Project Pandora: Everesting

Around 2 weeks ago I Everested.   This is/was one of my 2019 targets and something which I had in my mind since the end of 2018.  Now that I'm moving onto other challenges, here are my thoughts and experiences and details I'm sure you'd like to know.   To break it down I'll write this as: FAQ's I've had; "could I do it?" thoughts; and what I did.

Taken from the Hells 500 site:

“FIENDISHLY SIMPLE, YET BRUTALLY HARD. EVERESTING IS THE MOST DIFFICULT CLIMBING CHALLENGE IN THE WORLD.”

The concept of Everesting is fiendishly simple: Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest. Complete the challenge, and you’ll find your name in the Hall of Fame, alongside the best climbers in the world.

FAQ's

What is it?

Everest'ing is the idea of climbing 8848m in accent.   8848m is the height of Everest over sea level and something that 99.9% of the population won't climb (lack of motivation/opportunity/ability/cost etc or just risk of death).  To give a background, George Malory (grandson of that George Malory of Everest fame) did what's thought of as the first cycling Everesting as training for a climbing attempt of Everest.   In 1994 and seventy years after his name sake went missing with Sandy Irvine, the younger Mallory rode 10 laps up Mt. Donna Buang, a 4,000-foot peak in the Victorian Alps.   He became the first known account of Everesting.
“Riding Everest on a bike and climbing the mountain are substantially different, of course,” says Mallory, who at 56 has the third fastest known ride. “Everest by bike is, in my experience, physically harder than any one day on Everest.” 
Since then, the idea has evolved and with the help of GPS tracking, social media and the internet, the ability to track rides has encouraged a new (global) trend in attempts.  The accessibility to do the challenge is simple - a road with elevation, a bike to ride and a GPS tracker with a barometer.   You'll need Strava account (a free one will do) to show what you've done and you too can have a go.

So to move from a curiosity of "eh, more than 8848m, do you know that you gained more height than Everest?" in any ride to "EVERESTING!", around 2014 Andy van Bergen in the Hells 500 group developed the idea of making it an event.   

Who the hell are the Hells 500?

Loosely speaking, they are the riders that are a bit mental.   The Hells 500 are the group of riders that typically will have comments of "mad bastard" uttered about them.   Initiation is riding more than 500km to get in.  They're typically the riders you'll see in the winter, out on a training ride while the wind whips through the spokes, cap low over the brow, waterproof on, tapping out a steady rhythm while the rain and spray streams off the bottom bracket with just another 90km to go.   They're also the riders that'll be hidden in the general stream of spring/summer/autumn fair weather evening club riders; but when the average riders times the ride to end at dusk and heads to the bar, they'll flick on the lights and do "just one more 30km climbing loop, x2 if the legs feel good."   Unlike the now cliche Velominati with the rules, the Hells 500 are a lot less vanity and opinion pushed - with a big enough credit card limit, you can buy yourself into the Velominati look; you have to ride yourself into the Hells 500.   To be part of the Hells 500 crew, anyone can join, you just have to earn it.

Why the fuck would you put yourself through that??

Because I like cycling, have a bike and a hill.   Why wouldn't I??

Did it hurt?

Not really.   Preparation worked well, I was comfortable and in relative suffering, Eds-Lon, LEL and some of the other rides I've done hurt far far more than this.  It's not a suffer to be sneezed at, but yeah, maybe 6th or 7th hardest ride I've done in terms of physical pain.

Was it boring?

No.   

You're spending 20 hours doing repetitions of the same road, seriously, was it boring??

No.   How could it be?  All those hours on a bike are different.   The difference between riding 200km and near 9,000m but on a loop and roughly 200km and around 9,000m on hill repeats is that you see the same scenery in time lapse.   On a typical long distance ride you'll see each bit of road once and only have that very brief glimpse of that location.  In doing repeats, you notice difference, get used to the cycles, see people doing stuff, watch the wildlife, see the sun move, sunsets, moon rises, hear different animal calls, see regular drivers, see other cyclists.........  it was far from groundhog day.

Basic human functions - food, drink, toilets?  

I ate a lot.   Pretty varied too.  A lot of it was standard stuff - pasties, sweets, tins of ravioli, tins of fruit salad etc and things like marshmallows worked.   I probably had too much food, but it's better to have had extra available than wishing I had.......   I did do a longer break at the end of lap 25 where I need a poop and then ate a proper meal of haggis, neaps and tatties.  

How did you keep count?

