As with any good ride report I need to start by thanking all those who supported me during the ride both physically and electronically. A special thanks goes to Cathy for reluctantly agreeing (I think) to let me spend the whole of Saturday chasing a dream.
Why attempt to climb over 8848 metres (Mount Everest) in a single ride?
In the words that George Mallory quoted in reply to the question "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?" with the retort "Because it's there", which has been called "the most famous three words in mountaineering".
It is like any adventure, the challenge of the unknown, as you push your body into uncharted territory. Prior to this ride the most climbing I had done in a single day’s riding was 4331 metres and the longest single climb was Mount Haleakala 3045 metres.
What makes a good hill climber, you may ask?
The ability to spin up a hill and to be fairly light (The last thing you need when climbing is to have gravity working against you). I cannot spin, as I don’t seem to be able to find the right gear for most hills and it applies more pressure to the knees, so I have adopted a standing posture using the big ring. I hate to disappoint those I ride with, but I didn’t use the big ring for this climb. Most of the climbing was in 39 22 but towards the end I did use 39 25 and even 39 28. Also I am not the lightest of riders, although I am working on this aspect gradually. So I am not the fastest or prettiest of hill climbers, but I do what works for me.
The ride report proper
I don’t know why but it always difficult to sleep the night before a significant challenge. I woke up several times and thought perhaps I should start earlier but then I was a little concerned that my lights would only give me about three hours of riding time without needing a recharge, so I decided to keep with my original plan of a 4 am start. (When the rain started late in the afternoon I wished I had started early isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing, but then Daniel probably would not have ridden the last 15 repeats with me).
I awoke at 3:15 am, had a light breakfast and headed to the start and managed to start a minute before Garmin o’clock. I was greeted by relative calm just a gentle South Easterly breeze, coolness of the early morning and of course still dark. As a bonus I had a half moon looking down upon proceedings.
After speaking with Shane Sody I adopted the approach to regularly eat and drink small amounts. I also decided to break my ride into blocks of 20 repeats or approximately two hours riding. In a bid to remain hydrated I alternated between a mouthful of water or Hydralyte after each climb as I descended back down. After five repeats I had a date and after ten I stopped briefly and had half a banana and refilled my bidons. After 20 repeats I had a longer stop and ate half a banana, half a sandwich and drank 250 ml of coconut water.
Unsure of the pace to ride I thought I would ride how I feel. I completed the first block of twenty in 2 hours 30 seconds and I had climbed 1417 vertical metres and covered 39.25 km. I stopped for 10 minutes to refuel.
After the sun began to rise so too the breeze strengthened this remained either as a headwind or cross breeze for the next 7 hours.
The second block took 2 hours 10 minutes and I had climbed 2783 vertical metres and covered 79 km. Oh the vagaries of GPS altitude measurements I had manage to climb 34 metres less maybe something to do with pressure change, quickly realised that I would need at least 129 ascents to reach my goal. I stopped again for 10 minutes to refuel. During the second block my wife walked from home to see how I was progressing. She was the first visitor of day (except for the grunting koala at the top of the climb) after which followed a procession of sherpas.
At 7:55 am ET aka super sherpa was first of the sherpas to arrive and completed 21 repeats. He liked the climb so much he decided to ride some whilst I had my break.
Around 8:10 am Matt Walden arrived to say hello and joined me for about half a dozen but he was experiencing problems with his new crankset. After his duties had finished he headed off to catch up with the other Everester James W attempting Pole Road.
The third block took 2 hours 23 minutes and I had climbed 4166 vertical metres and covered 118.5 km. At the end of this block I decided to have a longer break over 30 minutes and ate an extra half sandwich on top of my usual refuel.
Daniel Versace arrived around 11 am and not long after Jonathon Milne came by, to say hello on his way back from visiting James.
The fourth block (79 repeats due to a miscount) took 2 hours 23 minutes, 5485 vertical metres and 156 km.
After repeat 71 Andrew Brennan aka super sherpa two arrived and shared the road for next 14 climbs. Teddles Jennings also arrived not long after Andrew but was visited by the dreaded puncture fairy on the first ascent. Much to his credit he replaced the tube and joined in for a brace of climbs before heading off. Makeen and family also made a flying visit to say hello. Maurice also visited but I am not sure when.
