Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Hardest Thing Ever, Part I (20060923)

Okay, so I've talking about (but not doing) this thing called "The
Everest Challenge" for around 3 years.

See, it's this bike race, where you climb the equivalent of Mt.Everest
(29,035 feet) over the course of two days. It's held in the Eastern
Sierras - Bishop, California to be exact - and is just mind-boggling.
The climbs themselves are supposed to be gorgeous (you can see a glacier
on one, even) and it's the closest thing we have in the United States to
the Pyrenees or the Alps.

Actually, one of the climbs is longer even than the famous climbs in
those mountains. This is the real deal. Okay, the real deal without the
nifty European culture, but hey, Bishopians (if they call themselves
that) are fantastically nice.

I know this because I'm doing the Challenge this year.

And oh my, is it the hardest thing I've ever done on a bike. Bar none.
Ever. The first day was today, and it was 120 miles, with three huge
mountain climbs in it, for a total of around 15,000 feet of climbing.
Folks, that's serious. I was on the bike with 225 of my closest friends
for 8 hours and 50 minutes. Riding, hard mostly. My average heart rate
for nearly 9 hours was 158 beats per minute. Ow!

Was it worth it? Well, it certainly is beautiful, the other riders are
fantastic, and the support is top-notch. The local ultra-marathon club
(kindred spirits) was at the top of the last climb cooking fresh hot
burritos and chicken soup! It was 40 degrees up there, so they had
blankets too, and one of them even lent me their long-fingered gloves
for the descent. Unbelievably nice.

A little more perspective (in the form of a week or so of rest,
probably) will be required to determine if it is worth it or not though
. For now, I leave with the graph of the suffrage, and I'm preparing all
the cycling gear for check out tomorrow before Day 2 (80 miles, 14,000
feet of climbing...)


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