Simple in a way.  Never thought more than a couple of laps ahead, tried to link the lap number to something ("Lap 18 - when I was 18 I was........") and used the lap function on my Garmin.   Splitting the laps to 5, 10, 15, 20..... chunks gave a focus; "the next lap is 14, so by the end of 15 I can go to the car.   I'm now on lap 14, end of next lap I can break...."   40 laps is a very manageable number - divisible by 10, 5 and 2.

Could I do it?

If you're reading this blog post and interested in cycling, then many of you reading this will be thinking "could I do it?"  The answer is yes.  And no.   Everest'ing isn't the toughest thing I've done.   Physically I've done more arduous rides and mentally I've had bigger challenges.  There's a point in my mind in LEL where I was really broken and by the side of the road I was in some much pain and I could have cried.  It's one of the lowest points I've ever had on two wheels.   This got no where near that level.   A once a week 40 miler rider with a very strong mental attitude could do it.   A very strong long distance rider with a low mental threshold would struggle.  Weighting the attributes needed: 20% equipment, 20% fitness, 60% mental strength.   Should you do it?  Your choice (but yeah, hell of  a bragging right!).   If you have a climb in mind, the time to do it and the right physical and mental stamina, go for it!

My process and experience.

Preparation.

For picking a climb and the ideas, I had a number of options in mind.   Thank you to Matt for all the Whatsapp messages for ideas and discussions.   My shortlist of three potential climbs were; the Snake Pass in the Peaks, Shap in the Lakes and the String on Arran.   


Climbs Pro Con
String I know the road, traffic is light, I'll be there on holiday, road is well surfaced, support can be around if needed.   230m climbing means around 40 laps which is manageable. I'm on holiday.   Might piss off Anna.
Snake Climb is near my parents house for support, I know the road, low rep number, consistent climb Been done before, traffic is horrible, not penciled in for a Glossop stay this year to do it.
Shap Fairly quiet road, moderate number of reps, good road surface No local base for it.  Would piss off Anna asking for a trip to the lakes just for me to go up and down for a day.

This gave a leaning towards Arran in April on the String.

To help build up the "what would it involve?" bit, I used the Everesting Calculator found at https://everesting.io/.   I put in some predictions (which were way out, but gave me an idea) and got an estimated looked like this.  Simple, 39.6 reps.   Call it 40 for whole numbers.   I read a load of blog posts from those who had already done an Everest to get an idea of what would be involved.  Now as everyone is different (and as this experience and blog maybe at complete odds to anyone preparing for their own attempt) I kind of took bits from here and there and forgot the rest.   I liked the advice on chunking, breaks, car locations etc.   Some of the bits about groups and support I ignored (I didn't want to over burden my family)  There are a load of GCN videos about how to prepare for this - please let me know if they are any good as I never got a chance to watch them!

For the build up from Jan, mine was a bit shit in a way.   My original intention was to drop a couple of kilos in weight and yes, I did.   I dropped from around 70-71 kg to 66kg ish pretty easily early in the year.  Then came EuroTrashing it with work and I went up to 69-70 kg again.   Too much good food and travel without the burn meant that my lower mass quickly went back up again.   Say what you want about diets, fads and all that crap, but calories in calories out can't be cheated.  By the start of the Everesting, I was around 69 kg, but firmly packed.

Did you know I got a new bike??  That came fairly late on and only used in 2 or 3 training rides and made the Everesting idea become a reality.   Without the bike, I was ready to shelve the idea and walk/ride away to some other (flatter) idea.

So to get ready, in Jan in the view that I would give it a go and have a bike at some point, I switched a lot of my heavyweight evening riding to heading to the Peaks and looking for steeper stuff.  I had started to do this Nov/Dec as part of the "fuck it, lets just go and explore" mindset I'd been enjoying and only going cautious when the temperatures dropped to the point where I feared I wouldn't be able to fix a mechanical due to fingers being too cold.   When this did happen, I switched to 2 to 3hrs at a time on the turbo watching films, Zwift'ing and Sufferfests.    For roading, any ride with a bigger m/km VAM score was of interest even if it meant riding 20 to 30 miles on the relative flat through Derby to get to the climbs.   Part of this, I love.   I really love.   Cyclist will do cadence drills, sprints, intervals and a whole host of other intensity specific actions.   Cyclist should do this as it's the most constructive way to improve, methodical and gives the biggest jumps in performance.  I however love riding distances over hills in the dark.   It's my kink and being the blinky red rear light and flickering dynamo front on a 20% off Ambergate while the weather gusts I really enjoyed.  It's badass, feels good and allows you to explore rather than drilling the same bits of tarmac and weeks of groundhog day riding.

