Sherpa for Everesting

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Stuart decided months ago that he wanted to do a particularly difficult cycling challenge called Everesting. The idea of the challenge is to ride up and down a segment of road until you accumulate 29,029 feet of elevation gain. He was training and preparing to do the challenge in October but when I broke my collarbone in early October, we immediately realized I would not be able to helpย  on the original date. We pushed it back one month to try and use a night with decent moonlight.

When Stuart writes up his report I will link back to it but I wanted to get my thoughts out on support such a massive undertaking. When we first stated planing for this we thought it would take somewhere between 17-20 hours. We were WAY off on our estimate. Total elapsed time was close to 29 hours. Link for ride on Strava can be found here and his report on the event can be found here.

The day was harder than I ever could have imagined and I wasn’t the one riding over 200 miles! Here is the whole challenge played out:

Saturday

  • Cooked and prepped all day Saturday so that everything was packed up before we went to bed.
  • 8:00 PM bed time
  • 11:30 PM alarm to get up and go. The segment, Mulholland Highway, was a good 45 min drive from our house.

Sunday

  • 1:50 AM wheels down starting first loop
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This was my view for most ofย  the night

  • 5:00 AM wonderful friends showed up and followed Stuart in the dark while I went home to feed the dogs and take a 30 min nap. We always had someone following whenever he was descending to give him extra light on the road.
  • 9:00 AM I got back with hot chocolate and a morning bun

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  • 10:00 AM we realized this was going to take much longer than we had originally anticipated. Stuart sent me home to nap and rest so that I could help again once it got dark. We had left a van parked in the middle full of food and supplies so Stuart could be self supported during the daylight hours
  • 3:30 PM I came back with soup and more snack. Nick had joined him for a couple laps which was awesome. It took his mind off the task.

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  • 5:00 PM the sun went down

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  • 7:30 PM in the middle of his 9th lap we started to do some math. We still had 6 1/2 laps to go and we were barely making it in less than 2 hours per lap. We had 12 hours to go (my math won’t be perfect through this section, my brain was fried)!
  • 9:00 PM after lots of waffling and being very close to quitting we both (it took me longer) finally committed to finishing the challenge. I reached out to Pam and Mark (who had come out at 5:00AM already) to come back and bring coffee and help. We seriously would not have finished safely with out them. They drove up and down for 4 more loops!

Monday

  • 6:45 AM FINISHED!!!

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Advice for supporting such a challenge – Know your limits

  1. Ask for help! I could not have safely supported Stuart on my own. I don’t do well with sleep deprivation so I really needed the help.
  2. Organize your gear wisely in the car/support vehicle. Things started getting mixed up as the day went on and it got pretty frustrating for Stuart. Make sure you as the support person know where everything is before the event starts.
  3. Reduce your stress by covering all NON-RELATED items ahead of time. I had to worry about feeding our dogs during the day. I ended up driving back and forth 3 times! Don’t make that mistake.
  4. Bring lots of food and just make decisions for your athlete. They get to a point where they can’t make their own decisions. Once we got in a groove I had the food and beverages planned out well before he would see me.
  5. Savory before sweet. Feed in that order!
  6. Don’t be the reason the challenge fails. This almost was the case for us. If you commit to supporting this type of challenge, stick with it. You don’t want to be the reason they quit. This goes back to #1, ASK FOR HELP.

We were very lucky to have a lot of people, as well as sponsors, supporting us. We couldn’t have done this with out them!

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8 comments

  1. It was so fun to “spectate” this from Iowa. I can only imagine the mental and physical wear and tear on the both of you!! I often say that being a spectator/sherpa is harder than the athlete racing, but in this case, I’m not sure which would be worse since Stuart had to be on for nearly 30 hours. Thanks for keeping us updated throughout his challenge and congrats to both of you!! Hopefully you both rested up all of last week ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I’ve been stalking Stuarts blog for his report on this……….*just sayin* ๐Ÿ˜‰

    When the time started going so far over his estimate I was worried something was wrong! Glad he didn’t crash.

    Hopefully it’s one of those challenges that brings you closer together in the end.

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