It’s been over two weeks since riding my Everesting ride and to be honest this is the first time that I have really had a chance to sit down and write up the report. Within 6 hours of finishing it I was on a plane traveling for work and as I write this I am sat on
another plane, in a remote office, in a hotel doing the same thing. I don’t travel much for work but due to several projects that are coming to a head in the last couple of weeks it’s just been a busy time of year.
As a reminder, Everesting is basically finding one hill (or Strava segment) and riding it non-stop...or reasonably non stop until you accumulate 29,029’/8848m of elevation gain. My “Segment” was on Mulholland Highway Climb, riding from PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to the summit. I actually started about 200 yards before the Strava KOM Segment and ended about the same past the finish. Here is the logistically math:
- I gained around 1610’ go up and another 210’ going down, so the math meant that I would need to ride it 16 times. Decent elevation gain is perfectly legitimate
- The stretch of road is just over 7 miles long, so an entire Segment would be 14.2 miles
- Total mileage would be between 220-230 (obviously only half of that was up)
- Based on previous rides I estimated and ascent would take 50 minutes and a descent 25, round trip time 75 minutes
- Overall time for the “event” allowing for some stopping time, between 21-22 hours
So with all that said let’s get on with the report.
Due to Becca’s collar bone break the original date was pushed 5 weeks and I decided that the Sunday of Thanksgiving would be a suitable date. My rationale was twofold; the road should be a bit quieter as people would be traveling over the holidays. It was as close to a full moon as I could get, Sunrise was around 6:30am and Sunset around 4:45pm, not a long day by any stretch and so a lot of riding would be during the dark. With that in mind my original plan was to start at 4am, this would give me conservatively 4-6 hours sleep the night prior which would be important as I would be going for nearly 24 hours. That got changed at the last minute when we did the math and realized we would be finishing well into the night of the next day. So we changed it to a “wheels down” target of 2:00am with a target finish time of 10pm the next day.
Becca has covered a lot of the preparation in her post. I can add that I prepped my bike on the Saturday. this was pretty minimal, basically changing out my training wheels for the Dura Ace C-24s. Giving it a final clean and lubing the chain. I had road tested my lights the day prior and everything was working fine. With that it was just a case of topping up the batteries of everything that I would be using. I’ll write up a post on the final bike configurations so folks can skip to that in the future.
The Base Camp minivan was packed with the exception of the bike which would go in the next morning. We had or at least we thought we had organized things pretty well but during the next 24 hours things would get lost in the car and generally disorganized.
In bed around 7:00pm with the alarm set for horribly early 11:30pm.
The next morning later that night the alarm went off and we were up. The poor dogs had no clue what was going on as we herded them into the garage in the middle of the night!
The drive out was uneventful, 45 minutes through the night, we took separate cars as Base Camp would be parked with all the gear and the other so Becca could roam as required. The plan was to leave Base Camp at around the 3 mile up mark, free parking and out of the way on a reasonably straight and flat section. Easy and Safe to stop at. Becca parked her car and we drove to the bottom of Mulholland.
Wheels down 1:50am!
Ok so to be honest out of the gate things were a bit blurry. It was cold, it was early. I had a long way to go and wasn’t focusing on that, just on one lap at a time. By the time I was a bit more copacetic, I was four laps in. 57 miles or so and coming up to 7300’ in 6 hours. Around 5;00am some friends, Pam and Mark, showed up to provide moral and physical support. Becca had been following me up and down for nearly 4 hours and much like sitting in traffic that moves at 5 mph it was exhausting. At best she is not a night person at worse she is someone who falls over without 8 hours of solid sleep and she was well into the red at this point! I sent her home. she needed a nap and the dogs needed their breakfast.I just kept pedaling, around 9:00am she came back with the ever popular Starbucks Morning Bun and some hot chocolate. Yes there were plenty of jokes about coffee rides and so on.
Coffee Ride…actually Hot Chocolate!
Overall I was feeling pretty good all round, it was really just a case of keep on pedaling and pedaling, nothing fancy just spin the wheels, the problem was I was riding too slow. An ascent was taking closer to to an hour and decent was more like 25 minutes, this might not seem like much but over the course of a day it added up to nearly three more hours! At 10:00am we came to the realization that this was going to take me well beyond 24 hours. I was 8 hours in and had covered 72 miles. I was roughly a third through and I wasn’t expecting to get any faster as the day went.
I sent Becca home, we left Base Camp in the middle and just rode and rode and rode. During my 6th ascent I was passed by a few locals who I know and they gave me cheers as I turned around and headed back down. On the 7th I met Nick who was riding down looking for me. He stayed with me for another 2 laps, basically until it was too late for him to stay any longer because it was getting dark. He talked my ear off for a good three hours and kept me honest going up and down. My fastest descent was one of these and the climbs were at a solid and steady pace.
See the guy on the left…boy can he talk and that’s a good thing!! It did warm up enough to take off Leg Warmers and long fingered gloves but that was it!
Nick said his goodbyes and I loaded the bike up my lights for the first descent into the next night. the climb back was awful, by far my worst. I was in a really dark place. I wasn’t sure if it was because I had ridden too hard the prior hours, something that I was hugely aware of. Was it because it was getting dark and cold, was it because I was coming up to 18 hours? Was it all of these or none of these!?!
At the top of the climb Becca and I had a heart to heart. Was I going to do it, would I actually finish, if I wasn’t why drag it out any longer than necessary. If not when would I retry? I immediately said if I DNFd I would try again in a month with another full moon! I had some Advil and hot coffee.
