Lee’s Lowdown: The Everesting Phenomenon
Ride Mount Everest? That sounds crazy, but think about it; find a local hill and ride up it so many times to equal the height of the Worlds highest peak. Lee Rodgers is about to tackle ‘Everesting’ and gives us the Lowdown on the daunting task of climbing 8,848 meters in one day.
I met Andy Van Bergen at the 2013 Taiwan KOM Challenge when he came over to cover the race for one of the world’s leading cycling websites. He mentioned this thing he’d got going. ‘Everesting’ was the name. It was pretty straightforward and yet a very original idea: ride up one hill as many times as it takes to gain the same elevation as Everest – eight thousand, eight hundred and forty eight meters.
If you’re still working with the non-metric system, that translates to 29028.87 feet.
In one go. In one day. On one hill. ‘That’s absolutely bonkers’, I remember thinking.
Where the heck in the world does a man get an idea like that? Andy was interviewed by the British newspaper The Telegraph, in which he explained the genesis of what has now become a worldwide movement.
“I had read about George Mallory [grandson of the mountaineer] and his preparation to climb Everest 20 years ago, which involved cycling repeats of a mountain as cross-training. At the crux of his training he rode the equivalent of Mount Everest on Mount Donna Buang, in Australia’s Victorian Alps.
“I was too afraid to vocalise it, but I knew I had found our next epic. I gathered riders who I felt might be interested and swore them to secrecy. Of 120 interested parties, 65 eventually set out a few months later on the same weekend to attempt this secret event. Of the 65, 40 were successful, and overnight the concept of Everesting was born.”
This was in February 2014. Fast forward one year and change, and Everesting has become a global cycling phenomenon, drawing out adventurers from as far and wide as Taiwan to Wales, South Africa to New Zealand.
Where lies the appeal of it all? Well, as cyclists we love to seek out the unknown, to head off and find new roads and trails, to go up ever steeper inclines and discover ever lusher valleys. We may not travel far geographically but adventurers we are nonetheless, striking out from our humble abodes on the weekends to become free once again, even if only for a few hours.
Everesting taps into this by allowing anyone with a bike to go and become epic, to astound friends and family and fellow bikers with a tale so mad, so hard – and every single Everesting is just that – and to add his or her name to the ever growing list of other Everesters on the Everesting.cc website.
“For me,” Andy explains, “the biggest appeal of Everesting is the fact that this monumental and slightly crazy challenge – tackling the highest mountain in the world can be done anywhere on the globe. All you need is a bike, and a bit of imagination.
“The selection of the hill is really half the fun. Do you look for something long and shallow that you can grind your way up all day long, or do you go short and punchy? Do you head to the high country, or pick an urban route? Paved or dirt? The beauty of this challenge is that you can truly make it what you like.”
The ubiquity of Strava and bike computers also plays into this. Do an Everesting and you’ll have the most amazing profile on Strava, a line that looks like the ECG from the heart of a man who’s been on a rollercoaster for 18 hours straight. Now that is something to show your shaven-legged buddies!
Strava recently hooked up with Everesting.cc and the athlete fund-raising organization MoreThanSport to launch Climb For Nepal, which is running this June, which challenges communities of cyclists and runners to ride, run, and climb to raise awareness and financial aid for those affected by the recent earthquakes in Nepal.
You can still get involved in this, and all you need to do is climb 8,848m before the end of this month to help raise funds. So far, Climb For Nepal has raised over $60,000US.
I come into this thanks to Andy (who runs the Everesting.cc show with his wife, Tammy) having approached me to become the official coaching provider of this phenomenon, through my coaching company, CrankPunk Coaching Systems.
Given that I’d never climbed 8,848m in one day and considered those that attempted it to be slightly off-kilter, I had to ask Andy “Why me?”!
“When it came time to looking at a training coach to partner with,” says Andy, “it was really important to find the right fit. If you are going to ride Keirin, then you find the best damn track coach, and if you want to complete an Everesting, then you find someone who knows about long hours and suffering on the bike. It was for this reason that we decided on CrankPunk Coaching Systems.
“Given the global nature of the challenge we needed a coach with experience dealing with riders from around the globe – and Lee’s work pulling international riders as organiser of the world’s hardest hillclimb challenge – the Taiwan KOM Challenge – seemed to be ticking the right boxes.”
I mailed Andy the day after he offered me this opportunity.
“So… does this mean I’ll have to do one of these?”
“Yup,” came the reply.
“Oh bugger,” I thought, but thankfully didn’t say.
My Everesting cherry will be popped in two weeks, when myself and two friends will set off in the night to ride into the next one. Funny thing is, I can’t wait to get cracking! It’s mad yes, but it’s also exciting and a wonderful thing to attempt with your buddies: you just know you’ll be talking about this day for years to come.
If you’re interested in doing your own Everesting and would like to chat to me with a view to get some coaching – there are 4, 8 and 12 week packages available – drop me a line at [email protected] or head to TrainingPeaks.com to check out the plans themselves.
Right. I’d better get climbing!
Lee Rodgers is a former professional road racer on the UCI Asia Tour circuit now racing MTB professionally around the world. His day job combines freelance journalism, coaching cyclists, event organizing and consulting work. You can keep up with his daily scribblings over at www.crankpunk.com.