Video: Ben Hildred Climbs 55,000 Vertical Metres in 30 Days While Working Full Time in 'True Story'

May 12, 2020
by SRAM  


Ben Hildred has spent years in search of the eternal summer. A native of Lincoln, England, he milks the Northern Hemisphere’s warm months in places like Whistler, British Columbia, before absconding to Queenstown, New Zealand, to make the most of the Southern Hemisphere summer. Ben’s quest for the endless summer has allowed him to explore the world’s premier riding communities on his constant source of ground transportation—his mountain bike.

He’s never owned a car, opting instead for two-wheeled freedom, whether commuting to work or simply riding his favorite trails. Ben’s daily bike time is sacred, offering space for relaxation and reflection, as well as serving up a perpetual series of self-conceived challenges. These challenges are anything but ordinary. In 2018, he successfully “Everested” the agonizingly steep Skyline access road to the Queenstown Bike Park, climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest’s 8,848 metres in a sleepless, 19-hour sufferfest.

Having conquered Everest, Ben last year set his sights on an arguably bigger challenge: To climb 55,000 vertical metres in only 30 days, using his beloved Skyline access road as the principal conduit—all while holding down his full-time bike-mechanic job at Queenstown’s Vertigo Bikes. This meant dedicating December of 2019 to burning the candle at both ends, waking each day at 5 a.m. to grind out a minimum average of 1,834 vertical metres of ascending before opening the bike shop at 7:45 a.m. to work a complete shift. Over the course of 30 days, he climbed the Skyline access road 111 times—a feat that was rewarded with 111 blistering descents on the steep-and-rowdy bike park trails. For Ben, the challenge was its own reward. But bombing all those sweet downhills was the icing on the cake.

More about Ben's big month here.

We hope our storytelling can help you escape current events, even for a few minutes, and bring some positivity to your day during these strange times. For those inspired: we ask that you respect your region’s legislation towards COVID-19 and only ride when appropriate.





















Video by: Mind Spark Cinema
Photos by: Callum Wood


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Posted In:
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76 Comments

