CyclingTips’ Ronan Mc Laughlin Has Reclaimed the Everesting World Record

Mar 29, 2021
by Sarah Moore  


Words by Matt De Neef / Photography by Phil Golston

CyclingTips’ own Ronan Mc Laughlin has reclaimed the Everesting world record. The Irishman climbed the necessary 8,848.86 metres (29,032 feet) in a blisteringly fast time of 6:40:54, almost 20 minutes faster than the previous world record of 6:59:38 set by America’s Sean Gardner on October 3, 2020.

This isn’t the first time Mc Laughlin has broken the Everesting record by a considerable margin. In July 2020 the former-semi-pro-racer-and-coach-turned-tech-writer climbed the height of Mt. Everest in 7:04:41 – more than 20 minutes faster than the previous record, set by none other than six-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador.

Mc Laughlin’s new record, set last Tuesday March 23, was completed on the same ascent as his first record ride: the climb to Mamore Gap in the northern reaches of the Republic of Ireland. The 810 metre segment Mc Laughlin rode is a nearly-dead-straight section of road that pitches up at a punishing average gradient of 14.2%, climbing 117 metres in the process.

CyclingTips sent a video crew along for the attempt, keep an eye out for the film this week.




To reach the height of Everest, Mc Laughlin had to complete a total of 75 laps. He ended up completing 78 just to be safe. The elevation gain of his chosen climb was independently verified by geographic data systems company Integrated Informatics and his ride was officially verified as a new record time by Hells 500, the organisation that manages Everesting (headed up by CyclingTips’ Andy van Bergen).

bigquotesI have been lucky enough to do a lot on a bike, and get a lot in life from bikes. Undoubtedly though, getting this record again is right at the very top. I am usually my own harshest critic in terms of the achievement, but I am already super proud of this one.

To work all the way through winter and then finally take another 19 minutes off the record on the very first chance I’ve got this year is special.
Ronan Mc Laughlin




Mc Laughlin had been planning another Everesting attempt in the European autumn, hoping to beat his own record and become the first to complete an Everesting in less than seven hours. That attempt was ultimately postponed due to COVID-19. In the meantime Gardner went and broke Mc Laughlin’s record and the seven-hour mark in the process.

Mc Laughlin trained through the Irish winter, restricted by tight coronavirus lockdowns, and set his sights on another attempt when the weather improved. He waited for favourable weather conditions on the Mamore Gap, and eventually got them. On the day of his ride last week, with temperatures hovering around 10ºC (45ºF), Mc Laughlin had a 20 km/h tailwind up the climb.

Not that he did it easy.

“The ride was tough as you’d expect and I didn’t feel super as I hadn’t got my full taper due to weather forecast changes,” Mc Laughlin said. “But considering the challenge that it is and the pace I was riding, it was never going to feel super for the whole ride and something was sure to go wrong at some point.”



While something did indeed go wrong, it wasn’t his body that let him down. With roughly 10 laps to go Mc Laughlin suffered a near-catastrophic rear-tyre blowout.

bigquotesIt happened on the descent as I was accelerating away from the top turnaround, while I was super-tucking. For a second I thought I was a goner but I somehow held it up. The bike was like a bucking bull as I was fighting to get it slowed down. At one point I considered crashing myself into the ditch rather than risking hitting the tar. But ultimately I limped it down the remainder of the descent to the bottom turn where I had a spare bike sitting.Ronan Mc Laughlin

Mc Laughlin rode two laps on his spare bike while his mechanic swapped out the wheel on his main bike. As you’d expect, the changeover cost him a little bit of time.


bigquotesI was doing 5:20-something laps right up until the puncture. The puncture lap took 6:32 and the laps on the spare bikes were high 5:30s so the puncture cost me 1:30, if not more.Ronan Mc Laughlin


Mc Laughlin covered a total of 126 km over the course of his Everesting with an average weighted power of a truly elite 296 watts. That average was 6 W higher than his previous record-breaking effort. All told Mc Laughlin completed his Everesting roughly 24 minutes faster than his previous effort on the same segment.