For proper prep, I did three Enigma rides - 350km to Skegness and back on the flat to check out the new bike, a 120km evening ride with Matt for social, and then 300km climbing through the Peak District to see what climbing is like.   I had read various "you need to be doing 400km steep rides" etc for training, but it didn't happen.   My 400km Notts/Leeds/Sheffield/Notts beast of a ride tapped out at 300km (for now!) due to empty legs, but I was happy with what I can do.  In all of these challenges, part of it is in the legs, the other part in in the head.

The run up to the day.

Jumping to April and being on Arran, our holiday was just that.   We were walking on beaches, exploring, climbing, doing, eating and being an extended family.   On the Wednesday as a family we walked 13 miles doing Goatfell, the Castles and Glen Rosa.   Screw my Everesting, my kids doing that walk is more impressive!  On the way back down from Goatfell, I was cautious of knees and feet (I hate those walk backs, much prefer going up).   With around 4 miles to go, I opted for trying to scavenge every calorie around in every rucksack to prepare.   I could start with walkers legs, but not empty glycogen stores.

That evening I went with my brother to the Co-Op, stocked up on food, had a huge pasta meal and we scouted the car parking spot.   I had considered leaving the car at the top, but opted for the bottom due to space and location - around 100 or 150m from the turn around junction and it's easier to get to the car on a soft tyre at the bottom than at the top.  There was plenty of space and I wouldn't be blocking anyone.  The Garmin was configured and all batteries charged.   I went to bed early and set an alarm for around 5am.

My Garmin.

Yeah yeah, I love reading DC Rainmakers blog.   It's a treasure trove of tech and geek fest details on Garmins, GPS trackers, devices, ANT+ sensors and the whole lot.  But I still ride with my old and aging Garmin Edge 510.  But where I was going, wasn't exactly going to be very varied.  For Everesting, I set up a very specific profile -

  • Speed - how fast can I go down hill?
  • Total Accent - the ONLY metric that really counted.
  • Distance -interest only.   It was really irrelvent, but gave a distraction and relative distance to weekday rides etc.
  • Time of Day - gave me an idea of what was going on around me.   It really is dinner time!
  • Temp - this help with clothes.  I'll often ride with temp because when tired, body temp can get a bit screwy.  Temp gives it a benchmark
  • Garmin battery - last thing I wanted was to lose the data or run out of juice.   My plan was to run the Garmin by day, hook up the battery in daylight so that I could free the mount for a torch at night.



Thursday 18th April - the ride day.

Around 5 am I got ready and tried not to wake the rest of the house.   I ate, put the bike on the roof and went to the car park.   I felt nervous and not at all sure I would be doing this.   I loaded pockets with a little bit of food and had one bottle in the cages, one left to grab from the roof and clipped in.  I set the Garmin recording and rolled to the start point.

Lap 1.

To give an idea of what goes through the head of someone starting this (and my mindset that morning), should you have been able to hear what was going on in my head, it would have been as follows:

