I don’t know why people do silly things, and I am not entirely sure why I tried everesting, which to me when I first heard about it, seemed silly.
But the more I thought about it and the more I saw and heard of people doing it the more I thought, I want to try that, and deep down the simple reason is the challenge of it just appealed big time.
So many times in 20 years of riding my bike I have been asked what the attraction is for me to ride my bike. This question has always been easy to answer and my answer has never changed.
You can always be better. And this is by no means in comparison to any other soul, it purely relates to yourself. You can always find a way to go faster, do something smoother, feel more balanced, ride for longer and with respect to everesting, climb more than you have ever climbed before.
And the one thing that helps you become better is really simple, just ride your bike as much as you can and value every minute of it, because it all adds up.
What I loved about even the quietest of mention that I was going to attempt an Everest was the riders that came into the shop and simply said go for it! People actually wanted to see me make it. Deep down I had no idea if I would and quite frankly I didn't really care much about the end result, I was just more interested in what the hell was going to happen to me across 20 hours of riding to achieve 8848 metres or more of climbing.
What I found interesting was those that I considered "in the know" were all unanimous in saying that the hill I had chosen was going to make things very difficult. But that's also why I chose Bingleburra. I really could not see myself doing 567 repeats of smito's driveway and nor did I want to! The hill I chose was significant. It was 267 metres of climbing and needed to be repeated 34 times. They were numbers I could handle in my head and besides, there was a lot less u turns.
Still, the west face of Bingleburra which climbs from the Gresford side of the mountain towards Dungog, has sections as steep as 12% and is by no means hot mixed like the new Adamstown Crit track! So all in all, it was going to be tough.
For those of you in the know about Everesting you would be aware that you must treat your attempt like mountain ascent, and only use 1 face of the climb. You cannot do repeats up, over and down the other side. For more info on everesting check out this link http://www.everesting.cc/hells500/
The other important piece of info is you must complete the total number of metres climbed in one session, essentially no sleeping and your ride must be recorded by a barometric device such as a Garmin, not your iphone.
Therefore I needed an additional charging apparatus, which garmin make and of course I needed a lot of food.
But perhaps the most important thing I needed and something that the everesting website points out, was a minder, a mate or domestique if you will. When you aim to ride the best part of 300km with almost 9000m of climbing, you are going to fatigue. The most important thing you can do to avoid/prolong this is to eat and drink constantly, you still need to stay upright on the bike. Laying it down at 70kph is a pretty quick way to end your day! So having people around you to keep you sane, follow you down the hill and to keep an eye on your lap times to make sure you aren't about to go to ground is super important. I can't thank the people enough for the support I received from so many people both in the lead up to the day and on the ride itself but none of it would have been possible without my mate Aaron Paul who drove me out there at 3am rode countless laps, served up an amazing creamed rice in a can and continued to watch my eyesight for any signs of tweety birds and stars.
My day started out quite nicely, a 4:00am start made for some nice early laps and consistent ones at that. Everything was rolling along smoothly with the choice of climbing wheels proving to be a major win. Aaron leant me his Roval alloy climbing wheels and an 11-32 cassette. This coupled with compact chainrings lead to a pretty cool climbing ratio, especially as the day dragged on.
It was awesome to have a set of alloy wheels back on my bike as descending with carbon wheels is not the easiest. I CANT WAIT FOR DISC BRAKES ON MY ROAD BIKE as this would allow the smoothness of carbon with the effortless control of discs.
As the laps rolled on and the day broke I soon realized that the weather man was right and I was in for a hot one. By 10am the mercury was 35 degrees and I was sweating flat out. This is where it got hard. By the middle of the day I was battling a max temp of 39 degrees and thanks to a sweet tip from Justin Jefferson (among others) I had an ice bucket on hand to put my feet in whenever I stopped to change kit of get a bite to eat.
One cool thing about picking a big hill is you get to bomb back down it! By the time lunch was behind me I had the thing pretty dialed with good flow down through the bends. The Bingleburra descent is not something that you can switch off on though, mainly due to the roughness of the road and the speeds at which you descend, plus the traffic from time to time could tend to creep across the centre line.
The daylight hours began to turn against me as I could see the afternoon disappearing and new how much lay ahead. By the time I had made it to halfway I still had a solid 11 hours ahead of me, most of which would have needed to be completed in the dark.
I think this is where I began to come undone, knowing that the toughest part of the whole attempt would need to be done in the dark.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t considered it, but more that I just wasn’t in the frame of body nor mind to attempt it! The heat had literally cooked me and I was drawing down on everything I had just to begin the second half of the ride.
It was on lap 19 that my business coach who had done quite a few laps with me began to tell me a story about a one armed kid who won the local martial arts tournament. By the top and at the end of a very elaborate and well told true story, I found myself almost crying from exhaustion and at the story for that matter.
By the time I arrived at the top, I knew my day was over. Announcing this to my friends, Aaron seemed extremely happy that I had made the decision. I still had enough going on upstairs to pick up on something being not quite right and asked him why he was so happy that I had packed up for the day. He simply turned around and lifted up his jersey to reveal a seriously scarred up back. It turned out he had crashed on the last hairpin on his way down to meet me at the turn around. He wasn’t going to say a thing until I actually pulled out which was pretty damn amazing of him to let me find my limit without worrying about him being beat up from a 50kph crash into the side of the road!
Despite not achieving what I had initially hoped for I was still pretty damn stoked with giving this thing a go. It gave me huge respect for anyone that has completed it and taught me that lot goes into the preparation but even choosing the right day and even some different equipment can make life all the more easy and give you a better chance of staying sharper for longer.
Next years plan will be a little different and hopefully see me bag this challenge like a delicious bass come fishing season but right now I am content to have tried and failed, than not at all.
Once again massive thanks to everyone who helped out. Still a sick day out on the bike with a giant learning curve thrown in and a couple of new records including most amount of metres climbed (5000) and my longest day in the saddle at over 11 hours.
I will report back in March.
Not Sir Edmund Hillary