One of my cycling club buddies recently “Everested” a local hill. Here’s his Everesting Report.
Wait a minute – Everesting??
I first wrote about Everesting back in April 2014. Five months later, I noticed the popular cycling magazines have started to cover the phenomenon, and following that, Everesting seems to have gone a bit viral.
However, given the sheer difficulty of Everesting, I would imagine that it’s virality may be limited simply because for most mortals, even for most cyclists, Everesting is so physically demanding that very few people will ever have the mental and physical strength and endurance to achieve one.
You see, to get an “Everest”, you have to climb a hill of your choice as many times as it takes to reach the total elevation gain of Mount Everest, which is a staggering 8848 metres. Yes, metres. If your brain is wired for older units, try 29,029 ft. That’s a lot of climbing in one ride!
Oh, and you’ve only got 24 hours to do it in. And no sleeping.
Anyway, not just one, but TWO of my local club buddies have recently achieved this most Herculean of cycling prizes. Firstly, Simon Parkinson ascended the Clwyd Gate several times and claimed his Everesting achievement within 16 hours, 17 minutes. Here’s Simon’s Strava file.
Suitably inspired, Nic Wright decided to have a go too. The first I knew of it was when a mutual friend, Tim, posted to Facebook that Nic was in the middle of his challenge.
Both guys are now featured in the Everesting Hall of Fame.
So, what does it take to ride an Everest?
The following is copied, with kind permission, from Nic Wright’s Facebook post the day after he completed his Everesting ride. I knew it would be of interest to ScarletFire readers. I’m guessing that most of you are just like me, with one part of your brain thinking that this sounds insane, and another part already thinking about which local hills would be the best Everesting candidates. (I’ve got one in mind – maybe next year!) Here’s Nic’s report.
Everesting – Caerwys Hill
Thanks to Tim ( and family ) for his previous post, the photos and the support and to Rob for turning out to cheer me on in the dark and for the well wishes posted during the ride.
Elapsed time: 19.40 hours
Riding time: 17.15 hours
Elevation gain: 8902 m. ( 29 206 ft )
Distance: 241 km ( 150 miles )
No. of ascents of Caerwys Hill: 108
Litres of water consumed: 5
Litres of hot tea: 2
Cereal bars eaten: 6
High 5 energy bars : 1 ( one too many – yuck )
Beans on toast: 3
Brake blocks worn out: 4
Light bulbs blown : 1
Without telling a soul, Simon Parkinson recently did a 193 mile ride from Ruthin to the Clwyd Gate – 40 times over and brought to our attention the ‘Everest climbing challenge’. Go to http://www.everesting.cc/ for more info. We all know Simon is capable of stuff like this but in his own words, he ‘underestimated’ the difficulty. So it’s going to be really tough for me to complete it and I might easily fail trying – sounds good.
I immediately started looking for local hills that might be better than the very obvious one that I live on top of. They were either too steep, too shallow, too short, too busy with traffic. It was hard to ignore that despite the dreaded S-bends Caerwys Hill is just about ideal for this challenge which has to take place on one hill, straight up and down until the vertical ascent exceeds the height of Mount Everest.
No sleeping is allowed which is what ultimately creates the challenge.
Simon gave me good advice about nutrition based on his own experience as this was a missing part of my plan. Bike preparation included swapping the granny ring from a 30 tooth to a 24 tooth. If I’m fresh I can romp up the hill in a 39 tooth ring but I know from other challenge rides ( eg Wild Wales ) that ‘spin to win’ is by far the most comfortable and stylish way to do a steep climb when your legs are telling you to stop.
Carbon wheels would save about 1lb in weight so these were fitted along with carbon specific brake blocks which had been used only once before. A new back tyre was fitted as the tyre had been worn slick in the middle and I would need the grip on for braking at the bottom of the climb. I haven’t used the front ‘light the road up’ lights for a couple of years so these were checked out and the heavy Ni-cad battery charged. As I could return home at any time without adding much time I laid out all my cycling kit on the floor.
I planned to swap kit when I stopped for food/drinks if necessary. The cereal bars and gels that usually keep me going on long rides were laid out on the kitchen counter. I’d been keeping an eye on the weather looking for a good forecast. The current week in September comes pretty close to what I would need. Not much fun if you’re of school age or a teacher, having endured a wet August, but the dry, still and warm conditions are pretty much perfect.
The time plan was to set off in the dark before sunrise and finish before sunset. This was to avoid too much descending in the dark and having to carry the heavy battery when tired. I started at 05.15 on Wednesday morning quite heavily clothed and was surprised at how slowly I was riding. I did a x20 rep on the hill back in June and now I was much slower. My time plan was based on my times from June plus a bit. It should have been based on my times from June plus quite a lot.
The knowledge I was going to be at this all day, the weight of the heavy clothing and the lights was all adding up. The effort was still enough to make me sweat but this did nothing to lighten the load as it remained trapped in the clothing that I needed to survive the cooling effect of the high speed descent. I used both front lights to start off so could descend faster. After an hour one light bulb blew but daylight was coming and I was now more confident about the descent line to avoid inspection chambers, pot holes lumps in the tarmac etc.
