PREPARING FOR AN EVERESTING
Choosing your climb
– Make sure you thoroughly understand the rules of what is considered an acceptable climb. For a full run down on the rules head here.
– Choose a climb that suits your strengths as a cyclist. Too shallow a gradient and you will be doing one hellava lot of kilometres leading to an extra long day in the saddle. Pick too steep of a climb and your legs will be screaming at you later in the challenge. Choose something you can sustain all day.
– Calculations: A great resource to help calculate your number of laps, work out approximate times, and any elevation gain on the descent is The Everesting Calculator. It’s not gospel, but it’s a pretty handy tool.
– Test out a bunch of potential options, and always recci the climb beforehand.
– Think about conditions of the climb. Will there be lots of traffic on the road? Will it be safe at night? What is the descent like – particularly when fatigue sets in? Is there somewhere safe to turn around at the top and bottom?
– Consider amenities near the climb. Are there toilets nearby? Is there somewhere to set up your base camp? Make sure you have easy access to your supply of water, food and clothing.
– Test all gear before the day, charge all batteries and consider having back up equipment
– Our preference is for the ride to be recorded with a dedicated GPS device which has an altimeter or barometer (i.e. not a Garmin Forerunner).
– Consider running a second unit if you are worried about any data mishaps. Mount the second unit on the bars or in a pocket.
– We suggest you take pictures of your stats throughout the ride. History has shown that data can fail, either on the bike or in the upload. Data is important, but we understand shit happens. So long as you can sufficiently prove the ride we’ll accept it. We’ll decide on a case-by-case basis and may include the requirement to ‘pinky swear’
– Batteries of these devices tend to die after around 15 hours of recording. A portable battery pack is a cheap solution for charging on the fly.
– Please note that units such as the Garmin Edge 500 will reset if plugged in mid-ride. Not cool. The workaround is to find an OTG (On The Go) micro USB cable (look it up, they only cost a few bucks). This cable has a pin removed which ‘tricks’ the unit into ‘thinking’ that it isn’t actually plugged in. Test it beforehand, but trust us – it works. Also good for charging your phone on alternate laps (#protips). One battery extender will service dual Garmins (if you decide to go down that path)
– Switch off the tones on your unit and protect your sanity! That little auto-pause beep when you are going through the trees will drive you nuts down the track!
– If your recording device does go haywire mid-ride don’t stress it. You can switch to a mobile, or another device and you can splice the files later.
– Commuting lights just won’t cut it.. it will be dark out there, and you’ll need something more powerful. Speak to your MTB buddies, they will have something you can lend. Search around and you should score a set for $50
– To save on battery life use a commuting light for the climb and the powerful light for the descent!
– Make sure you bring along fully charged light, spare batteries or portable battery pack.
– Gearing. A bit of extra gearing: Just because you have them, doesn’t mean you need to use them.. but a 28, 30, or even 32 tooth rear cassette can be an absolute godsend later in the day! A cassette can be pretty cheap if you shop around, and don’t be afraid to get a lower-speced cassette.
– Cycling Kit – prepare for all weather and conditions. Better to have options on the day rather than wishing you had packed a rain jacket.
– Make sure you choose a pair of knicks you will be comfortable spending many hours in. Check out our suggestion. If our knicks are good enough for Hells 500 rider Joel Nicholson to wear for 600km plus days in the saddle you can be sure they will serve you well for an Everesting.
– A new kit change will be really appreciated and give you a new lease for life.
– Chamois cream – highly recommended for long rides acting as a lubricant and having antibacterial properties, chamois cream will minimise friction and keep saddle sores at bay. You will be grateful for this after a few hours in the saddle!
– Bike set up – before an endurance event it is recommended to get a proper bike fit. You are going to spend many hours on the bike and you want to ensure comfort and efficiency. Ensure you trial the new set up prior to the big day to allow any tweaks.
– Bike service and maintenance – check brakes, gearing and investigate any annoying creaks.
– Ensure adequate sleep and rest prior to the Everesting.
– Training plans – The experts at Crankpunk have put together Everesting specific training plans. Through the Crankpunk training system there are 4, 8 an 12 week training programs available catering to a variety of ability levels.
As the Official Coaching Provider for Everesting, Lee Rogers can help guide you on your journey up your own personal Everest, whether it be with 1-2-1 coaching or through the pre-written, fully-adaptable Everesting Plan. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Even the most well trained endurance athlete can’t possibly store all the energy required for a mammoth event such as an Everesting.
– Preparing properly through nutrition in the lead up and on the day could be the difference between success and failure.
