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Training for an Everesting 11 August 2020

Thanks to COVID-19 and the ludicrously bad response to it by the federal government, almost all organized outdoor events have been canceled for 2020. That included the Double Triple Bypass ride that we signed up for back in January, which was supposed to take place last month up in the mountains near Vail.

That ride is what led Tina and I to make our 500K goal for the year. The rules were simple: 500,000 ft of elevation gain in one calendar year, by any and all outdoor activities. I tried to convince Tina to make it a cool one million of elevation gain, but she was having none of my craziness. I suppose if one is still expecting to work full time, that is a bit ambitious. Of course, she is the one with less than 60K left to go here in the second week of August!

Even with my clavicle being broken and completely losing 5 weeks of training thanks to the resulting surgery, I myself am only 150K away from completing that goal. At current training levels that means I should be finished in early October. Just in time to beat the first snowfall, I hope.

When the Triple Bypass got canceled, we started considering other projects we could attempt, especially since all of the climbing gyms were closed and the local hiking trails were overrun with too many non-mask wearing individuals. Everesting was the most obvious one. It completely aligned with our existing training and was socially isolated. Perfect for the athlete in need of a physical outlet for pandemic stress.

As they say on their website, “The concept of Everesting is fiendishly simple: Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mt Everest.” For Americans, that is 29,029 feet of elevation gain in one go. Brutal.

The first step to completing an Everesting, at least for me, was doing what is called a Basecamp, or Half Everest. Back on July 3rd, I started off at 4:45am on a Friday morning up in the foothills above Boulder and did 18 laps on a 2.1 mile segment near the town of Jamestown. My ride ended up being 78 miles and 15,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of about eight hours. It was tough. The most challenging part was that the day ended up being quite warm with little cloud cover. I felt positively cooked by the end and when I weighed myself at home, I was 7 lbs lighter than when I woke up.

A week later, for a change of pace, we went over to Idaho Springs and biked up to the summit of Mt. Evans at 14,271 feet high with an almost continuous uphill climb of 6700 feet. That was a hoot. Probably one of my favorite climbs ever. The road is a little rough after Echo Lake though; with regular cracks thanks to the freeze/thaw cycle up high. The downhill ride was less than smooth and gave me quite a headache. Wider tires definitely recommended.

The next step that I wanted to complete prior to attempting a full Everest was doing 30,000 feet of elevation gain in a single week. To be clear, I wanted 30K within a Strava week, which is Monday through Sunday. Upon some prompting from Tina, I discovered that I had already done 32K in a 7 day period (Saturday through Friday) thanks to my Half Everest.

So, during the week of July 20 to July 26, I did a total elevation gain of 30,761 ft. The nice part of that training was that all of my rides were roughly between 4K and 6K of elevation gain. The goal was to keep the effort up continuously throughout the entire week. Train my legs to keep going even when tired.

With that milepost reached, I felt I was at the very least capable of completing an Everest if everything aligned well. So, I started tapering. The next week I reduced my elevation gain to only 14K. Same intensity, less time. And the week following that one, which just so happened to be last week, I aimed to only do 10K of elevation gain.

Enter the end of last week. Thanks to a couple stressful months at work, I decided to simply take this entire week off and mentally recharge. It also meant I had an entire week available to me for an Everest attempt, if the weather looked promising. On Thursday, the 10 day forecast made it seem like Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were looking promising. By Sunday morning, the weather report had shifted and a new plan was put into play.

To be continued…