During lockdown, cyclists are looking for challenges where they can stay local, go solo and keep motivated whilst taking their mind off the pandemic. Enter Everesting; a fiendishly simple yet brutally difficult cycling challenge. In summary, you pick any hill, either in the real world or virtual world, and ride repeats of it until you climb 8,848m – the height of Everest. With competitive events cancelled in 2020, Everesting exploded in popularity, rising by 428% in July 2020 compared to July 2019 according to Strava.

“The whole point was to challenge myself: find my limits, and push them. Well ok, it felt more like my limits found me and punched me into a ditch but still: it was tough, I genuinely enjoyed it, and there was plenty of time to think.” – 

Emma Pooley, Everesting World Record holder

Everesting can be a great leveller, as it’s hard if you are an expert or novice. I completed my first Everesting in December 2019 accompanied by headwinds and heavy rain on the Tumble in Wales. I followed this up with my first virtual Everesting (vEveresting) a month later on Alpe du Zwift. Next came a second outdoor Everesting on Draycott Hill, near Bristol. After that came a double vEveresting in April and an outdoor double in June.

Fast forward to September 2020 and my Everesting adventures culminated in a new Guinness World Record for the most vertical ascent by bicycle in 48 hours. I climbed 30,321m (the equivalent of 3.5 Everests) and won a Strava Community Award for the most elevation in a single ride in 2020. I basically turned myself into a mountain goat. Here’s the full story of my World Record Ride.

From my trials, tribulations and triumphs, this is my guide to Everesting: cycling’s toughest doorstep challenge.

Real or virtual?

Everesting and its virtual sibling, vEveresting, are very different beasts. Usually, Everesting takes longer as there are more variables to contend with, such as wind resistance, bad weather and other road users. However, vEveresting comes with its own challenges; overheating, boredom, and a lack of connection with the outside world. The advantages to vEveresting are the ability for people to join you virtually, along with having everything you might need at arm’s reach. Whichever you choose, you’re still climbing the height of Everest – no small feat.

The final three stages

3 stages of Everesting; start fresh, suffer, then finish exhausted but elated

Rules of Everesting

Hells 500 are the creators and custodians of the Everesting concept. That means once you’ve completed your challenge, you’ll need to submit it to the extremely helpful folks at Hells 500 through their website. And for your attempt to be deemed successful, you’ll need to follow some rules:

  • Record 8,848m (29,029ft) of total elevation gain
  • Follow one route on one hill
  • Descend on the same route you climb
  • It must be uploaded to Strava (to be submitted)
  • No sleeping – you must complete the challenge in a single stint (unless doing multiple)
  • Breaks (eating, drinking, recharging) are included in your time
  • No time limits

If you are vEveresting, then:

  • You must set your smart trainer to 100% resistance
  • It must be completed on Zwift

Step 1: A stable backbone

Purpose, Planning, Performance and Psychology. The four Ps that form the backbone of endurance cycling. These are the stable elements, with features that remain the same for long stretches of your Everesting.

Purpose

Goal setting, visualisation and belief

Don’t underestimate Everesting. It will push you to your physical and mental limits. To complete it you need belief and total commitment. Start by researching what it will be like to help visualise and build belief you can do it. A good start is to visit one of the Everesting Facebook forums full of experienced and extremely helpful folk. Then tell someone else you’re planning on Everesting to provide accountability and make it real.

Planning

Logistics, location, equipment and safety

Planning ahead is crucial, giving you the headspace to relax and pedal, by having sweated the small stuff. Select your hill, think about your logistics (especially if Everesting outdoors), gather together your equipment and don’t forget safety and pit crew.

Picking your climb

Whether you’re Everesting or vEveresting, it’s essential to find a climb that suits you. Select a hill that excites you and matches your style – a lightweight climber can go steeper with less effort, whereas powerful, larger riders might need a shallower climb. Use Veloviewer, Strava and Google Street View to gauge the hill, looking at road surface, junctions, and obstacles like cattle grids. Picking a hill that feels safe is crucial. Once you’ve chosen your hill, you can use the Everesting Calculator to work out reps and pacing.

