Has it crossed our mind? Yes it has, but the thought left as quickly as it arrived! It seems it's something you need to tick off your palmares these days. It's the logistics we can not get our head around but I suppose if I said to Mrs NITP that she won't see me for a day, she might give her blessing a hundred times over! Eoghan from Brainy Bikers has this challenge conquered on a hill down South. His commitment and enthusiasm I would say is on the same level when we know there's a tailwind on our commute home from work! Eoghan has kindly shared his prep' which includes a ride lasting the whole day!
On 19.09.2020, I rode the equivalent height of Mount Everest in 18 hours and 18 minutes. But, I’m a rider who’s not interested in the tedium of nutrition, training programmes, saving grams, etc...
I like to ride my bike. I like to have fun while riding and that’s the only reason I ride. So, my approach to Everesting may be very different from others - the preparation, the nutrition and during. I dunno, I didn’t read how others Everest! In this, I’ll try and explain several key ingredients to my unconventional and successful Everest to show you don’t have to be a specialist, super-organised or have expensive kit.
Hill choice is an important decision when choosing which hill to ride consecutively for many, many, many hours.
To help me choose the right hill, I looked at what I felt was critical:
● Road quality
● Traffic volumes
● Space availability at the top and the bottom
I recce’d several hills in my local area and weighed up the decisions. Based on the above criteria, I felt that Firle Beacon was the hill for me to Everest. It’s a well-paved private road ending at the top of the hill. It’s not too technical. When descending, there’s one left, one sharp right and a few ‘bear to the left or right’ type turns. Gradient wise, there are a few lumps in the road. But, overall it’s an even climb. There is very little traffic because it’s not a thoroughfare road. The top of the hill has a parking lot. People who drive up Firle Beacon are walkers, ramblers or there with their dogs. There’s the occasional dogger up there too.
To hit the required height of 8,848 metres and officially qualify for a place on Everesting.cc’s ‘Ride Hall of Fame’. I needed to climb Firle Beacon 65.1 times. I invited people to come on the day. Additional criteria that would have been useful given the numbers would have a public tap and toilets nearby.
I took an unconventional route to prepare for my Everesting attempt. I spent a lot of time off-roading. I live close to the South Downs National Park in the south of England. And, I was enamoured with long rides through the park all summer. End-to-end, it’s 100 miles. Ninety-percent of which is off-road with very little respite from either descending or climbing.
Despite the oddity of training for a hill-climbing event that is on road by going out off-roading on a gravel bike, it worked! Spending 23-hours in the saddle is still 23-hours in the saddle and it was a massive contributor to my endurance. After each of the off-roading rides, I noticed my strength increased and road-bike handling skills improved. I did do hill repeats, too. I’d go out and crack out a quarter or a third or (once) one rep short of a half Everesting.
UK-bike brand Ribble is awesome. They lent me an Endurance SL 105 for my Eversting attempt. When the bike arrived, they had upgraded the wheelset to a pair of Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon UST Disc wheels. It was dripping in aero features and screamed comfortable climbing for a long time. I also had my bike - a 2016 Giant Defy 3 - as a backup in case anything went wrong with the Endurance SL 105.
By accident, I found swapping bikes to be useful across the day. The different bar shapes, geometry and feel of the bikes helped. If my neck was tired or back was sore, for example, swapping geometries helped relieve the strain.
In the lead up to the event, I didn’t change much in my diet. I didn’t increase or decrease anything. As my friend drove me over to the hill on the day, we stopped off and I got 6 cans of coke and a pack of Doritos!
On the day, I had an abundance of gels, energy bars and powder. These were supplied by another British brand, High5. I genuinely love their products. The yoghurt covered fruit bars are fantastic. Again, there wasn’t a tap available for bottle refills. Life Water donated two dozen cans of water. Life Water is based in Henfield, about 10 miles from where I live.
Until friends started showing up, I was pretty disciplined in my routine. I’d cycle 10 reps straight. On the tenth rep, I’d stop for some food, a can of coke and to load pockets back up with gels and bars. Depending on how I felt dictated either taking a bar or a gel. I was still eating bars later in the day. Although, admittedly, fewer bars as there was cake floating around by then!
With tightening covid restrictions coming into effect the same week I did my Everesting, my support team dropped off. But, Firebird Brewing had reached out and donated some beer to help champion the effort and give something to help celebrate the efforts everyone made.
LAYERING AND CLOTHING
What I wore was a confounding one for me. I did not get the balance right at all during the night session. Initially, the top of the hill was windy and chilly. But, the descent and climb were protected and warm.
For the night session, I wore:
● Arm warmers
● Bib shorts
The arm warmers and gilet had me sweating. But, it was too cold for me without them. I ended up riding in a non-aero hoodie/ parachute! When the sun came up, I was just down to shorts, a jersey, and a baselayer. I was fine for the rest of the day.
I gotta say, I loved it! Well, I ended up loving it.
I’ve got a friend who’s already got an Everesting under his belt. With the best of intentions, he’d occasionally message to say Everesting is a gruelling and painful challenge. But, I did enjoy myself through the day.
I started the ride around midnight and had about half the ride finished by 7 am. There were around four phases I went through:
Getting used to the ride (12:00 am - 2:30 am)
Being so bloody bored (2:30 am - 4:45 am)
Friends showed up! Company! (4:45 am - 17:00)
Let’s get this over with (17:00 to the end)
My system of rep counting was pretty simple and effective. I had cargo bib shorts - they’ve mesh pockets on either leg. I counted out 10 pebbles. Each rep, I threw a pebble down. When I hit the tenth rep, I put the last pebble in my other pocket to count another ten done.
Despite my brilliant system of counting, I still did extra reps. May not all be bad. Scientists reported that Mount Everest had grown in height not long after my attempt. If the mountain continues to grow, I’ll be covered for a few more growth spurts.
The first friends showed up at 4:45! They rode a half Everest during the day. And, from 4:45 am until the very end, people were riding. One friend came with his campervan and turned into the unofficial entertainment hub - he had a camp stove, water, teas and coffees, and a speaker system with the tunes going. There were smiles, chatting, cake and miles climbed.
Quite a few people came and rode more reps than they intended!
As you can see, I had a great time during my Everesting attempt. Yes, I could have done it faster. But, I did it and I had fun. People who came out had fun and we all raised money for charity. Several people also reached out after to say thanks for organising and bringing people together as 2020 was such a hard year for people.
Ultimately, the point of me outlining my lackadaisical approach and unusual methods, yet still riding the distance is to make Everesting seem a little more accessible. There may be people who feel that they haven’t the fitness or the kit or anything to do this.
Yes, it’s a big day out in the saddle. But, you don’t have to be Lachlan Morton or Sean Gardner (current record holder). My point is, I ride to have fun. Having fun while riding keeps me interested and passionate about cycling. I approached my Everesting attempt having fun and also made sure to have fun while riding it. Like Sagan says, “Why so serious?”.