Everesting: Self-Propelled 29,029 Vertical Feet of Climbing in Just Over 24 Hours at Highland Mountain Bike Park

Oct 6, 2019
by Highland Mountain Bike Park  
On Tuesday, September 17th, Highland Trail Builder and Coach Justin Lagassey mounted his bike with one goal in mind. He’d been plotting and preparing for weeks, and the day was finally here. Over the next twenty-four hours, on the strength of maple syrup and grit, he planned to ride the vertical equivalent of climbing Mount Everest from sea level to summit.

Back in January, Justin had read a story on Pinkbike from Henry Quinney about ‘Everesting’ Skyline Bike Park in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Read that story here.) The idea immediately took hold. How fun would it be to take on that same challenge at Highland, with a few Justin-style twists? So fun!

Is he crazy? you might be wondering. Sure. We all are. Next question.

The Rules:

Climb 29,029 vertical feet in a single ride
● No changing
● No sleeping
● No shuttles
● No whining
● No cheating

The original challenge at Skyline relied on a repeated loop, utilizing what seemed like a pretty gnarly access road for the climb followed by a single track for the descent. While that sounded fun enough, Justin was hoping for a little more variety. The previous Wednesduro, he had set out to hit every trail on Highland's map, resulting in a casual post-work adventure that totaled sixteen laps, 9,900 feet of elevation gain, and about forty miles of travel. By coordinating his #enduroeverest with Wednesduro, he was able to secure uphill access on Freedom Trail, downhill access on everything else, and plenty of friends to get rowdy with on the descents. This allowed for a new layer in his challenge: making it another trail perfect ride.

The hardest part, he says, was convincing himself that it was doable. But the moment someone told him he couldn’t, it simply had to be done. The planning took off in earnest. Justin teamed up with Team Granite member and Highland local Tucker Nugent for company and expertise. Together they estimated that it would take forty-eight laps up Freedom Trail to approximate a 29,029-foot climb. If they started at five o’clock on Tuesday night and rode for twenty-four hours, they should be able to make their final descent in the midst of Wednesduro, hopefully with a crowd of other riders game to take those last few laps alongside them.


Justin’s Bike Setup:

Frame: Pivot Firebird 29
● Suspension: 170mm front travel, 162mm rear travel
● Front tire: Maxxis Assegai DoubleDown 29"x2.5"
● Rear tire: Specialized Butcher Black Diamond Casing 29"x2.6"
● Grips: RevGrips
● Fork: Fox 36 GRIP2 170mm, 85 PSI, no tokens from open, 8 HSC, 2 LSC, 6 HSR, 6 LSR
● Shock: Fox Float X2, 215 PSI, all the tokens, set all the clickers to 11 (except for LSR, which is set to 7 for luck)
● Brakes: Shimano XT M8020 with Jagwire Organic pads up front, XT M8000 with Shimano J04C metal pads in the back
● Drivetrain: Stock (Shimano XT/XTR) with 32-tooth chainring and 11-46 cassette
● Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet E


NiteRider 1100 lights fixed to his helmet and bars stayed bright through the night, a Garmin 830 GPS computer recorded the whole ride, and O’Neal apparel kept him “pants on.”

Tucker did the whole thing on a home-built steel bike and a 160 travel 29er, single-speed hardtail. (So however good you think you are...go ahead and dwell on that.)



Brushing aside the obvious physical exhaustion, how do you keep your mind entertained while riding your bike up Mount Everest? If you’re Justin, you listen to The Epic of Gilgamesh, widely credited as the earliest surviving piece of literature. Because as he says, “if you’re gonna have a long time to listen to audiobooks, might as well start at the beginning.” It might even be brutal enough to keep your mind off the climb. When your literary energy runs out, he recommends lots of Ellie Goulding.

Really though, his strongest recommendation is to ride with someone like Tucker, who he credits as being an all-around good person and an excellent conversation partner, especially in the genre of Highland stories. One of the best things about Highland is how much history is here, having served as a sort of mountain biking mecca for more than a decade. Faced with nearly fifty opportunities to descend, Justin and Tucker had plenty of room to unearth retired trails like Old Maiden, and ride tracks they wouldn’t normally ride.


