Friday, 3 October 2014
Everesting Solo "I felt I could ride no further"
Richard Seipp highlights the value of support riders after Everesting Mam Tor in Derbyshire.
By Richard Seipp
I've read a number of accounts of people who've done their Everesting ride with friends and or with support teams. It was great reading of the camaraderie, mine was a bit different though, and hopefully this will give a bit of encouragement for those who find themselves without their soigneur or a riding partner when they are keen to give the Everesting challenge a go.
I heard of the Everesting phenomenon only 3 days before I embarked on my ride. The idea really grabbed my attention, and I spent a long evening working out which local hill would be best for an attempt.
I've a couple of mates who I can usually call upon for support for a ride such as this, but they were busy. My wife and children like helping out at sociable gatherings such as 24 hour races. I knew though, that asking them to spend the best part of 24 hours sat in a car by the side of the road miles from any other diversions other than counting sheep, would have met with either contempt, mutiny or me having to make reparations for many weeks after.
The sensible thing I guess, would have been to pick a future date to coincide with a helper or pal to ride with, but the long summer days were coming to an end, and the forecast for the weekend was looking really good. Oh, and I guessed that this being one of the Peak's classic climbs, that others would be eyeing it up. I later found out that this was indeed the case.
My planning was fairly lax, other than working out exactly how many repetitions I needed to do. I didn't want to get that wrong. The next thing was to work out how I was going to count the reps. In 24hr races, I know that after half a dozen laps, I haven't got a clue as to what lap I'm on, so there was no way I was counting the reps off in my head. My wife, no doubt thinking “please don't ask me to come along and count them” quickly came up with a solution. A waterproof marker pen, and a clear plastic bag with some paper in which I fixed to the car window. Every time I rode up the hill and passed the car, I'd tick a rep off.
There were no exact calculations as to what food or drink I was going to need, I just filled the shopping basket with lots of stuff that I like. Pies, cakes, sandwiches, sweets, and coke etc. There was no need for rationing I wasn't going to have to carry any of it on my bike.
I set off just after dusk, figuring that I was less likely to crash on the technical descent in the dark if I was fresh rather than tired later on in a ride. Also it meant, that when I finished, the pubs would be open, and I could drink a celebratory beer or two. Plus I knew that there would be some occasional company from passing cyclists during the day which would no doubt spur me on.
One of the easy things about Everesting is that there is no time constraint, so I didn't bother with setting any targets for how fast I should be riding, or when I should stop. It wasn't a race, the only challenge was to keep the pedals turning when heading uphill.
On the way up each climb, I'd stop at the car which was two thirds of the way up the hill, and tick of an ascent. I didn't carry any water on my bike, so would grab a quick drink while there. I tried to eat a little something every second climb, and a couple of times would have a sit down in the car and eat a good bit more.
One thing I really liked about riding the first 7 hours in the dark, was how interesting a road that I thought I knew reasonably well became, especially when descending. The night time hours didn't feel a challenge at all, but more one of discovering the nuances of the road. I also really enjoyed the lack of traffic and the solitude.
The number of reps went up steadily through the day, and I got to the stage where I thought my goal would be achieved. Maybe due to these thoughts, I became complacent with keeping up my food and drink intake, I may just have been knackered. Whichever it was, I was nearly 2000 metres from Everesting my hill, and my progress was faltering. I'd ride maybe a hundred metres and stop, then repeat. Just past half way up the hill I lay down by the side of the road for a proper rest.
I felt I could ride no further, but as I lay in the grass I knew that if I gave up I'd just have to come back and try again. What I had achieved on that day would count for nothing, those 7000 metres would have to be repeated again.
But either way I decided, the car was still further up the hill, and there was no way I was pushing my bike up a road. Roused by a fellow cyclist from the road's verge, I remounted my bike, and resumed the slow ride to the car.
If there had been a supporter there, I would no doubt have been given either a pep talk about how well I was doing and to carry on, or alternatively told I looked like death, and there would always be another day (both of which I've heard before), on that day I would have argued against the former, and agreed with the latter for sure.
I ticked off the rep on my tally sheet which had become second nature, and stopped to eat and drink. As I sat in the car I counted my tally sheet, a total of 34 ascents. I wasn't at the top of the hill though, there was still the easiest third of one to complete. If I could do that, then maybe I should carry on. I grabbed a bag of jelly babies for company, and left the car to head for the summit once more.
Progress thereafter shifted from the rides previous steady pace, to a fairly slow one. I won't say the last few reps were easy, but once I had banished the thoughts of giving up from my mind I no longer had to stop other than for food and drink.
I was done just after 5pm with plenty of daylight in hand, and with plenty of time to sink some beers in the pub. I was certainly tired though, as I only managed 3 before my bed was calling me.
If you haven't got a support team, don't put off your Everesting attempt, just be prepared to have a stern word with yourself if things aren't going well, and don't park your car at the bottom of the hill. The ride up the hill to the car after my rest in the grass showed me that finishing my Everesting attempt was still a possibility. If the car had been at the bottom of the hill, my decision may well have been different.