As an ultra endurance cyclist one of the notches in your belt of accomplishments is to ride your bicycle on a single ride to the tune of 29,029′ – the same height of Mt. Everest. I can’t wait to do it myself one day very soon as I prepare for Race Across France in August 2018, and then as part of my training for Race Across America in 2019. My friend and teammate Jason duPont just completed this incredible feat and did so even on an impromptu last minute sort of decision. What a stud. I personally am so proud of him. Here is his story in his own words…
“Impromptu Everesting – 173x Repeats on Shaughnessey Hill
148mi | 29,183ft climbing | Avg. HR 117bpm | HR 79%Z1 & 21%Z2 & 0% 3,4,5
It’s on STRAVA (It did happen) https://www.strava.com/activities/1458440554
*** Video links at the end of this post ***
That was the HARDEST thing I have ever done! And, I started businesses from scratch. I dealt with injuries, breaks, and sprains. I went blind temporarily. I raised 5 children. I watched my wife suffer with depression. I rode to Payson and back. I cycled 200 mile one day races. I participated in many epic rides. I have lost much. I failed much. I learned from each and every trial. Nothing compares to Everesting.
What is Everesting? The Rules https://everesting.cc/the-rules/
– CLIMB 8848m: Climb the height of Mt. Everest 8,848m / 29,029ft
– SINGLE CLIMB: On the one climb, on any hill, anywhere in the world
– ONE RIDE: In a single activity, with no time limit, and no sleep
Everesting Shaughnessey hill was excruciating! I have never pushed a boulder up a hill in my life, but after completing the ultimate climbing challenge with 173 repeats on my new, beautiful Cervélo S5 at 12% grade, I have a greater respect for the hell Sisyphus lived.
In total I cycled 148 miles and climbed 29,183 feet. Whew! I finally accomplished the goal I made 3 years ago. THREE YEARS…
A lot of training went into making this feat achievable! Through exercise and diet I was able to improve my power to weight ratios. I’m biologically engineered to sprint through life. I am guy with abundant fast-twitch muscle in love with a slow-twitch sport. I worked on my endurance with many 20+ hour weeks of cycling. I gave up many fun group rides for months to work on my zones and my weaknesses. I used various diet and exercise techniques to train my natural high carbohydrate burning body to use more fat during exercise which is necessary when burning over 9000 calories on a EPIC ride. I ate very clean. My diet changed to super low sugar and no processed foods.
I have attempted Everesting before and was not able to complete it. I wasn’t ready then. In fact, I wasn’t ready this time.
I knew it would be better to plan it out and wait until this fall after my Race Across France, but Thursday night, on the way home from work, my brain went into overdrive about where to ride Saturday. I wanted to do this thing for so long and got to the point of: “GRRRR, Let’s just do this”
On Friday morning I awoke with a sore throat and stuffy nose and was a little frustrated, but I still thought: “GRRRR, Let’s just do this”. I went to the restroom and stepped on the scale and saw my morning weight: 188.7 lbs. 😟 (I was testing carb-loading for Race Across France)
My beautiful wife, Cecily was on her way to her weekly girl’s ride when I told her, I was thinking of making an Everest attempt at either Hawes, SOMO, or Shaughnessey. I love her and love how supportive she was, especially knowing she would not get much sleep (if any) that night; sleep is very important to her. “GRRRR, Let’s just do this”.
I was grateful Cecily would be part of this adventure with me. Especially since she will be sharing in my France adventure.
By the time Cecily got back from her ladies ride, my impulsive side had taken over. I decided a dream deferred is like a raisin in the sun. It was time to go for it and get it done.
I decided to keep it on the “down-low” because I failed before. I couldn’t even climb small hills like Las Sendas three years ago, my heart rate would get dangerously high. An unfounded insecurity washed over me. I didn’t want to deal with any added pressure if I didn’t finish.
I packed up the car with items I thought I would need. Unfortunately, in my haste, I missed a few things. The good news is Cecily is a ROCKSTAR. When she came later, she brought out many items I missed, including zinc & echinacea to help with my cold.
I drove out, found a good parking spot, and started prepping. I knew that I would be out in the middle of the desert riding solo for awhile.
It was time. I started on my first lap. There was a strong force pushing me back on my first climb and I thought, “REALLY A HEADWIND?!?😁“
As I climbed the windy winding road, I had a lot of different thoughts. I thought things like, “This is gorgeous”, “I’m very blessed to be able to be out here”, and “Why did I choose a climb that had 12% grade? That’s not very efficient”.
The first 7,000 feet of climbing went pretty quick. I averaged around 2,000 feet an hour. However, that pace did not hold up.