Justin holds tight to the conviction that the most important reason to ride your bike is to have fun—and as anyone who knows him can attest, he exemplifies that belief whenever he’s on the mountain. Once he’d set the goal of making #enduroeverest another trail perfect challenge, Justin decided to take it even further. (At this point, why not, right?) If he was going to be on his bike for twenty-four hours, covering 29,029 feet of distance, and hitting every trail at Highland, he might as well also hit every feature. After working and riding here almost daily since the beginning of June he’d already managed to hit nearly everything at least once, progressing his way through the smaller jumps and drops in the woods and eventually making full runs down the slopestyle course. Still, one feature would have to be hit for the first time during the #enduroeverest to be feature perfect: the infamous Robert’s View. “That was the closest it came to not happening,” Justin says, admitting to making a poor judgment call. “There’s GoPro footage of that, but…you don’t want to see it.”

Between the two of them, Justin and Tucker consumed:

At least 20oz of maple syrup
● 2 bags of chocolate
● 6 boxes of CLIF Z Bars
● Plenty of Sunbelt bars (because they’re cheap)
● 12 cans of Red Bull
● A lot of water

Throughout the twenty-four-hour challenge, various people stopped by the base to check in with Justin and Tucker between laps, and cheer them on for the next one. A special shoutout is due to fellow riders Amy Ricci and Shelly Temple, who were ready first thing Wednesday morning with cider donuts and coffee cake muffins. “It was good to make it through dawn and see that.” Justin’s resident van cat, known locally as Miss Pretty and/or Fluffy Goldstein, kept watch from the backyard, where Justin and Tucker had made a temporary home base.


The last lap was the hardest: after the agreed-upon forty-eight, they checked their stats and found out they had come up short. Luckily, Wednesduro was still running, and they were able to jump in with a supportive crowd—including many of Tucker’s friends from Team Granite—to complete the challenge with one final push. When they reached the bottom, Tucker’s Strava showed that he still hadn’t reached the required 29,029 feet. Always a good sport, he immediately took off for a quick lap up and down Ski Hill Drive to earn that lingering distance to the summit.

To celebrate, Justin and Tucker headed into the Highland Pub for pizzas and popped a celebratory bottle of champagne. (This also marked the end of a sober season for Justin, who had ditched alcohol for the month preceding #enduroeverest. Again, someone told him it couldn’t be done, and again, he proved them wrong. “You can see a pattern with the motivation here.”)

Time Elapsed: 24 hours, 55 minutes
Distance Traveled: 29,147 feet
Trailforks Ridelog: here


Would he do it again? The answer is yes, but more. He’d like to try it again and make the twenty-four hour cutoff, with shorter stops to rest in between laps. A 10,000-meter ride is his next big goal, but there’s also an argument to be made for pedaling the equivalent depth of the Mariana trench: about 36,069 feet. For Justin, all of these challenges are about following his life philosophy: “Be passionate about what you want to do, and persevere.”


And now Justin, you must rest.


Find the original article here.