– The key is to hydrate and nourish your body properly in the lead up, eat a constant supply of real food during the event and replenish the stores post event.
– It is important not to try anything new – training for an Everesting includes trialling food. Find out what you like, what your body processes the best and what you are still likely to be able to stomach after long hours on the bike. Get used to eating while moving on the bike.
– This is a basic guide and as such may not suit each person. Make sure you do your own research and consult nutritionist experts if required.
Main nutritional considerations:
1. Increasing existing energy (Glycogen) stores in muscles through carbohydrate loading
One of the main types of fuels used by muscles for energy production during endurance exercise is glycogen. Glycogen is the stored form of the carbohydrate glucose. Muscles usually store enough glycogen for 90 mins of endurance exercise.
For an event such as Everesting that lasts longer than 90 mins, Carb loading is important to increase the stores of glycogen available. Carb loading aims to increase the store of glycogen that the muscles can tap into once the normal stores are used up. One effective way of carb loading involves exercise tapering combined with increased carbohydrate intake a few days prior to your Everesting.
Recent research has refined recommended carbohydrate loading methods. The current recommendation is to have 1-4 days of exercise taper while following a high carbohydrate diet of 7-12g carbs per kg of body weight. This has been shown to elevate muscle glycogen levels sufficiently. (Reference)
A note on protein. With carb loading being the focus pre-event, it is a common mistake for athletes to omit protein from their diet. Your body needs protein on a daily basis. Hence, you can and should eat a small serving of low-fat proteins such as poached eggs, yogurt, turkey, or chicken as the accompaniment to most meals (not the main focus), or plant proteins such as beans and lentils (as tolerated). (Reference)
For more info on Carb loading, head to the AIS.
2. Effective and efficient energy consumption on the day
Even with the best carb loading regime the muscles are capable of retaining only a certain amount of usable energy stores. This is where nutrition on the day to supplement the intake of carbs is important.
“Depletion of body carbohydrate stores may cause heavy legs due to glycogen depletion of the quads or ‘hunger flatting’ due to reduced blood sugar levels. While some cyclists are more affected by low blood sugar levels than others, all cyclists will benefit from preserving carbohydrate levels during long rides”. – AIS –
To prevent depletion of energy it is recommended to eat before you are hungry. Be prepared and ensure you have access to sufficient supplies. Setting up a base camp with access to a variety of foods and hydration will be essential. Aim for a combination of real foods along with sports bars, gels and sports drinks. Carbohydrate intake needs to start before you hit a hunger flat. Aim for about 30-60 g of carbohydrate per hour. Commence carbohydrate consumption early on in the Everesting to avoid low stores in the latter stages of the ride.
Examples of 50 g Carbohydrate Intake:
– 3 medium pieces fruit
– 2 cereal bars
– 800 ml cordial
– 500 ml juice
– 50 g jellybeans or jelly lollies
– 1 jam sandwich
– 800-1000 ml sports drink
– 2 carbohydrate gels
On the bike, a range of solid and liquid forms of sustenance is recommended. Sports drinks are a great choice – providing both carbohydrate and fluid. Experiment with different sports drinks during training to discover what you like and can stomach over long periods of time. In hot conditions, when fluid needs outstrip carbohydrate needs, you may require additional fluid such as water.
Many previous Everesters will recommend eating on the descent phase allowing your body time to digest and process the kilojoules before beginning the ascent again. This also minimises time between laps having breaks which can significantly add up over the course of the day adding to total ride time. Portable foods include bananas, dried fruit, sports bars, cereal bars and gels.
It all comes down to personal experience and metabolism however many previous Everesters will express caution against the consumption of too many gels due to the dramatic sugar high and subsequent low experienced along with the effect they can have on the stomach. Some suggest reserving carbs with extremely high sugar contents for later in the day when “things start getting a little wonky” -Sarah Hammond-
– It is a good idea to have a mix of proteins and carbs a few hours out from beginning the ride. A big bowl of rolled oats with honey and cinnamon and some scramble eggs with ham & cheese. Consider a top up 1hr before you start with a rice cake and/or banana depending how hungry you are plus a bottle of electrolytes/water for hydration.
Beginning the day in a well hydrated state will allow your body to function more efficiently. This begins with good training practices keeping hydrated along with increasing fluid intake a few days out from the ride. It is also important to maintain proper hydration throughout the ride.
Fluid needs will vary according to exercise intensity and environmental conditions. Fluid losses of approximately 300 ml/hr to 1200 ml/hr are reported in the literature but in some conditions, losses are expected to be much higher.
