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How to go 'Everesting'

Matthew Page
21 Aug 2018

What is it? Repeats of a particular climb to rack up the height of Everest (8,848 metres) in a single activity.

What is Everesting?

’Everesting’ is the concept of repeating a particular climb while riding and racking up the height of Everest (8,848 metres) in a single activity.

It’s not an event, but a challenge that anyone can undertake, either on their own or with a group at any time and on the hill or mountain of their choice. Sherpa not required.

The bigger the climb, the fewer repetitions needed. Pick a climb, work out the elevation difference and divide by 8,848 to find out how many repetitions you need to complete it.

Take Britain’s most cycled hill, Box Hill in Surrey, as an example. With 125 metres elevation it would require a crazy 71 repeats! The total riding distance would add up to 353km.

While the challenge is not a race or event, there are a set of rules to stick to, such as making sure the ride uses ‘repeats’ and not ‘loops’, which makes it more of a mental challenge; then there’s the requirement to complete the hill in full, not just the easiest section.

Also, vehicle downlifts are not allowed, and every repeat must be ridden up and down.

Top tips for Everesting

1. Pick a hill that will motivate you. Either a hill that you love riding or one that means something. Perhaps a hill that has never been Everested before. Anything to give you a li le extra motivation for your ride.

2. Break the a empt up into chunks and never try to think about the whole challenge as that can be overwhelming. Each repeat can even be broken down into sections.

3. Prepare plenty of food and uid options in advance. Pick things that you love, and use them as treats and rewards.

4. Consider a empting as a group, or perhaps have some riding buddies join you for sections. Having someone to chat with you while riding will help take your mind o the vast scale of the challenge.

5. Don’t set too many goals. Giving yourself an unrealistic time or goal will only impact negatively. Start with an open mind and don’t try racing up!

Our Everesting attempt

Matthew Page chose the Black Mountain in Carmarthenshire, Wales, for his challenge. The alpine-like climb is one of the country’s highest roads, peaking at 502 metres.

The quiet, scenic mountain seemed an ideal location with a reasonably long 7.2km climb, meaning that just 24 successful repeats would be needed.

Just 24 times up a hill. It sounds like a pretty achievable ride, even if you gloss over the fact that the distance would be 336 kilometres.

Deciding to attempt it solo, with no support, Matt packed the car full of food, spare clothes and tools, and parked at the top.

The drive itself was enough to get the nerves rattling with the temperature refusing to budge above 1°C. Arriving at around 5.30am, it was still pitch-black when Matt pulled up.

There was little in the way of faffing at the top. Bike off the rack, helmet on, shoes on, and Matt was off.

He soon regretted parking at the summit, however: with low temperatures and absolutely no opportunity to warm up, he started shivering uncontrollably as he rode down the rest of his descents.

The bottom of the hill is marked by a small humped stone bridge with a 90- degree bend and a small waterfall visible on one side.

This marked the turn-around point, and the prospect of pedalling was something Matt was keen to start. Our intrepid Everester takes us through what happened next, mini drama by mini drama!

The attempt

06:40

Turning the bike around, pushing the pedals for the first time and beginning the challenge, I try to spur myself on and get some motivation. Just 24 climbs of this hill. I’ve had harder days!

07:04

First repeat done. Almost bang on the time I hoped for and feeling much warmer: things are good.

07:15

A long climb means a long descent. Feeling a touch warmer this time down and with the first light starting to creep in it’s a much faster run down.

07:30

Halfway up the second climb the light is better and the views are stunning. With big cloud inversions visible below in the valley it makes the early start worth it. Well, nearly...

08:25

Third rep done and still feeling good. Take a rest stop at the top to re-supply with food and fluids. I try to keep it to a minimum. It’s more time-effcient to eat and drink while riding.

08:41

Starting the climb, I can see the first sunlight hiding the upper parts of the mountain. The temperature is still hovering just above freezing and I’m looking forward to feeling the warmth of the sun.

09:02

Fourth repeat time was 25:05. I’m getting slower but it’s still a decent time. It marks the ‘1,500 metres climbed’ point. Starting to feel warmer, so I switch to some lighter clothing. The finish seems a long way off.

09:05

Why did I take off my windproof? I’m freezing again! Spend most of the descent shivering and looking forward to pedalling.

09:37

Twenty-six minutes. Fatigue seems to be setting in. Maybe I started too quickly or maybe I’m not eating or drinking enough. So far, 72Km and 1,900m climbing done.

10:05

I see the first other cyclist of the day and it’s someone I happen to know. He waits at the top for me and we chat a bit riding back down. It’s good to have a bit of company. Please stay!

10:40

The seventh repeat has started. Mentally I seem OK, the mountain is a joy to ride up and down. The views are still breathtaking and I’ll never get bored of them. Best not think about my physical state, though!

11:15

Whose stupid idea was this anyway? Oh, it was mine!

11:24

The switch from hedge-lined road onto the open mountain section, marked by a cattle grid is a welcome change. The wind is almost non-existent which is a real benfit. At this stage I can do with all the help I can get.

12:18

Finishing repeat number nine and starting to break down the ride into chunks of three repeats, stopping at the car every third to resupply. Slowed to 28 minutes for a climb, but have been steady at that pace for the previous few now.

12:32

At least starting to get tired has not affected my descending speed! It’s fun, twisty and puts a smile on my face.

12:36

I really wish I had a compact chainset. 36X28 is normally small enough for anything, but I’m hurting.

12:45

A friend passes by in his car and has a quick chat, and lets me know he’ll come out and join me later. I wish I was in the car. That lovely, comfy car.

14:10

Start of the 11th repeat – feeling slow no matter what I eat or drink. I’m not even halfway, yet the thought of doing all this again and more, but at a slower pace, has knocked my motivation and I’m done.

I thought that Everesting would be a physical challenge, but as I stop at the top of number 11 I realise its mostly a mental one.

I’ve done my best, but like many great mountaineers, I’ve been defeated by the greatest hill of them all. It’s time to go home.

Stats of the attempt

11 repeats (23.3 required).

160km with 4,000 metres of climbing.

The stats on their own make it one of the biggest rides I’ve done, but it still feels like a failure. Roll on spring time, I’m having another crack!

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