Climbing in Wales

Find a hill that you like and suits you – Devil’s Staircase, Wales

Tips on hill selection:

  • Choose one close to home
  • That is straight(ish)
  • With a constant gradient
  • Where you spend watts going up not forward
  • Is possible to do seated
  • Has good road surface
  • Has good mobile reception
  • Has a prevailing tail wind
  • Is quiet with not much traffic
  • Has a suitable place for a good base camp (well off the road)
  • Is close to amenities
  • Feels safe – fewest junctions

Safety first

Think of this as a risk assessment – as well as checking out any potential hazards on the route, think about the conditions you want to ride in. The worse the weather and the lower the visibility, the more hazardous the ride. Ideally, wait for a long stretch of daylight and good weather. Check the location of your nearest hospital, your phone signal, gear for night riding, your lights and be sure to have emergency contact details to hand. Try and select a hill close to home, and let your emergency contact know what time you’re going and when you expect to be back.

Set up basecamp – your pit

Whether it’s the boot of a car, a van, or a camper van, you need your basecamp carefully positioned well off the road, preferably towards the middle or top of the hill. Make sure it contains all you need, in an organised way, so you can  grab what you need quickly and avoid faffing time. As your Everesting time is total, not just moving time, the less faffing the better.

Gather your equipment

If you’re vEveresting, you’ll need a fan or two, ideally with a remote control so you can avoid getting off your bike. Make sure your turbo trainer’s software is up to date and recalibrated, and set the resistance to 100% max. I also use an ANT stick to prevent loss of signal. Here’s a helpful video to reduce signal loss – How to stops smart trainer dropouts. If you’re outdoor Everesting, you’ll need more equipment – I use plastic crates that allow me to divide up my equipment and easily find what I need.

Equipment checklist

  • Have I got the right gearing for the gradient e.g., compact with a 11-32t or 34t on the back?
  • Is my bike fully ready, or does it need a service?
  • Do I have a bike computer and a spare?
  • Do I have spare batteries and power packs?
  • Is my light bracket fitted, tested and have I a spare?
  • Are my tyres in good condition?
  • Do I have kit to stay cool on ascent and warm on descents, no matter the weather?
  • Can I be seen in the dark?
  • Do I have sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream?
  • Do I have a good first aid kit, complete with pain killers?
  • Do I have electrical or gaffer tape?
  • Do I have spares – tyres, brake pads, pump, chain oil, tubes, rear hanger, bike?
  • Do I have the right bike tools?
  • Is everything charged? Lights, cycle computers, phone, spare chargers?
  • Do I have kitchen utensils? Cups, bowls, plate, knife, spoon, kitchen roll, wet wipes and toilet roll

Pick your start time

According to your circadian rhythm, 4am is the start of the new day. That’s when I get up, eat a good breakfast and let it digest before getting onto my bike at around 6am. If you’re keen to avoid riding into the following night, HELLS 500 recommend a midnight start. If you think your ride will take more than 17 hours, you might want to heed this advice. I’ve found you can miss a night’s sleep without it adversely affecting your performance, as long as you’re well rested in the run up to the day.

Performance

Pace, technique, set-up, kit and fuel

You need to plan your performance well, especially if you want to do a good time. I do hour-by-hour plans for pacing, fuel and breaks, with flexibility for when things change. A good plan gives you the head space to remain calm, when things go wrong, which they often do. Let’s start with pacing.

Pace like a pro

Before attempting an Everesting, you should be able to complete an endurance ride of 6 – 7 hours in 50 – 60% of your anticipated time or elevation gain. As this is a marathon not a sprint, work primarily in your endurance zone to help burn fat and keep going for longer. This also avoids depleting glycogen levels and releasing adrenaline and cortisol. What you’re looking for is prime, not peak performance. This typically means staying in your Zone 2 in general (endurance – 56-75% of FTP) and no more than Zone 3 (tempo – 76-90% of FTP). If using heart rate, then keep it below your lactate threshold 1 – aerobic threshold.

Oli Beckingsale quote

Here is an emotional map of my 48 hours record. You’ll see that there were points, especially during the second night, when it was hitting peaks – both high and low. Luckily, for the most part, it was prime performance. The key was to remain calm when lows or highs happened.

Psychological arc – start fresh, suffer in the middle, finish exhausted but elated.

Pacing tips

  • Train at your desired pace
  • Make the first climb feel way too easy
  • Save energy earlier – you’ll need it later
  • Stick to your pace, even if when you feel good
  • Have a way to gauge your effort and pace e.g., heart rate, power or rep time

Hone your climbing technique

You’re looking for relaxed efficiency when climbing. Tap – don’t hammer – the pedals, lightly hold the handlebars, keep shoulders relaxed and stay seated as much as possible. If you need fuel, eat on the descents or just before the top, make sure you’re in the correct gear before starting the climb and pop it up a gear before getting out of the saddle. Alternate your hand positions from hoods for less steep, top of bars with elbows into and torso dipped when steeper and out of the saddle when steepest. Running your tyre pressure 10-15 psi lower than normal can improve your grip and comfort when climbing. To help hone your climbing technique, I’ve developed the 5 controllables based on a list originally list from Damian Browne.

