Tag Archives: Cycling

Preparation for Everesting

A couple of years ago I everested Bowden hill in Wiltshire and found it a good challenge. I was the first person daft enough to do it. Since then I’ve been thinking about another hill to Everest.

For a long time I had my eye on Bwlch-y-groes aka Hellfire pass in North Wales, but last year Ian Barrington did it before me. More recently I’ve been thinking seriously about The Burway in Shropshire, but a couple of weeks ago Chris Winn did that one. Huge kudos to both these guys for amazing efforts on these famous climbs. However, I was a bit annoyed that I couldn’t be the first up either of these, which is what the Everesting.cc hall of fame focuses on.

Why?

I started wondering about whether I really needed to be the first to Everest a particular hill and for that matter why I do it at all – something which I feel I often have to explain to puzzled friends and family. Last time I was doing it for charity, but this time I’d rather do it for me. Partly because I don’t like asking people for money.

One reason I do these kind of challenging rides is that it adds a definite goal to aim for. Whether I’m training or modifying my bike or working out the route and logistics, it’s all more enjoyable with an aim in mind. If you don’t have a goal you can’t fail, but success is also rather meaningless. There’s no sense of anticipation or achievement. Some cyclists use racing or aiming for KOMs on Strava segments as goals, but I’ve never been much of a racer. I’ve assumed that, having only started cycling seriously in my thirties I was a bit old to be really fast over a short distance. But I feel I might be better suited to these longer and quite frankly, weirder challenges. If I really feel the need to get the “first ascent” on the hall of fame, am I doing it for bragging rights? A lot of people I know find my challenges more eccentric than impressive, so perhaps I am doing it for my own satisfaction. I’ve said before that everyone’s challenges are individual and in some ways hard to compare. I’ve judged that Everesting will be a challenge for me. Despite having done something similar before, I’m not sure I’ll be able to complete it with my current level of fitness, a different hill, different conditions, etc. That’s part of what makes it interesting.

So I’m still undecided about redoing a famous climb or trying to be first on a new one. Either way, I’ll need to prepare my bike.

Yr Elenydd 2014

I won’t spout too much text here, this is mainly for the photos. But I must say that I really enjoyed this ride and would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind some challenging climbs. It’s fair to say you are heartily rewarded by the stunning views, joyful descents and the helpful and efficient controls.

Of particular note was the food service at Tregaron Bowls club. It might’ve only been beans on toast, a jacket potato or rice pudding, but the friendly helpers served it so quickly we barely had time to find a seat.

This is no doubt part of the reason why some of us managed to complete the ride fairly quickly. I was about half an hour quicker than my last 300, The Dean, despite nearly 1000m more climbing. We were also lucky with the weather, there was a little drizzle, but the gentle tail wind on the way home made a real difference climbing the Elan valley. In previous years they’ve had snow.

First control, Shobdon airfield.

First control, Shobdon airfield.

Second control, Builth Wells, where a well-meaning passer-by warned me that my belgian bun had more than 500 calories!

Second control, Builth Wells, where a well-meaning passer-by warned me that my belgian bun had more than 500 calories!

 

Tom and Rich, whom I rode and chatted with for a while.

Tom and Rich, whom I rode and chatted with for a while.

Gentle climb along a drover's road leading up to the Devil's Staircase.

Gentle climb along a drover’s road along the Irfon valley leading up to the Devil’s Staircase.

The start of the Devil's Staircase climb. Actually steep enough to look steep.

The start of the Devil’s Staircase climb. Actually steep enough to look steep.

The first two hairpins - "It's shorter round the inside!"

The first two hairpins – “It’s shorter round the inside!”

Third, fourth hairpin...? I'm losing track by now.

Third, fourth hairpin…? I’m losing track by now.

PeeJay nearing the top...

PeeJay nearing the top…

Finally down the other side.

Finally down the other side.

Delightful descent towards Tregaron.

Delightful descent towards Tregaron.

Hopefully that's Tregaron...

Hopefully that’s Tregaron…

Mines, sorry can't remember what they're called.

Mines, sorry can’t remember what they’re called.

Oh good, it is Tregaron.

Oh good, it is Tregaron.

The remote Elan Valley, with a lovely tailwind.

Looking back down the quiet Elan Valley, with a lovely tailwind.

Final photo before the light faded. Top of the Long Mynd, about to descend through Picklescott.

Final photo before the light fades. Top of the Long Mynd, about to descend through Picklescott.