It is important to hydrate with a variety of fluids including sports drinks and water.Where possible it is better to begin drinking early in exercise and adopt a pattern of drinking small volumes regularly rather than trying to tolerate large volumes in one hit. Most athletes can tolerate 200-300 ml every 15-20 minutes but tolerance will vary according to the exercise intensity. (AIS)
Plan ahead particularly if attempting an Everest in a remote area. You may not have access to fresh drinking water so setting up base camp with a generous supply is important.
Summary of Fluid Guidelines from the Australian Institute of Sport:
-Begin each exercise session in fluid balance. This requires drinking regularly throughout the day leading up to training or competition. Have a drink with all meals and snacks.
-Immediately, before exercise commences, consume 200-600 ml of fluid.
– Develop a plan for fluid intake for all exercise sessions longer than 30 minutes. Aim to match previous fluid losses as closely as possible
-Begin drinking early in the exercise session and continue to drink small amounts regularly. Sports drinks or water are the best options. Replace any residual fluid deficit after exercise. You will need to drink 150% of any fluid deficit in the 4-6 hours after exercise to account for ongoing sweat and urinary losses. When fluid losses are high and/or rapid rehydration is required, sodium replacement may be required. Sports drinks, oral rehydration solutions and salty foods can all contribute to sodium replacement. To calculate an estimation of your fluid loss during exercise go here.
– Don’t underestimate the challenge, it will push you to your physical and mental boundaries, prepare well physically and mentally.
– What to expect: The infamous everesting ‘death zone’ (above 7,00m), exhaustion, lack of sleep, descending in the dark
– Physical and mental exhaustion. Due to the length of time you are likely to be out on the bike you will inevitably encounter exhaustion. It is possible to plan for and minimise this.
– If you can start your Everesting attempt at midnight, you first night stint will hopefully see you through to morning without experiencing too much tiredness and fatigue.
– When the sun comes up naturally your body clock will kick in and fatigue should not be an issue.
– By the time the following evening hits and normal bedtime comes around hopefully you will have the finish line within sights spurring you on despite looming fatigue. The earlier you can start the Everesting the less likely you will still be out on the bike when nighttime fatigue hits.
– It is critical to minimise breaks throughout the day as this time accumulates adding hours of pushing on through darkness and fatigue at the other end.
– Sherpas: There is going to be a lot of support out there on the mountain. You will find yourself needing it at times, and then later the exact same thing will drive you insane.
– Know in advance that no one is there to intentionally irritate you
– It’s important that you know you can tell your support folk to ride more slowly, to speed up, to stop talking, to start talking, to let you listen to tunes, to leave you in peace, or to get your buds around you.
– They need to be tough enough to pull you out of the pain cave if need be.
– They should be able to talk without asking for conversation in return. You don’t want to be talking when fatigued, you will need all available energy to ride and focus in the dark.
– You’re gonna get pretty weird after 12hrs, embrace it
– Your own headspace is the most important thing, don’t compromise that for the sake of being polite.
Other Preparation Considerations
– Let someone know your plans if you are attempting a solo Everest, particularly in remote areas
– Prepare a time schedule in advance. Sticking to your schedule will help prevent adding unnecessary hours onto your elapsed time
– Pace yourself, start too fast and risk blowing up later in the day, especially when you hit the ‘death zone’.
– “Don’t take it too seriously. Have a plan for food, pacing and hydration and stick to it but it’s still just a bike ride. Talk, laugh, have fun. That’s why we ride bikes isn’t it?” -Kevin Benkenstein-
– “You’ve got more ability than you realise and you just have to keep pedalling.” -Kevin Benkenstein-
Pointers on descending in the dark or in poor visibility – by Col Bell
– Descending at night introduces some additional risks – wildlife and darkness – both of which require riding well within your comfort zone.
– Riding within your comfort zone shouldn’t be too much of a problem after a few laps as the descent is a good opportunity to rest. When resting, you still need to be alert and ready for the unexpected. Wombats and Kangas are pretty dopey and have a tendency to go about their business without looking left and right for fast approaching cyclists. You need to be ready – relaxed and ready, not petrified and stiff.
– Darkness: good lights are worth their weight in gold. We can get by on commuter-type lights in the city because street lights help out. There are often no street lights on mountain climbs and you will be possibly be riding in complete darkness – hopefully aided by moonlight – but count on near-black darkness. Low powered lights are generally fine for the ascent but candle-power won’t cut it on the descent. Borrow decent lights if you have to. You also need enough batteries to go the distance.