5 things always in your control.

Bike set up

On the day, your bike and set up should be just right. There’s no getting away from it, there’s some expense involved here, with lights, bike computers, battery packs and spares. For me, the best money I spent was a professional bike and cleat fit. This transformed my cycling.

Next, you’ll need to get your gearing right for the gradient of the hill. Consider fitting a compact chain set and wide-ranging rear cassette. What you are looking to do is save valuable energy by remaining seated and spinning in relative comfort on the climb. An 11-28t to tackle 11 – 15% gradients will just expend energy unnecessarily. The only way to know if your gearing is right is to recce the hill and try it for a few hours. My default is now an 11-34t. Even if I don’t end up using the lowest gear, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Handlebar set up for Everesting can be tricky. I settled on a set up centered around a bulletproof Garmin Edge 530 bike computer. I tried many brands and models, but the 530, without touch screen goes the distance. I use this with a Flush Out-Front Mount and Garmin battery Power Pack. I ride without the battery pack for the first 12-15 hours, then extend the batter by another 24 with the pack, which sees me through any Everesting. I’ve learned not to push devices to their maximum, as that’s when failures happen. So, if the manufacturer says 20 hours of battery life, then I change or recharge after 15 hours to be safe.

To one side of this front mounted Garmin, I place an Exposure Lights MK13. On the other side I have a Trace MK2 and on the rear two TraceR MK2s. For all of the above, I have spares and plenty of battery packs for recharging. Practice your handlebar set up in training and at night to ensure comfort, performance and safety.

Finally, when Everesting, I use a Stages, Gen 3, single sided power meter to give all the information needed to pace an Everesting.

Tried and tested wins over shiny and new on the day

Get kitted out

Only use kit you know and trust. Dress for the forecasted weather, but take more than you need. Layering helps here – use easy-zipping tops to cool your core body temperature. I add thin climbing rope to the zips to make them easier to manage. If you’re vEveresting, you’ll want plenty of towels, plus a yoga mat to stretch your fatigued muscles.

Typical kit list:

  • 3 x bib short (well padded, with chamois cream pre applied)
  • 3 x tops
  • 2 x gilets (one heavy)
  • 1 x light rain jacket
  • 1 x arm warmers
  • 1 x leg warmers
  • 1 x heavy rain jacket (I live in the UK after all)
  • 1 x overshoes – dry
  • 1 x overshoes – wet
  • 4 x socks (one warmer pair)
  • 3 x gel palmed gloves (long and short fingers)
  • 2 x buffs
  • 1 x cycling cap
  • 1 x warm jacket to throw on when eating

 Take care of touch points

Be kind to touch points with the bike, like your saddle, pedals and handlebars. The right saddle, chamois cream and well-padded bib shorts, gel padded gloves and forgiving cycling shoes can see you through without issues. Test and learn what works best for you and build strength and resistance of touch points in training.

 Fuel yourself

A good hydration and nutrition strategy will prevent dehydration, exhaustion and give you the minerals to keep you going. Make sure you drink before you’re thirsty and eat before you’re hungry, even if you don’t feel like it. I would recommend 500 – 750ml of water (depending on temperature) and 200 – 400 calories (including 30 – 70g of carbs and 200 – 400mg of sodium) per hour, then add electrolytes and protein. Spread this out over 2 – 3 micro feeds every 20 minutes.

Everesting food

Side note: You might be tempted to rely on caffeine. Be careful with this – it’s a diuretic and will dehydrate. However, used correctly it can be a powerful tool. 180 to 300mg of caffeine, 5 hours before the end of an Everesting can be what gets you over the line. Equally, it can help you push through the urge to sleep during the night, keeping you going until sunrise. If you take caffeine earlier, then have a good, nutritious fuel 5 hours after or take more to avoid a caffeine low. Also, hydrate more when taking caffeine. Flat Coke tends to be a favourite with endurance athletes – it’s full of sugar and caffeine.

Everesting fuel

On the day, mix carbohydrates and protein for breakfast. A bowl of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and scramble eggs with avocado will sets you up well, with a large banana plus a bottle of electrolytes/water for hydration an hour before.

