This weekend I have successfully everested Froggatt! I can finally say I'm in the club!
Until May I'd never heard about 'everesting' before. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) a colleague had mentioned it to me after I'd been talking about doing a few Froggatt laps. In April Lee and Elliott, 2 ambitious local cyclists, had everested Froggatt for the first time! Bloody good effort! Well they have both been great in helping me to plan my ride, and came out on Saturday morning to support and ride a few laps with me; cheers guys, esp since they had a 100mile sportive the next day!
Lap 1 started solo, and my legs eased into the hill quicker than expected. I had been worried after finishing LEJOG so recently (and being poorly at the end of it); had I left myself enough recovery time? Fortunately it seemed I had done! I had planned to pace myself to 35minute laps (as approx 28minute uphills), but for the first 4 laps at least I was doing 18 minute ups. This wasn't in the plan! Lap 2 and company arrived; Lee and Elliott in their coveted 'Hells500' jerseys. These can only be bought once you've joined the everest club! Along with a few of their friends, I smashed out a few quick laps, and relaxed into the rhythm of Froggatt, spinning uphill, then speeding back down.
|Feeling fresh! (Photo by Richard Marks)|
The laps passed by quickly, and within about 5 or so hours (maybe 5.5hrs) I'd knocked out about 10 laps. 25% done! I was counting down in fours; counting down until each break, another 10% done. As the morning turned into afternoon I had loads of support!! We had a gazebo outside the Grouse Inn (manned by Tom and Dan), where I could stop to eat, and people could come and cheer/ drink beer.
During the afternoon a lot of different people rode with me! I tried to write a list so I didn't forget to thank people; I'll include this at the bottom! People I didn't know came to join me for laps, having heard about my attempt. Friends of friends came out too! I persuaded strangers who overtook me to slow down and ride with me. The company was great and the miles really did fly by! I was eating well, drinking well and still passing good coloured urine!
|Saturday evening, leading the boys up the hill ;) (Photo by Richard Marks)|
|Enjoying the evening light. (Photo by Steve Franklin)|
Dan has been my hero in all of this! I posted on the tri club facebook page that I was planning to do this if anyone wanted to come out and ride with me. Dan messaged me straight back to say could he help? He organised borrowing the gazebo, set up a computer screen to track my progress, and rode 3 stints with me, including the dreaded graveyard shift. Overnight he told me his life story to keep me awake. It was great to have the company and to get to know Dan much better!
"Dan, tell me about how you met your partner" I said.
"It's funny you should say that. Well, there's the short story, but since we've got plenty of time, I'll tell you the long story..." Dan replied.
My husband finally got on his bike at about 2 or 3 am, to give Dan a break. Despite having a better bike than me, Tom is not a keen cyclist. But he had spent all day feeding me, passing me drinks, manning the gazebo and generally cheering me (when he wasn't reading about ski touring). About 3am a tiny corner of the sky started to turn light. Finally I felt like the darkness was going to end. It had only been dark for 4 or 5 hours, but it was a long, hard night. I am in absolute awe of the CLO guys who everested Hathersage Surprise Climb in November! I don't know how you did it!!
|4am food stop. Feeling cold, looking rough! (Photo by Steve Franklin)|
Steve came to relieve Tom at 4am for his second stint on the bike, and we got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise as we continued to bike. Sunrise on mid-summers day! Incredible!!! I was struggling, really tired, becoming sore. My back muscles and bum were sore. In a way this was good as it distracted from my legs, which actually never seemed to hurt. (Don't worry, the pain now is making up for that!). I was getting cold, really cold on the descents, but then overheating on the ups. I started wearing a belay jacket to descend. I had decided after a break at 32 laps that I would keep going until I finished with no further feed stops.
|Dawn, mid-summer's day. (Photo by Steve Franklin)|
Lap 37 and 38 were really hard. I don't know if it's because I was exhausted, or because my body knew the end was near and started to slow down. Certainly looking back at the segment times, I get progressively slower through the day, most noticeably over the last 8 laps. I stopped twice on lap 38, but made it to the top.
I was unsure if 38 laps would be enough or whether I needed to do an extra lap. I stopped at the top with Dan and Tom, and reset my garmin so it could work out the ascent. 9,200m!! I had done it!!! I had over-done it!!!!! Arghh! What euphoria!!! It felt incredible! 24hrs and 48minutes!! (My ride time was 21hr18min so only 3hr30 of breaks, not too bad really).
I bounced and cheered my way back down the hill to the Grouse (after the classic photo of bike above head at top of hill; very poor quality, in bad light). I had actually done it! I am still in disbelief. When I decided to do this challenge it was one of the only challenges in my year of suffering that I thought I might fail on. I honestly wondered if it was beyond me.
|Success! (Poor quality, but it will do!)|
This challenge is definitely about mind over body. Riding LEJOG recently has obviously helped my fitness, but I've otherwise not trained. I just went out and rode. A positive attitude, grit and determination got me up that hill 38 times. That, plus a lot of support from some incredible people!
People to thank for coming to cheer me on or ride with me:
-Lee & Elliott! Thanks for helping me join the club!
-Dan; you are amazing! I honestly can't thank you enough!
-Tom; thank you for spending 25hrs outside supporting me, and a whole weekend not going climbing.
-'Fat Tony' from CLO!
-Dr Marks for coming to take pictures.
-Kate Morris for squeezing me into an already full weekend
-Adrian (who rode in my Hoy leggings!), Tash and Emma for cheering me on.
-Tom, Kate and Laurie (sorry your derailer broke!); my Tom enjoyed the Laurie cuddle!
-Alan James (in his UKC jersey!)
-Nick plus friends (and his GP colleagues).
-Ruth Newton for riding 2 laps!
-Steve, esp for the 4am laps!
-Will & Nic
-Mil & Phil
-Caitlin & Robin
-Clare & Will
-Emma Hill for a visit at 1.30am!
-The man from CLO whose name I can't remember who came at 9am just after I finished.
And I want to thank everyone else who has sponsored me, sent me messages of support or who I've forgotten! Thank you!
The list above highlights to me how bloody amazing all you guys are! I might have done 'Everest' solo (i.e not in a team), but I never felt alone! I think I only rode 3 laps by myself! Everyone helped make my journey easier.
So today it's day 2 post-Everest. (I started writing this yesterday). My legs are still sore but they are certainly easing. I can feel my endorphin levels starting to dip. I'm searching for my next challenge.
In just under 3 weeks I'll be racing an ironman distance triathlon in the cotswolds (the cotswold 226), then heading to the alps to climb the Matterhorn (amongst other mountains), so I have things to look forward to. But I worry that nothing will match up to everesting.
Can I everest another hill? Can I everest faster? Can I everest a hill that hasn't been done yet? Or should I leave everesting alone for now and find a new challenge? I don't know, I've not decided yet. I've got my eye on an un-Everested hill in North Wales... although the gradient is similar to that of Froggatt. I think I fancy something slightly steeper so I can do less mileage. Lots of things to think about.
For now though, I'm going to enjoy being in the Everest club! I can't wait for my jersey to arrive!
A final reminder about my charity page; www.virginmoneygiving.com/nikkisommers
Thanks again to everyone who helped make my Everest journey a success!