Everesting may well be the craziest trend in cycling. It’s a painful if slightly sadistic endeavour where the goal is to climb the cumulative height of Mt. Everest at 8848 metres. It has become increasingly popular among weekend warriors and pros alike. Some try it on the local hills, others do it online with a smart trainer, while some even try it at Everest Base Camp. If you’re one of the increasing number of cyclists who want to give it a go, then here’s what you need to know about Everesting.
What is Everesting?
Everesting is the most difficult climbing challenge in the world of cycling. Riders must ride up and down a chosen climb until they reach a cumulative elevation of 8848 metres. It makes for an exhausting day in the saddle that often takes between 10 and 24 hours.
WHAT ARE THE RULES OF INDOOR EVERESTING?
Whatever length of time it takes you, the rules state that you must climb the height of Everest in one outing. You can choose a hill anywhere in the virtual or physical world and ride up and down repeatedly until you reach the required height. If you want it to count officially, then indoor attempts at Everesting must be completed on Zwift and recorded on Strava.
THE ADVANTAGES OF EVERESTING INDOORS
While outdoor mountain views can provide a welcome distraction from the pain of Everesting, completing it indoors helps negate a lot of logistical headaches. Ensuring you have enough food, water and helpers to sustain you over the multi-hour effort outdoors requires some planning. On the smart trainer, this never becomes an issue, and you’ll also enjoy the additional advantages of having a change of clothes, towels, abundant nutrition and (hopefully) fans, close at hand.
Modern smart trainers can effectively simulate the gradient to a remarkable degree, and they ensure that you can do it all year round, in what makes for wonderful base training!
PLANNING FOR AN INDOOR EVERESTING ATTEMPT
You can choose any hill in the virtual world on Zwift. Alpe-du-Zwift represents Zwift’s recreation of the famous Alpe d’Huez and is the most common option for virtual Everesters. It replicates the 21 hairpins over 12.5 km to a remarkable degree. With each ascent of Alpe-du-Zwift comprising 1,050 meters of elevation, it means that you’ll have to ascend it 8.5 times to successfully complete an attempt.
THE SPIRIT OF THE CHALLENGE
The integrity of the challenge depends on everyone buying into a common set of values. When riding outdoors, there’s nothing to stop someone from grabbing hold of a car for a tow or completing the attempt on an e-bike. Indoors, people can adjust their trainer difficulty or underreport their bodyweight. As a result, the onus remains very much upon the individual to buy into the spirit of the challenge and abide by the rules.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SMART TRAINER FOR THE JOB
To ensure that the effort required is consistent for all participants, a smart trainer that can simulate the effects of the climb is a must. Direct drive trainers are best for this, just make sure that you set trainer difficulty to 100% and don’t use ERG mode.
Non-direct-drive trainers are also fine, just bear in mind that the rear tyre on the spindle can sometimes begin to slip at gradients approaching 10%, meaning that you may need to choose the climb profile carefully.
- Gear yourself to succeed. If you’re not used to cycling at 100% difficulty with your smart trainer, then try it out first. It may surprise you just how difficult it can become when the gradient ramps up. The last thing you want is to be under-geared for 10+ hours. Consider a larger sprocket on the rear if you find yourself grinding during a test ride on Alpe du Zwift.
- Prepare enough food and place it within easy reach of your bike. Many opt for energy bars and drinks, but if you need some solid fuel, then consider white rice. It’s easily and quickly digested and will provide a steady stream of glucose for the uphill grind.
- Place towels and spare clothes close at hand. Have a towel or two within easy reach of your bike and consider changing clothes during the descent phases.
- Place a yoga mat by your trainer. Try and use the short breaks during the descent as wisely as possible. As well as taking on some nutrition, try stretching out fatigued muscles to help dissipate some of the lactic acid buildup.
- Use chamois cream! 12 hours plus in the saddle is unchartered territory for most of us. If you’re not used to the distance and find yourself sweating excessively, chamois cream may well be what helps ensure you don’t fall victim to saddle sores and face any forced time off the bike.
- Clean down your bike. Don’t let the inefficiencies creep in. Make sure the drive chain runs smoothly to take back a watt here and a watt there.
EVERESTING: A TALL TARGET
The current Everesting record stands at 7.5 hours in what is literally and figuratively a very tall target! Prepare with plenty of threshold and sweet spot training mixed in with endurance riding. Remember to start out slow and pace yourself in the early stages. And if you’re still feeling fresh upon summiting, and decide to push on past 8,848m and go for 10,000m, then you’ll qualify for Everesting 10K and make it a two-for-one deal!