  • 94 0
 Stoked on this, and the opportunity to document it was a mega experience, cheers Sram. Good lads.
  • 5 0
 Excellent stories. You're welcoming attitude and ability to get my bike back on park as quickly as possible is part of the Queenstown experience
  • 2 0
 Ben you're a f@cking weapon well in pal.
  • 4 0
 Long way from Rasen Bikes. Well done fella, keep living the dream.
  • 1 0
 Yes mate!!
  • 1 0
 Amazing work Ben. I challenge you to ride the Merritt Crown if you're making your way to BC anytime soon.
  • 4 0
 6000+ vertical feet a day on average for those on the other side of the pond... Wow, way to go, man!
  • 1 0
 Awesome pics by Callum
  • 1 0
 ben, you're an absolute weapon! What a challenge, nailed it mate Smile
  • 25 1
 Would be interesting to note the maintenance and parts consumed during that insane month of riding. Good thing he works at a bike shop.
  • 1 0
 how many tires?
  • 19 1
 All without an eBike! Booooom
  • 11 0
 Interesting - he did the challenge on a 2020 Giant Reign 29, but the video features a Santa Cruz Hightower...
  • 1 0
 @benhildred - which bike do you prefer?
  • 2 0
 Seeing as the Reign has Fox on it, he might have got a late hook up from SRAM.
  • 3 0
 Bike still has Maxxis white labels on it.
  • 5 0
 @sihotaman Yoo, yep, I did the challenge on my Reign with full Sram XO groupset and Code RSC brakes, then it was new bike day in January! Smile Around the same time Sram saw my original article and noted that I'd used their kit and sorted me out with fresh Drivetrain and a proposition of this video which was truly awesome of them as well as some RockShox suspension and dropper, which went above and beyond. As to what I prefer, I'm really loving the Hightower. Smile
  • 7 0
 @Leethal-1: I'm sure I'll Get over it dude.
  • 6 0
 Great guy! No car. Only bike.
But the real question for me was: How can you do this so early in the morning ;-)
For me its the other way around, go out riding late afternoon and come back when its dark. I love the transition from dusk to night.
  • 1 0
 My commute starts at 5:40, unless I stay at my GF's place, then it is 5:15.
  • 6 0
 And I procrastinate over my daily 20km commute.
  • 2 0
 Very impressive! Could you actually get up at 5, eat breakfast and ascend an average 1,834 meters before work at 7:45? That would mean not just a lot of climbing but a remarkable pace too. I’m guessing if you averaged 24 hours a week on the bike (3.4 per day) there must be some evenings and weekends in the mix? Definitely something special about big solo climbs and descents. I’m inspired to set some vertical goals with my local mountain. Also tell me you didn’t do all that climbing with knee pads on!
  • 2 1
 What a cracking short video. New bike coming real soon and a lot of free time with Covid 19 cutting my work back to 0 hours a week. Suppose I better get out and do a lot if riding as I have no excuses. Not even having a kid is a get out of jail free card as he happily sits up the front on many rides. Cheers for the Video!!
  • 4 0
 Great effort Ben, stoked for you. I guess this is what happens when you have no luck on Tinder!
  • 1 0
 Solid effort. Have lots of sweaty memories of pre gondola days when the access road was the only way to the top of Skyline. Climbed 40400m in 21 days in Feb/Mar this year but was basically riding full time. Can't imagine trying to fit in work. New Zealand is hilly.
  • 1 0
 Haha I remember demoing a bike with you and your suggested ride nearly killed me and that's with a gondola uplift. Then you casually tell me you'd peeled off the same ride in your lunch break from the bottom of the hill. This explains alot/makes me feel way better haha.
Nice work, awesome achievement!
  • 1 0
 Total respect for this and truly inspiring!! I spent a few years focussing on max climbing but nothing like this! I could use the lack of local elevation as an excuse but it wouldn’t be the full reason!
Hightower looks good - are you running it with 650b?
  • 2 0
 The moment work has a safe place to store my bike I'm going to have to ride there after watching this 45 miles a day will no longer be an excuse haha
  • 4 0
 I'd love to see a BenBattle, Ben Cathro vs Ben Hildred
  • 10 0
 Battle of the Ben's at Bennington?
  • 1 0
 I rode that access road twice in one day on holiday in NZ this winter, it's no joke. Pretty steep so you can't just eagle gear it and easy spin to the top. Would not want to do it daily haha. Impressive!
  • 1 0
 Well! I'm starting to feel a hell of a lot better about this guy passing me on the access road last week. I was feeling good, right as he smoked me. Out of sight after the next bend. What a legend!
  • 1 0
 In that month he had about as much saddle time as I have every month. Makes me wonder what I could do if I lived next to some trails like this.

Strava current average: 19 hours on the bike, 4 hours running.
  • 3 0
 Strongest man in Queenstown, what a lad!
  • 1 0
 You should try that challenge Tasty Valdez, I'm sure you could do it. One water bottle and a pocket full of skittles!
  • 3 2
 How did they manage to make such an amazingly positive and happy bloke look so moody and intense ? Amazing work ben hope to catch you in qt soon ????
  • 1 0
 Daaaamn nice work! And here I was thinking it'd be cool if I hit 60 hours this month, that challenge is a whole different level!
  • 3 0
 Yes dude, that was rad. What an inspirational guy you are. #sramguy
  • 2 0
 True story, only he did this on another bike without Sram suspension? Strange.
  • 1 2
 I sent this to a trailforks dude but just in case someone here can help:

I have a few doubts regarding how elevation is calculated on the trailforks app. I used the app last year on a big ride that had alot of climbing. No numbers ever added up, as from the lowest to the highest point there is less of an altitude difference than what the app says I climbed, 1637 vs 1788 meters to be exact. For some reason, when I uploaded the ride, it gave me the 2k Epic Climb Badge, which, when I looked at the badge, claimed I had climbed 2,559 meters.

