Tag Archives: Trainers

Witness Everesting History

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…

  1. Start at the base of the climb and ride up to the top of Tower Road
  2. Turn around and ride back to the bottom
  3. Repeat that scenario 32 times (bringing total climbing to 29,029 feet)
  4. If I could average 20 minutes per climb, that would take nearly 11 hours
  5. 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.

George Mallory - photograph from Cyclingtips.com.au

George Mallory – photograph from Cyclingtips.com.au

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.

Climbing the Watopia Wall.

Climbing the Watopia Wall.

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.

The environment:

  • 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

The attempt:

  • 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

Frank Garcia

Enter Frank. He was the first on the Facebook thread to hint at seriously attempting to use Watopia to Everest.


Photo by Carolyn Sullivan

“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…

Read about Frank’s attempt.

Racing on Zwift is the real deal

Each week there are a couple of training races that take place on Watopia. The Tuesday Night Worlds and the Friday Training Race are the two I will typically attempt. It is somewhat of a challenge because the TNW takes place during the time of the “real life” ride with the same name here in Greenville. The Friday race takes place at 1:30 PM — when I am typically at work. Yesterday I was taking a long weekend, so I was able to join in the fun.

Special thanks to Chris Wiedmann who organizes the events. It is an interesting exercise to organize a “virtual race” and then to report on it afterwards. Chris does a good job, and I wanted to share his report from Friday so you can see what it is like. I’ll have some comments from my perspective at the end of his report.

FTR Race Report 2014-05-01

Fifteen riders took the start for what we’ll call “Rund um Watopia” in tribute to the pro race that was cancelled today. A strong international field with representation from South America, North America and Europe rolled out promptly at 17:30 UTC for the neutral promenade to the bicycle statues. As usual the first half lap at race pace was relatively quiet with only a brief testing of legs on the back climb.

The first climb was the first real test of strength. Matt Wardle (UK) initiated the acceleration with H-G Becker (GER) following suit to push the pace. The field showed considerable depth with 9 riders cresting the climb in the lead pack. A little later in the lap, Becker and Francois Coppex (CH) again tested the field with an acceleration on the back field that opened a small gap. The gap was only a few seconds but took ominously long to close, with the group only coming back together past the start/finish line.

The second main climb followed a script similar to the back climb with Becker initiating a move and Coppex following. The pair then started rolling away from the chasers. Jonathan Pait (US) tried a bridging move after the hairpin, but was unable to make the junction. Just after the KOM line he came back to the chase group consisting of Wardle, Casey Schumm (US), Robson Figueiredo Rodrigues (BR) and Christian Wiedmann (US). Unfortunately the bridging effort had taken a toll and he lost contact on the rollers before the bicycle statue.

Becker and Coppex worked together well, slowly opening up the gap. Wardle was clearly strongest of the chasers and after pulling the group for a lap decided to go on his own up climb 3. He got to within 30 seconds of the two leaders, but then got stuck in no-man’s-land 30 seconds in front of the chasers.

This situation held to the finish. Coppex and Becker sprinted for the win with Coppex leading out and barely holding off Becker for the win. Wardle finished solo in third. Schumm won the sprint for fourth over Rodrigues.

1. Francois Coppex 1:00:16 (41.6 km/h)
2. H-G Becker s.t.
3. Matt Wardle 0:00:37
4. Casey Schumm 0:01:37
5. Nelson Figueiredo Rodrigues s.t.
6. Christian Wiedmann 0:01:55
7. Jonathan Pait 0:04:43
8. Frank Garcia 0:05:42 (completed three more iterations of the full ride distance afterward – 20 laps total)
9. Mark Howard 0:05:45
10. Jonathan Lemon 0:07:01
11. John Greig 0:08:17
12. George Thomaidis 0:12:04
13. Johnny Bevan -1L 0:05:24
DNF M. Trudell
DNS J. Purtell (gender disfunction)

Note: Time gaps for entertainment purposes only. Corrections to placings and race narrative are welcome.

Not placed because  I couldn’t locate the Strava activity
G. Christopher

I think it is easy for people to discount Zwift racing because you are not actually on the road. You definitely have a point in that the dangers or racing are not present. Road hazards, equipment failures, and close proximity with other riders are not an issue. However, when it comes to effort and strategy, this IS racing.

Consider the course. “Oh, you’re just spinning along on your trainer.” Nope. Here is the topographical map of the island. See that climbing? It is real. The data used to create this virtual course is sent to my Wahoo Kickr and the resistance on my drive train increases to match the incline.

So, all the tactics of when and where to attack are there. This climbing is real! Actually, I think the one place where the island really steps out of reality is on the downhill. I found that the group seemed to pull away from me on the downhills and at times I was putting out 400+ watts just to get back to the group. Then I would go shooting through them and then when I tried to find the sweet spot that would keep me in the group, I would immediately start fading back to repeat the process. Frankly, that worked to wear me out early.

Consider the data from my participation in the race which lasted 1:15 hours and covered 29 miles…

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 10.26.22 AM

Now, compare that to the most recent road race in which I participated that lasted for two hours and covered 43 miles…

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 10.29.13 AM

What about the work I put out? Here is the power breakdown from the above road race…

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 10.31.38 AM

Compare that with the breakdown from yesterday’s Zwift race…

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 10.36.27 AM

Keep in mind that the Zwift race data includes a cool down lap that lasted for about 20 minutes. So, the percentages above Active Recovery will be higher than what you see here. Even with that lap, the effort put out in the Zwift race exceeds that of the road race. Yes, the road race was longer, but I did not work as hard.

Now, you could say that I am comparing apples to oranges… maybe it is more like oranges to tangerines. The two activities are definitely NOT the same. Zwift racing puts the emphasis on effort and secondly on tactics. The software has some work to be done before you will see riders taking advantage of a pace line in a chase group.

However, it is cool to see the race develop. It is like having a TV monitor of your race as you are able to instantly see time gaps. You have the visual stimulus of seeing the riders ahead of you forming that gap or drawing closer as you chase them down. It isn’t like racing in a group, but it has its own camaraderie.

Zwift will never replace racing on the road. It will never match the thrill of racing on the road. However, as a means of competition in and of itself, it is a blast… and is the closest you are going to get to racing on the road while in your basement!

The main point I’m trying to make is don’t downplay the competitive nature and sheer workload of competing on Zwift… especially if you are using an intelligent trainer. It may not be the same as racing on the road, but I give testimony that it is RACING!