After 79 climbs with 50 to go I decided that I needed to break after every ten repeats or 700 vertical metres. At this stage I had been on the go for over ten hours.
The fifth block (91 repeats due to a miscount (instead of adding one I added two) The miscounts were now becoming embarrassing, who would have thought it would be so difficult to count to ten) took 86 minutes, 6308 vertical metres and 180 km.
Tim B arrived at around 2:35 pm and rode a heptet of ascents and not long after at 2:45 pm Justin V arrived and rode an octet of ascents. Paul Smith drove around to say hello and see how I was progressing. I think it was Tim that first remarked don’t those clouds look dark and isn’t that rain in the distance.
I can’t remember when it actually started but we did get a little bit of rain sometime after 3:30 pm. Mark Ferguson made a visit and like Arnie vowed to return around 7 pm to spur me on in the final stages.
The sixth block (101 repeats). The eleven repeats took 74 minutes. I had now climbed 7008 vertical metres and travelled over 200 km. I stopped for 22 minutes due to the inclement weather.
Daniel and Courtney came to visit and I asked him if he could come back and ride the final climbs with me as I was tiring. He said he would return after dinner.
The seventh block (111 repeats) I had climbed 7712 vertical metres and 220 km in 75 minutes. The rain had got particularly heavy and Cathy returned with my recharged lights I decided to go home for a pit stop and a change of gloves, jocks, socks, shoes and hat for the final push. I stopped for about 36 minutes.
I started the eighth block around 7:15 pm.
The eighth block (121 repeats) I had climbed 8413 vertical metres and 240 km. The end was nigh. This set of ten dragged on and on a bit like this ride report and took 80 minutes. Daniel and I decided to keep the stop short before the final push.
Daniel had joined me for the last fifteen climbs and Mark Ferguson true to his word returned to spur me on and so did Michelle B. Cathy and Courtney were there for the last few climbs. We also had one of the residents cheering us on for that last few ascents.
During climb 128 we had exceeded the height of Everest (8848 metres) 8901 vertical metres and 253 km. Daniel took a photograph and we descended down to complete another two climbs in order to be sure the altitude was not adjusted down on uploading. The final 9 climbs had taken 76 minutes with two stops for photographs at the summit.
Eighteen hours after I commenced I was very relieved to have finished the challenge. During this time I managed to ride 257.5 km and climb 9047 vertical metres. My total moving time was 14 hours 58 minutes 28 seconds.
Thanks to everyone who supported me by either turning up to encourage, act as sherpas and as distractions. A big special thank you to Adam, Andrew and Daniel for their invaluable support. It was a real buzz to have Daniel accompany me over the last 15 climbs. And especially Cathy for her love and support.
Was it monotonous (the ride not the report)? What do you think? It had its moments.
Did I ever doubt whether I would finish? Yes many times in the last half of the ride after I have entered the unknown territory.
Would I do it again? Not sure at the moment, perhaps not next week. I would be more than willing to ride with other Everesters during their challenges.
How well have I recovered? I must admit I have suffered more after running marathons and my legs have bounced back well after a few days.
What are my future challenges? I would like to test my endurance by riding for twenty-four or forty-eight hours.
Advice to others attempting their own Everest. I would encourage them to find a hill that they enjoy climbing and just do it. Ideally find one with a good road surface, that you can spin up and is not technically difficult to descend and is relatively close to home. Also line up as many friends to act as sherpas to assist you with your challenge.
Great write up!
This everesting gig takes things to the next level.
Well done Michael, I was glad to play my part in a bit of history and help you complete your challenge. Was a bit concerned that I was abandoning you after I left, that you might not have any more support, but you had lots of great help. Was going to come back after dinner to cheer you on, but a glass of red and a comfortable couch sent me off to the land of nod!
I didnt even know you were doing it otherwise I would have done a few laps. I wouldnt be surprised if that GT has a few stress cracks in the bb welds now cos its done so many meters of elevation. Rides like that are what punishes bikes. In a good way. :)
Well done Michael!
Well done Michael, especially for pushing through the heavy rain.
Awesome effort Michael!
I'm a little embarrassed to admit I had no idea where Addison Ave was until you put it in the record books.
great write up, admire your determination, legs of steel, inspirational not just from you but all the other power houses around Adelaide having a crack at it...well done
An amazing achievement. well done!