It is not everyday you get to see something that has never happened before. I don’t mean something small. I’m talking about something epic… something long, monumental, and is accomplished by only a few. Tomorrow we have a chance.
Frank Garcia, of Tucson, Arizona will be attempting to Everest on Zwift’s Watopia Island. “What is that?” you might ask. Well, we’ve got three things to cover here… Watopia, Everesting, and Frank.
For the full experience, go here to the official Everesting site. However, let me summarize for you here. To “Everest” on a bicycle is to climb the equivalent of the height of Mt. Everest by riding repeats on a incline meeting the rules set forth by the official arbiters of the adventure. In this case, Hells 500.
What are the rules? Again, visit the official site for all the nitty-gritty. Here are the ones most germane to understanding the attempt.
- Rides must only focus on one hill or mountain per ride
- Rides cannot be loops
- Rides must be full ascents each time
- The 8,848m is taken as your total elevation gain
- It does not matter how long the ride takes, but it must be ridden in one attempt
- Rides… must be able to be correctly verified in order to qualify
So, here is an example. The closest large climb from my home is Paris Mountain. From the base of the climb to the top of Tower Road is roughly 900 feet. This means to Everest on that location I would need to…
- Start at the base of the climb and ride up to the top of Tower Road
- Turn around and ride back to the bottom
- Repeat that scenario 32 times (bringing total climbing to 29,029 feet)
- If I could average 20 minutes per climb, that would take nearly 11 hours
- You can obviously stop to eat and take care of natural needs — so you are talking a long day in the saddle
The first person to record an Everlasting attempt was George Mallory of Australia. Ironically, this George is the grandson of famous British Mountaineer, George Mallory. He climbed Mt Donna Buang 10 times in one day to accomplish the feat. From this the challenge was born.
A number of people have followed the rules and finished their own Everesting attempts. You can find a list of them all on the Everesting Hall of Fame. Still, there will be only one first attempt.
So, where does Watopia fit into this? Well, it began as a question on a Facebook page.
“So who will be the first to “Everest” on Watopia?”
When I first saw the comment, I laughed to myself. “Yeah, right!” I personally know only two people who have Everested in the “real world.” I rode along with someone on a valiant, yet failed attempt at the challenge. Everesting is a bonafide epic endeavor on real roads, to do it on a trainer seems insane.
“Actually,” you might say. “It is impossible to Everest on a trainer.” Not so fast, Watopia makes this possible. Zwift‘s Watopia is a virtual world where you can ride your trainer and get a real world experience.
This is possible by using “smart trainers.” These trainers take topographical data fed to them by the Zwift software and adjust resistance on the trainer to match the resistance experienced on a comparable road in the real world. So, if you are riding on a virtual road with a 7% grade, the trainer will adjust the resistance on your drivetrain to match the effort you would need to climb a real world 7% grade.
Low and behold, the thread took a serious turn and before you knew it, Hells 500 was brought into the loop and a new category was created called “vEveresting.” You can right now find the rules for this new category at Everesting.cc. Here again, I will summarize for you.
- Must be completed on an approved virtual application – currently only Zwift is recognized
- Must be attempted on an approved, pre-calibrated smart-trainer with 100% resistance replication
- Must be verified by numerous data sources – heart rate, cadence, power meter, etc.
- Must provide visual proof – photos, .FIT files
- Rides can be of any length, and on any hill or mountain within the Zwift framework
- Refer to the above rules for the traditional attempt
Enter Frank. He was the first on the Facebook thread to hint at seriously attempting to use Watopia to Everest.
“Well…. for planning purposes (as I have been coming off a rest period)… Are we saying one ride?… Are we saying premium setup with trainer difficulty set to max? (or not at all any trainer)… Now if only I could keep this idea from my coach….”
On June 6, 2015, Frank drank the Kool-Aid and became the first to commit to an attempt.
“Okay I slept on it… (and other than my mind thinking I am totally nuts)… I am 52% certain I will attempt this (probably more but I still want to leave myself an out :-))… Read up on the rules…(obviously everesting doesn’t really count, but I will follow all the other ones)…@Kevin Connors and Shane Miller, sending a note to contact at everesting as requested (don’t know how to contact Andy directly)…If this is going to happen I would like it to truly help Nepal so will try and get my company and its employees to commit contributions (anybody else who wants to help with the donations is invited).”
By June 10th, the die was cast. Zwift history would be attempted on Saturday, June 13, 2015.
I will be attempting this on Saturday starting at 4 AM PDT (UTC -7 hours). I am planning on the attempt taking 22 – 23.5 hours. My company has agreed to help with fund raising by matching donations related to this vEveresting for Nepal. Hope you will all help me in making my company pay LOTS! More information to follow in a separate post. Carolyn Sullivan is coordinating for the company (Cycligent).
So, it appears that Frank will be attacking the Strava segment, Watopia Wall, starting on Saturday morning. The climb is .2 miles in distance at a 7% grade. That gives him 94 feet of ascent. That means he must do over 308 repeats of that segment!
It is here that the epic nature of a virtual Everesting attempt jumps out at you. Folks, this is on a trainer. The sensory portion of a real attempt is missing. There will be no altering of lines or changing nature around Frank. Mentally, he has his job cut out for him. Sure, the Zwift software will be a big help, but after a bit…
We’re cheering you on, Frank. It is also important to note that Frank isn’t just doing this for glory. He is attempting to help the people of Nepal. Whether the makes the “summit” or not, it is worth showing him support for the attempt by giving toward his effort.
Give to encourage Frank. Give to help the people of Nepal. Show up Saturday morning on Watopia and keep Frank company during his attempt.
Then… maybe you’ll start your own Everesting plans…