter Begins

The new chapter begins… today was my first day working for HubSpot.

It’s a big change for me as I’ve been doing pretty much purely (fairly) low-level operating system work for a decade now. Going to a company that’s doing much more web development is making me shift how I think about everything from considering using Eclipse rather than a combination of Emacs/vim/terminals to the languages I’m writing in and the types of code I’ll be writing. And I think it’s a change that I need — I’ve been feeling a bit stagnant and so getting out of my comfort zone should help a lot.

Also, I think that HubSpot is doing some interesting stuff and I’m glad to be joining the team to help out in a variety of different ways.

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Syndicated 2009-09-02 02:26:36 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Beginning A New Chapter

The end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one for me. Today is my last day as an employee of Red Hat. I still remember walking in the door for my first day at Red Hat and having Nalin set up my account so I could get started as Preston was a little bit late getting in that morning. It’s been a great eight+ years across five offices and two states working with lots of great people.

During that time, I’ve also had the opportunity to play a big role in the development and growth of Fedora. While the start was somewhat rocky, I think we’ve now built up an incredibly strong community that successfully releases a whole distribution (arguably, several!) on a regular schedule. And within that community, we’ve grown a pretty awesome set of leaders to continue to drive Fedora forward.

While I’m planning to still keep at least in touch with the goings-on of Fedora as well as running Fedora in places, I certainly won’t have the time to spend on it that I do today. I hope to keep in touch and see people at conferences and events from time to time. But right now, I’m looking forward to what’s next for me. And for those wondering, it’s something pretty different really. More on it next week..

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Syndicated 2009-08-27 15:41:37 from Jeremy's Thoughts

2009 Seacoast Safari Recap

Better late than never right? Here’s a quick recap from this year’s Seacoast Safari that I had started and has been sitting in the drafts folder…

For the third year, I signed up for the Seacoast Safari ride to raise money for research and treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. As I’ve previously mentioned, this ride has a bit of a personal connection for Team Quad as one of the guys that rides with us, Chris Kvam, actually has CF. Not that you’d know it from watching how strongly he rides. This year, Quad had an even larger team than last year with 26 riders.

For me, the thing that made it even more fun is that I had convinced my dad to fly up and do the ride with me. Originally, the plan was to have him ride my Merlin and I would ride my Cannondale. The previous week’s accident made that not an option. But we found another team bike for my dad to ride and all was well.

Also, Kara served as the official photographer for this year’s event. You can see all of her pictures on flickr

Saturday started off a little bit drizzly, but it looked like the majority of the rain had passed us. The roads were still a little wet, though. I had decided to take it easy and to mostly ride along with my dad which worked out well for riding with a number of the other Quaddies. All was going well with about 10 of us riding together until Jon hit a rock and was thrown off-balance and went sliding across the pavement. Ugh. Not the way to start a charity ride. But we made sure that the paramedics were taking care of him and we continued on. The next mishap, just a mile or two later, was a flat that for some reason was quite difficult to successfully change. Finally it was fixed and the rest of the day went by pretty uneventfully and the sun finally came out. As we got to UNE in Biddeford, we saw Jon standing there after having been discharged by the ER and brought up by one of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation staff. We had the barbeque lunch and then watched some of the coverage of the Tour stage from the day.

Dinner was the typical pasta dinner that has characterized the Seacoast Safari along with an award ceremony and silent auction. A nice impromptu addition to this year’s event was a few people auctioning off their prizes to raise even more money. Very cool! And Team Quad was recognized for the fact that we both had the largest team and had the largest fundraising amount of any team. Overall, the amount raised this year was over $100,000 making it significantly more than previous years.

We headed back to the dorms where we mostly sat around and talked bike geekery and then headed to bed to wake up early the next morning again.

Sunday morning came along and was quite sunny and perhaps perfect from a weather standpoint. We had breakfast and were then on our way. Again, I was content to take it easy and ride with my dad for the majority of the time. A number of other people were content to keep the same pace and so we had a nice group of about 8 Quaddies riding along at a fairly relaxed pace. We took in the scenery, we sang and enjoyed a wonderful day on the bike. At one point, I went to the front of the group and basically sat there for about 12 miles setting a steady pace into the wind. It was a great time and a good way to get a good tempo workout without having to really push it.

