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Everest (ing) by Donkey

Everesting is a ride wherein riders ride a single hill over and over until they’ve climbed the height of Mount Everest. That’s 29,032′ or 8848m.

I decided to do an Everest attempt after doing a last minute Instagram poll just throwing it out there to see if I should give it a go. 100% of you said yes. I wasn’t sure if I would do it up until this point and since this was the day before I was pretty ill-prepared.

I had just gotten back from a day trip to go biking with a couple of friends and we went on a decently big ride which made me somewhat sore. I got home around six at night and from when I got home to when I went to bed was a scramble trying to get all the pieces I needed together. At first, I thought I would try to leave at four in the morning but after thinking about how long it could take me I changed that to three, which turned out to be a good idea. After scrambling to get everything together I was able to get to sleep decently early and try to get a little bit of shuteye before I had to roll out. 

In the morning I got up and put on my bike clothes. It was frigid outside so I had to bundle up with everything I had. After having a quick breakfast of grape nuts, milk, and frozen blueberries I was off.

Cycling is nothing if not glamourous.

It was about a three-minute ride from my house to the base of the climb where I would leave a duffel bag full of food, clothes, and water. The beginning of the first lap was cold but when I continued up the hill I started to generate heat. There was also an inversion of some sort which made the top of the hill a lot warmer, this was even more noticeable on the downhill. The first couple of laps were calm but at some time in the morning, it started to get pretty windy. This wind continued for a couple more laps but then tapered off when it started to get light outside. For me riding at night is a mixed experience, I feel that time moves by a lot faster and that I can kind of turn up my music and sort of zone out for a little bit and everything is calm.

But then there is the other part about riding at night, your main sense, sight, is compromised and you have to rely on lights and your other senses, and since it was a new moon I had to rely on my lights even more. This will sometimes make me uneasy especially if I am in an unfamiliar setting or if I hear or see other animals. Most of the time while I was riding up carbonate in the dark I was pretty calm and there were only a few things that made me nervous. The first was a group of deer that was running up the mountain. I was descending when this happened and going pretty fast so I almost hit one which not only surprised me but when I can’t see very well my mind seems to go to the worst and I kept thinking about what could have been chasing those deer. The second thing that made me nervous was a lot of dogs barking. The trail climbs up from a valley and at the bottom of the valley, there is an animal shelter. Early in the morning, I could hear a lot of the dogs barking and the sound was bouncing off the mountains surrounding it which made it sound like the dogs were right next to me. 

At about seven in the morning, I decided that running a 40t chainring was just too difficult so I rode back to my house to get another one that was smaller. The swapping process took a little bit longer than I had anticipated. Because I was making a significant jump from a 40t to 32t I had to shorten the chain a couple of links. Once I did that I had the adjust the shifting a tiny bit as well and in total it took me about 40 minutes. It made me pretty frustrated that I had just essentially wasted the equivalent time of a lap and that I would have to make that up in the night but I hoped that the smaller chainring would help out in the long run, which I definitely think it did.

After finally getting back out to the trails I had to get warmed up again but other than that nothing else too exciting happened for a while and I just kept ticking the laps away. Around about noon, I broke a chain. Luckily it was on a small climb in the descent so I was able to put it in my pocket and coast to the bottom. As I said, I was pretty ill-prepared so of course I just had a small repair kit without quick links or chain pliers. The lap I broke a chain on I was riding with a friend but they didn’t have a big repair kit either. He went looking around for a quick link but was unsuccessful so we decided to use the one off his chain. We tried to wrestle it off with our hands but it was too tight. I had recently seen a hack somewhere on the internet on how to remove a quick link without pliers and given the current situation it was the perfect time to test it. Miraculously it worked and in just a couple of minutes I was riding again. Once again I was just grinding away lap after lap.

The mental toll that lapping the same hill had on me was pretty significant. It was like running on an endless treadmill and unlike the bikpacking races I do, I could decide to just ride back home and be done with it. As the day grew later I found myself taking longer and longer breaks and struggling to get back on the bike. I hit my lowest point in the last two laps. I was so exhausted that I would constantly have to stop and walk my bike and that only made my lap times even longer. It was super late at night and on these last few pushes I couldn’t let myself sit down because I knew if I did I might fall asleep or not be able to get back up again. This was after everyone had left and it was just me against me. On the other side of things, my high point was just a few hours before. The sunset was amazing and this is when a couple of friends came out for some laps. This really lifted my spirit and made me see myself finishing. Before this, I just kept telling myself “I’ll stop after the next lap” and just kept going but now I could see the finish line. I was super lucky to have these friends come out and do some laps which made me feel better and more energetic. Without these people coming out and supporting me I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to do it. 

For those of you who find stats interesting here they are:

  • My totals were 105 miles, 29,088 feet of elevation, an average heart rate of 140 bpm
  • I burned 7,073 Kcals burned (according to Strava).
  • I did 23 and a half laps with 1,215 feet vertical per lap.
  • Each lap was 4.6 miles.
  • I finished my ride at one a.m. the next day, a whole 22 hours after I had started.
  • Of those 22 hours a little more than five hours was spent stationary, or 13 minutes every   lap.
  • Each lap took me about 45 minutes.

I definitely recommend doing an Everest to anyone who has been thinking about it. It was an incredibly tough and rewarding experience that you get to keep for a lifetime. If you don’t think you can do an Everest try a half Everest and then go to the big deal.

Of course, I’m not a professional and do what works for you but if you are planning on trying one here are a few tips:

Number one is a good nutrition plan, I don’t know about you but I can’t survive on gels all day. Bring some for when you need that fast sugar but also bring real food that has some protein Lots of people have different relationships with caffeine but if it works for you I 100% recommend it. For me, a quick energy drink can lift me out of dark places and make me think more clearly.

Number two, don’t feel embarrassed by taking breaks. I took more breaks than I wanted to but I was still able to finish it. Sit down and eat a proper lunch, don’t try to do it while riding. 

Number three, have some friends come out. Talking to someone and having someone there with you can almost immediately change your mood. Number four, if you plan on doing any night riding make sure you have a good light set up. It is so important to be able to see where you are going and it will help you finish faster and safer. 

And finally, number five, choose a fun and safe hill and have the proper gear to handle it. I learned this the hard way and had to switch my chainring part way through. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you are inspired to get outside and get riding. 

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1 Comment

  1. Edyn, your description of the Everesting Ride was amazing. You made it possible for me to be right there with you. Describing what was going on in your head just made it all the better. I feel this (race) against yourself has made you an even better competitor. You have many years ahead of you as a top Mt./Endurance rider…enjoy the ‘Rodeo’!

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