Mt. Everest: 29,029’ (8,848m) of awe-inspiring, difficult, adventurous, dangerous climbing… some people have looked at Everest and thought climbing it is necessary. Others call those people crazy!
Well, call me crazy but I did it. No, I didn’t fly to Nepal and climb the actual mountain. I’m not a former pro athlete or extraordinarily gifted human, nor am I an adventure/adrenaline junky looking for a fix. I’m just a 50-year-old son of God who has a family, a job, a dog, a bicycle, and I landed myself in the Everesting Hall of Fame. And you can too!
Why would I do such a thing? Well, a friend of mine from work invited a bunch of work friends to ride from one side of the USA to the other in an effort to raise money for cancer research. I was excited to be invited by him to do it, only I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. When I was a Boy Scout our troop had ridden from Chico, California up to the north shore of Lake Tahoe (roughly 100 miles). It took us 2 days to ride up but only one day to ride down. I thought I would never do anything that extreme again.
In 2016 I bought my first road bike, a Razik Vortex. It’s a custom frame that I’ll bet you have never seen in person. (My friend Ryun is one of the co-founders of the company and I’m proud to own one of his bikes.) In 2017 I got a new job in Dallas, Texas and moved my family to where the wind never stops and temperatures reach 70 degrees in January. I joined the Shawnee Trails Cycling Club (2018 Bicycle Club of the Year) and learned how to ride in a group.
Then in 2018 I did finally participate in the company bike ride, Boise ID to Salt Lake City UT. We went on to raise over $1 million dollars for The V Foundation that year!
2019 was when cycling really took off for me. I averaged 5 rides and 100 miles per week. My uncle had shown me his Wahoo Kickr and Climb setup, and introduced me to Zwift. As a video game junkie growing up, I couldn’t wait to get set up, so I begged my wife for an early anniversary/birthday/Christmas present and bought myself a Kickr.
On January 2, 2019, I took my first Zwift ride. 356 days later, I rode my bike up the height of Mt Everest.
Everesting is described as fiendishly simple, yet brutally hard. Ride hill repeats on any hill anywhere in the world (or on Zwift) in a single activity until you climb the equivalent height of Mt. Everest. The concept was created by Hells 500, who also control the induction into the Hall of Fame. Everesting.cc contains the rules to follow. Once you are inducted you are worthy to wear the Grey Stripe kit. I can’t wait to get mine.
I don’t know how many have tried and failed, but just over 4,500 Everesters have succeeded and only 360 have been done on Zwift. I chose to do my first vEveresting (virtual Everesting) on Zwift versus IRL to test my stamina, feed and hydration strategies, and my resolve to actually complete the challenge. I didn’t raise money for any charity, but many do, and I wish I would have. I will next time!
Warwick Petschack, a friend of mine in Australia, inspired me while I rode with him as his sherpa on the Alpe du Zwift (ADZ) in Watopia while he completed his vEveresting. After he completed it and was inducted into the Hall of Fame he actually followed up with me and offered to share his planning spreadsheet with me so I could plan my own attempt. He was relentless in his help, encouragement, and patience with me as I peppered him with questions. Without him I don’t know if I would have done it. Thanks, Wazza.
Christmas Eve Eve, the day before the ride I collected all my food/hydration items, charged all of my batteries, stripped down and weighed myself and then calibrated my trainer. The weigh in: 195lbs (88.5kg). My height, static for the last 30 years: 6’5” (196 cm). Yes, I’m tall and thin… but not too thin because I love ice cream and it was Christmas Eve for heaven’s sake so I was enjoying my wife’s wonderful cooking. At 6:30 pm I told my family I was headed to bed, I turned on a couple of fans for white noise and set my alarm for 12:30am.
Christmas Eve morning, the alarm went off and I went to the kitchen, ate a bowl of oatmeal and headed upstairs to change into my first kit. 12:57am I started riding the Road to Sky route on Watopia. I stayed in Zone 2 with an average heart rate of 120 and max of 135. I averaged 175-200 watts on the climbs and just under 17 hours total time with 8.5 times up the ADZ, and a little more for luck.
I took this virtual selfie at Dutch Corner #7 with just over 9000m of climbing. I had vEverested!
But that makes it sound so easy. It wasn’t!
What a ride. 134 miles in 15:17:34 of actual ride time, that means my butt was on the seat (or I was standing) for a long, long, long time. A normal butt isn’t used to that, and since my wife tells me that I have no butt, it seemed impossible.
Strategy 1: get off the bike while descending ADZ
Strategy 2: change kits after each third ascent.
Strategy 3: chamois cream!
I chose to start in the dark so I could hopefully have family support at the finish. This meant that the first 4 ascents I was on my own with no pit crew for support. I turned on my favorite playlist and hit the hill with a measured effort that I could sustain for hours. I planned a bidon of water for each ascent as well as 30-50 carbs per hour. Real foods early in the ride and gels and sugary drinks for later in the ride.
vEveresters add the tag “vEveresting” to their Zwift profile name which means anyone that sees it knows you are vEveresting and many will ride with you, congratulate you, give you ride ons, or just encourage you to keep going. These wonderful sherpas made it a much more enjoyable experience, especially during the 6th and 7th ascents when it was difficult to want to keep riding and my butt was telling me that I was crazy to push on. A quick shower and kit change between ascents 6 and 7, another application of chamois cream, and I was ready to continue.
Christmas Eve was wearing on and my family was missing me, so I asked my wife to record video of my Zwift arrival at 8848m to which my exclamation of “YESSSSSS!” was well received. I didn’t stop there though. I knew that I needed to ride some more to ensure that I had enough climbing to get me into the Hall of Fame, so I rode on to 9006m and then stopped. I then went downstairs and we watched White Christmas as a family while eating chicken wings and drinking egg nog. Merry Christmas to me!
In total, I ate 2 Clif Bars, 5 granola bars, 3 mandarin oranges, 3 bananas, 1 omelet (thanks dear), 1 Clif Bloks, 1 Gu Chews, 2 Powerade Zeros, 2 Powerade regulars, 2 Muscle Milks and 3 Bob’s Pickle Pops (when my legs started to cramp).
If you are interested in knowing more about Everesting, there are a couple of great FaceBook groups to help you plan. Hells 500 hosts the Official Everesting Discussion Group which includes many helpful posts. The Zwift vEveresting Planning, Tips & Coordination group, created by Howie Snyder, has great info and their group is vEveresting up the ADZ on Leap Day 2/29/2020. There is also a definitive guide to Everesting posted by Sir Guy Litespeed which is very helpful for either indoors or IRL.
If you are interested, there are other individuals and groups planning their vEverestings and Everestings and I encourage you to join them or choose your own crazy goal for 2020. Make it spectacular, worth working hard for, and go do it!
As for me, I’m planning my first IRL Everesting for this summer in Utah, USA, where there are some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. I will be raising money for The V Foundation and cancer research.
Want to join me IRL?