We made it back to Newburyport and wrapped things up. Stood around talking with people for a little bit, but at that point, wanted little more than a good shower and so were on our way pretty quickly to do so.

And with that, another Seacoast Safari was wrapped up. A good time overall and the route was just as gorgeous as always. And I think that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation saw it as a pretty effect fundraiser. Looking forward to next year so that I can ride it again!

Photo by Kara Katz / CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo by Kara Katz / CC BY-NC 2.0

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Syndicated 2009-08-20 02:46:46 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Maui Trip: All the Rest

After Friday’s trip up the volcano, the focus of our trip shifted to Kara’s sister’s wedding. Kara and I were both in the wedding, so there was a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon. While we were staying in Kapalua on the northwestern end of the island, Lindsey was staying at the Grand Waileia resort on the southern tip of of the island and that was where the wedding was going to take place. So about an hour’s drive.

So Saturday we grabbed lunch with Kara’s parents and Kara’s other sister (Courtney) plus her husband and five month old again at the Cool Cat Cafe. This time I had a burger and it was a pretty good burger — I see why they are highly rated. We then headed to Waileia for the rehearsal. The rehearsal was quick and basically there was little information really to be shared.

Then, Saturday evening there was a rehearsal dinner / welcome dinner (some of Kara’s family that wasn’t in the wedding came out as well and they came to this dinner as well) at the Hard Rock Cafe in Lahaina. And the dinner really was what you expect at a Hard Rock Cafe. That’s not to say it was bad, but the food was predictable. We did have a nice outdoor table to sit at with a good view of the setting sun over the ocean.

After dinner, Kara really wanted some shave ice again so we went back to Ulalani’s Shave Ice. We shared a large this time and it was very sufficient for the two of us and again very good. Then, it was late so we headed back and went to sleep.

Sunday was the wedding and we were up fairly early. I drove Kara and Courtney to Waileia for their hair, etc appointments. Kara and I grabbed lunch at Longhi’s and I had a pretty good pasta dish — the Fettucini Lombardi. It was a fetticuini alfredo with the nice addition of proscutto and English peas. Very tasty and by going for lunch, the prices were a lot more reasonable than their dinner prices.

Then I dropped Kara off for her hair appointment and just read for a while. Then it was time for the wedding. This was actually kind of cool. Lindsey had decided to have various bits of native Hawaiian weddings in the ceremony including a precessional where she was carried in on a chair and accompanied by hula dancers. Very very cool to watch. The rest of the ceremony was nice as well, but it’s hard to beat being carried in on a chair :-)

After the ceremony, there was a dinner/reception at the Bistro Molokini in the Grand Waileia. Dinner was good, but the service was very very very slow. While they started off getting things fast, they slowed down quite a bit and it was probably about two hours before our food came out. Oh well, we were in no rush. We eventually headed back (late) to the condo and crashed hard into bed. Of course, after I had driven the hour back, I was wide awake and so I read for a while longer and eventually fell asleep.

Monday came and it was raining a little so I decided against going for a ride. But after an hour or so, it cleared up and so we went out to hang out by the pool for a while. I read and swam a little bit. Then, the plan for the evening was to go to the Old Lahaina Luau with everyone.

Rain threatened, but held off for the entirety of the luau. It was pretty well done. They did a good job of not just having a mob scene at the buffet for food by sending up a table at a time. The performance afterwards was very very good. The food was a little underwhelming, although when you consider how many people it was feeding buffet style, it was pretty good. But certainly not the best meal that I had on the island by any stretch of the imagination. We had a good time overall, though.

Tuesday I awoke to more rain and so again didn’t ride. Plus, Tuesday was to be the day that the remains of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Felicia were to hit the hardest. So we got up and grabbed some breakfast and took it easy for a while. Then, we headed to Lahaina to do some souveneir, etc shopping. We had lunch at Cilantro which had the best reviews in terms of Mexican places and I was wanting a burrito. Sadly, I was disappointed in my burrito. It was just a bland blend of meat, rice and beans inside a kind of soggy tortilla. Kara had the flautas and liked them a bit better. We walked up and down the length of Front St while getting our stuff and then headed back to rest and relax and try to get in a swim since it wasn’t really raining hard. Unfortunately, as we headed towards Kapalua, the rain really picked up to the point that it was raining hard in Kapalua even though it was (at most) misting in Lahaina. So, we instead did the fun of some laundry so that we could go home and have clean rather than dirty laundry

