I met Andy Van Bergen at last year's Taiwan KOM Challenge when he came over to cover the race for CyclingTips.com. He mentioned this thing he'd started going, called Everesting. Pretty simple and yet very original idea: ride up one hill as many times as it takes to gain the same elevation as Everest - eight thousand, eight hundred and forty eight meters.
Let me say that again: EIGHT THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED & FORTY EIGHT METERS.
In one go.
On one day.
On one hill.
That's mad, I remember thinking.
Then as the weeks and months went on I saw the word Everesting popping up more and more, in print, on the web, Twitter, on Strava, it was all over the place.
That's still mad, I thought.
Then Andy called and asked me if I'd like to become the official coaching provider for Everesting.cc, through my CrankPunk Coaching Systems (CPCS).
Why CPCS? you may be thinking.
"When it came time to looking at a training coach to partner with, it was really important to find the right fit. If you are going to ride Keirin, then you find the best damn track coach, and if you want to complete an Everesting, then you find someone who knows about long hours and suffering on the bike. It was for this reason that we settled with Crankpunk Coaching Systems.
"Given the global nature of the challenge we needed a coach with experience dealing with riders from around the globe - and Lee's work pulling international riders as organiser of the world's hardest hillclimb challenge - the Taiwan KOM - seemed to be ticking the right boxes."
And I thought Well alright then. Let's get on with it.
And then later I thought Oh &%$#.
I called Andy.
'Ah, this means I'm gonna have to do an Everesting doesn't it?'
He didn't laugh. He actually cackled.
The great thing about Everesting is that it allows everyone to go out and do something remarkable right in their own town. It puts amazing within reach of all of us. Andy explains:
"For me, the biggest appeal of Everesting is the fact that this monumental and slightly crazy challenge - tackling the highest mountain in the world can be done anywhere on the globe. All you need is a bike, and a bit of imagination.
"The selection of the hill is really half the fun. Do you look for something long and shallow that you can grind your way up all day long, or do you go short and punchy? Do you head to the high country, or pick an urban route? Paved or dirt? The beauty of this challenge is that you can truly make it what you like."
Where did the idea of this challenge come from? It's quite a cool story, as Andy told The Telegraph.
“I had read about George Mallory [grandson of the mountaineer] and his preparation to climb Everest 20 years ago, which involved cycling repeats of a mountain as cross-training. At the crux of his training he rode the equivalent of Mount Everest on Mount Donna Buang, in Australia’s Victorian Alps.
“I was too afraid to vocalise it, but I knew I had found the next Hells 500 epic [H500 is another of Andy's 'events', 500km in one day, a global affair]. I gathered riders who I felt might be interested, and swore them to secrecy. Of 120 interested parties, 65 eventually set out a few months later on the same weekend to attempt this secret event. Of the 65, 40 were successful, and overnight the concept of Everesting was born.”
Except that usually the 20 hours of pain comes before birth, right?
All hilarious jokes aside, I am rather thrillled to have been asked to do this and have already set my sights on one particular climb here in Taiwan to have a crack at my own Everesting.
Right. I better get climbing!