I like that feeling of nervousness when there is a knot in your stomach and you are fully focussed on just one thing. You know that feeling, right before you’re about to try something new and scary - a jump, a chunky chute, a start gate, meeting a new person, writing an article for Pinkbike. You don’t know whether you can do it, but you decide to give it a go anyway.
I’d been missing that feeling. I wanted to push myself and see how far I could go again. That was my reason to try an off-road Everest. Purely selfish motivation. Although if my crazy ride excites one person to try one thing that they thought they couldn’t do, then I’d be stoked. What is the worst that can happen? You might fail - but you’ll learn. You might find it painful - but it’s temporary. And maybe you might just, in the words of that great New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary, “knock the bastard off”.
The main course, a bag of boiled potatoes. Ideal fuel to keep the carcass going over 24 hours. And yes, those are Timtams. The Admin
Everesting is when you lap a hill multiple times until you cumulatively reach the height of Mt Everest (8,848m or 29,028 feet). For reference, that’s climbing and descending nearly six times from the Top of the World in Whistler to Longhorn’s at the bottom, 15 times up and down the Fort William DH Track, and 33 up and down Makara peak, a park in my hometown of Wellington. And it is 16 laps of Mt Fromme, in North Vancouver.
I wanted to make this 'fun' so I chose to descend proper mountain bike trails. Pile of Rocks and Expresso were the chosen ones, both black diamond descents typical of the North Shore, packed with roots, rocks, and slippery wood. One lap takes about 1.15hrs including faff/admin time.
I planned to start the first of 17 laps at 1am on Saturday. My theory was that twenty hours later, on dusk at 9pm, I would be finishing. Starting at 1am would allow me to get all of the night laps out of the way early, when I was 'fresh' and to finish while the sun was still up. This was a great idea in theory. However, a sore stomach and riding one more lap more than necessary blew that out of the water.
I planned an extensive array of food to be housed in my trusty old car parked at the bottom of the lap. The menu included bacon & tuna pasta, egg & rice burritos, 1.25kgs of boiled potatoes, nuts, beef jerky, dark chocolate and chippies. In the end, it came down to eating whatever can go down the hatch. Every stop - (planned to be every second lap) - I would make my home-made electrolyte drink: a scoop of juice concentrate and table salt. The fancy stuff just turns into expensive urine. Oh and can’t forget that coca-cola! I had a power bank to charge the gps and phone.
Thise was my first time riding at night in three years - resulting in a mad scramble the evening before borrowing, charging and setting up night lights. Thanks to Dan "D-Thorn" Sims for the Kiwi style helmet mount hack.The Day: No Chamois, No Gloves, No Worries
I didn’t get much sleep. I was too busy frantically cooking and borrowing night lights on Friday evening. I started pedaling at 1.06am
These night laps were great. Except for the slight worry of being eaten by a bear, in the dark by myself. I was fresh and by the time the sun came up at 5am it felt like I had gotten a few laps for free. The morning passed eating and saying hello again and again to early morning hikers. and eating. The descent was keeping me going.
Pile of Rocks and Expresso are classic North Shore trails. Rough, and beaten up. I was enjoying finding smoother and different lines each lap. Throughout the morning I ate every half hour, a decision that my non-chamois downstairs and I would pay for later. By the time 11am came around, I’d passed the milestone of my previous longest ride ever, clocking up 10 hours on the saddle. I was joined by some good mates for a lap or two - thank you! The chat and the vibe took my mind off my increasingly sore stomach, and I briefly forgot how long I had to go.
Blurry Selfie on left taken at 1.07am Saturday 23rd May // Blurry Selfie on right taken at 1.20am Sunday 24th May
To segway briefly - the hardest thing mentally was to not become overwhelmed by how far there was to go. My tactic was to instead strip it back, to the things I could do about it at that moment. Which was to pedal, ride, eat, and drink. One lap at a time. At around 5pm my friends wisely opted for beers and chips at the bottom of the lap which left me back to myself and my guts. In hindsight eating 1.15kg of potatoes in 12 hours was a bad idea. Every lap from 6pm until 8pm included a number of emergency stops which severely slowed the pace.
The closest I got to failing was at 8pm, near the end of lap 14. I had had a very upset stomach for the last two hours, it was getting dark and I was stopped on the side of the downhill. My wrists were really sore, and I realised I was going to have to put the night lights back on. I found myself talking to myself - “it’s ok to fail” - you live and you learn. I pulled into the bottom of the lap feeling down. However at the bottom were Tess, V and OPP, geared up, on their bikes ready to join for a half lap. I couldn’t stop now could I?
The before and after of the bike. The photo on the right is at the top of the final lap, about to drop into Pile of Rocks. A classic grey, drizzly North Vancouver day left the trail pretty moist.
I put the lights back on and kept it going. One thing at a time. Fast forward four hours to 1am, and the last descent was great. I’d spent the climb mostly in granny gear - on a normal after-work ride I’d hit this climb in about 5th gear. I had my lines nailed as you would expect for the 17th time down a track. I’d stop looking at the time, and was so stoked to get to the bottom. I was worried though - my GPS wasn’t displaying the live elevation gain, so I wasn’t 100% sure if I was over 8,848m. To be safe I set off for lap 18. I got about a third of the way up - now in third gear, I was riding an epic high - to the main Fromme Carpark and stopped the recording. I waited for the moment of truth. 9,638m was the result. I’d overshot the mark by a whole lap and here I was mentally preparing to commit to another one! When I mapped the elevation out on the computer earlier in the week, I must have under measured the loop, ha. Lesson learned - ride the lap with the GPS before you do it.
At the end of the day, it was just a number on a GPS the satisfaction came from having pushed myself through something I didn’t know I could do, overcoming the nervous what-ifs, and keeping on moving when shit got real (literally).
Even though the motivation was entirely selfish - these great humans are what got us through.
Matty Graham for convincing us to do it. Ben and Henry for inspiring us on Queenstown Hill. T-Rex, Matty B, D-Thorn & Dune for lending me their lights on Friday afternoon. Tessa for being there from 9am (with hot coffee) until the bitter end at 1.30am, Aimee and George for the homemade bread, OPP for a good couple shifts, V for running the Beast as the number 1 support vehicle, Gooter for the prunes and hot-lap, Danger for the chain lube, hot-lap and bringing The Lizard - the best sideline waves a degenerate uncle could ask, Monsieor Marro for being the #1 poser, The NSMBA and trail builders for the gnarliest trails that will last for centuries, and last but not least Rosara 'For Rio' Joseph for her hot lap, chat and red pen skills.