Cycling le Mauna Kea Hilo

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le Mauna Kea - Hilo

Basic data & ranking

Average grade: 6.1 %

Length: 68.6 km

Altitude start: 1 m

Altitude top: 4192 m

Ascent: 4191 m

le Mauna Kea rankings

Difficulty ranking world: 1 (all)
Ranking United States: 1 (all)
Difficulty score: 368.76 what?

le Mauna Kea ratings

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The le Mauna Kea is situated in Hawaii. Starting from Hilo, the le Mauna Kea ascent is 68.6 km long. Over this distance, you climb 4191 heightmeters. The average percentage thus is 6.1 %.

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Stories, information and comments from le Mauna Kea climbers
Story by Tom from Noord Holland, The Netherlands, submitted on 02/08/2016
Did this amazing climb July 2016,

/> Hardest and toughest ride I have ever done! I am over 95kg so it was real struggle to get up there!

> After the turn off from Saddle Road to access road the shit hits the van, climbing/crawling up this magnificent volcano.

34/32 for me from Access road to the top of Mauna Kea.

The gravel was okay, very tough but if you, like me , want to stick to one bike for the whole climb it can be done. I wrote my normal racer but with 28mm tires.

Did have to get off a few times and do a Froomey with bike in hand but rode most of the gravel.

However after the gravel part you feel happy,the tarmac is there again for about 5 seconds....

Problem being that the steepness is bad real bad, and no oxygen, ended up going 3 to 4 km per hour .....

Probably never again but overcome with joy when the top was reached!

I say do it! Great challenge even greater reward!
My personal climb rating:
Story by David Jackson from Temecula, United States, submitted on 23/01/2016
I rode the beast in 2004. I was 42 years old. I read up on how to prepare. I must have had 20 pounds of water, food and clothes in my Camelback. I started popping Advil before and during the ride. Plenty of sun screen too. Rode up on a hardtail mountain bike because of the gravel. Even with all those gears, I had to tack on some of the steep sections. It was really not that difficult, except for the slow pace. Averaged 3.6 mph on the last 15 miles. I did this ride unsupported, my family had no idea where I was. I do NOT recommend riding alone! I was very stupid. The park ranger checked on me a couple of times and told me if I got in trouble, to stop and he would pick me up later. I was completely fine until 13,000 feet. Then I had trouble with my energy. I was not breathing hard but had a hard time with power. I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and just looked at my front tire. It was 40 degrees at the top and it was July 4th. Glad I brought clothes. The decsent was awesome. Like flying in an air plane. I had no idea how hard this climb was until I found this website. I would not do it again.
My personal climb rating:
Story by Jaanus from , Estonia, submitted on 02/11/2015
I rode the Mauna Kea in October 2015. I wanted to get the most amount of climbing meters so I started from the Waikoloa beach from 0m with literally my feet in the sand. It was a 89km ride and took me from 0 to 4205m. 4195meters of it was a continuous climb.

Yes, you can fit 4 Alpe d''Huez climbs into one Mauna Kea ride, but what makes this climb the toughest in the world is the sheer altitude. Besides the gradient you also have to battle altitude sickness. It''s quite simply madness.

Never attempt to ride it up without a support vehicle.
My personal climb rating:
Story by Kip Cline from Hilo, United States, submitted on 17/10/2013
Wow! This I can see why this is the most difficult rated climb in the world. I started off in Hilo with my feet in the ocean and went up up up. I staged some food and water along the way the previous day to lighten my load, but I couldn''t make it past the visitor center with my car so I had to pack that all with me.

The ride to the visitor center isn''t bad, but it gets difficult soon afterwards. The 4.5 mile gravel road section is difficult because your tires spin all the time. After that the road is paved, but it becomes steeper and the air is thinner.

It is definitely an all day bike ride, but well worth it!
My personal climb rating:
Story by Douglas Pepelko from Reston, United States, submitted on 09/02/2013
Rode in August 2013 from the beach at Waikaloa. The hardest ride I have ever done. I have done multiple 100 mile mtb races, and a 230 mile road ride and an Ironman. This was harder. The strange thing is that the first 50 miles (up the the Visitor Information Station) are only the first half. The remaining 8 miles are the second half. It took me 4 hours to do 8 miles. I was riding 2.5 mph but had to stop several times.