Regions in Article
Highland Mountain Bike Park

Posted In:
Stories



78 Comments

  • 182 1
 "Afternoon ride" is the biggest strava flex I have ever seen
  • 4 0
 This.
  • 9 0
 29k vertical over 118 miles, solid afternoon cruise.
  • 107 13
 If ebikers weren't already embarrassed, they sure as hell are now.
  • 34 55
flag LuvAZ (Oct 6, 2019 at 14:41) (Below Threshold)
 so then should ppl who shuttle, ride lifts, or ride moto also be embarrassed?
  • 43 6
 Oh they're embarrassed, that's why they froth at the mouth so much when they get called out on here.
  • 18 6
 what about busy dads who just want to everest?
  • 3 5
 @LuvAZ: me No. Just ebikers.
  • 20 9
 If he had an ebike he could have ridden EVEN MORE LAPS
  • 5 6
 @Rucker10: FROTHY FROTH FROTH!!!1111
Seriously though, that would take 6 battery swaps on my kenevo, and the handful of times I got 5k in 25+ years of riding acoustic mtb, I cramped like a bear stuck in a mini fridge. Doesn't sound like the least bit of fun to me, but cheers to Justin for the accomplishment. Hope the downhills made it all worth it.
  • 7 1
 Why would I be embarrassed? The guy's much fitter than me, and probably much fitter than many people who ride non ebikes. Good for him. What's to be embarrassed about for any one?
  • 8 6
 @tcp: If he was a E-biker he would be too lazy to even have done this & we wouldn't be talking about him
  • 6 1
 @tcp: Kind of missing the point here buddy.....
  • 38 0
 You cant just mention "Justin’s resident van cat, known locally as Miss Pretty and/or Fluffy Goldstein" just like that and dont follow it up with a picture of it!
  • 5 0
 I'm also here patiently awaiting the cat tax.
  • 4 0
 Sorry to keep you waiting. You can find her here, hard at work: www.instagram.com/p/B2ihfnrHyP1
  • 37 0
 I'm here questioning whether I have a 3rd lap in me
  • 3 0
 I'd be lucky to do 3 laps with a shuttle.
  • 31 0
 ● At least 20oz of maple syrup
● 2 bags of chocolate
● 6 boxes of CLIF Z Bars
● Plenty of Sunbelt bars (because they’re cheap)
● 12 cans of Red Bull
● A lot of water

Those poor guts and buttholes for the next few days
  • 1 0
 hard times!
  • 4 0
 That's what I thought. These guys must be seriously fit but I reckon they would have done under 24hrs if they had ate real food.
  • 5 0
 @likehell: more like soft times.
  • 23 0
 Crazy how these are all being done on burly enduro rigs, it just adds to the accompishment. I don't know if I could on a carbon XC hardtail!
  • 1 0
 The big bike probably makes it easier since it’s in a bike park. Having ridden an xc bike in the bike park, going down gets pretty rough after just 8 hours, let alone 24.
Also, having everested, I can’t imagine having to put that much effort into the downs as well. I made it easy on a road bike...
  • 18 0
 Crazy cats these 2. I kept Tucker company for his last 5 laps,(How could I not? He joins me in all my white mtn adventures) and unfortunately had to be the one to tell him, he was 113' short in elevation despite having done the same amount of laps as Justin. There was no way I COULDN'T tell him afterall as... if the next day a complete stranger had added up his ride after it was done and he was short, it would've crushed him. So, armed with that info we went right out to ski Hill drive to complete it, and no lie, when we uploaded the final climb up ski hill dr I uploaded mine first just to be sure and it came to exactly 113'. You can't make this stuff up! Cheers boys!
  • 15 3
 He was eating muffin in one of the pictures and that wasnt on the list of food consumed. I’m starting to question the veracity of this story. ????

Seriously though, well done!
  • 10 0
 Good work Justin, Everesting is a blast and quitr an achievement, so cool to see you drew inspiration from myself and Henry Smile
  • 7 0
 +100000 It's really humbling to think hypothermia Hildred and ol' gubbins over here gave you guys some brain food for a big ride! And what a ride! Absolutely spectacular effort lads!
  • 2 3
 @henryquinney: and that was not with an easy bike setup! DD tires, 32t chainring and an 11-46 cassette. Wow. Machine !
  • 6 0
 Tucker is my hero, he builds his own bikes and rides the heck out of them. I've joined projectnortheast on some adventure rides and Tucker, besides the fact he is unstoppable (up or down doesn't matter for him, he'll ride it... with his hand-built steel bike), is such a great guy to have around. Last time we were on Mt. Cardingan together I ran out of gas (and food) and had to start picking blueberries to keep up. Congrats on the accomplishment to both!
  • 1 0
 Tucker is great guy for sure. I've known him since he was in high school and he's always been a blast to ride with. Love seeing his steel creations and yes, he rides the heck out of them!!
  • 8 0
 "Tucker did the whole thing on a home-built steel bike and a 160 travel 29er, single-speed hardtail."...