"What the fuck am I doing?   I'm not sure about this.   I'm not sure I've prepared for this.  Did I eat enough this morning?   This is rep 1, lets see what this climb is like.   Don't think I've done this road in this direction; I must have in those pre-GPS days.  I've come down it I'm sure on my old bike, I must have been around 18 then, but not up it, or have I?   Bloody hell, that was a long time ago, nearly 20 years!   I'm not convinced I can do this, so lets do a couple of laps, see what it's like and then have a think about it later.   Even if I do 5 or so or 2 hours of reps, that's alright.   I didn't big it up before and only a few people know I'm doing this so I can simply put on Strava "Hill reps" and no-one will know I've failed Everesting.   Right, first set of corners.   Bit steeper, but it'll ease in 200m.   I can do this first bit.   First steep bit done, now on the easy bit, let it roll.   It's chilly in the forest, it'll be different when the trees go.   Should I big ring it now it's flatter or up shift rear and keep on the granny?   Lets try both.   Both work, but granny will be more simple.   Ok, not feeling too bad.   Here's the bridge.   Drops a little so I can rest a second, but good so far.   Tress have gone now, I'm going to get warm!  I can see the flag to the right, that'll give me an idea of cross winds or if nature is going to hate me today.  I'm in luck with light winds, lets see if it stays like that.   Shit, here's the ramp after the bridge.  Keep calm, down shift all the way to the bottom and spin that 36x29.   OK, in bottom gear, but I can roll with this.   Starting to sweat, unzip time.   Keep going.   Aha!  Gradients easing, lets risk going up a click or two.   Oh look, layby on left, it's empty at the moment.   Maybe I could have put the car there?   Stupid idea, it's getting steeper again.   Fuck this is steep.   I can't see the ramp of the road as it's a straight road, but I can feel it kicking my thighs.   Bottom gear, keep going, out of the saddle if I need to.   Will I need more gears when I'm into the 30 plus reps?  It's easing again, must be getting closer to the top.  I can see the road curling around the corner, nearly there.   Feeling really warm now.   Couple more posts to go.  Why the fuck is it getting steeper here!?!?!  Last kick!   Shit that hurts!   My brow feels sweaty; was this cap overkill??   Easing again.   Nearly there!   I can see the top.   DONE!   Now roll past the end point and recover a little.   Is it flat here or dropping?  I think I've gone far enough but don't want to waste time and road going too far.   What if I haven't gone far enough to trigger the segment?   Right, turn around.  I'm slow at the moment, I'll take a big drink.  Now zip up to the top, this is going to be cold.  This is going to be a quick drop back down again.  Right, lets spin.   Shift all the way back up through the gears.   I've got a chance to kick up to 52x12!   Nice, I can put a bit of pressure on and squeeze the thighs.  Gaining speed now.   Fuck it's cold. Fuck it's COLD.   BRAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNN FREEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!   WOOOOHOOOOO !!!  Going fast, I can see a change in tarmac.   Bit of a jolt there, noted.  Bridge then bends coming up so lets scrub off some speed and get the line right.   Easy on the bends now.  Roads clear; ACCELERATE!   This feels good!   I'M IN THE TdF BABY!  Loving this bike.  The wheels sound top with the carbon whirring.   Spin through the woods, temps dropping again, looking forward to climbing and getting heat into me again.   Corners, cautious, gravel in the middle.   Right, slow down, scrub speed.   Glad I'm on discs not rims because I'm getting some heat in these.   I'll need to be either side of that gravel on the next set of reps.   Traffic is light down here, lets see what the junctions like.   It's clear and space to turn around.  Slowly now, down shift, granny ring it ready for next rep.   First lap done.  Now the next......"

From then on, confidence slowly gained pace.   In the opening laps, I had forestry trucks as traffic as they must have an agreement to be off the tourist roads before 9am.  Some surges came through from ferry traffic but on the whole, traffic was light.  As I settled to the rhythm of the climbs, I blocked out the next 35 reps from my mind.   At this point, they didn't exist.   I thought of lap 5 and the fact that at the end of that lap, I could go to the car, switch a bottle and see how I'm doing.   Lap 3 was over half way to lap 5, so think of that.   Lap 4 would be 230m x 4 so getting close the first 1,000m mark which is an average Tuesday ride on the Newark loop, and only 6km before lap 5.   I'll be at lap 5 soon'ish which will be over 1,000m and first 8th done.  Also rep 5 is half way to rep 10, which will be a quarter of the reps done and more than 2,000 meters of climbing done.  This may be doable.   Just have to repeat that logic for reps 6 - 10, 11 - 15, 16 - 20 and so on.  By the time I got to the end of lap 5 I realised I'd made a major mistake - I'd left my spork at home.  Luckily, the family were about to pass and brought me the spork and gave me some motivation - I could have a laugh with my kids and family and I could have my tin of ravioli!

Over the course of the morning, I started to tick off the reps, never thinking more than a couple of laps ahead.   The 10's would be my big stops, the 5's would be my quick stops and see if that works.

I did start to see things change which kept my interest.   A pair of buzzards hunted all day along with a hen harrier above my head and I'd see them swooping or standing on fence posts.  I saw walkers and a couple of other cyclists about.   A van parked up in the layby half way up the climb bird-watching and supporting conservation work.   Through the day I kept seeing the same truck doing his daily business and started to look out for him - "is it the Thompson truck with a reg ending in ABU?"   After a couple of passes, we took to waving to each other.  In a way, after 4.30pm which I assume is when he finished work, I didn't see him again and I kind of missed it.   I had heard that boredom of repetition eats away at you so take a podcast or music, but after hours and hours by myself on long rides, this wasn't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting.   On one lap, a generic SUV passed me before turning round and dropping down to the picnic area by the bridge.   A rep later, they were eating.  The next rep, they were packing up.   Next rep, they were driving off.  Each rep was a bit like a slice of a time lapse movie.