Incredibly hard.
My personal climb rating:
Story by jose-Luis Arana from San Anselmo, United States, submitted on 15/09/2012
I did Mauna Kea 2 times (2007 and 2009) starting in Waimea on the Kona side at about 2000 feet. Then all the way to the top. My wife drove her car for support: liquids, food, clothes, encouragement, etc. No stops until I got to the 9000 feet. The first time I tried to keep going on the dirt on my road bike, but after half a mile I realized that I was going to walk most of the time. I got the bike in the car and jumped back on the saddle when the dirt ended (about 2 miles of dirt). It gets so steep I have pictures of me zigzagging on the bike. The second time I took a compact crank and it was a bit "easier". Still no possible to ride the dirt. It was sunny at the top and there was snow all around me. I must confess I was crying when I got to the top: no pain anymore, emotions, excitement and the altitude makes you crazy if you don''t have a heart attack. Without my wife''s support I could never have done it! The hardest ever but I need to do it again.
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Story by Luis from Areias de Vilar, Portugal, submitted on 26/10/2011
I did this climb on the 20/10/2011 and it was by far the hardest climb I''ve ever done. After having done the Haleakala 2 days before I was sure this one was going to be at least twice as hard. I rented a mountain bike and packed 2 liters of water, 4 liters of energy drinks, some food, clothes and protections for cold and rain and some money to buy stuff on the Visitor Center. After riding Saddle Road, the real climb begins and if you take it easy getting to the Visitors Center is doable. I stopped there, got some additional drinks and set off to the worst part of the climb: the dirt/sand section. This section is simply the hardest thing I''ve ever done as there are very steep sections (15%), no way to stand on the pedals as you lose traction and sometimes I had to ride on the wrong side of the road just to be able to move without falling! When I saw the tarmac again I thought I was in heaven, but no, the road is again so steep, the altitude effects started to affect me so on some parts I was just going at 4-5kph! After 6h30m of riding time I reached the end of the road and all the suffering was rewarded with the feeling of accomplishment! I was lucky with the weather as it was sunny going up and only got a bit of rain coming back.
My personal climb rating:
Story by David from Prague, Czech Republic, submitted on 10/06/2009
I agree with Phil that it is the most difficult climb on Earth. I rode from Waikoloa village. It is 85km long way.My time was 9:40 hod. The hardest part is 4-2 miles before top. Sand on road is deep. I is difficult to ride. I have to push my
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Story by DanMiller from Ewa beach, United States, submitted on 22/08/2009
This was a mean climb. I did it during the annual sea to stars race from sea level to the telescope at 9000. So no, not the top...past 9000, the road turns to gravel and you need mtn bike. So... the first 30 miles are ok...small sections at 18% then 5% and back... it was manageable, then the last 4 miles are average 18%. I was barely able to stay on my bike with a compact crank and a 27 rear cog... the hardest climb I have ever done!
My personal climb rating:
Story by Phil from Portland, United States, submitted on 03/08/2009
This is probably the most difficult climb on Earth. Yes, a bold claim, but Ill stand by it. What makes this climb so hard? First, its sheer size. It starts at sea level, and tops out at 4192m, or 13,753. This altitude alone can cause pulmonary and cerebral edema, regardless of how fit you are, and as you’re on an island, acclimating is very difficult. The climb is steeper as it goes along, with numerous sections well over 10% gradient, and very undulating going from 10% to 20% and back, Adding to the difficulty, the road is quite beaten up at the top, some sections old pavement, others little more than oiled dirt. There is almost no water, food or shelter above about 2,000m. Do NOT attempt to ride this without support. Finally, the weather is very changeable, and in the tropic belt. You could leave the parking lot in hot humid weather, and be riding in snow above 3,500m. The first half of the climb is shared with the climb to Mauna Loa, the other big volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, almost as difficult. Only a handful of people in the world have actually ridden Mauna Kea from bottom to top in one push. If youre one of them, chapeau to you.
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