Are you looking for a new cycling challenge? How about Everesting?
A new endurance cycling craze has arrived in Scotland. Itâ€™s called Everesting and it challenges cyclists to find a hill that they can repeatedly ride non-stop to gain the height of the worldâ€™s tallest mountain, Everest.
Thatâ€™s a total vertical gain of 8,848m (29,029ft).
Any hill can be â€œEverestedâ€ so long as it is officially recorded on the GPS activity tracking app Strava and then submitted to the website Everesting.
But your choice of your hill is critical. A hill that is steep and has good vertical gain for each rep might seem like a good idea because it adds up to a shorter overall distance but it may well be tooÂ punishing for your legs overÂ hour after hour of riding.
And a hill that is shallower might not be so hard to ride yet you will need to cycle a longer distance and more reps to gain the overall height of Everest.
Yet almost 450 people worldwide and around 70 people in the UKÂ have gained a place in the Everesting Hall of Fame in the 15 months since Everesting was conceived as a challenge.
In Scotland, only four hills have been Everested and so there are plenty of opportunities for feisty riders to achieve a â€œfirst ascentâ€ at their chosen location.
The origins of Everesting
Everesting.cc was created by an Australian cyclist, Andy van Bergen, in February 2014. Already a dedicated amateur endurance rider, Andy was looking for a bigger and better challenge.
Andy, who lives in Melbourne, says: â€œBefore cycling I was a trail runner and back then Iâ€™d set myself bigger goals and faster targets in 100km events.
â€œIn 2009, I got into road cycling and ticked off all the sportives and events I could find. Again, I became focused on riding longer and harder events until Iâ€™d done all the events I could find.
â€œA few years ago I formed a group called Hells 500, which every year rides tough routes of 500km. Itâ€™s a ride to aim for and does require training.Â But there was still something in me that wanted to ride a harder and more epic challenge.â€
Then Andy, 35, came across a story about George Mallory, the grandson of the mountaineer with the same name, who was part of the first British expeditions to summit Mount Everest.
Andy says: â€œThe younger Malloryâ€™s preparation to climb Everest 20 years ago involved cycling repeats of a mountain as cross-training. At the height of his training he rode the equivalent of Mount Everest on Mount Donna Buang, a famous climb in the Victorian Alps in Australia.Â Suddenly I had my new idea for Everesting.â€
Andyâ€™s Everesting mountain of choice was Buller in Victoria. Not a person to do things the easy way, he chose a tough ascent. Each hill climb was 10 miles long with 3,261ft elevation.
He required nine repetitions to achieve 29,315ft in total elevation but Andy described the Everesting success as â€œvery, very hardâ€. He says: â€œIt was very rewarding to be able to achieve it but it did take a lot of physical and mental endurance.â€
Andy recorded his Everesting success via Strava and almost immediately word got out to the wider cycling community in Australia and then worldwide.Â The growth was helped by Strava, which officially records the Everesting attempts.
Andy has been delighted by how quickly Everesting has captured the imagination of riders across the world.
He said: â€œMount Everest is a symbol for the the biggest and most momentous and so itâ€™s no surprise that Everesting appeals to cyclists who love huge challenges.
â€œWhen people first find out about Everesting you see them starting to think about a hill that might work for them. It gives people a huge but possible goal.
â€œBeing ableÂ to Everest on a hill of your choice also makes it very accessible to people anywhere and because there is no set date riders can work towards it in their own time.Â I am excited to see how this concept has taken off.â€
The Scottish Everesting successes
The first Everesting in Scotland took place on the Crow Road, Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire in June 2014.
Nine riders from Falkirk Bicycle Club took less than 19 hours to ride up and down the two-mile climb 42 times to total 29,639ft elevation.
One of the riders, Gemma Gilvear, became only the second female in the world to enter the Everesting Hall of Fame. At the time, the group was the largest to Everest one hill at the same time.
Ian MacGregor, the group ringleader, says: â€œIf you are from Glasgow or Central Scotland and a cyclist, the Crow Road is an iconic climb.Â It is a hill Iâ€™ve personally ridden many, many times before and has a gradient that allows a fairly constant pedalling rhythm so I thought that Everesting it would be achievable.â€
Ian believes that team spirit was critical to the success of the cycle clubâ€™s Everesting.