My plan was to stop at 40, 65, 85 and 100 ascents. I was struggling to keep up the early pace which was slower than my target pace so I was re-thinking my plan about 3 hours in to the ride. At 9.30 Flintshire Highways set up stop/go traffic control on the hill whilst they cleared the road edges of accumulated dirt and debris. This lasted throughout the working day and besides the obvious delay at the stop board there was something else I hadn’t anticipated. My approach to the schedule was to break the day/the effort into chunks which is a normal enough technique for this sort of thing.
In the first four hours I had also perfected a strategy for changing gear and braking at specific points breaking the ascent/descent into sections. I was cutting a few seconds off each ‘lap’ here and there as this was perfected. As soon as the stop/go boards started up my strategy went out the window and so did my state of mind. Of all the days they would chose to do this !!! or was it my choice to conflict with them. Hmmm…. not feeling very reasonable at this point in time. In the end I stopped 7 times and none of them were at my target points. The stops and what I did during them explains how I was progressing and feeling.
10.17 to 10.27. I ran out of drink and bars earlier than expected. Maybe I would find some form and get back on a finish ‘before sunset’ schedule so this was a quick stop.
12.53 to 13.28. This was the first major break and I felt like I needed it. Kit changed and proper food ( beans on toast ) eaten. Huge mug of sweet tea. I tried to put kit on to my sticky body but couldn’t so jumped in the shower. This also helped to reduce the aches and pains.
16.19 to 16.53. Similar to stop 2 but time for pudding course, crumpets and mamalade replacing the beans on toast.
19.00 to 19.16. Refill drinks. Collect light battery ( hidden in bush ) and take home for charging – I knew by now I would be finishing ( hopefully ) in the dark and timed this stop so I could get back out and do as much as possible before the light faded.
20.18 to 20.59. As stop 2 plus fix the blown bulb in one of the lights. This turned out to be little tricky. I broke the handle of a philips screw driver trying to release the attaching screw and then remembered that only my biggest screw driver would do the job. I couldn’t believe I’d broken the handle as this screw driver was well used. This is indicative of the level of determination that was setting in. The old bulb had been glued ( by me ) in place. I pulled out the bayonet trunk breaking the unit and the glass bulb lens fell into the light lens enclosure. Should I leave it in place ? I checked the new bulb would fit. It wouldn’t as it’s lens was too big to poke through the enclosure hole. It’s a plastic bulb holder frame so I drilled it out. I broke the bulb remnants trapped inside and they fell out. New bulb fitted, light reassembled and back in business. Are you bored yet ? Wanted to read about a cycling endurance challenge and ended up reading this nonsense ? The point is I didn’t have a spare front light or lighting system. It had to be fixed or I could not descend with confidence in the dark. At this point I thought I would be riding in the dark for 3 hours but then again……
21.46 to 22.14. GPS battery life was an issue although at 16 hours ( tested ) I didn’t foresee a problem. I was using 3 GPS’s, 2 being back up’s, one only to be started in the event of failure. For the challenge to be worthy of recognition by the ‘Everesting’ people the ride needs to be recorded as a single file and uploaded to Strava ( online fitness application ). I wasn’t sure the GPS units wouldn’t reset if put on charge part way through a ride (they passed my test but there were warnings on the net that this could cause a reset). In the event I got the low battery warnings after 16 hours and had to risk adding more charge. They didn’t reset and this stop was to boost charge and keep the units running to the finish.
00.10 to 00.32 I arrived home thinking I had completed 113 ascents ( 110 plus a few just in case ).The main GPS device was saying I had only climbed 8400 m. but it uses a barometer to calculate altitude and as air pressure varies during a ride they are known to be inaccurate. I reset the device and loaded the data which was disconcertingly slow. I was short by about 100 metres after the elevation had been corrected. It turns out that the lap counter also counted the trips home from the top of the climb so I had only done 106 ascents. I was so relieved that the data had uploaded OK that the thought of doing 2 more ascents didn’t bother me. I had left the back up GPS running so I could still capture the whole ride as a single file. I had my final gel and the last 2 climbs were done in quicker than average times. The brakes made even more noise than usual on the last descent. I reckon there were no more than 2 descents remaining before metal block carrier started chewing carbon fibre. Something else I hadn’t expected. After the first stop most of my mental energy during the ride was used in planning the next stop. As long as I had a plan to get me to the finish my head was good.
I could have gone on after 108 ascents. At some point mental faculties would have failed and because of the need to descend quickly this is something that had to be avoided.
Having somebody with you to make a judgement on when to quit could be a good idea (that could end in war) but the pedals are always going to ask for more and I had no idea I was going to be gripped which such determination to finish something.
Sincere thanks to Nic for allowing me to republish his report.
What do you think?
Are you tempted to have a go at Everesting yourself?
Let us all know in the comments below!