WHAT!?
  • 1 0
 He's always on homemade bikes! Steel hardtails and full suspension! I haven't seen him on a production bike in years. The last one I remember was a Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC 50 about 10 years ago!
  • 11 3
 That’s cool, but reverse Everesting is a lot more fun.
  • 1 0
 full send
  • 6 0
 what goes up, must come down!
  • 8 0
 If he shaved he'd probably make 40,000 feet in a day.
  • 5 0
 Trying to fathom doing even a quarter of that amount of climbing with a double down on the front, and ~1200g tyre on the back is absolutely nuts!
  • 6 0
 What an achievement, hats off to you guys - 6 cans of red bull is a fantastic record!
  • 4 0
 Yeah I assumed you'd probably die after about 3.
  • 6 0
 Inspiration to all humankind (and cats)
  • 6 0
 I joined Justin for his last lap and that boy was still on it! RESPECT!
  • 10 4
 darn right self propelled.. no Moped's allowed
  • 5 0
 Not exactly the bikes i would be choosing to do it on which makes it even more impressive, pair of bloody animals.
  • 2 0
 Why not, still got to ride back down. ( Plus that bike climbs really well considering the travel ).
  • 4 0
 @Beez177: exactly ... considering the travel
  • 2 0
 How about a bike check?

Also, when I heard of the Everesting concept, I thought it would be fun to do that at the first official trail I rode. So I looked into it. Would take 52 laps to get the vertical. Only about 600 miles. I guess that trail is flatter than I thought. Might be a next summer goal, would still take 13 trips if I do 4 laps a trip and that is still riding 46 miles each trip.
  • 5 0
 Goddamn I NEED a bike check of the home made bike!
  • 4 0
 890 laps of a pumptrack reckon you'd be nearly there assuming there's a net 10m ups along the track
  • 7 2
 I like how they have the clarify it’s self propelled.
  • 5 0
 All that vert, on those bikes..impressive
  • 1 0
 24 hr and 55 min..... So you didn't make it... LMAO just kidding!!! Congrats this is a huge accomplishment! This reminds me of the Pat's Peak 24 Hour Race my crew and I competed in on enduro bikes earlier this year. From that perspective I have to say:

1) I'm blown away by the scale of this

2) The pure strength you must need to hit those features after all of that riding is insane

3) That last lap and following Ski Hill loops must have been devastating mentally

4) Their nutrition is super interesting(taking notes)
  • 5 0
 Animals!
  • 2 0
 Exactly what I was thinking.
  • 2 0
 Met Justin at bond brook in Maine, never thought he was this crazy, such a nice, chill guy who always has a smile and is super positive. Way to go man!
  • 3 0
 I've been thinking of an Everesting...on a road bike. I can't imagine how much harder it would be on a Firebird 29!
  • 3 0
 Much Respect, that is nuts. I would be hurting doing that vertical in a month
  • 2 0
 Justin is a cool guy. I rode with him last year at the Mt. Creek round of ESC. Congrats on that achievement.
  • 3 0
 Savage AF! On DD front and rear to boot! Legit.
  • 3 0
 So many vertical meters on those tyres, holy moly...
  • 3 0
 The Garmin 830 lasted 25hrs? If so - that's my next purchase.
  • 1 0
 Yup that thing works great. Now if only the lights weren't such a hassle with charging and swapping around....
  • 1 0
 I'll start with " Mount Wycheproof-ing" and then slowly work my way up to "mont blanc-ing"...
  • 2 0
 David goggins would be proud.
  • 1 0
 Taking souls over at highland mountain
  • 2 0
 Can confirm, know personally, is a crazy mo'fer.
  • 5 4
 Nuts. I wouldn't even do that on my ebike.
  • 32 4
 Of course you wouldn’t
  • 3 5
 Grow a fucking pair...
  • 3 7
flag downcountry (Oct 6, 2019 at 20:44) (Below Threshold)
 It feels good squash ebike guys on big climbs...happened twice this weekend.
  • 3 1
 @downcountry: It's cuz you're so downcountry, champ! way to pedal uphill fast!
  • 1 0
 Congrats Justin you are the realest!!
  • 1 1
 DH only for me and my legs.
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