In the world of hard cycling challenges there is a completely made-up thing called Everesting. The concept is pretty simple – ascend (and descend) the same climb until you have reached the equivalent height of Mt. Everest. That’s 29,029 feet (or the not-as-cool-sounding 8,848 meters). Either way, that is a METRIC SHITTON of climbing. Hells 500 (a cycling club based in Australia) came up with the challenge and they maintain a Hall of Fame for anyone who completes it. And just in case I needed additional convincing to do this (I didn’t) you get to buy a pretty badass-looking kit if you complete the challenge.
So yeah, you want to do this, but you need a good PLACE to do it. Less miles but more steep and you risk blowing up. Less steep but more miles and you risk blowing up. Honestly, you are just going to blow up so maybe focus on other factors. The place I ended up choosing, the climb to Dickey Ridge on Skyline Drive, has several advantages. First, the Dickey Ridge visitor center, complete with bathrooms and a parking lot, is at the top of the segment. The climb itself, while listed as a Category 2, is really not that bad. It averages a 6% grade for 3.8 miles and almost 1,200 feet of total vertical. It’s the first section of Skyline drive from Front Royal going south, so anyone who has done it knows that it is a really consistent, gradual climb. Traffic will be reasonable and Skyline was basically designed for bikes (accidentally, sure).
The best part? There are some amazing views. Sure that won’t matter when I am 12 hours in and dry heaving and wishing for a meteor strike, but early on there will be overlooks and forests and views like this:
So how long is this going to take, theoretically? Fortunately some genius came up with an Everesting calculator for that! Of course, as with any estimating tool, there are a lot of assumptions. In the end though, it looks like the full ride will be (gulp) 192 miles and last about 16 hours. That’s 25 climbs. Twenty. Five. Just typing it makes me feel dead inside. Fortunately, I think a few other idiots are going to give it a try along with me and maybe a few more will come do a few laps. I don’t know if having company will make it easier or harder or a mix of both – I’m sure that day will be surreal after about my tenth ascent.
So, Friday, June 16th, starting at 4am, god help me, I am going to try this. What’s the worst that could happen?
Don’t answer that.