“Everesting,” a biking challenge, is growing in popularity with records quickly falling during the pandemic.
Cyclist Alec Jacobson recounts his time attempting the challenge and what it takes to complete hill repeats equal in distance to the climb up the mountain. Jacobson recalls reaching 27,000 feet for the day. This equates to the range of the low oxygen “death zone” on Mount Everest.
Although far from the world’s tallest mountain, Jacobson was straining to finish what is called the Everesting Challenge. “Everesting” consists of going up and down any hill until the cyclist reaches 29,029 feet of climbing. The person taking on the challenge must complete it on their own and in one single effort.
This result is ultimately over double the climbing of the hardest stages of the Tour de France. Considering most cycling events were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, “Everesting” has become a very popular endurance-driven activity.
Personal Triumph in Cycling
Jacobson admits that there is not much incentive to the challenge other than achieving a personal goal. There is also little beauty and barely any change in scenery, making it a monotonous ride. Andy van Bergen recognized the difficulties of the challenge when he created it in 2014.
His cycling reputation has grown in Australia as an avid hill aficionado and the Hells 500 cycling club leader. This club is known for incredibly difficult riding. Although any cycling connoisseur would recognize van Bergen’s name, the general public did not, and this is something he wanted to change.
He read an article on the website Cycling Tips, where he currently works, by George Mallory. Mallory wrote that in order to train for an Everest expedition in 1994, he cycled eight times up Mount Donna Buang, by Melbourne.
Van Bergen was extremely excited by the challenge and the idea that climbing Everest could be an accessible challenge to anyone. He explained that it is intentionally designed with a flexible framework where the challenge can be done anywhere in the world.
Van Bergen emphasized how the fact the cyclist is completing the challenge for their own merit makes it unique.
He decided to set aside a weekend in February 2014 and had riders make an effort on a hill near their homes. Only thirty-five out of sixty-five riders finished the challenge, which is essentially what the attrition rate is now.
History of “Everesting”
There is a “hall of fame” on the official “Everesting” website, Eversting.cc, which includes a ledger of over 10,300 successful attempts. These attempts were made on road bikes, mountain bikes, bike trainers that simulate climbing, and while running.
Van Bergen himself verifies the completion of the challenge through GPS data. To ensure proper analysis, there are double, triple, and quadruple checks on Everstings documented. According to the challenger’s rules, sleeping is only allowed for two hours every 29,029 feet.
For several years, “Everesting” was an extremely niche challenge not often known in popular media. After the pandemic hit and major sporting events were canceled, people looked for new ways of challenging their athleticism, and thousands found it in “Everesting.”