– Batteries: it is a good idea to carry a spare battery on you in case one goes flat part way through a lap or you have an extra long lap unexpectedly. Eg getting a flat. You don’t want to be doing the last 10 minutes in the complete darkness down a twisty descent.
– Using a low powered light on the ascent is a good way to conserve the batteries on your powerful lights coming down. If you plan on conserving batteries by using flasher mode on the way up, make sure you aren’t blinding those coming down on the descent. Some lights are mighty powerful and almost burn your retinas out on flasher mode, especially in complete darkness.
– When tired, particularly if really tired, expect your skills to deteriorate. Allow an extra safety buffer as you get progressively more tired. A good Sherpa leading you down the mountain is a good idea if you can arrange it. Alternatively, buddy up with others coming down.
– Reference points: in darkness, look for visual clues that give you early warning as to where the road is going. Lines on the side of the road are a good start. You may not be able to see as far ahead as you normally would in daylight, so use what you have and adjust your riding accordingly. This is especially true if it is foggy. Staring directly into fog – when all you can see it white – can be a bit scary. If it is foggy, adjusting your light downwards so that the fog doesn’t reflect your own white light back into your eyes can help. Hopefully if will be a clear night.
– Eating on the descent: this is a strategy but be mindful that you may not be that keen to take your hands off the bars once speed picks up on the descent. Easy access to food is key. Eating on the climb is an equally valid option, particularly as most riders will settle into a rhythm and be tapping it out on the climb.
– Keep your legs turning over: Most people will use the descent for a well-earned rest. The descent will consume good chunks of time and may be cold at times. It is a good idea to keep your legs turning over on the descent, even if just soft-pedalling. If you roll down the whole way, your legs can shut down and may need a warm-up period to get going again. Likewise after taking breaks. Doing this repeatedly can take a toll on you. A lot of experienced riders advise that it is better to minimise time off the bike and keep pedalling so as not to break your rhythm.
– Minimising breaks: Dilly-dallying throughout the day could cost a lot of extra time when it is added to the end of the day – especially if you have entered your second night shift. Even small breaks can add up to hours. Lost time when the weather is nice and light is good can translate to a LOT OF EXTRA TIME when you are really tired at the end. It is not unusual to see 5 hours+ of non-riding time during an Everest. Eating on the go and using your sherpas to bring you things can help keep non-ride time to a minimum.
– Final advice: don’t over-complicate things. It’s just a ride, albeit a long ride. You know your body, listen to it. Time will fly by. You will get to a place where it is just you and the mountain – no pretending – stripped back to your raw humanity. Succeed or fail, you’ll discover things about yourself.
-After an epic challenge such as Everesting your body can feel really depleted. Post ride it is important to take on as much fuel as you can stomach. The following day focus on replenishing your nutritional and hydration stores. You will be hungry so don’t hold back.
– Some people benefit from hot/cold baths after a ride to aid muscle recovery and prevent DOMS.
– A gentle recovery ride in the following few days focusing on the legs spinning will help the muscles to recover more effectively.
– Expect to experience a big high for a few days accompanied by a great big low a few days later. This is normal.
– Sleep, sleep, sleep
– Log your ride on everesting.cc, once approved you will be eligible for the Grey Stripe kit and will be issued with your personalised infographic to share/use to boast on social media.
– Wear the Grey Stripe with pride
– Start planning for your next Everesting
– Want more of a challenge? Attempt to complete the Everesting SSSS
A final note from George Mallory:
“There are some things that are not well suited to being described in words. And one of them is the difficulty of finishing an Everest ride. So what can I say? I know some of you have one, or more, Everest rides to your credit. You will appreciate the enormous magnitude of the task and don’t need me to tell you. You have found out the hard way just how difficult life gets when you have ridden 6000 m, there’s no gas in the tank, and you need to hoist your good yourself up another 3000 m. For the first timers, can I suggest, respectfully, that you brace for the hardest day of your bike riding lives to date.
Prepare to defend your true self against a barrage of negative inner thoughts that will insist that riding up Mt Everest is meaningless rubbish. In the early stages, maybe at dawn, or around 3000m, you may need to defend against euphoria and slow down. Towards the end, when riding your bike uphill becomes seriously hard, perhaps stop for a short rest if you need to.
For me, the bit I found particularly challenging on Donna was starting laps 6, 7 and 8 because my legs shut down on the long descent. Take care descending. It’s now a bit over 20 years since I first rode Everest on Donna Buang. May THE FORCE be with you, each one of you, from the beginning and all the way through to the finish!”