Taking on The Everest Challenge
November 1, 2010
What possesses some individuals to push the limits of physical intelligence is a question I had to ask myself. Four members of the Truckee Bike Team andamp;#8212; Rick Reynolds, Debbie Hakansson, Dave Montgomery and myself andamp;#8212; participated in a bike race in the Owens Valley last month known as The Everest Challenge.The race earned its name because of the 29,035 feet of climbing in two days of racing. It is known as the undisputed most difficult two-day race and ride in the USA, with categories for USA Cycling racers and a public andamp;#8220;fun rideandamp;#8221; category.I had not done any training specific for this race, but I had done some long climbs and had ridden Donner Summit in under 18 minutes on several occasions. I was ready, but the more I read the course descriptions the more it scared me. Rick was nice enough to go down weeks before to do some reconnaissance rides and came back saying he was scared. Great, now Iandamp;#8217;ve got those cold-sweat fears that make one question other options. Still, I convinced myself that it couldnandamp;#8217;t be that hard and reflected at the Donner Summit climb as a gauge of 3.1 miles, 1,000 feet of climbing at an average of 6.4 percent grade. Just to set some fear and make you shake out of your cleats, the last climb of the last day is 21 miles long with 6,160 feet of elevation gain. The last 3 miles average over 10 percent and tops out at over 10,000 feet in elevation. And this is on the easy day! One hundred-degree temperatures in the valleys and 50-degree temps at the top of the climbs also added another obstacle to this already challenging race. The toughest part of this race was the difference between training on the andamp;#8220;shortandamp;#8221; climbs in the Tahoe area and then taking on multiple 20-plus-mile climbs. On a climb like Donner Summit, you get to rest after every 3 miles. Not so on a 20-plus-mile climb. Altitude, heat and continued steepness were other factors that came into play. This became a hard lesson learned. Many very strong licensed racers were being brought to their demise, stopping and resting (during a race?), weaving up the road, dropping out of the race and even walking on some of the climbs. Racing became second to just finishing. Debbie earned fourth place in her category, Rick gave us a top 10 with a ninth place, I rolled in 26th and Dave was right behind me in 29th. Congratulations, Truckee Bike Team, for the strong showing at an event that scares most racers away.Would I do it again? Right after the race it was a definite, andamp;#8220;No.andamp;#8221; Now I am in the maybe thought. How soon the memory forgets the bad and reflects great stories you share with your teammates. A more complete and more colorful account of this and other races can be found at http://www.pacosxc.com/pacosblog/.andamp;#8212; Truckee resident Dan Warren has been a licensed Category 3 road bike racer for 28 years and a Cat 1 mountain bike racer. In the winter he can be found most any weekend Nordic racing in the Tahoe area.