Everesting the North Shore - No Chamois, No Gloves, No Worries

Jun 15, 2020 at 12:17
by Tom Bradshaw  

The Why

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.




112 Comments

  • 133 0
 Wait. No chamois? For 24 hours on a bike? This man either has a taint of steel, or no longer has one.
  • 31 2
 I don't get the no chamois part. I rock one every time I ride! And no gloves? This man must be made of leather.
  • 20 0
 Out of everything I've read, the 'no chamois' part makes me wince every time I think about it.
  • 71 0
 And he was out riding bikes again like 3 days later; I ran into him on Seymour.

"Dude.... how is your taint?!??"

"Not as bad as you'd expect!"

"that..... doesn't say much."
  • 14 0
 The saddle choice and position is much much more important than the chamois. In a recent video Jesse Melamed said he was chamois-less. Once your skin is used to it, it's fine, if you have pressure point issues, it's probably a set problem anyways.
  • 4 0
 Chamois are padded pants, right?
  • 1 10
flag headshot (Jun 16, 2020 at 12:24) (Below Threshold)
 and no brains?
  • 1 0
 Now I know what my next saddle will be.
  • 17 0
 If it taint broken...
  • 5 0
 tainted love?
  • 32 0
 Chamois are only any good for short rides! Once your ass has been marinating in its own juices for 8 hours, the moist chamois is the fastest way to a full on a*shole casserole between your bits. A good pair of merino undies will keep you dry and a saddle you get along with will keep you comfortable... and as long as you don’t wear a chamois, you’ll fight off Brain Taint with a measure of success.
  • 3 0
 I ditched the chamois and cream a month ago after wearing one for every ride for 12 years. No going back!! As long as you have a well-fit saddle and good synthetic/merino undies, you're golden. Your bits are far better ventilated and they don't get swampy, it's awesome.

I have a pair of Ex-Officio undies but decided to try the Fruit of the Loom Micro-Mesh boxer briefs (which are like $17 for 4) and they're just as good or maybe slightly better than the $25/each Ex-Officio's.
  • 10 0
 @PeterWojnar: a**hole casserole Smile officially part of my lexicon now
  • 1 0
 @PeterWojnar: how about just swapping shorts?
  • 2 0
 My new Metal band... "Steel Taint".
  • 2 0
 @headshot: not feasible to carry multiple chamois around on long rides that don’t go back to the parking lot till they’re over now, is it? Especially since they’re heavy when wet Wink
  • 39 1
 Average power of 190 watts and 17,000 calories!!! Wow.
  • 11 4
 Estimated, can't trust those numbers on Strava without a power meter.
  • 6 1
 @JSTootell: Great point. Even if there are off by 50%, that is impressive. I usually average ~190 watts (power meter measured) over a 2.5 hour XC ride and can't imagine doing 10x that....
  • 1 0
 @mgs781HD: My last big ride was 3500 calories, with 150 average (with PM).

But I am 150 pounds, I use less energy.
  • 2 0
 yeah that seems insane, averaging 190 watts for that long including the downs.
  • 8 0
 Strava does not account for technical terrain and features on the trail. Estimated power on Strava can only be used to guesstimate road biking output.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: I think Strava chanced their calc. I have a powermeter on my XC bike and roadie but when it estimates it on my enduro bike it either thinks I weigh 400 lbs or have a motor. It used to estimate low but now I think it's estimating around 40-50% than it should be.
  • 37 1
 Super impressive. But judging by the before and after pic...this Goliath of a challenge is not good for your health.
  • 26 0
 A couple of things here; I rode lap 13 with Tom, the pace he was running down Pile of Rocks and Expresso was HOT, so much so that at the bottom Danger, Rosara, the Lizard and I started talking about "should we be concerned with how fast he is descending?". Secondly, I feel a shout out to Nestle Ice Tea powdered drink mix, with some hand-ground Pink Himalayan Rock Salt (As Tom's Hydrator of choice that he prepared for himself each lap) is in order.
  • 3 0
 Yes lad!
  • 21 1
 Enduro bikes can't climb. Fake news!! Jk this is awesome
  • 14 0
 That is one awesome feat. Last year at the Whistler Bike Park I descended the equivalent of Everest and that was a full day of lapping the bike park almost non stop. I cannot imagine having to climb up for each lap. Huge kudos. The mental toughness to do this without a major ride ending bail is also impressive.
  • 8 0
 Dude went to battle. Pretty awesome accomplishment. Way to embrace the suck.