During training, you’ll have built a menu that works for you. As a plant-based coeliac, I typically have the below on my menu, selecting 6 – 8 items that I rotate on the day (shown in bold):

  • Bananas – lots of them
  • Dried fruit – like mango or dates
  • Flapjacks – homemade
  • Mountain Fuel Feel Good bars – ginger, as it’s good for your tummy
  • Bounce energy balls
  • OTE Duo bar – I always fancy these, no matter what
  • Sushi cakes – homemade
  • Sprint energy Wolf Pack – great during the night
  • Salty crisps
  • Boiled and salted potatoes
  • Cashews / pistachios
  • Veggie wrap
  • Pre-made omelette with gluten free bread and half an avocado
  • 5 beans on toast
  • Ready Brek – because it’s easy and fortified topped with honey and cinnamon
  • Water
  • Tailwind nutrition – natural, PH-neutral
  • Coconut water
  • Flat coke – nice in the sprint to the line
  • Peanut butter, banana, pea protein and honey smoothie

Fuelling after

Eating natural, nutritious fuel during your Everesting ensures a speedy recovery after. Even though you’ll be exhausted, make sure you continue to get good calories in within 20 minutes after finishing and throughout the following days.

Fuelling tips

  • Mix food types, tastes and textures – especially salt, sugar, protein and fat
  • Nothing new on the day – just tried and tested
  • Stick to mealtimes and patterns – in sync with what your body is used to
  • Include protein – beyond 4 hours, your body will utilise 15% protein as energy
  • PH neutral – cyclist ride on their gut, so keep your stomach balanced
  • If you don’t ‘feel’ like eating – it usually means you need to
  • Nights are harder – be prepared for a drop in blood sugar, core body temp, dehydration and sleep fatigue, which all effect mood and performance
  • When you eat is more important than what – get the required calories, electrolytes and water, on schedule, in any form you can

Psychology

Principles, coping mechanisms and problem-solving

“Your legs need to get you to 6,000m and your head needs to get you the rest of the way.” Andy van Bergen – HELLS 500

In this section, I’ll cover some key psychological principles that will help you cope better with emotions, deal with problems, reduce stress and increase performance. Remember, when your brain is tired, pedalling a bike up hill will feel harder. So, keeping stress levels down in the run in and during your Everesting, through better planning, is key to good performance.

  1. Set your expectations

The Psychological Arc principle says it’s hard to do more than you set out to do. Your legs might be able to go further, but your mind clings onto the fixed idea of how far you can go. My Plan A for the world record attempt was to hit 31,000m in 48 hours. I started strong, experienced ups and downs and finished exhausted and elated in accordance with the arc as shown in the diagram below. But, I didn’t achieve more than I set out to, eventually reaching 30,321m. Since breaking the record, I’ve been setting my expectations a little higher to go further. I’ve also been working to reduce the high and low peaks to enable prime endurance performance throughout.

  1. Break it down

‘Chunking’ is one of the most-used psychological techniques in endurance. Breaking down long events into familiar, bite-size units makes it less overwhelming. For the 48-hour record, I gradually reduced the chunks as it got tougher, so I could continue to focus on my progress. To win at endurance, you need to develop ninja chunking skills.

  1. Celebrate the little victories

Known as the ‘Achievement and Reward’ principle, this is a great way to stay motivated. Whether it’s the 1st hill, hour 1,000m, Everest Basecamp or 6,000m, celebrate the little victories, put them in your jersey pocket, then focus on the next achievement.

  1. Labelling feelings correctly

Self-perception theory is fascinating when applied to endurance events, like Everesting. The principle says that when we’re unsure about what we are feeling, we use our behaviours to infer what we feel. Here’s an example; it was 40 hours into my 48-hour world record attempt. I was hallucinating and slowing down, but couldn’t work out why? I could see that I was slow, erratic and falling behind the record pace. Looking back with perspective, it’s easy to see that I was desperately fatigued and needed to rest. However, at the time because I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, I began to question if I was good enough. Had I known this theory at the time, perhaps I would have found a more objective label for my emotions, before jumping to the wrong conclusion.

Getting through the night is tough, but there’s always sunrise!

  1. Believe there’s always more in the tank

After 23 hours of double Everesting, at the bottom of the last climb up Alpe du Zwift, I received a message from 24-hour mountain biking legend Matt Jones, that changed my cycling forever:

“You won’t get many chances like this to see what’s in the tank”.

