Ride Life Stories Everesting For A Cause - Giant Bicycles | Danmark
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Everesting For A Cause

Giant Rep Mike Stewart tackles a seemingly impossible task to help Santa Rosa Fire Victims.

A Ridiculous Idea

When I first heard of Everesting I thought the concept was completely nuts. Climb 29,029 feet in one ride? Ridiculous!   

Then the Santa Rosa wildfires came. Seeing the devastation and all of the families displaced really moved me. I had to do something to help, but what? Then it hit me: Everesting!

As an outside rep for Giant USA, I get to ride a bunch with my accounts or on group rides. To get ready for this challenge, however, would require something different. A more dedicated, focused approach to my training.

I started what I dubbed “Savage Saturdays.” Rides focused on hill repeats and big, heavy elevation days. When I started my Savage Saturday rides, the goal was to climb 6,000 vertical feet, then 8,000, and then quickly it became 10,000, 15,000, and even a 20,000-foot day.

 Doing big days like this forces you to really get your nutrition details dialed in, and after some minor tweaks to my regiment I felt confident to set May 22 as my Everesting day.

The Perfect Partner

Once I decided to give Everesting a try, I wanted to align myself with the best charity possible. After doing much research I chose King Ridge Foundation in Santa Rosa. They’re working diligently to get the families in most need back on their feet, and 100% of the donations I raised will be going to this nonprofit.

Weeks went by and word spread. Support flowed in. Not just from those donating, but from those offering amazing advice. The best suggestion was to start way early so I could finish in the daylight. I decided a 3:00 a.m. start would be best.

The Hardest Thing Ever

May 22 arrived and I left home nervous and hours before sunrise. Months earlier I had selected the climb to Lake Del Valle near my hometown of Livermore, California, as the location for my Everesting attempt. This 1.5 mile climb ascends just under 600 feet and I had been riding it continuously over the past few months.

My first of 54 laps up that hill began at 3:15 a.m. and believe it or not I had someone there to ride with me. Soon, five more riders showed up, including longtime friend Kent Langendorf who was on his own mission to climb 20,000 feet that day.

In the end, I only ended up doing two solo laps, which really helped carry me through. The morning laps were cold and dark and so easy compared to what came later in the day.

The plan was to stop at the car every 10 laps (about every 2.5 hours) to stretch, get some real food and pound a V8. This worked well to get a quick recharge and then get back at it. 

Dawn came and went and my elevation continued to build. With all the company, the laps were flying by. Ten, 20, 30 laps in? It was all good. I was having fun, working hard and banging out the climbs.

At lap 40 it was time to change my kit, and this stop took a little longer, as I had people handing me donation checks, which was pretty incredible.

But back on the bike, things began to unravel. By lap 46 I was starting to really struggle, but still pulled through. On lap 47 the wheels were officially coming off. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t sit down. My hands were so sore I couldn’t hang onto the bars without pain. Somehow I managed to keep a poker face like everything was just fine, but I was a cooked.

Lap 48 was so brutal and I could no longer deny what was going on. I had four riders with me, but I couldn’t talk anymore. I had to just hang my head straight down and just look at the white line below me to guide my way up the climb. I could no longer hold my head up. Somehow I made it through lap 48 and had only 3,000 feet of climbing left. I was so fried, however, I knew it was all in jeopardy.  

As I descended the road for the 48th time I couldn’t control the thoughts in my head. Starting back up the 49th time, I didn’t cry but I thought about it. This was the lowest point of the day for me: so much pain, so many thoughts going through my head. I wasn’t in complete control of my actions or emotions, but thankfully the group was there to help. They started chatting with me, even though I couldn’t lift my head and had told them that I couldn’t talk anymore. But their support kept me going and lap 49 was finally done.

With only four laps left, I decided to break the plan and stop at the car to slam a chicken burrito, do some stretching and replace my bottles. This proved to be the right move. Once I was able to crawl back on my bike, my spirits lifted and my energy returned. Don’t get me wrong, my body was still killing me but my mind was back on point and it was time to get back at it.

The next three laps flew by and there was a sense of celebration in air. I completed my Everesting with a dedicated group of supporters including Kent Langendorf, Dave Dalton, Rick Lawton, and Ray Prevost.

Once I had the elevation needed, it was time for one final victory lap—just to make sure there was a little extra elevation to make sure I didn’t come up short in data transfer. Then I was done. It was simply the hardest thing I had ever done and gave new meaning to the term “TCR Tuesday. 

Thanks to everyone who participated, donated, and supported this event. I’m humbled by your kindness and the generosity of this great community. I will forever be grateful for your support.  Please, it’s not too late to help. You can still donate at http://go.rallyup.com/527b0b  

Thank you, and a special thanks to Aaron Casados, Beau Grant, Dave Brady and Hop DeVine who made a huge impact on my fundraising efforts. All images provided courtesy of Ray Prevost.

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