Wednesday was our last day and we had to be out of the condo by 11. So we woke up and started packing up our suitcases and the car. We said our goodbyes to Kara’s family and then were on our way. We returned the rental bike to West Maui Cycles, grabbed lunch at Penne Cafe and then continued on to the airport. Leaving Hawaii is an interesting airport experience as in addition to the usual of checking in, a separate baggage check and the TSA security standpoints, there are also two separate times that you have to go through USDA checkpoints to ensure you aren’t bringing back anything you shouldn’t. The first of these is for checked bags, the second is for carry-on. And then as we sat at the gate, a USDA agent came around with a dog still looking for things. It was somewhat impressive.

And now, I write this while we’re 37000 feet in the air and somewhere between Maui and Dallas. My laptop’s clock says it’s 4:30 am but my body thinks it’s more like 10:30 pm. Thursday we’ll get in and probably sleep for a little while. Then I have some school work to take care of, actually posting this and a few other posts and starting the email catch up process. Then Friday, it’s back to work!

And of course, then a week to get around to posting it. But hey, it’s posted now!

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Syndicated 2009-08-20 02:29:43 from Jeremy's Thoughts

Jeremy vs the Volcano (Haleakala)

The Setup

After looking a bit, one of the things that I really wanted to do while in Maui was a climb up Haleakala by bike. Haleakala is the volcanic mountain which towers over the eastern portion of the island rising to a height of over 10000 feet above sea level. One of the bigger “touristy” things to do while on the island is to actually pay for a van to take you up to the top of the mountain where they set you up with some sort of bike (a cruiser, a mountain bike, or something similarly simple) and let you ride down the mountain. But the thing for a real cyclist to do is instead to start at sea level with a bike and ride up to the top.

The first thing to do was to figure out a route. As it turns out, this is pretty straight-forward. There are a few accounts online including a really good one here. Routes are also on all the usual sites so I loaded one onto my Garmin. Most of the routes are right around 35 miles starting in the beach town of Paia and finishing at the summit. 35 miles, 10000 feet. This is starting to sound like a ride.

Getting a Bike

The second thing to do was figuring out a bike to ride. Option one would be to fly with my bike. The airlines have worked quite hard to make this a pretty infeasible option as they’ve increased the costs of flying with a bike. It’s really pretty sad and unfortunate as (from what I’ve read; this predates my serious riding) you used to be able to box a bike and fly with it pretty easily. Oh well. So it goes. A second option tends to be shipping the bike via UPS or FedEx. But being that we’re talking Hawaii, that’s really not much cheaper as you have to do air shipment rather than ground. That basically left renting a bike

Now renting a bike in a place where you’ve never been before can be a dicey concept. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to end up getting. When I was on the Outer Banks a couple of years ago for my sister’s wedding, I rented a bike and while it ended up being something I could ride, it wasn’t really that nice. A lower-end off-brand aluminum frame with a 105/Tiagra mix. From some looking around, though, it looked like West Maui Cycles rented pretty reasonable bikes. So I called them up and arranged to rent a bike for the week. In terms of road bikes, they rent Cannondales and I was told I’d either get a Six Thirteen or a Synapse depending on which had been returned by the time I got there for the pick up. And the price seemed reasonable too ($200 for the week).

So when we got to Maui, I headed to the bike shop to pick up the bike. I took my own helmet, pedals, shoes and saddle to help ensure I was as comfortable as possible. I also remembered to throw in one of the stem mounts for the Garmin so that I could follow routes. When I got there, the bike they had was the Synapse with an Ultegra/Dura-Ace mix and a compact crank. Not a shabby bike at all. The guys were even nice enough to go ahead and swap the saddle for mine and put on my pedals for me. I did a couple of test rides in the area closer to Kapalua to get to know the bike and until there was a day I had enough time to make the ride up the volcano.

When to Ride

Basically everyone’s account of the ride is that the weather can be a bit of a mixed bag on the island and especially on the way up the mountain so to try to give yourself as many days of a window for doing it as possible. I really didn’t want to go before Kara’s family arrived (Thursday) since I knew it would be an all-day trip and Saturday to Monday were likely to be taken with wedding stuff. So I really only had two possible days — Friday and Tuesday. I had decided to try for Friday. Then, on Thursday I began to track the progress of the hurricane heading for the islands… okay, so Friday is really my only bet now.