Also, I'm thinking that Gooter bringing the prunes may have been a bigger contributor (than the taters) to his detours to fertilize the trees.
  • 11 0
 I want to know about that short sleeved rain jacket !
  • 9 0
 this is nuts. I'm usually impressed with myself if I do 2 laps of 7th! also, Gooter, Danger, and Lizard sound like they party
  • 5 0
 Thanks for the Makara Peak comparison, I've seen far more media about the other spots, but that gives me a real idea. Or for the other side of the valley, 33 Salvation - Deliverance laps... Hell to the no.
  • 8 2
 Impressive numbers, wow... and I was proud the other day to climb 1400m a day
  • 14 9
 This is awesome but Everest is the white privilege name and cycling should be calling this challenge "Sagarmatha-ing" (Nepalese name).
  • 1 1
 Hell ya!
  • 2 0
 I'll switch as soon as someone teaches me to pronounce that.
  • 3 2
 YES - that is an awesome comment and you are massively right: in fact even ascending Everest is a fairly privileged event these days
  • 2 2
 Where did the ing come from? I'm nepali there is no ing.
  • 1 0
 @Riwajc: just like walking means going for a walk, sagarmathaing means doing sagarmatha
  • 2 1
 Valid point. Except mountain biking is also rather white privilege... (Cycling isn't mountain biking)
  • 6 0
 17,000 calories covers a lot of Timtams
  • 2 0
 its ~173 tim tams, or ~16 packs. Up to you if you think thats a lot.

personally, when I was first introduced to them, I bought a few packs and couldnt stop eating them. Then I realized I was routinely taking in 1,100 calories while binging The Wire, and my frequent stomach aches made a lot more sense.
  • 3 0
 DAMN! That's all that can be said about this awesome effort. Glad you achieved your dream. I hope the leg cramps subside soon.
  • 5 0
 You knocked the bastard off
Way to go! :-)
  • 1 0
 Wow respect the effort this took! Impressive to spend 22 hours in the pain cave - kudos for your perseverance!

No chamois is a bold choice.

BTW when you are pulling into the bushes for an emergency squat that's not your "stomach" that is upset Smile
  • 3 0
 Every rider needs to push themselves into the locker at least once. You won't get it until you do it and come out to reflect on how amazing it is to overcome exhaustion.
  • 4 0
 What a bloody great New Zealander! ???? you’re a beast Tom. Awesome effort and enjoyed the write up.
  • 2 0
 I've been thinking about an Everesting attempt for ages and this article finally convinced me to have a go at it. I'm pleased to report that I was successful last weekend Smile thanks for the inspiration!
  • 4 0
 Glad you took out the xc bike Wink
  • 2 0
 insane! i remember seeing the original instagram post and thinking about how my arms hurt after a pinned dh lap of full expresso. respect.
  • 1 0
 Just Wow, having barely manage to survive 60km rising various trails on Fromme, I salute you for riding more than 3!!!times the distance... on the two same trails... mostly by yourself... without chamois... UNIT!!!
  • 2 0
 Tom, ya lazy sod, two more hours and you could have done 10,000m in 24 hours. Oh well, maybe next time. (seriously though, you're a machine - very impressed).
  • 3 0
 Crazy ride dude. Respect.
  • 3 0
 Absolutely fucking gnarly as. Good on you mate. That's so sick!
  • 2 0
 Yeah Brad!! Buzzin for ya. Welcome to the No Chamois Everest club haha. Good work man Smile
  • 2 0
 **Tom, sorry, I'm a fool.
  • 1 0
 Biiiiig kudos on this. I've everested on a brakeless fixed gear, and I'm still intimidated by the idea of Everesting on technical trails.
  • 1 0
 Met Tom last year at heading to Whister EWS practice. Super cool dude! Obviously he's an animal on the bike too.
  • 2 0
 Wtf this was done in a day and not a week ??
  • 2 4
 It made me laugh when PB had the disclaimer about not riding like a yahoo during the pandemic then all these articles about everesting. I mean at the end of the day we all have to balance and mitigate risk but it seems like everesting is just as good of a way of ending up in the hospital as hucking your DH sled
  • 1 0
 To actually overshoot an essentially un-makeable goal is truly EPIC. Awesome!
  • 1 0
 Crushed it, dude! Hope to meet you out there for the Fromme Fondo in September!
  • 1 3
 Another comment that hopefully gets a response before downvoted into oblivion. How does starva determine elevation? Say you ride down 40’ then up a 10’ hill. Does that count as 10’ of climbing even though you have coasted up the hill? It seems like in more rolling terrain a better rider is going to climb less than a worse rider as the worse rider carries less speed and ends up climbing more often in rolling terrain. I don’t strava, usually just check the elevation at the bottom and top and calculate the difference. I went on one ride that I assumed was around 6’k climbing and was told by a bloke I climbed 10’k. Is there any sort of rule for this in the everesting community? Also GPS is notorious for bad elevation readings. In an area without a good constellation you could have 30-50 feet or more of drift, I wonder if the drift might start to count someone as climbing that is actually stationary?
  • 2 0
 In your example, you likely will get 10' of climbing. Most GPS units use barometric altimeters to compute elevation change, not the Z-coordinate from the GPS. So weather rolling in is more of a source of error than the GPS signal.
  • 1 0
 Interesting, I don’t think my phone has a barometric altimeter though. @pmhobson:
  • 1 2
 Not sure if this would tick the boxes for the official Everesting?
-Rides cannot be loops. The descent must be via the same road unless you are prevented from doing so (e.g. one-way street or one-way trail). This is to prevent kinetic gain sometimes afforded by a loop, or an ‘easier’ descent.