At the end of lap 10 came choices time: what to eat??  It was a minor thing, but a welcome focus point.   Pasties? Fruit?  Ravioli?  Maybe sweets?  Marshmallows?   Mix them all up and a bit of everything??

As I got to around lap 18, I started to think, "maybe I can do this?" and that risky daring to think I could do it.   I didn't want to be over confident as still only half way and the second half could have any number of unknown problems.  I was comfortable, climbing well, no pain and the climb was now familiar.   Lap 18 was only a couple of laps to 20, the family had said that they would come and visit and lap 20 would also mark the halfway point.   

By lap 20, all was well.   Times were slowing but fatigue was manageable.  I needed a boost, but I could keep going.   Then nature called......   that feeling of "do I need the loo or can I put it off a little longer?"   So I opted for 5 more climbs and see how I do.

By lap 25, I was ready for an extended break so I headed back to the cottage.   I switch to 3/4 length leggings in prep for the night, dropped weight and ate a full meal.   I got the chance to kiss the kids good night and then headed back onto the hill refreshed.  I asked Anna to see my at lap 30, as I thought this would be the point I'd need the boost.   Re-starting climbing, I was doing well.   Over half way done!

The next 5 laps were now becoming automatic and my time improving with food.   I knew what to expect when, traffic was now scant and I could use the whole road to smooth out bends with car head lights giving me ample warning if they were coming the other way.  My lap time had been around 23 minutes, stretched up to around 27 mins and were now hovering around 25 to 26 depending on light and comfort.   I knew when to sit or stand, which road surfaces to dodge and even had fun seeing if I could get top to bottom without touching the brakes.   I ticked off mental milestones: 3,900m was roughly a Fred Whitton; 4,424m was half Everest; around 4,500m was my Northern Leg Breaker climbing rides; 6,300m was the most I'd done in a single day ride, beyond 6,300m was only known in LEL and that was a very different event.

By lap 30, all was good.   Anna and Emma came to visit and check on me.   I had been thinking that lap 40 would be the next "big break" in my mind.   In reality, lap 40 would be all the climbing done!   The end of lap 40 would not be a break before the next 5 or 10, but more than 8848m and Everest conquered!  With that realisation, it was time to knock out these two last sets of fives and an extra lap for sure.   Let's go!

Laps 31 and 32 ticked off with the glow of the torch.   Lap 33 kicked off and through the woods and bends I climbed.   When the road eased, I relaxed and started the easy spin before the next ramp after the bridge.   Suddenly in the dark a shape formed and staring straight at me was a doe, standing in the middle of the road.  We had a bit of a Mexican standoff as I slowed, and then I twigged; I can see the doe, the doe can't see me, only my light.   So I said "Boo" and the doe shot off into the woods.   The rest of that set I saw owls, heard hooting and calls and enjoyed the night and the bright moon light.   For the rest of the ride, I wasn't fearful of wildlife on the climbs, but if I was descending at speed, I'd have to be alert just in case.

Lap 35 break skipped through and then onto the last 6 reps.  Easy!  And with a caffeine gel, the end was in sight.   By lap 40 and the last climb to do the full height, all was good - and then my light flashed telling me the battery was running low.  Now the dilemma - stop and switch lights or ride on?   Would I have enough juice for lap 40 and 41?  Fuck it, I'll risk it.

Lap 40 done, I did the last turn and headed up lap 41.   This felt good!  Lap 41!   Over 8848m climbed!!  If I've counted right, I'm now an Everest'er!  Time to settle down and repeat my mindset; "40 to score, 41 to be sure."   If anything I was feeling good and I could keep going.   Lap 41: last climb on the chicane, last climb over the bridge, last climb on those final ramps - and then the light died.   Not to worry!   The moon was bright and one last drop down to the car.   I zipped up my jersey for the last time and headed silently plummeting back down the hill in the dark and back to sea level.

