“Everesting” is a term that has grown in popularity and prominence amongst endurance cyclists in recent years. Simply put, it is an attempt to ride a bike up a hill ––any hill–– until you’ve covered 8848 meters (29,029 ft), which is the equivalent height of Mt. Everest itself. To “Everest” something properly, you need to complete the ride in one go,without sleep stopping to sleep. There is no time limit however, although this does turn a simple bike ride into a grueling marathon that can push any rider to his or her limits. Recently, one cyclist completed just such an endeavor, although in his case he actually did it in the shadow of the mountain itself.
For his Everesting attempt, 24-year old Chinese cyclist Zhou “JJ” Zhuangchen picked a road in Tibet that actually leads to Everest Base Camp. He staked out a stretch of that highway that would require him to ride more than 100 laps, covering 423 km (262 miles) in order to notch the required 8848 meters of climbing. That means he was only climbing about 21 meters per kilometer, not exactly a terrible pace, but since he was required to complete the ride without sleep, it still became a challenge. He also had to contend with thin air at altitude as he road through the Himalaya. Considering those conditions, the 100 laps were still a brutal undertaking.
They idea of attempting an Everesting ride on the road to Base Camp wasn’t originally Zhou’s. It was the brainchild of Shannon Bufton, an Australian who owns a cycling company in Beijing. Bufton and some friends actually tried to complete the route first, but poor weather and altitude sickness shut down their ride midway through the effort. Later, he heard that Zhou had completed another Everesting ride in Nanjing and invited him to give the road to Everest a try. He also served as the logistical and support manager for the effort.
Zhou says that just 10 laps into his ride he knew this was going to be tremendously difficult. The road itself was smooth and climbed at a stead but manageable rate. But the thin air and cool temperatures were difficult. At one point, it even started to rain, which forced Zhou and his support team to retreat to a nearby monastery for shelter. After waiting out the weather, he resumed his efforts, eventually completing the ride.
Throughout most of the attempt, the mountain itself was obscured by clouds, but Zhou says that on lap 101 he finally caught a glimpse of the mountain. When he came around the corner and spotted it, he got off his bike, fell to his knees and cried. It would take another 76 laps for him to finish the Everesting of Everest, but in the end he rode 423 km and climbed 8850 meters.
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