As with his previous record-breaking ride, Mc Laughlin took steps to make his bike as light as he could. “I had lighter wheels, lighter frame, lighter saddle, lighter levers, lighter brakes, lighter cranks, lighter cassette, lighter pedals,” he said. “But then I did add some weight back in with the front fairing.” Last time around he went to the trouble of cutting down his handlebars and removing all but three cogs from his cassette. He didn’t go to such extremes this time – instead he went for a comparatively conservative seven cogs.

Mc Laughlin’s previous record in July 2020 came amid a flurry of activity atop the Everesting leaderboard. In June, Australian WorldTour pro Lachlan Morton set a new mark which Contador then bettered a couple weeks later. Also in July, former world time trial champion Emma Pooley set a time of 8:53:00 which remains the fastest women’s Everesting on record.

It was roughly two months after Mc Laughlin’s first record that Gardner pushed the record below seven hours. That record held firm for almost six months, until Mc Laughlin’s blisteringly fast ride last week.

bigquotesAll things considered I am delighted how well it went. It was only possible thanks to the team. Unfortunately the whole team couldn’t be here this time. We had to keep the whole attempt so tight on numbers [due to COVID restrictions] and other than my dad, Andy Deery, Mitchell Mc Laughlin and his mum Sadie, nobody knew it was happening.

It’s such a shame because good friends and long-time team members – Chris and Alan especially – missed out. And to have had a crowd on the climb for those last few laps could have made a huge difference.
Ronan Mc Laughlin

Even without that support Mc Laughlin managed to set a very impressive new mark. As ever with Everesting records, the question now becomes: how long will this one last?


84 Comments

  • 87 2
 With all the free time people have because of covid, it wouldn't surprise me if one of these days somebody actually rides up Everest
  • 30 0
 Cory Wallace did an everest on his mtb in a village by Mt. Everest. Didn't get any coverage really which surprised me.
  • 13 0
 although not mtb there is a video doc thing of the guy that skied down K2, it's nuts.
  • 4 0
 @Tmackstab: Good point! there's a whole side of MTB that exits (and that Cory excels at) that gets very little attention such as the 24 Hour world champs.
  • 1 0
 I can see that...case a few bottomless crevasses getting through the icefall, a quick gel at South Col, bunnyhop green boots, then launch the Hillary Step on the way down as you slalom spent oxygen cans and carcasses. Or did you mean a hard route?
  • 55 1
 @mikelevy just be glad it's Mike vs Mike not Mike vs Ronan.
  • 2 0
 Still waiting on those borders to open up eh?
  • 7 0
 It could be Mike+Mike vs Ronan and Ronan still wins
  • 1 0
 @DizzyNinja: Mike - Mike?
  • 2 0
 @brianpark Mike + Mike on a tandem vs Ronan
  • 24 0
 My legs hurt just reading this
  • 13 0
 I can taste the lactic acid
  • 4 0
 @brodoyouevenbike: I would need about 60 lbs of salty trail mix for this loop
  • 1 0
 What a beast. Congrats
  • 18 1
 What a Mensch. Climbs all day and doesn't even need to take the two lowest cogs along.
  • 11 0
 Interestingly, I think he left the two or three lowest cogs and got ride of the 11/12/13 cogs at the top. I think he scooted the whole cassette over.
  • 4 0
 I bet that was a strategy to not give himself a bail out. It wouldnt give you the option when your brain and body are screaming to do it. I bet it helped keep him focused on what he was doing and what needed to be done.
  • 2 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: no, I’m saying I think he left the bail out gears and got rid of the tough gears. Look how big his hardest gear is on that cassette- it looks like a 14 or 15 tooth, not an 11.
  • 4 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: It was really to prevent the chain from wedging in the spokes when the derailleur low stop screw inevitably wears out from hours of "there must be another one in there" mashing on the shifter paddle.
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: oh yeah I read that wrong....I had just woken up...forgive me
Well, I guess it was weight savings then....
  • 2 0
 @CamNeelyCantWheelie: Definitely been there. "I must have a flat tire. No? Maybe my brake pads are dragging? Nope. I dunno, maybe my hub bearings are shot?"
  • 2 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: neither weight saving or wedging into spokes. Cassette would be shifted to keep the chain line as straight as possible for maximum efficiency, cross chaining creates a huge amount of frictional losses
  • 1 0
 @stevenEK9: that’s definitely what it’s there for, but I don’t know if I’d call cross-chaining a huge loss. I mean, like 4 watts. That’s huge to some people, I guess.
  • 1 0
 @stevenEK9: interesting...you're a deep thinker...I'm just a simple Mountain biking peasant
  • 13 0
 Holy, any idea how much he weighs (to put the 296w in context)?
  • 24 0
 68kg. That's 4.3 for seven hours. No..... Thank you.
  • 1 2
 @Mtmw: surprising how excellent climber he is.. this it is a heavy weight for a road climber... he reminds me more to Jared Graves on lycra than a roady climber...
  • 4 0
 @PauRexs: 68kg has been the average weight for the tour de france for the last 10 years. sure a some of the really petite climbers are well under that but many of the top GC guy are right around that. I remember Jared Graves is around 80kg.
  • 4 0
 The 296 was the weighted average. It's a rolling average to smoothen out the peaks and valleys in the powerdata to give an idea of what you would achieve if it would be a steady effort.