Day of the Ride

This of course meant that Thursday night, I slept terribly. Couldn’t fall asleep until later as my body adjusted to Hawaii time. Then, I got one of the random telemarketer + hang-up calls at 4 am. So I missed my alarm going off. I woke up at like 6:30 and had intended to be out of the condo by 5:30 at the latest. Oops. Some quick thinking and packing and I decided that even though it’d be a later start, I’d be okay and that I should still make a go for it if I was really going to have the chance to make the climb.

As I’m driving from Kapalua to Paia I start to realize the things I had left in the condo due to my very hurried packing. The first I realized was the heart rate monitor strap. Oh well, no big loss; I can just go on effort. More about finishing than pacing perfectly anyway. The second is sunscreen. This one’s a bit more important but I decide I’ll find some in Paia before I get started. So I keep driving and get to Paia a little after 8. I look for the best parking place and decide that the municipal lot off of Rt 36 right as you come into town is my best bet. I park and find some crappy sunscreen at a gas station so that I can be on my way. I’ve got the bike, spare tube and pump, GPS, two bottles (one electrolytes, one water), a tube of electrolyte drink tablets (these things are nice if you think you can only find water on your route), lots of Clif Shot bloks, a few clif bars, arm warmers and my knee warmers.

Off I Go!

At 8:15 (rather than 6:30 or so), I’m finally on my way on the route I had loaded onto the GPS. Right away I realize that this is no picnic as the road immediately slopes upward with a pretty steady 5% grade. No warm-up, no stretching… just climbing the hill.

At two miles in, I’m beginning to wonder “what the hell was I thinking?” as I slowly grind along. But at the same time, I’m starting to get into some sort of rhythm of spinning along. Seeing the first group of the downhill riders gives me a little bit of a push and I get even more into a rhythm. But it’s still definitely a rhythm of pain as I can’t quite get to an entirely comfortable position on the bike. Not to mention that it’s quite humid and the wind has picked up a bit. I keep going, just telling myself that I need to keep going until the Sunrise Market — regularly pointed out as the last place to get food before things begin in earnest.

At around mile seven, a couple of cyclists turn off of a side road onto the road ahead of me. They were maybe a quarter of a mile ahead, but it gives me some amount of drive and I begin to pedal faster and close in on them. I speak briefly with them as I reach them, but I continue on feeling strengthened by having seen some others on the road. I considered the idea of trying to stick with them so that I’d have some company, but I know that at this point, I’m better off keeping my own pace than trying to tie myself to anyone else.

But passing the two of them is enough to keep me moving for quite a while. The next section actually has tiny little sections of a brief downhill or flatness which helps me a lot as I can rest even briefly on them. The number of downhilll riders is also increasing. The leaders of those groups as well as the drivers of the vans following them frequently wave or give an encouraging word. So I make it pretty easily to the Sunrise Market at about mile 12 and around 3000 feet of elevation

Given that this is one of the three total places to stop for water, I figure it’s worth refilling my bottle and hit the restroom. By now, it’s hot out so I want to be sure I keep drinking. I’m not stopped that long, but long enough. As I get back on the road, I see a rider down the road a little bit behind me. I make the turn onto the road up to the national park itself and the guy behind me eventually catches up to me. We talk briefly and then he’s off. Again I consider trying to ride with him, but realize my own pace is better to keep.

I keep him in my sight for a little while, but the path of very sharp switchbacks takes him away from my sight after a while. I keep pedaling, looking to just notch off every 500 feet of elevation gain. As I pass the 5000 ft marker, I realize that I’m having to breathe a lot harder — the air really does get quite a bit thinner as you go up in altitude. I grit my teeth and keep going. At this point, I see an occasional car going down or get passed by an occasional car going up, but it’s mostly just me and the mountain. As I reach 6000 feet, it’s kind of cold as I’m now into the clouds (!). I pull out my arm warmers and put them on as I keep riding along knowing that the next stop of the lower ranger station isn’t that far away.
Entering Haleakala National Park

Finally, when I don’t know how much more I can go, the sight of the sign for entering the real area of the national park and the lower ranger station appears. I stop to take a quick picture and then pay my $5 park entry fee and ask the ranger if there’s somewhere I can get some water. He points me to the spigot on the side of the station where I gratefully refill my nearly empty at this point bottles. He also asks if I’m training for the Cycle to the Sun race in two weeks. I’m not, but the thought of that suffering helps to push me on again. Well, that plus the fact that I now paid $5 to enter the park :-)