By 3.30am I was back and done.   Unlike so many other sporting events, this finally was extremely understated.   There were no fanfares and fireworks; no finish line, funnel through the sponsors stands, music or announcers; no clapping, t-shirt and medal with a goodies bag.  No-one met me, it was just me in the dark by my car, my front light dead and my rear light blinking red.   I pressed stop on the Garmin after one last check of the accent climbed - I didn't want to be stupid now.   I pressed save and stood in silence, watching the screen as it stored the data, not daring to touch it.  Ride saved.   Now time for a very quiet "woohoo!" and drink a kids Yazoo chocolate milkshake while I took off my shoes.   I put the bike on the roof of the car, quietly closed the car doors and did the short drive to the cottage.

Back at the cottage I quietly brought the bike inside and headed for a shower, uploaded the Garmin file to my phone for pushing through to Garmin Connect and Strava.   Once there I titled it, plugged phones and things in to charge and very quietly slipped into bed with Anna, making sure I didn't wake anyone else in the house.

Everesting: Done.
Mood:  Epic.
Pain: not bad.

The morning after.

I didn't get much sleep.   The sun came through the open curtain, woke me and the adrenaline of the previous 24hrs picked me up.  I had now recorded a GPS record of climbing over 8848 meters and pushed it to Strava, but this doesn't count just yet.  The next few steps were unknown to me as not a very common sequence.   I did my VeloViewer update from my phone and pushed the "Submit Everesting ride."   I followed the guidance, filled in the form and waited.  In a way I was very apprehensive to call myself an "Everester."  What if the Hells 500 reject it??   What if I made an error??  I'd have to wait.



Physically, I was a bit wooden, but not bad.   After Edinburgh - London my legs were destroyed and I famously had to crawl backwards downstairs at Sals house to get food around 3am and couldn't walk properly for around 2 weeks after that one.  After LEL, I had odeama in the legs and drank shandy with my feet in the air.  This time, a bit stiff, but nothing wrong.   The kids were tired, we mooched around Brodick and I could recover.   Mentally, wow!  I'd done it!

The week after.

The following week was a bank holiday and return to work and the waiting for the official Hells 500 nod of "you've done it."   The kudos and comments on Strava built up and the word had gone around my work place; even a few weeks later people still catch up with my and think it's crazy.   On the Tuesday morning, the most important Strava comment on my profile appeared:


It was now officially official.

Aftermath.

First obligatory credit has to go to my friends and family fo the support.   I'll name check Anna, Chris, Emma, Rebecca, Rufus and Ella for immediate support.   And Matt Rus for the Whatsapp messages and discussions and riding with me on the run up to this challenge.   Also a shout out to Windmill Wheels for selling me the bike and the bike fit which made all the difference and opened up the idea to a real possibility.   Hells 500 have to take credit for the organisation and hosting of the results and being guardians of the 8848.

My immediate thoughts are:  I want to do it again.  I want to go for the 10,000m.  That felt good!   I LOVE the HELLS 500 ethos in riding and want to explore more options.

The ride was hard, but manageable.  I think this is more to do with my comfort zones and the structure of reps than anything else.  Everesting does not have to be flashy, but it is an amazing thing to put your body through.

As a side note, tangent and a cultural reference, there's a time each week when I take my kids to a club and watch - I'll keep it vague not to embarass or overtly virtue signal.  The kids do their thing and I quietly watch/read.   I often overhear the loud chatter of other parents while I'm there.  The parents (a dad in particular) I'll refer to often goes on about how they did a fast 40 miles on their carbon fibre superbike or an amount of time on the Wattbike in a vastly overpriced gym.  I know the fella has done some sportives and will have the t-shirt or bottle to show for it but the talk is extremely arrogant, boastful and egotistical (yes, the irony of me writing a blog about myself).  A lot of what they talk about I would classify as "twat waffle."  To me, the challenge of Everesting was very personal and in a way very modest.  I wanted to (and still want to) see how far I can explore my physical and mental limits.   This ride opened them up a little more and expanded on those limits.   The only person I wanted to beat was my old foe and I feel like I am beating him good and proper.  I wanted to also push myself to go to the Hells 500 Grey Stripe club, which is something that at the moment only around 5,000 people globally qualify for compared to the 20,000 people per year who do the London100 sportive and get the T-shirt, medal and Strava track.  The other dad can pay for gym Wattbikes, plastic bikes and enter 100 mile sportives, but to go through LEL, Everesting and the other challenges I've set take a different route.   As "a cyclist" I'll sit quietly listening to the other boasts.  I said my ride was modest, mainly because if it wasn't for Strava and it being shown there, my circle of influence would be a lot smaller and as people talk, the reputation spreads.  That dad won't know that I have now earned my Grey Stripe or what that means.


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