Now... that only makes it more brutal, because of the part of time he spent on the descents. He probably did steady 4 minute efforts of like 330 watts on the climbs. 70+ times... Ouch. Those descents take big balls too: From what I heard, the top bit of that climb is the steepest, which makes this a perfect climb for everesting, because it gets you up to speed really fast. Then you bomb down a straight road in supertuck position only to brake late and HARD to turn 180 degrees and ride back up again. I cannot imagine how that must feel after 6 hrs.
  • 12 2
 All that effort to weight save, yet there must be a hundred grams of hair there, flapping about, messing with his aero...
  • 11 2
 I'm surprised there are no caveats for wind as there are in running races/records.
  • 7 15
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Mar 30, 2021 at 0:50) (Below Threshold)
 Some type of doping control would also help legitimize it, though not implying he was cheating in any way. Contador though..
  • 6 5
 I agree. He's spending about 75% of his time in the saddle with a decent tailwind. Not to discredit the rider, he's doing something I can't do and I don't know the wind conditions for the previous records. But you do need some rules to stop people from taking the piss.
  • 5 0
 @GeeHad: There are rules in place, they just don't take weather conditions into account making them part of the game. Josh Poertner talked about it some time ago in his Marginal gains podcast episode on Everesting.
  • 2 0
 @TheJD: Cheers, will look it up. Are they maintained by Hells 500? And to reiterate, I'm in awe of this guy's record. I'm not saying he's taking the piss. I'm saying that there needs to be rules in place to prevent lesser riders taking records like his in future.
  • 2 0
 @GeeHad: Yes, the rules are maintained by Hells 500. Everything is on their everesting.cc site.
  • 2 0
 @woofer2609 good thinking, but even time trials at world Champs and in the world tour don't control for wind speed. I don't there is a way. Even there was an established maximum wind speed riders would have to get as close to that number as possible, which involves the same amount of luck.
  • 2 0
 @pasales: with road time trials in stage races like TdF it's accepted that conditions will usually be similar enough to close competitors, given that the start order is typically determined by the current GC placings. It is possible to have a sudden change in conditions, or to have a rider that's much lower on GC who is a time trial specialist, and get a benefit relative to other riders. However, that's not much different than DH where strange things can happen sometimes with start orders and changing conditions. The key point is that in both cases, the riders who are reasonably expected to be competing most closely have their start times grouped tightly.
  • 12 4
 He is sock doping. The tops of his socks are way closer to his fibula head than his lateral malleolus. Max height is equidistant between the two.