If the previous leg was hard, this one is mentally mind-breaking. The physical hardship is, at this point, mostly a dull throb. The real pain at this point is the mental effort required to keep pushing forward. I know that I have only about eleven miles to go, but I also know that I still have over 3000 feet of climbing in cloudy/misty/cool conditions while in the clouds. But I’m not going to let the mountain beat me. And so I continue on. My mind concentrates on very few things during this time. Pedaling in small circles. Keeping my eyes on the road ahead of me, but trying not to look up the slope much. That I want to beat the mountain.
Summit Road

As I continue to make my way up, there are now no trees lining the way and the hillside is scattered with just small bushes. In addition, you’re really starting to be able to tell that this is a volcanic mountain. The side is covered in the sort of rocky look that you just associate in your mind with a volcano. Or Mars. I think I zoned out a little and was delerious for a bit of this chunk of the ride. The guy who had passed me eventually passes me going down when I’m about 4 miles from the top and he gives an encouraging word as he passes.

The upper visitor’s center is a mile from the summit and 600 feet down. I pull over slightly and consider for a second stopping there. But I know that if I do, I will never let myself live it down and so I climb back upon my bike and slowly pedal my way upwards. It helps that at this point I’m above the clouds and can see the sun again. As I approach the parking lot at the summit, I get a burst of energy and stand to do some sort of victory yell as I enter the parking lotand I stand to dance on the pedals, unleashing my suitcase of courage with a scream as I enter the parking lot in victory

Four hours and thirty-four minutes. 35 miles. 10000 feet of vertical gain. The single hardest thing I think I’ve ever done on a bike, both in terms of physical effort required but even more from the amount of mental effort. It was like being dropped off the back of the field at a race but orders of magnitude more difficult.

The summit has a fair number of people and some of them look on with disbelief that I did the entire ride up. Some of the others had passed me multiple times as they stopped at scenic lookouts on the way and congratulated me. I pulled out my phone as I sat on the top of the world for some pictures and a brief rest before making my way back down the mountain.
10023 Feet
Holding the bike aloft
View from the summitAnother view from the summit

And then, it was time to make my way down. I stopped at the upper visitor’s center to again refill my bottles and use the restroom. I also pull on my knee warmers as I realize it’s a lot cooler on the way down given the fact that I basically am coasting in a high wind. As I make my way down, I also notice the third thing I had forgotten for the day — my long fingered gloves. Oh well. I start down and also sort of wish I had a wind jacket or a rain jacket as the misting picks up as I hit the cloud layer.
View from 5000 feet

The way down is pretty boring. It’s a mix between coasting, braking for the sharp turns that aren’t banked and feeling the fact that I’d been sitting on the bike for 5+ hours. Also, trying to pedal a little to keep from cramping badly after the difficulty of the ride up. I honestly don’t know at this point why anyone would want to do that much less pay to do it. But it’s definitely still a lot faster. Less than two hours for the entirety of the ride down, even when you include the stops I made including for pictures at 5000 feet.
Another view at 5000 feet

I make it back to Paia and navigate the now significant traffic in town to get back to the car. I gladly dismount and am glad. In the battle of Jeremy vs Haleakala, I beat the volcano.

After doing it and having a little bit of time to reflect on it, I’m even more glad that I did the ride. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done on the bike. I think it even can count for the use of the word epic. After looking at the times of the finishers in the race which the ranger had mentioned to me, I’m even more glad as I think that my time was quite respectable given that I was doing it solo and not as a race. I might have to do some of the New England hill climbing races as it was a lot of fun.

Equipment-wise, I think I was pretty well prepared. A compact crank was definitely good to have. I can see where a triple could help. Arm warmers and knee warmers was okay for August. I wish I had remembered my long fingered gloves for the way down. A jacket might have been nice, but having to carry it up probably negates the value of it. Leg warmers vs knee warmers is probably a matter of personal preference — it’s six of one, half dozen of the other for me until it’s quite a bit cooler.

Last of all, the route I used is below as well as a link to Garmin Connect where you can export the route to follow yourself if you find yourself in Maui and wanting to ride the volcano.
Haleakala Route Map

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Syndicated 2009-08-18 00:00:49 from Jeremy's Thoughts

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