What do you're on holiday in Cumbria with a boyfriend who is too pooped from a 24 hour Time Trial to do much? a) sit in a pub garden all day b) decide to have a go at Everesting.
Given that I've been wanting to Everest since Lockdown I, the number of hills where we were staying and the fact we had a full support kit with us from Hector's TT, it would have been rude not to have a go. On a whim, I scoped out 2 possible climbs and my lovely pooped boyfriend drove me to the top of each to check them out. I decided on Fleet Moss over Lamps Moss, given its more constant gradient and a speedier descent with less wandering sheep.
Despite the heat wave, we arrived at 8am to find the hill entirely enveloped in fog. I cautiously dropped over the top down the hill, hoping no sheep would pop out from the mists into the road, and enjoying the cooler temperatures.
The first 10 laps sped by and the fog meant I could only focus on the bit of road in front of me rather than looking up and worrying about what lay ahead. But soon the 16% incline at the top began to take its toll, and I could see why it's worth spending a bit more time seeking out your perfect hill.
The Everesting calculator had said I needed to do 33.3 ascents to reach the magic 8848m. My Garmin was showing a rather different situation, indicating I'd need to do 42. Despite initially deciding I would therefore go for 42 to be sure, my initial resolve began to fade as the steep bit got steeper, and my cadence dropped below 40 and speed went into single digits, and I set myself a new target of a half Everest based on Garmin.
By midday the fog had burnt off and the temperatures rose, and with it the insects. The front of my body became a windscreen, coated in dead bugs from the 60kph+ descents. The horse flies hung out at the steepest parts, taking advantage of how slowly I was moving and the fact that I couldn't swot them off or I'd fall off the back of my bike and seemed utterly unbothered by the curses I was bellowing at them! Some of the braver ones clamped on just as I began descending, with their razor jaw strength meaning they could hold on all the way to the bottom, getting a full 4 minutes of blood sucking before I could swat them off.
Having ridden to Lands End and back a few weeks before using only the little ring after my shifter broke just after I set off, I continued the tradition. This time putting on a new chain but forgetting to bring a fresh block, meaning the gears kept jumping, and after my lady parts thwanged onto my seat one too many times, I regretfully decided to abandon my bottom gear, cursing myself as a ground up the hill. I also discovered that tubeless sealant melts in the sun, as the regular pfffffsts of air escaping out of my tires reminded me I should probably have replaced my tires by now/ how amazing the tubeless set up is, I had no idea there was even one hole in there til now! After 24 laps I decided there was no way I could reach Garmin's target of 42 laps but I could probably still hit my original target of 34. Given Garmin had been saying the temperature was up to 36 degrees, I didn't want to listen to anything it said anyway! Plus the forecast thunder had started bouncing off the hills around us and I didn't fancy descending in the dark, on wet roads, being chased down by lightning.
And then I was done. Which ever way I look at it, I'm pretty sure I didn't hit the magic 8848m, even if the Everesting calculator said I had, but I did do 7,200m. Do I care? Not really, I achieved what I'd set out to do, there's really no way I could have done another 10. I had the strength to keep on cycling, but not to get up the steepest section - by the end each completed pedal stroke at 16% was a minor miracle, and the Everesting guidelines are very clear you're not allowed to walk. But I'm glad I had the 34 laps target, if I'd been sure from the outset it was definitely 42 laps there's a high chance I might have stopped earlier.
Update: The lovely Everesting gods at Hells 500 confirmed that the segment was generating the wrong info in their calculator, and yes, I had fallen short and only done 7/8 of my target. They entered my ride into the coveted Hall of Fame but as a Basecamp ride. (Wikipedia tells me that Apsarasas Kangri is 7,245m so I might set up a whole new trend of Apsarasasing)
Learnings: - Mindset is everything - But even mindset cant overcome gravity - When all else fails rice pudding rules - Scope the climb better, I loved the descent but 16% was too steep for me by the end, had the gradient been just a few % lower it may have taken more laps to get there but I would have been going faster and been able to keep the legs turning
- Nice views and friendly car drivers help. I also loved the bemused stares from the farmers, the van of workmen who cottoned onto the fact I was doing repeats after a few laps and the cyclists and walkers who cheered me on as a lapped them for the 2nd or 3rd time. - If I'd decided to do it more than a day in advance I could have written to Hells 500 to check the anomaly on the elevation - Have working gears and tyres - My road bike would have been lighter on the climbs, but my gravel bike had a better gear ratio (even allowing for non working gears) and I was more confident on the descents. That probably only have saved me a few seconds but it meant I really enjoyed it, and as my focus started to go towards the end, it would have been a lot slower if I'd ridden off the edge of the road. Plus the gravel bike was the one I had with me, and meant I did some amazing gravel rides that week, so that was that. - I've got the best support team :D