At eight o’clock (ish), Cecily drove out with our five kids to see me and they struggled on foot to the top as I rode. We wanted them to get a taste of how steep it was: a glimpse of what it would be like to climb that hill over 100 times.
At the top we joked, laughed, and took family pictures.
Cecily drove the kids home and I was left alone to climb the hill solo in the cool darkness of the desert.
It started to get cold (especially on the descents). I packed on layers, remembering the warning an Everester Jesse gave me about keeping my knees warm. I know I added too many layers because I was sweating like a yeti in the summer on the climbs and then freezing like an Arizona boy in the snow on descents.
When I am cycling, I hate the cold.
My speed started to slow. I started telling myself finishing time didn’t matter. I came up with a ⚡Mantra⚡: “It’s all about completing. It’s all about completing. It’s all about completing.”
Ces came back out a little after midnight. We spent the entire night together talking, laughing, and panting like dogs on our bikes! It was freezing! She gave up her sleep to hang and support me. We rode together and were able to watch the vast colors ascend from behind the mountain as the desert sun rose. It was just us and our bikes.
Ohhh, the warmth of the sun! I was loving life as soon as I started stripping off clothes!!!
Mid-morning, the four horsemen of the apocalypse rode in from the east: Lynn, Jesse, Ralf, Doug.
^&%#$ they are strong cyclists!
They took turns distracting me and helping my mind NOT focus on the daunting journey still ahead of me. They spent hours and hours at my side riding at my slow pace up the climbs. I could not have done it without them and will always appreciate it.
The horsemen were exceptionally positive, upbeat, and careful to not let negative energy interfere. At that point positive energy was sorely needed.
By the way, they gave up their planned rides once they found out about my unplanned ride👍👊 SHOUT OUT & THANK YOU!!!
Ces had to leave but she would be back later. The four horsemen rode with me until she was able to return.
Ralf & Jesse are HELLS 500 members, an elite group of cyclists that have completed Everesting. They posed with me in an inspirational pic to help give me confidence. It was super nice to have two people there that have Everested before and the two people that supported them!
Lynn gave me the great idea of having Cecily bring back enticements with her that I could have when certain goals were met.👍 I texted Ces a list of motivational treats. We are still trying to figure out what I meant when I asked for a “chocolate banana prangle shake” 😁 I’m pretty sure it was the sleep deprivation. 😉
Ces came back and I was really starting to slow down. The four horsemen left and I started thinking / chanting: “It’s all about completing. It’s all about completing. It’s all about completing.”
Even though I was not about to quit; I started hitting various walls. Jesse had mentioned the dreaded 7 megajoule hurdle (think burning 7,000 calories) However, I started feeling it at 6 megajoules.
I started perseverating that I had picked a hill that was too steep. The optimal grade was around 6%, however, I chose a hill with an 8% average grade and the last quarter mile was 12%+. For some reason, I used standard gearing (most likely not the best decision). 🤔 I should have taken a compact (easier gearing) and not a standard.
The high grade started wearing me down. I was thinking of how much just being 5lbs to 10lbs lighter would have helped. I started making smaller and smaller goals just to finish.
Even before the end I knew my body was pushed past its limits. I was having a hard time getting my heart rate up. I was thinking, “You know when your heart rate only gets up to 115bpm on 11% grade your body is trashed … At this point it’s ALL MENTAL.” Then something from deep inside me started to chant: “It’s all about completing. It’s all about completing. It’s all about completing.”
This was my Race Across France MENTAL TRAINING!
Cecily was done riding. She decided to save any remaining energy to support me. A selfless act that helped motivate me to finish strong.
Ray Harris called Cecily & asked how close I was to finishing. She let him know I was still about 2,000 feet away. He came out and took some siccc vids and pics. He was super encouraging and brought an amazing dinner. Although, I was only allowed to have it once I finished. The perfect enticement.
I started counting down the laps left. 4,3,2, and Ray yelled, “Enjoy your last lap”. I worked really hard to enjoy it. 172 laps complete 👍.
OOPS! After my last lap I looked at my Garmin and I was at 29,020 feet ascended. I was NINE FEET short of achieveing my Everesting goal. I descended and told them I needed one more. This time I stood for my REAL last lap and made sure to REALLY ENJOY IT!!!
👊 This ride includes a big THANK YOU to EVERYONE for all of the texts, calls, social media posts, etc. And, thank you CECILY. I could NOT have done this without you!!!👊
This ride was the HARDEST (by far) for me to date, but I am so glad I took on this challenge.
“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”
Final Ascent Vid
Ray Harris Stay True Cyclery Az Video Commentary
Ray Harris Stay True Cyclery Az Video Showing me climbing summit during sunset.
Photos / Vids
Congrats Jason! You are a beast my friend.
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