 I dug deeper, and found myself getting stronger as I climbed. It was remarkable and turned out to be the fastest ascent of the day. Fast forward three months, to hour 44 of the 48-hour World Record attempt, and I was falling behind. But I drew on what I’d learned about my final sprint and it really delivered. Those final four hours saw me really connect with my body and trust that there’s more in the tank.

Psychologically, testing what’s ‘in the tank’ helps build belief that there’s more in there. This belief changes the conversation with the central governor – voice in your head controlling biological pathways to save energy, keep me safe or even quit – away from ‘there’s nothing left’ to ‘there’s more in the tank’. This opens up the biological pathways needed to unleash your true final sprint.

Double vEveresting with Team JMC

  1. Stay connected

Whether you’re Everesting or vEveresting, social interaction motivates. A ‘ride on’ on Zwift, a WhatsApp message, or roadside support from family, all help. If you’re feeling negative, reach out to people. Seeing a smiling face is proven to reduce perceived effort, so can be just the tonic to distract and get over the hump.

Power of support – family arrive to support.

Step 2: Coping with setbacks

In this section, we’ll anticipate what might go wrong, and how you can manage these setbacks. Getting the four Ps; purpose, planning, performance and psychology right avoids many setbacks. That said, anticipating setbacks, understanding why they happen and developing coping mechanisms during training helps handle them when Everesting. There are two types of setbacks you might face when Everesting; problems that can be solved and things that need to be overcome. Ultimately, whatever happens, it’s best to remain calm, in control and unstressed to avoid the release of hormones, like cortisol and insulin. These negatively affect your psychological and physical performance. Let’s start with problem-solving.

Tackling problems when Everesting

Here are some of the common problems you might face:

Bonking

Starting too fast, or not sticking to your pacing and fueling plan can lead to blowing up. It’s best to put your ego to one side, and respect the magnitude of the challenge from the start. If it’s your first Everesting, then try breaking it down into thirds – for the first third, go slower than you’d like. For the second, your pace should feel just right, then for the third, if you’re holding your pace and the end is in sight, you can see what’s left in the tank. Psychologically, it’s always best to finish strong.

Dehydration

I once had to stop a double Everesting attempt after 12 hours due to dehydration in 30-degree temperatures. I’d stuck to my plan, but not adjusted my hydration for the weather. The easiest and quickest way to gauge your hydration is to check your urine – any darker than pale yellow and it’s time to have a drink.

Chart for measuring hydration

Monitoring hydration – British Cycling image.

Fatigue

If you feel like you need to sleep, then rest for as long as it takes to feel right. When riding at night, your blood sugar and core body temperature drop, you can get dehydrated and experience sleep fatigue. All this will affect your mood, emotions and thoughts, so be prepared with extra rewards, extra breaks and even a little nap to reboot. Caffeine can also help, but plan carefully. Remember to fuel well 5 hours after taking, or take more to avoid a caffeine slump.

Cramping

Cramps can be managed, but you’ll need to slow down, assess your fuel intake and take on electrolytes. Eating foods rich in magnesium and calcium, like nuts, seeds, bananas and avocado can help. Taking a break and stretching your muscles can all also help.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite happens due to low blood sugar, exhaustion and mental fatigue. If you don’t feel like eating, you really need to. When you eat is more important than what, so get the required calories, electrolytes and water, on schedule, in any form you can manage. If you fail to eat, you risk failing to finish, so find whatever you fancy and get it into you.

Nausea

On the two occasions I failed to complete Everestings, it was due to stomach issues. This isn’t uncommon, but there’s a lot you can do to avoid it. Switch to water, reduce sports gels and eat simple foods – anything with protein or ginger can help. If nausea turns to vomiting, consider stopping.

Overheating

This is most common when vEveresting. Cooling off with ice, cold drinks, cooling sleeves or a cold shower can help. If you need to keep riding, cold wristbands, socks, or towel around your neck can help control your temperature.

5 tips for solving problems:

  1. Look for cause, not effect
  2. Stop and take care of it
  3. Take deep breaths to calm you mind and gain perspective
  4. Bring it back to the four Ps – are you doing anything off plan?
  5. Avoid big decisions during tough moments – descend, then review

Coping mechanisms

For problems that can’t be immediately solved, you’ll need to learn coping mechanisms. People who do well at endurance have failed, dust themselves off and tried again. They’ve gone a few rounds with pain and learned from their mistakes by dealing with the consequences. They know they’re so far outside their comfort zone, with so many variables and experiences to contend with, that there’s no such thing as failure, just test, learn and improve.

