Climbing Mount Everest is a staggering task. It can take up to three weeks to get to the top of its 8 848m-high summit, depending on the weather and snow and ice. Many climbers never make it.
But this didn’t stop a group of UCT cyclists from doing a “bikers’ Everest” - pedalling up the equivalent height in less than 24 hours on Sunday.
Their “Everest” didn’t boast snow and was a lot smaller. Signal Hill was chosen to represent the world’s highest mountain.
The UCT Cycling Club started from the hill’s parking lot at around 3am.
Team members were Bruce Hughes, Wayde Finch, Jonty Adams, Liam Swanson, Emily Clarke, Greig Knox, Craig Getz, Edwin Mooney and Gregg Christy.
Ahead of them lay a gruelling challenge. It would take them 23 ascents up Signal Hill, each one adding 398m to their climbing tally.
This was even higher than the target: 8 848m - the height of Mount Everest.
“This is going to be interesting,” said rider Wayde Finch ahead of the mission.
The challenge was set by Strava, a website and mobile application dedicated to track athletic activity via GPS. The site has spawned competition across the globe as cyclists and runners compete for the best times over certain routes.
“Everesting” is Strava’s latest initiative. The rules are simple. First, pick a hill, any hill. Second, ride the hill as many times as necessary to simulate 8 848m of ascent. There is no time limit, but it must be finished in a single attempt. Breaks are allowed.
The prize is a Hells 500 grey stripe on the website.
In the UK, two bikers cycled up Box Hill in Surrey 73 times in 23 hours to grab the award. And just days earlier, an Australian became the first paracyclist to join the Everesting Hall of Fame after riding up and down his local hill 64 times.
Fellow Australian George Mallory has completed the challenge a record six times, and occupies the top spot on Strava’s Hall of Fame.
For these UCT riders there was still a big prize to go for. If they managed to finish the challenge, they would become the first cyclists in Africa to do an Everest.
The event would also raise money for Velokhaya, a cycling academy in Khayelitsha.
Their progress was tracked on Twitter throughout the day. By lunch time they had climbed the equivalent of Mount Kilimanjaro but still had nine laps of Signal Hill ahead of them.
Finch told the Cape Argus he was exhausted but still ready to keep going at that stage. Well that was until “after he had his break”. By 6pm, they were still cycling with just a few laps left before they were inducted into the Everesting Hall of Fame.
- Cape Argus