Becca had one foot out the door, I said I wanted to ride to the bottom, at the bottom I said I wanted to ride halfway to Base Camp, at the halfway point I wanted to ride to the top. At the top my head was back in the game. Lap #10 was done, 6 to go, roughly 11,000’ and 85 miles. In my mind I was in the downswing to the finish. Mentally I had broken it down to three sections, the first 10,000’ would be fun, the next 10,000’ would be the hump and the last 9,029’ would be the countdown. I was closing in on the countdown.
We both recommitted. Becca called Pam and Mark for help. They were amazing, they turned up with a traveller of coffee from Starbucks, which I chugged down with a large slice of Panettone. Becca parked her car and rode with them for the rest of the night and into the next morning. From around 10:00pm through to 6:00am the next day they followed me up and down. The descents were getting colder and colder and I had run out of clothes, (see equipment post to follow). My teeth were chattering and I was shaking with cold, the temperature was in the early 30Fs and then there was the wind chill. Of course the climb was warmer. Laps 14 and 15 were pretty rough, I was very tired, sleepy tired and I knew I was meandering all over the road. As it was the middle of the night and there was no traffic I would like to think I was just riding the tangents but to be honest with hindsight I was amazed it didn’t fall over sideway! Pam got some video:
The descent of Lap 15 was a real turning point, despite the cold I knew that the ride up was going to be a victory lap. So at the bottom there was no hanging around I more or less rolled around and headed straight back up. Mental math had kicked in and that combined with the tiredness had me pretty much in a fuzz. I was watching the elevation gain tick up as I rode along. Every so often it would stop and like a watched kettle doesn’t boil I would stop looking. I had turned off the backlight to save battery so ignoring it was almost easy. By this time all my back lights had died despite being charged during the day and I was down to the last dregs of power on my front light. Luckily the headlights of Pam and Mark’s car lit the road ahead of me. With a mile to go on the final climb I knew that I would have to descend one more time to make up the 150’ shortfall.
The clock had rolled around and the sun was coming up again, I was treated to a glorious sunrise over the Santa Monica Mountains. A couple of miles from the bottom the elevation rolled 29,029’ feet. Minutes later I was at the bottom being congratulated by Becca, Pam and Mark. I very carefully stopped my Garmin and made sure the file saved, this took several minutes due to the file size. Finally it uploaded and we headed back up the hill to collect the parked cars and say our goodbyes!
So the final details:
- 227.07 miles
- 29,068’ total elevation gain
- Moving time 22:55:34
- Total time 28:32:50
- Average speed 8 mph
- Average moving speed 9.9 mph
Strava Details here
Garmin details here
Veloviewer Details here
I took photos of my Garmin Edge 810 at the end of every lap although I missed a couple…including the finish!
I have plenty of thoughts and reflections on my training which I will write up in another post. But these are some the immediate thoughts:
- Do not underestimate the time this will take. It’s not a race you have to pace yourself, that KOM time is not what you are aiming for.
- Get help, and get your help some help. Yes you could do this all by yourself but I think that would make it harder. Help comes in shape of on the side of the road and riding along with you. Without a doubt with Pam and Mark helping Becca and I this would not have been a success. Nick accompanying me for two laps was great, he did all the right things, rode my pace, talked and took my mind off things.
- Rely on your help, give them some guidelines but let them figure it out. When you’re tired having to decide if you want a peanut butter sandwich or a piece of Panettone is something you don’t want to think about or probably can’t even begin to fathom. Be given food, eat it, move on.
- Be organized. If you have the space, have separate boxes for lights, batteries, food, fluid, clothing and so on. As with the decision making you want things to be easy, being tidy avoids the frustration of rifling through things looking for that one crucial thing.
- Food and Fluid, obvious really, eat lots drink lots. I ended up on Panettone, M&Ms and coffee. I did start on a smorgasbord of Skratch Portables. I virtually lived on Skratch Apple and Cinnamon which was served warm, I was getting through a bottle a lap, so rough 16 bottles of fluid supplemented with hot chocolate, coffee and Mexican coke.
- Bring more of everything you need, you may of may not use it but you do not want to run out of it. Same for clothing, better to have it and not need it.
It goes without saying that this was a massive undertaking, not for me, but for Becca, Pam and Mark. There was no way I would have been able to have completed this without them. I can’t even begin to imagine how exhausting driving up and down a hill at either 5mph or 25mph in the dark through two nights was but they did it and for that I am beyond grateful!
I am also super lucky to be supported by some fantastic companies;
Pactimo; everything I wore on the day with the exception of my leg/arm warmers and long fingered gloves. Their Ascent Pro bibs performed flawlessly. All told I wore them for nearly 30 hours!
Skratch Labs; Apple and Cinnamon Skratch and a wide selection of real food portables kept me going throughout the day and through two nights!
Headsweats; even though it was a cool day I love their Skull Cap, keeps the sun off your head and the sweat out of your eyes!
Garmin; obviously they kept count for the event I was running an Edge 810. But beyond that their Vector 2 pedals allowed me to train smart and their Varia lighting system worked flawlessly.
TrainerRoad; as mentioned I will write a separate post on the training, but it may surprise you to know that nearly 70% of my training was done indoors!
I applied for my entry into the Everesting Hall of Fame and few days later I was added:
So this event ends my year and the rest of December is downtime, travel for work and the holidays will fill up the rest of the month which is rapidly drawing to a close. I’ll actually be back on a training plan working up to Dirty Kanza 200 in the next week. You know I can’t sit still for long!