Here are some of the common problems you might need to cope with:

Negative thoughts

Recognising negative thoughts when they arise and adapting your behaviour is crucial. Changing the conversation from ‘why I can’t’ to ‘why I’m doing this’, ‘what it’s taken to get here’ and ‘what it will feel like to finish’ is a great way to crush negative thoughts and emotions. Just like smiling, words have the power to influence your feelings, so practice your self-talk to find what works for you. It’s also good to focus on things you can control and look to other people to help lift your mood. Call a loved one, or plan for someone to join you on the climb.

Steps to stop negative thoughts:

  1. Recognise
  2. Refuse
  3. Relax
  4. Reframe
  5. Resume

Quote from Matt Jones

The hurt locker­

There’s no avoiding it. At some point – especially after 6,000 meters – you’ll be in pain. The way I prepared was to get acquainted with the pain during training. By becoming familiar with pain, I found that I increased my tolerance and developed coping mechanisms. In the later stages, pain killers can take the edge off. Stick to paracetamol – ibuprofen can damage your kidneys when taken during endurance exercise.

Bringing it back into the things I can control when it hurts most.

Tips for coping:

  1. When something goes wrong, take a deep breath before dealing with it
  2. Generate positive thoughts to lift you out of low moments
  3. Use music, audiobooks or podcasts to take your mind off it
  4. Remember, a descent is never far away
  5. Visualise why you’re doing it and what it will feel like to finish
  6. Take a break at the top for 10-30 seconds, put feet down, stretch, fuel and breath
  7. Call someone you love to give you a lift
  8. Control what you can – technique, effort, breathing, self-talk and nutrition
  9. Smile – it releases endorphins, natural painkillers and serotonin to make it feel easier
  10. Keep moving forward, no matter how slow you think you’re going

Beyond Everest…

Since Mallory and Irvine, Hillary and Norgay, Everest symbolises going further and higher to the limits of human endurance. Some who have completed an Everesting have continued to push their physical and mental limits beyond what the challenge dictates to 10,000m, a double and even a triple. Of course, this isn’t for everyone. However, if you are considering going beyond Everesting, there will be a follow up article on this. For now, here’s a few things I’ve learned.

Beyond an Everesting is extreme. Shortcut to smart by seeking help from people who’ve been there. Cyclists are a super friendly bunch, so if you find some with experience, ask for advice. For example, Mark Beaumont and Ian Walker, two world record holding cyclists, were more than happy to help me.

To go beyond a single Everesting takes an even more stable backbone of the 4Ps – Purpose, Planning, Performance and Psychology. You’ll need to put in more groundwork and sweat the small stuff to remain safe. A wider base of endurance training is essential. Lastly, you’ll need to carefully select your hill, looking for one you can ride all day. The tradeoff is simple; do more kms, on a less steep hill, that I could do for longer.

When planning to go beyond a single Everesting, I compare it to a series of dials. For example, safety, logistic, crew, sleep and tapering are dialled to up, fuel remains the same with tweaks for night riding, then pacing and the hill gradient are dialled down.

My approach was to test unknowns during training. I rode through the night and couldn’t believe I’d not done it before – if you haven’t ridden into a sunrise – you just have to! I practiced riding, then a short sleep, before riding again. I learned that some sleep is essential to get through a day and night. Luckily Hells 500 permit sleep for doubles to help tackle fatigue, poor decision making, slow reaction times and keep you safe. Pushing through as you continue to slow is a false economy, when a 20–30-minute sleep can rejuvenate beyond belief in the dark hours when your body desperately needs to sleep and your brain reboot.

From this test, learn and sometime fail process, I slowly built confidence and strengthened the 4Ps to go 24, 30 and then 48 hours. I realised the rejuvenating power of a sunrise, sleep and high doses of caffeine. I made friends with the voice in my head and developed a sublime connection – in the moments of flow – with my body. I slowly opened up new possibilities to go further, whilst increasingly relying on the support of friends, teammates at Team JMC and family to get it done.

Team JMC, Matt and Budge bringing home a world cycling record

And finally…

I can’t recommend Everesting enough. It’s truly epic. But before tackling it, create time and space in your life. Then once you’ve committed, really go for it! Once you’ve Everested, you’ll have an overwhelming sense of achievement. You’ll be more self-aware, more resilient, and more energetic. You’ll have a better sense of perspective and a deeper connection with your body. The three things I’ve gained from Everesting, which spill over into all aspects of my life are:

  1. You are better than you think you are
  2. You can do more than you think you can
  3. There’s always more left, no matter how you feel, once you believe

Now stay safe and ride on!

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