What is "Everesting"? By Brandon Lee
It is climbing the same vertical elevation gain as Mt. Everest which stands 29,029 ft high. The challenge consists of finding any hill/climb in the world and punching repeat after repeat until you reach 8,848 vertical meters. Oh, and it has to be one ride.
I came across the Hells 500 Everesting challenge in the hospital. Since I was tethered to my bed with nothing to do for two days, I started doing some random searches and somehow found myself reading about this crazy challenge. So the day I got out of the hospital, I told myself I would accept the challenge and conquer it. Originally, I planned to do it mid July but changed my mind as June came. I found out that the online cycling community known as Strava Cycling was dedicating June as a month to raise awareness and donations to earthquake relief in Nepal. I changed the date a month earlier to June 20th and decided to punch it out on the hottest and longest day of the year while doing it for a good cause. After only a week or so of preparation I woke up on Saturday at 4:30AM, gathered my gear, and started my climbing adventure at 5:30AM. Here’s my adventure!
Chantry Flats is a beautiful recreational area for all avid adventurists. Whether it be trail hiking, mountain biking, or road biking up the windy road to the Flats. I decided to do my hill repeats on the windy road leading to Chantry Flats and ending each rep at the Helipad giving me roughly 1450 ft. of climbing each rep. The first run was amazing. I wished every rep was as exciting and comfortable. The cool breeze, rising sunset, chirping birds, and low heat gave an amazing feel to the ride. To add, the road is closed to cars from 6AM-8PM so I had the whole road to myself!
On the second rep down, I was in the drops going 30 mph around a bend when a baby deer decided to jump right in front of me on the road. It was literally a few feet in front of me. Instinctively, I braked extremely hard, bringing my back wheel up and almost crashed into the guard rail. Luckily, I stayed upright and was able to miss the rail by about a foot. So for the first four reps of 3.9 miles of climbing excluding the second descent, everything was comfortable and in my favor. I was also very happy to see three people along the way who came out to say hi and support me!
On the fourth rep down to start my fifth, I saw a huge group of PAA cyclists starting to come up. Boy was I glad to see them. I did not expect to see that many people out! We had a great time chatting at the bottom of the gate and it was a good opportunity for me to rest as the sun started to get hotter. The motivation from the 12 or so people there truly gave me the motivation to do the next few reps. We traveled up to the Helipad together and for the first time, doing reps was out of my head. It felt more like a club ride which really eased my mind and legs. We took some good pictures and had some great talks reminding everyone that I was not doing this only for my personal achievement but as an effort to raise awareness for a greater cause.
After the ninth rep I started to feel a little drained and nutrition deprived. But thanks to great parents, both my mom and dad brought me ice cold water, fruits, smoothies, and more PB&J sandwiches. So for the tenth rep I was able to cling on until I made it back down the mountain. I decided to take my lunch break after the ninth rep which concluded the half way mark. I had a home made burger filled with protein and carbs. I took a break until 4PM cooling myself down as the heat during this time was unbearable. The eleventh to thirteenth rep was sluggish and hellish. During the this time, all I had was myself, music, and my own mental strength to pull me through the exasperating heat.
When I started my fourteenth, it was already 7:30PM and the sun was going down. When I reached the top, the sun had already set and all I had was the light bouncing over the mountains to guide my way. And of course, when you least expect it, something goes wrong. While descending, my garmin completely shut off. The garmin is my only proof which proves I did the ride. And at 20,000 ft. recorded, this was the worst time for something like this to happen. The garmin wouldn’t even turn on and was frozen on a loading screen. Immediately, I pulled out my iphone and started recording from there, hoping to rectify the problem when I got back down the road. On the way down, it was pitch black and I was thankful to see the night crew coming out to help me out. When I got back down to the gate, I spent a fifteen minute break by going home which was just down the street to hopefully move the data from my garmin to the computer. Thankfully, I was able to move the corrupted data to the computer and start a new fit file to complete the rest of the ride. It probably glitched because the garmin couldn’t handle all the data points that I had been recording throughout the day.
By this time, I was completely drained. Even though the temperature was much cooler and once again I had the whole road to myself, I didn’t feel any better than the time I spent in the blazing heat. So from the fifteenth rep to the end, it was hell. I have to give a special thanks to four people who came out between 11pm to 4:30AM to help keep me going. At this point, I had 6 reps left. Every time I came back down the mountain, I really wanted to go home. I was willing to quit and if it wasn’t for these four, I would have. At this point, I was climbing the road anywhere from 3.5 mph to an astounding 6.5 mph. I was swerving across the road, closing my eyes occasionally going up, and clinging for dear life. After each rep, one person would disappear until I was left with just one person, Tommy Liao. Without Tommy, I would not have finished. Period. Thanks for coming out and knocking 7 reps with me!!! My dad came every hour as we descended to replenish my water and nutrition supply. Coffee at the 3rd to last rep did it for both of us. We were awake, alive, and cranking out the gears standing up until finally I hit 29,426 ft. and decided, enough was enough. I finished.
At the bottom, a joy like no other filled me, knowing that the nightmare was over and I had conquered Chantry! I beat the Chantry record by 7 reps and that doesn’t include the extra to the helipad. I completed 20 reps, 29,426 ft elevation gain and set a record for the Everesting Challenge by being the youngest American to do it. Words can’t describe the blood, sweat, and tears, and words can’t describe the joy of all of it finally being over. After sleeping most of today, there are some huge things to reflect on.
One being, being thankful. Everesting is impossible without the support of friends and family, at least for me. The encouragement from those on social media to those actually showing up and pulling me on the mountain really demonstrates friendship and community. I’m blessed to have awesome people in my life motivating me and giving me the strength to keep going.
Secondly, with the help of social media and those I was able to talk to, I’m happy to be a small vessel in the cycling community bringing positive change to those in Nepal. I have heard from a few that they have donated to the cause and am happy I was able to be apart of a great movement.
Thirdly, I want to thank my family. My mom came out every few reps to give me food, deliver a change of clothes, and cheer me on. I’m really thankful for her setting time for me and dedicating her day to come out. But wow…my dad went overboard with the help. He was there every time I needed him and came every hour to deliver anything I requested from food,water, to personal belongings. He made me coffee when I wanted coffee, brought my lights when I needed lights, and cooked me a burger when I wanted a burger. He was up from 7AM to 5:30AM until I got back home. So in other words, my dad spent his Father’s Day supporting me. I now have a better understanding of a parent’s love. Truly unconditional.
For everyone who came out and for everyone who sent me messages throughout the day, thank you bunches because I could not have done it without you. It seems cheesy to say “I couldn’t have done it without you” to everyone but in all honesty I could not have. You never know when you will mentally be drained or physically be drained and you need that extra boost to get you past the next rep. I’m glad I didn’t have to find out the hard way because at almost every rep, there was someone there helping me finish! First link is if you still want to donate. Second link is my strava. It’s been a crazy and long day, I think i’ll go back to sleep now haha.