I really hope it is though! Epic ride mate!!
  • 2 0
 @iantmcg: I think more modern iphones might. But when I said "gps units", I meant the likes of Garmin, Wahoo, etc
  • 1 0
 @FqqTBawL: Yeah, as someone who measures elevation for a living it brings up some interesting questions. I think with the guys extra bonus lap he probably got there no matter how you measure it. Not to mention descending technical single track is way more exhausting than the gravel cruise a lot of the everesters do. I've always been skeptical of the net climbing elevations that handheld GPS units give you though. After putting more thought into this it seems like it would make sense to have a power meter in your cranks and sync that to your GPS to get an accurate measure of elevation climbed.
  • 2 0
 @iantmcg: It's a really interesting problem -- same as the coast line paradox. If you simply the subtract the top elevation of the climb from the bottom, you're likely missing something (especially on single track where momentum likely won't get you over the larger undulations.

On the flip side, if you measured elevation change on the scale that captured every single root, rock, and bump, you'd over-estimate the elevation gain as we tend to conceptualize it.

(coastline paradox for those interested: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coastline_paradox)
  • 2 0
 @pmhobson: it is all quite interesting and kind of surprising there is not more of an active discussion in the mtb community about this. You see a lot of people throw out climbing vertical and in actuality it probably doesn’t mean a whole ton without the context of how it is measured and the trail type.
  • 1 0
 @iantmcg: Yeah, those numbers are I guess just our best at attempt and quantifying things. Even a well-calibrated power meter is just a small window when considering very technical terrain, IMO.

As rough as the approximation is, this was certainly a huge effort and accomplishment. Mad props to the rider.
  • 2 0
 @pmhobson: just read an interesting link applicable to this. In a lot of ways this discussion is irrelevant to the bloke above. But an interesting debate for people trying to set records. I think if you were going for a record you’d want a road or trail that was a steady grade so climb the entire way up and descend the entire way down. Then survey your elevations for the top and bottom point with a survey grade GPS, that to me makes the most sense at least for these people going for records.


cyclingtips.com/2020/06/lachlan-morton-didnt-set-a-new-everesting-record-after-all
  • 2 4
 Kudos to this however, how can you be sane "scrambling" the night before leaving making food and not having proper lighting set up and ready to go knowing you'll be at-the-least starting in the dark?
  • 1 0
 Don't always need a perfectly well laid out plan. All the more legendary I reckon. Sometimes attitude is all that's required "shit yeah I'll give that a crack mate".
  • 2 0
 Dude. Amazeballs!
  • 2 0
 Inspired. Thank you Tom.
  • 1 0
 Good skills. Got to love a 24hr micro adventure ????
  • 2 0
 just RAD! well done, sir
  • 1 0
 Awesome work man! Thanks for the cookies Wink
  • 1 0
 Unreal - impressive work, man!
  • 1 0
 Beast mode sufferfest. Well done.
  • 1 0
 CRAZY!! great inspiration.
  • 1 0
 dude, uv inspired me! if am that one guy, then mission successful!!
  • 1 0
 I'd like to hear a lot more about this.
  • 1 0
 You're a legend Tom! We still have a yarn about this at the pub
  • 1 1
 Why didn't you come over and shuttle the shit out Seymour like the rest of the lazy fuckers...
  • 1 0
 I wouldn't even be able to do that on an E-Bike, that's insane!
  • 1 0
 All he needed was another +360m and he would have hit 10,000m!
  • 1 2
 What about the secret trails actually at the top of Fromme , way above the shitty pile of rocks. Lol . Oh ya it’s a secret .
  • 1 0
 with Lynyrd Skynyrd on shuffle no doubt- way to go mate!
  • 1 0
 What's that frame strap? Looks very wide and stable!
  • 1 0
 Chur Tommo!
  • 1 0
 Chapeau dude!
  • 1 0
 Absolute animal!!!
  • 1 0
 Churrrrr
  • 1 0
 Churrr
  • 1 0
 Awesome good work mate
  • 1 0
 Animal! Nice work dude!
  • 1 0
 Good on ya Tom.
  • 1 0
 Good effort! Crazy Kiwi!
  • 1 0
 And on a 150 props
  • 2 1
 How hot?
  • 1 0
 pretty good, man
  • 1 0
 Deadset kiwi legend!
  • 1 0
 bloody well done tom
  • 5 7
 It'd be better on a ebike Wink
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