Devan van Vliet
Cycling chronicles: 2020 'Everesting'
According to the official ‘Everesting’ regulatory body, to complete this dauting task, you need to be clinically insane … or close to it. In all seriousness, the task is pretty straightforward and ‘simple’ – pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m (or just keep going until your legs fall off). Complete the challenge on a bike or by foot and you will find your name in the Hall of fame, alongside the best climbers in the world (other weird people). To date, there has been 8,745 successful Everestings and who knows how many attempts. Looking back, nothing can prepare you for this… mentally that is. I suppose you can properly train/plan for this event, which I wish I actually did properly. I typically like to push myself, because why not? I enjoy seeing how far I can go physically and mentally, so this task fit perfectly! Or so I thought… Ride for 18hrs, easy peasy. After looking up a rice cake recipe and stuffing the esky with bananas, I was ready to rumble. Oh wait, did I forget electrolytes? Yup.. but that’s okay, water will suffice, right?
Tis was the night before the epic ascent - car was packed, lights and phone were charged, and my kit was laid out. As I parked my car at the bottom of the climb, I was actually really looking forward to riding at night – as it is a completely different experience. The fauna truly comes to life. Birds chirp, geckos lurk, and feral pigs tramp through the decaying brush… well, that’s what I noticed. As the sun slowly crept up, I couldn’t help but stop for a few minutes and take in the view (first lookout at Copperlode). To cut a long story short, at about 5500m of climbing, I hit that ‘mental wall’. Man oh man was that a difficult obstacle to overcome – you question your sanity (the WHY), and it’s in that moment you have to decide if you are going to be someone who perseveres or gives up. Obviously, I persevered and told myself that I was too far into it to give up now. Then… then the physical exertion kicked in around 7000m – my left knee (muscle just outside of the knee) start to become extremely painful, a sharp pain resonated throughout the area… painful enough to stop. Knowing I was somewhat close, I ignored the pain and started to use more of my right leg to bear the strenuous load. Fast forward to about 1100m to go, a friend came by and saved me with a banana, coke, and a Clif Bar – I can’t stop now, I told myself. Soon after, I was done… or so I thought.
After completing the task, I slowly packed up my belongings and hit the hay (as us Canadian say – off to bed). I like to think that my body bounces back extremely quick from physical demands of epic proportions – but at the end of the day, we aren’t robots. I am writing this five days after the event and my resting heart rate is elevated and I don’t feel so well. This is the last thing that I expected; however, I would do it again without a shadow of a doubt. If you are crazy enough to give this a crack, here are some valuable tips that I have compiled for your viewing pleasure:
1. Wear gloves (I still ended up with blisters..).
2. Make sure you are eating before you become hungry (60-80g of carbs per hour *I consumed one rice cake every hour).
3. Drink frequently (make sure to have plenty of electrolytes! I only had water, which was a big mistake).
4.Bring a front light/rear (keep extras if you have any).
5. Park your car at the bottom of the climb (or top) so that you can grab what you need before another ascent.
6. Bring a portable charger (for lights/phone/etc)
7. Don’t push on the descents - not worth crashing out (unless you climb is straight down)
8. Maintain a steady power/hr (don’t exceed your threshold - Z2 steady state)
9. Wear a GOOD quality kit - highly recommend
*I don’t use chamoise cream and I don’t have one sore from 18hrs of riding. Quality kit makes a world of a difference.
Keep most of your goods in your car (the lighter you are, the faster you are able to ascend = quicker you can stop)
Make some rice cakes (recipe below)
Push past your limit
*Disclaimer: this This recipe comes from a book called Vélochef by Team Sky’s head chef Henrik Orre. However, you can modify it anyway you like! Enjoy.
Rice cake ingredients
500 g rice (risotto rice or sushi rice)
800 ml water
4 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp coconut sugar
300 g cream cheese (vegan cream cheese works well)
100 ml agave nectar (or honey)
Use a rice cooker if you have one. Boil the rice, water, coconut oil, cinnamon and coconut sugar. Let it boil until all of the water has been absorbed.
Fold the cream cheese into the rice while it’s still warm.
Mix in the agave nectar and blend thoroughly.
Pour into a three-litre plastic bag (or glass Tupperware) with a zip lock. Flatten the bag and leave in the fridge overnight.
Take the bag out of the fridge and cut the rice mix into 5cm x 5cm squares. Wrap the squares in aluminium foil.
Add pistachios or other nuts to add variety.
Lastly, make sure you have a variety of food AND drinks in your esky, as it could make the ride more enjoyable. Some possible snacks could include the following
Haribo Gummy Bears (or if you are vegan – Tommy’s Bears)
Peanut Butter sandwich or wraps (who doesn’t like a good PB jam)
Rice cakes (A MUST)
Gels (rocket fuel for the last 1500-2000m *I use GU energy gels) Avoid for most of the ride though
Clif Bars (Crunchy Peanut Butter… mmm)
Overnight oats (simple to digest recipes – banana and oats with honey)
Coke (not necessary, but the sugar/caffeine can help in times of need – keep for the end)
Electrolyte mix (A MUST… seriously)
GU hydration mix (or one that sits well with your stomach)
10ltr container of purified water (so you can refill as needed)