Tut tut ????
  • 9 0
 I doubt I could everest on an e-bike in a day.
  • 6 1
 Can you imagine Everesting while having to listen to Everlast on repeat? Then you really might know what it's like to sing the blues.
  • 4 0
 Man is a total weapon!! What a effort! Loved his bike check last time, can't wait to see how far to the extremes of weight loss he went this time.
  • 4 0
 Legitimate question. How much more energy would be required to Everest on a mtb on trails than a roadie... on road... of course?
  • 1 0
 I have asked buddies that ride road/gravel, and mountain bikes about this. They have said that riding road on a mtb is roughly 30% more difficult than on a road bike... That's flat asphalt... One can only imagine that Everesting on a MTB would be at least 50% harder? I do recall a dude did Everest on his SC Tallboy I think? Might be worth while finding out, and comparing data...although they be apples and oranges to an extent.
  • 1 1
 Arguably, on a mtb you could more comfortably turn up steeper roads to cut down the time needed... but since you'd be pushing heavier tires and wheels, probably considerably more effort. Doesn't really matter though, cause if it was faster then that's what these record attempt peeps would be doing.
  • 5 0
 I did one a couple weeks ago at my local trail center. It took me 20 and a half hours. Toughest thing iv ever done thats bike related for sure. Its was my wrists that hurt the most at the end tho, no amount off suspension would of helped by the end of that long a trail bashing
  • 1 0
 @cgreaseman: Phil Gaimon modified his bike to run a mtb casette, I think he had a 42 in the back. The steeper the hill the better for these dudes, it's the only way to break the crazy low record now.
  • 1 0
 I'm pretty sure Henry Quinney did that last year..
  • 4 0
 I am not much of a roadie. However, all props and kudos where they are due. Ronan, you sir define Beast Mode!
  • 4 2
 20 kph tail wind definitely helps. Actually it’s a huge advantage. Not taking anything away but.... The whole Everesting thing is kinda boring. So you can climb the crap outta a hill. Ok
  • 5 0
 Respect!!!!
  • 4 0
 How come all the pictures are looking down the hill and not up at it?
  • 9 5
 Phil Gaimon is going to commit a suicide.
  • 2 2
 "Mc Laughlin took steps to make his bike as light as he could. “I had lighter wheels, lighter frame, lighter saddle, lighter levers, lighter brakes, lighter cranks, lighter cassette, lighter pedals,”".


Ok then. So his seatpost, stem, and handlebars were the same? Wouldn't "...built a new bike for the attempt..." be more accurate?
  • 1 0
 got to frame, thought same
  • 4 1
 Wow. I did this on my trainer in 10 more hours than he did! 6:40 is absolutely insane.
  • 2 0
 Good effort still!
It must be such a big effort, and constrained to a turbo? Definitely takes dedication!
Good on ya'!
  • 1 0
 @Sylesej: thanks! Sure was hard! Happy to say I’m the youngest known girl to Everest though!!
  • 4 1
 They Shoot Horses. Don't They?
  • 2 0
 Was he saving weight by using an old tire? That thing looks ragged and makes me doubt it was new at the start of the event.
  • 2 0
 I think a tyre should last a bit longer than 126k. Looks like he was pulling mad skids at the bottom, probably with his leg out broadsiding.
  • 2 0
 Would not enjoy going on an XC ride with this guy. He would be waiting a lot.
  • 2 0
 I've got the same helmet, love it!
  • 2 0
 Puny humans watch me beat my record on my way to my space rocket
  • 1 0
 In my head it reads 'Man Climbs Mt. Everest on Bike'.
  • 1 1
 Had some tail wind climbing but I imagine it must've been a headwind on the way down? So likely not much of an advantage?
  • 1 0
 14.2 %...WOW...BIG RESPECT!!!
  • 1 0
 Go on Ronan! What a way to step it up
  • 1 0
 I'd say Phil Gaimon is humped now.
  • 1 0
 Awesome !!!
  • 1 0
 10C is 50F, not 45F.
  • 6 1
 I’d give it 0F
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