UoMCC Cycle the Height of Mount Everest

On 26th March 2018, our partners at the University of Manchester’s Cycling Club headed over to the Peak District to attempt the ‘Everest Challenge’. Two individual riders and a relay team of three, set to biking up Peaslows, a one mile hill with a 10% gradient, 56 times in order to reach 8,848m, the height of Mount Everest. The challenge is the latest fundraising event the team have taken on to raise funds for Maggie’s Manchester.

Here Club Captain for 2017-18, Alexandra Kendall-Smith tells us more about the challenge and why the club chose to attempt it.

So, why did we decide on this challenge?

“Having completed a 225-mile coast to coast ride from Newcastle to Liverpool last year, it took some time for us to think of an even more gruelling challenge for our riders to take on in the second semester. We decided to attempt an Everest challenge.

The concept was simple enough. Climb one hill repeatedly without sleep until you have climbed 8,848m vertically. However, the sheer physical and mental stress of this challenge makes it the stuff of legend, requiring pure grit and strength of mind to conquer. Very few people have attempted such a feat, let alone completed it.

Was it all plain sailing on the day...?

This was a day of extreme ups and downs for both the riders and the support team. Keeping the body running long enough to sustain riding at high torque for such a long period of time, required a significant degree of foresight. Despite the support team’s best efforts to keep everyone hydrated and fuelled, none of us truly understood how difficult the challenge would be.

As the evening started to draw in, the dropping temperature brought with it some serious challenges. Will, our kit secretary, and best hope of completing the challenge, started to really suffer. The drop in his body temperature combined with the sheer effort he was exerting started to cause his body to shut down. At 10 hours into the challenge and after climbing 7000 meters, he collapsed in the back of the car thinking he could go no further.

Second wind!

After being checked over, it took everyone involved to encourage him to get through the mental block and back onto the bike to complete the final 12 laps of the climb. Members of the support team rode with him until he started to find his rhythm again and three hours later he successfully managed to complete the challenge.

Has anyone ever completed this challenge before?

Only one person had ever accomplished an Everest on Peaslows before, and Will beat their record, completing the challenge in a total time of 13 hours 44 minutes (with a total riding time of 12 hours).”

The record setter Will, commented:

“On the day the weather conditions were perfect. We somehow managed to pick the only good day of the year so far, with a reasonably warm and sunny day and a slight tailwind up the climb.”

Will continued, “In the first few hours the challenge seemed okay and not daunting at all. I managed to complete half within six hours - which was very quick! The second half was not so enjoyable, at about 7100m ascent, I started to really regret pushing to do this event - my back was sore, my knees ached and I was mentally exhausted. I lay in the back of the support car and refused to move until my amazing support team rekindled my motivation. They rode with me throughout the last 12 laps with plenty of sugar and caffeine. I finally completed the 8848m climbing after riding for 111 miles up and downhill, in a total time of 13 hours 44 minutes, a record Everest time for that particular climb.”

“The relay team finished their effort shortly after, but the light had completely drawn in. Ed was several hundred meters away from completing the challenge, but with all the dangers of riding in the dark in the Peak District we began to doubt whether he would succeed. He was stern with determination and several hours later he crossed the finish line (with just enough energy to lift his bike above his head for a picture).

The stats in full:

All in all, it was a gruelling but successful challenge. With 26,544 meters climbed in total, all of our riders were suffering in the car home and Ed felt he had discovered “a whole different dimension of pain”. The stats speak for themselves. Over 111 miles completed, 8,848 meters climbed and around 7,500 calories burned. However, this challenge was nothing compared with the difficulty faced by the hundreds of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK each and every day, and we are proud to have raised another £325 for Maggie’s from this event so far.”

How can you help?

If you would like to make a contribution to Maggie’s on behalf of the University of Manchester cycling club’s fantastic fundraising efforts please visit their Just Giving page.