Better late than never I suppose and now that Everesting has fully taken over the bike world I should probably let everyone know how my Everesting attempt went and how I started a movement. Yup, that’s right I set the spark that led Phil Gaimon, Keegan Swenson, Lachlan Morton, Katie Hall, Lauren De Crescenzo, and Hannah Rhodes-Patterson to set their respective Eversting records. The same day Gaimon announced that he was starting to train for the world record I was busy smashing myself 39 times up the See Canyon (cattle guard to top) climb in San Luis Obispo.
Pretty much everyone in the bike world now knows what Everesting is, but here it is on the off chance that you don’t. One must bike up and down one climb until you reach the cumulative height of Mt. Everest (29,029 ft or 8,848 m). That’s the gist of it at least. So, my climb was 750 feet, 1.45 miles long, and averaged 10 percent (based off Strava segment) and thanks to basic algebra that means I got to do 39 repeats to reach the summit.
Blake Anton, Brad Wiggs, and I had been talking about doing an Everesting for a long time but never quite found the motivation or time to do it. But with the race season cancelled and the Everesting For Emergencies event put on by Ethan Frankel and a few others, we figured we’d never have a better reason. Everesting For Emergencies was created to raise awareness and money for No Kid Hungry and cyclists from all over did their own Everest attempt on April 25th to support it.
In the weeks leading up to the attempt Blake suggested that I go for the world record. It seemed like a lofty idea since I had done nothing like that before in my life. The record at the time was set by Tobias Lestrell with a time of 8 hours and 29 minutes (we originally thought it was 8:46). That sounded like both a really long time to ride but also way shorter than what seemed possible. We chose the See Canyon climb because it was the steepest local climb that had a fast descent, was consistent, and somewhat shaded. If I did each lap (up and down) in 13 minutes and 30 seconds I would beat what we thought the record was by 2 minutes (since you don’t count the last descent). To play it safe I guessed that I’d do the descent in maybe 2 minutes and 10-15 seconds, giving me 11 minutes and 15 seconds for the climb.
Using that time I did a few practice runs in the two weeks leading up to it. Having no idea what power I could hold for 9 hours I did a few runs at different paces to see what the times would be and to help me learn how to pace the climb.
|Time (climb only)||Average Power||Average Heart Rate|
This ride gave me a good idea for what I needed to do to get close to the record but I still had no idea how I would feel doing that power for that long. So I did another ride with 6 repeats and a faster pace to see how I felt on the last couple.
|Time (climb only)||Average Power||Average Heart Rate|
It was hard to tell if the increase in heart rate was from the harder efforts or from getting a little tired. So we tried to figure out if it would be possible for me to draft off of Brad especially if it got windy on the day of the attempt. We did some practice laps of that but we weren’t used to him having to go harder for me to go the pace I wanted. So I figured it probably wouldn’t be worth it.
Now that we had determined that I would need to push somewhere between 290-300 watts to hit the 11:15 time for each climb I had to figure out how to fuel myself for this long and hard effort. Having just wrapped a nutrition class a few months earlier, I felt like I had a slightly better than average grasp on how I should be fueling for this. By no means am I anywhere close to being an expert but I knew that I needed to consume between 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour to maximize what my body can absorb and use. Ideally I wanted this to be a mix of different types of carbs, such as glucose and fructose. I also knew that I was a relatively salty sweater so I would need to consume a decent amount of sodium throughout the day. In total I estimated that I would burn around 8,000 calories for the entire ride.
Based off of all this I created a feed plan and split the 39 laps into groups of 4. The first lap of each group I would take ⅔ of a bottle with half a serving of Gu endurance mix. The second lap I took a Lemonade Gu Roctane and half a bottle of water. Third lap I took ⅔ of a bottle of Herbalife CR7. Fourth Lap I took a fig bar and half a bottle of water. I made sure I finished everything each lap. I planned on finishing each group of 4 laps in a little under an hour so this plan made sure I consumed 375 calories, 84 grams of carbs, and 560 milligrams of sodium per hour. I actually also sprinkled in some salt to the Gu mix and CR7 so total sodium was probably closer to 800 mg per hour. I was fortunate enough to have my roommates there to hand me these each lap to help me stay on track and stay focused.
Despite having a carbon bike, my ride compared to others out there is by no means light. I was able to switch out a few parts here and there to bring it down to 17 pounds even. I used IRC’s 700×28 Formula Pro Tubeless Light tires, Sram Red 11-32 cassette, Token Shuriken oversized pulleys, and an old carbon handlebar without bar tape (mainly because I was lazy and didn’t want to have to unwrap it and then rewrap it back to my normal bars). So maybe with a lighter setup I could take an hour off my time who knows?
Aside from marking the turn around and running through my feed instructions with my allstar support team we hoped on the bikes, no warm up necessary, just a tad after 5 am. Climbing and descending that road in the dark was a combination of sketchy and spooky. It’s a fast descent but does require you to keep your full attention on the road. By the time it started to get light out I had settled into a decent rhythm and locked myself into the pace I wanted to hold. I created checkpoints along the climb to make sure I was staying on track and to break down the segment into smaller more manageable parts for my mind to focus on. First one was a pothole 1:15 into the climb. Second was a change in pavement 3:00 minutes in. Third was a mailbox 5:30 in. Fourth was a change in pavement 7:10 in. And fifth was a change in pavement 10:00 in. May be a bit dull or too much to focus on for some but it worked for me. On top of that I knew if I wanted to do laps in 13:30 then I would be doing 4 laps in 54 minutes. I found myself constantly doing the math during the ride to see how I was doing overall. Felt like was holding a pace I could keep and with only 3 piss breaks I felt like there was a chance. I realized I was starting to pull ahead of my projected time. I think at most I was 7 minutes ahead of (what we thought was) the record. And then I hit a wall. With 9 laps to go I slowly started to fade, losing more time each lap.
|Climb||Time||Avg Power||Climb||Time||Avg Power||Climb||Time||Avg Power|
So despite falling just short of my goal I still managed to become the second person to ever Everest and average 1000 vertical ascending meters per hour (VAM). If it’s not already a thing, I am now declaring the 1000 VAM Everest club a thing. And for a brief period it was cool having the second fastest Everest time in the world and the fastest in the US. Shout again to everyone that support this effort, to Blake for going back who knows how many hours after everyone finished to do his last lap, and to Brad who didn’t finish but is attempting it again this weekend.
Here are a few other fun stats for the ride:
Distance: 113.01 miles
Elapsed Time: 8 hours 47 minutes 7 seconds
Elevation: 29,031 feet (Strava originally estimated more, computer said less, I don’t know)
Average Power: 252 watts
Normalized Power: 287 watts
Average Speed: 12.9 mph
Average Temperature: 76 F
Max Temperature: 97 F
Things I would do differently if I were to go for the record again: 1) Probably not do it. 2) Train appropriately for longer for this type of effort. 3) Not do a 3 week weight loss competition a month before it because that definitely made me weaker. 4) Find a better segment. 5) Probably other things as well.
Strava ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/3359277109/
Photo Cred: Dustin Stiffler