He says: â€œIn my opinion, a group of humans working together can achieve almost anything. We were prepared for Everesting and we had chosen our route well. We motivated each other. We were lucky to have the support and encouragement of many valuable individuals working as part of our team.â€
Yet it wasnâ€™t an easy accomplishment. Another rider in the group, Craig Moffat, describes reaching 30 climbs. He says: â€œBy then I was on auto-pilot and it felt sore, really sore. Trying to up the pace even just a little put everyone in a world of hurt.
â€œWe had to keep it slow and steady but I was physically and emotionally shattered. By the end, by the time I got off the bike, I wasnâ€™t aware of my surroundings. I just juddered uncontrollably.
â€œI know I couldnâ€™t have done it without the support of the other riders and all the people who came along to cheer us on and help out.â€
Two months later, the infamous mountain pass, the Bealach na Ba in Wester Ross was targeted by Kevin Connors. It took the London cyclist 15 repetitions over 165 miles and 18 hours 14 minutes to Everest on the eastern Loch Kishorn side.
Last month, he came back for more. With two friends, Matt Ray and Charlie Sanders, the team took on the other side of the Bealach, the side that includes numerous hairpin bends.
The team endured 13 reps over 144 miles and were on their bikes for just under 20 hours.
Poignantly, they also raised money for the dZi charity (Just Giving), which is behind a Nepal earthquake fund following the two Everest disasters.
Matt says: â€œWe all have different tales to tell with regards to how it felt to do the Everesting. While it is undoubtedly physically challenging it was the mental aspects of the challenge that tested us most.
â€œThe whole challenge took us 20 hours, from 4am. Towards the end, a round trip was taking around 90 minutes when time for recovery, eating and warming up was taken into account.Â Therefore, even when we had completed nine ascents and knew we only had fourÂ to go, this still meant a further six hours of riding.
â€œThis, combined with the increasing wind at the top of the climb, meant finding the energy to battle the last two miles of the climb towards the end was very difficult.
â€œPeople driving in their cars kept encouraging us on the way up. They probably thought we were doing only one climb â€“ little did they know!â€
The fourth hill to be Everested in Scotland was Hardenâ€™s Hill, near Duns in Berwickshire. Andy Waring, of the Berwick Wheelers club, was looking for a winter challenge.
He says: â€œIt was November and there wasnâ€™t much else happening. Iâ€™d read about Everesting and thought Iâ€™d just go for it. It was hard but not impossible. It is the hill choice that makes the difference and your physical and mental determination.â€
Andy rode 53 ascents and descents over 168 miles in an impressive time of 16 hours and 22 minutes.
Whatâ€™s next for Everesting?
As with all endurance challenges there will always be those that want to take it a step further. Andy Van Bergen has that one covered and itâ€™s called the Everesting SSSS.
To achieve an SSSS, the ultimate Everesting challenge, you need to do four Everests:
- Soil Â(a dirt or off-road climb)
- Suburban (in an urban area)
- Significant (a locally iconic hill)
- Short is less than 200km in length (so an average gradient of around 9%)
Andy says: â€œAnd to add to this, at least one of the four separate climbs needs to include more than 10,000 metres of ascent.Â I know it sounds ridiculous but I am totally driven by this challenge.â€
And then there are the runners who want to join Everesting. Andy says: â€œWe are thinking about launching this, too.â€
Juneâ€™s charity Everesting challenge
Everesting has partnered with global sports movement More Than Sport and Strava to launch a $1million charity bid next month.
The aim of Climb For Nepal is to get thousands of cyclists and runners (walkers and climbers, too) to ascend the total height of Everest over one month.
So instead of Everesting in one go you have the 30 days of the month to achieve it.
Every rider and runner is being asked to keep track of their accumulative ascents and to fund-raise for a range of projects that will help the victims of the two recent Nepal earthquakes.
Andy says: â€œEveresting has created an amazing globalÂ community and it is still growing. We want to use this as the basis to raise funds for the Nepal disasters.Â Everesting obviously has a link to the area, even if people can do Everesting anywhere in the world, and we are hoping that people will embrace the idea and join the charity bid over the whole month.
â€œPeople can choose to do their Everesting total a bit at a time, perhaps each day, or in one go. Itâ€™s up to them.Â It is inspiring to think that together, all over the world, we can ride, run, walk or climb in solidarity for Nepal.”
To take part see Climb For Nepal.