Virtual Everesting


"Everesting" in the cycling and running world is going up and down down the same hill until you've gained the same amount of elevation as Mount Everest (29029 feet). There are actually a lot of rules around this to be formally recognized in the Hells500 hall of fame. A virtual Everest (vEverest) is the same idea - you have a smart trainer that can do adaptive resistance and you do hill repeats on a 'virtual' climb until you get to the height of Mt Everest. 

How did this all start? It started with Daniel Perry and Aharon (but Aharon's going to claim it really started with Daniel Perry and he's not wrong). Daniel Perry is an Everesting legend - he's done 5 (?) including a double Everest of a 400ft hill (in real life!) in a 50 hour ride, and Aharon has tagged along on many attempts with him. 

Daniel has prodded me for quite a while to do an outdoor Everest and tried to bait me with whatever hook he could come up with (first female Everest in Washington!) especially after I did the Cent Cols Challenge ("oh come on, you did 20k of climbing in 1 day in a week of over 150k of climbing, you can TOTALLY do an Everest"). I just had no desire to do an outdoor Everest - why waste a good riding day going up and down one hill? Eventually Daniel gave up trying to convince me, and it seemed like I would never do an Everest. 

Last weekend, I was bored and lacking motivation, so I decided to do a Zwift Century. It took me about 5 hours, and I can't say I felt great afterward, but it did feel like an accomplishment. A little seed entered my head - what about challenging myself with a vEverest? As a joke the day after the century, I brought it up as a joke in a thread with Yee and Daniel -- I reminded Daniel he promised he'd Everest with me. And so, with less than a week's notice, we planned a vEverest for the next weekend. 

how bow dat? 

Aharon sniffed out the challenge pretty quickly and jumped on the band wagon. Daniel had attempted a vEverest before but abandoned from lack of motivation half way, so this was 'new' for all of us. We chose Alpe Du Zwift, a 3400 ft virtual climb, so 8.5 repeats. It seemed so manageable and reasonable at the time... 

I can't say any of us did any reasonable level of preparation for this ride other than buying a lot of (comfort) food. I had a pretty stressful week at work and was only able to bike for a bit Thursday/Friday. Daniel and Aharon had such short notice there was no 'taper', and Daniel had to work till like 10 PM the night before. Let's hope we all have the base fitness we were clearly hinging on to finish this.

A LOT of Food

I started the earliest at about 8:30 AM on Saturday. Immediately, and I do mean immediately, I realized what a god-awful idea this was. As part of the rules, you have to set your trainer to max resistance to "fully" simulate the climb. So what I discovered was Alpe du Zwift was an 8% average climb, spending large chunks of time > 10%, and any time it was over 10%, I was in my easiest gear, out of saddle, grinding away at like 60 rpm (usually I try to ride at 85 rpm). My knees were UNHAPPY.

The set up! 

Fortunately, I set up a FB room for Aharon, Daniel, and I to talk to eachother ("we're here together!"), and I put out the link to our friends for other people to join if they wanted to. I wasn't expecting anyone to join us, and WOW, I was wrong. 

Yee had a nice riding day ! 

Aharon started about 1.5 hours after I did and Daniel started about 3 hours after. People started to join just to say hi - Txomin drank his morning coffee while watching me suffer, Yuval came to say hi and let us know he was about to go on a long, beautiful ride in wine country all day, and Yee called from his ride along the coast in San Diego. Every call was like a little respite from the unrelenting pain of this climb. 

A unique advantage of the vEveresting experience is you *are* allowed to get off your bike on the descents. So it'd take us between 60-100 minutes each climb (me on the slower end!) and then we'd get a blessed 10 minutes off the bike to eat, go to the bathroom, etc. all while still making forward progress. What a good deal! 

I made the mistake of eating sweet potato pie for breakfast, which I then wanted to throw up for the next 2 hours, and I had to look at it the whole day sitting in front of me (taunting me). Other than that, my nutrition was pretty on point - I ate burritos (jalepeno, bean, cheese were the best), sour gummies when I could tolerate sweet again, plain corn chips (this saved me), snickers+almond joys, infinit nutrition Go Far drink mix, and magnesium/salt pills every 3 hours. I did not eat a single granola bar, they sounded vomit-worthy the whole day to my stomach. There were a lot of nutrition challenges throughout the day, I couldn't eat chips while climbing out of saddle, I drank over 2 gallons of water throughout the day, and most of the time I felt sick. 

Friends made it 10000x better

Somewhere around hour 4ish, this really wasn't a fun experience anymore. Honestly, it just hurt a ton. I've never had knee pain before, and I thought my knees were going to implode. Fortunately, we had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day who kept us laughing and entertained! It was such a wonderful surprise and massively improved the experience! People came and did virtual laps with us too - I almost always had someone riding with me. 

We had a lot of inside jokes throughout the day, and my favorite was a long-standing one about drinking salt water (sorry, "Salted-Water"). I think after lap 6, I went to the kitchen, poured a glass of water, added a tablespoon of salt, stirred, drank, and repeated. I came back and was like "I feel so much better, I just drank salt water and it was heaven". Everyone was pretty horrified, except for Aharon who tried it after his next lap and confirmed it was the greatest thing ever, hahaha. 

Somewhere around 25,000 feet, I started to think that this was really going to happen - I was going to finish an Everest! And when I finished, there isn't like a burst of confetti or anything, you just are sitting in your garage after 15 hours, exhausted and sweaty, and just think "omfg, it's over". 

People claim I was smiling most of the day, but honestly I just hurt  

So that was the vEverest - 15 hours and 30k feet over 138 miles! Claire asked me if I would do it with her (as a joke) and I was like "nope. Friends wouldn't ask friends to do this again". I am glad I did it as an experience, but I don't see myself doing an outdoor Everest nor another virtual one of these again. Why? My knees are DYING.  


Really grateful for everyone who joined and especially my two fellow sufferers - Daniel and Aharon. I don't think I could/would have done it without you both! 

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