This is wierd given that on the the ride details menu it never said that. I looked at the page explaining possible differences between apps, but this doesn't apply given I only ever used the TrailForks app. I understand the method used well, but it still doesn't make sense.I re-scanned elevation, and rescanned badges and suddenly lost the 2k Badges as well. I don't really care for the badges, but I do care about accurate climbing stats, as me and a couple of friends want to try everesting a bikepark. The difference between 2559 meters and 1788 is huge. I am unsure if this is because I effectivley climbed 2559 meters and the climb stat only considers meters climbed with a certain steepness, and not those on flat distance, or if the 1788 stat is some sort of difference between elevations but the 2559 meter includes the ups and downs inbetween, etc.

When I look at the elevation over distance chart it seems like 2559 meters is a possible figure, as it seems (to my naked and hopeful eye) each time the line goes up, or has a positive slope, adds enough vertical value for it to be this figure. But I must be realistic and consider it can be alot less.

It would be of great help if you could explain to us which value represents exactly what, as we currently have a difference between 3 and a half laps or 5, which is way too big of a margin.

Thank you very much,
Javier
  • 1 0
 Maximum respect!!! I love focussing on max climbing but that is some achievement!!

Are you running the Hightower on 650b or is it just my bad eyes?!
  • 4 6
 A few years ago, I also did daily 1000-1500 m climb rides after work/university. But when my weight went under 70 kg (I'm 1.85 m tall), I decided that it can't be healthy to constantly do that. Weed felt awesome that time though Big Grin But now I still ride daily, but just like 500 metres of climb with more intensity. And I worked a lot on my nutrition and do some strength workouts. I'm feeling a lot better now on the bike with 85 kg body weight.
  • 8 0
 wish I had these weight issues.. I am on the other side of the spectrum, no matter how much I ride... must be the booze....
  • 48 0
 @saladdodger: your username might explain it
  • 1 0
 I know ben and have met and ridden with him in Whistler, a true gent. He is a lot faster than he looks!! #oldman
  • 1 0
 As inspiring to me now, as he was when I knew him when I was a kid. Top work!
  • 1 0
 So rad. I love setting goals and obtaining them. I'm inspired to do a bigger one now. Thanks Ben
  • 4 2
 Get this guy an e-bike, amirite?
  • 1 0
 If he had done it on an ebike he would have accomplished nothing.
  • 1 0
 Very inspirational during this strange time..Freedom to think ...Freedom to do!
  • 2 0
 Definitely a reaction to growing up in flat-as-a-pancake Lincolnshire...
  • 1 0
 I have to kick myself in the nuts really hard this time. Nice one Ben!
  • 1 0
 Such a good accomplishment! #inspired
  • 1 0
 We need more people like him! Cheers to that dude!
  • 1 0
 Good on Ben! Hope he has a shower at work.
  • 2 0
 I was going to make the same point. If I commute to my job, just 13mi, in any kind of temperature above 15c I'm soaking my gear through. Then I stink the rest of the day. Fortunately I have a locker room.
  • 1 0
 I meant crying laughing face emojis !!
  • 1 0
 Inspirational story, makes me want to set myself my own crazy challenge.
  • 3 3
 Typical SC owner. Only in it for the show. Hardly rides the thing. Clearly a dentist.
  • 1 0
 Did the actual challenge on a Giant lol
  • 1 0
 Strong work, Ben. Also, nice production on the video.
  • 1 0
 Wow, this guy loves to get high.
  • 1 0
 Name of song pleasee ????????
  • 1 0
 was there still time for beers and girls?
  • 1 0
 Like this. NZ one of my bucket list to ride
  • 1 0
 SRAM/Mindspark always hit it out of the park.
  • 1 0
 Now get yourself a wife and 2 children, see you on the other side Big Grin DDD
  • 1 0
 This is so true. Full kudos to Ben for the massive amount of riding, but he works 40 hours and rides 24....64 hours isnt outside what a lot of people work with kids etc... If I had that time maybe I would do that for fun too, but words are cheap so I'll continue to have my family/job crutch to lean on.
  • 1 0
 Ben Hildred! A man who doesn't Dread Hills.
  • 1 1
 Never leave your bike unattended Ben!!
  • 1 0
 Bravo!! loved this
  • 1 0
 Well done Ben!
  • 1 2
 Needs an Ebike
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