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Everesting Take 2: Fuck It All 26 September 2020

Mr. Bubbles: And things have indeed gone wrong.

Tina has informed me that I cannot read her blog entry about my second Everesting attempt until I finish writing my own and post it. So, here I am, almost two weeks later, reminiscing about yet another failure. Oh, yippee.

Let’s see. What to say, what to say.

It started early. 2:54am to be exact. It was cold. Mid-40s is my best guess. And it only got chillier as the night went on, thanks to the clear night sky. Obviously, that meant layers. Thermal tights, cold weather biking jacket, a light puffy jacket, long fingered gloves, wool skull cap, buff, and shoe covers. Hot coffee in an insulated thermos, naturally.

Cold weather plus climbing is tricky. Roughly 1600 feet of climbing every hour with an equal amount of descent. Makes it challenging to balance between staying warm and not sweating so much that you get chilled on the fast descent. This meant a fair amount of zipping and unzipping with a regular rotation into dry gloves

The first quarter (12 laps, 7300 ft) went fine. It was chilly but I did a short warm up beforehand and kept myself well fueled with bars and cookie dough. I had plenty of bike lights and the road had virtually no traffic. No animals rushed in front of me this time and while there was some wind, it was not a significant hindrance.

All that being said, it was really nice when the sun rose. Layers came off and my cold feet warmed up in no time. The canyon above Jamestown stayed fairly cool and you could definitely smell autumn in the air. A small amount of leaves had already dropped and a few, eager deciduous trees were already changing colors.

Part of me was a little disappointed that this was not a normal bike ride up in the foothills as it was idyllic in both weather and ambiance.

Around 11am Tina returned and joined me for lap 23 with approximately 13K feet of elevation gain already in the bank. And by noon, I was halfway done. All according to plan.

It sounds good on paper, but in reality it felt less than superb. When I started my first Everesting attempt, I felt strong. My energy levels were good and finishing felt not only possible but almost inevitable. Not sure what was going on with this ride, but I simply never clicked into a good place mentally or physically. I was tired from the start.

Maybe it was the wildfires pumping smoke into the air for weeks beforehand or the consistently hot temperatures in Boulder during August or the stress and exhaustion from working while the entire country seems to be falling apart, but even the first lap felt like effort. You know those rides: you’re there and you’re going to do the time, but it’s going to be a struggle.

And then that damn, stupid leg started hurting again. I cannot emphasize how frustrating it was during the first attempt when it got so painful that I ended up limping for almost a week afterwards. You do months and months of training with literally 100s of thousands of elevation gain, and then on Game Day it decides it wants to break down.

The month between this attempt and the last attempt I really worked on rehabilitating it. Hot baths, massages, stretching, and gradually ramping up to more and more climbing. When Tina did her Everest and I ended up doing 10K of elevation gain with no pain, it seemed like I had recovered sufficiently to try again.

Nope. It started getting unhappy again around 12K of elevation gain. I had modified my segment to take off the steepest section to improve my chances, but by the halfway point it had become a serious concern again. I was getting out of my seat frequently to help stretch it out and reduce the repetitiveness, but that had the consequence of using up more and more of my precious energy.

Somewhere around 15.5K feet of elevation gain, I started feeling pain in my knee again. At 16.5K I was so exhausted from trying to do anything and everything to reduce the discomfort and growing pain that I just threw in the towel. The pain was less sharp than last time, but even so I found walking unpleasant for days afterward.

Blargh. Over 11 hours. All of that biking and no Everest. Again.

Suffice to say, I am not trying again this year. It took me nearly two weeks of recovery to handle today’s Ward ride and I simply cannot fathom losing two more weeks to tapering, especially when the weather is even further against me in October. Nope. Back to fun, shorter, challenging rides in the hills until the snow returns.

I am thinking about getting a Wahoo KICKR to prepare for next year though…

Second to Last Lap
My second to last lap before quitting, clearly not feeling great.