I recently received this error while trying to install Debian on an older Dell Machine. Section 14.3 of the Grub manual says:
18 : Selected cylinder exceeds maximum supported by BIOS
This error is returned when a read is attempted at a linear block address beyond the end of the BIOS translated area. This generally happens if your disk is larger than the BIOS can handle (512MB for (E)IDE disks on older machines or larger than 8GB in general).
I updated the BIOS but this did not solve my problem. Finally, I thought that perhaps things would work if I made a small /boot partition as /dev/hda1. I made a 1GB partition of that sort, and everything worked swimmingly. I never found any instructions or howtos which said this would help. Boo to the world.