Everesting was so fun the first time that I had to try it again. My original plan was to do a shorter, steeper segment so I could compare how that felt as opposed to a longer climb. I settled for Washington Street in Virginia City, which is 0.4 miles at 10%. I gave it a shot last week (Strava file), but I wasn't able to finish that ride. I found the short & steep option to be much more mentally challenging.
I had to get the taste of failure out of my mouth, so I headed out to Monitor Pass (East), which is 9.4 miles at 6%. I was able to finish (Strava file), but it wasn't easy.
I started at 4:30 AM and the wind was already blowing, but my legs were still fresh and I just kept telling myself that the wind would die down after the sun came up. I did the first climb in just over an hour. I got some great views of the sunrise, but none of my pictures really turned out.
|Climbing in the dark|
|Monitor Pass Summit|
|Alpenglow: Monitor Pass|
|Alpenglow from Monitor Pass|
The first half of the ride went pretty well. I wasn't having one of those good leg days (I actually had one of those on my failed Washington St. attempt), but I was steadily making progress. After the 5th climb my legs started feeling empty and I began to wonder if I was going to be able to finish the ride. The finish line seemed far, far away and 10 more hours of riding seemed impossible. This is exactly the feeling that made me quit last week. I was getting too far ahead of myself and needed to focus on the next climb and forget about everything else.
I was able to focus and completed climbs 6 and 7. After climb 7 the doubt began to creep in again. I really wasn't looking forward to riding the last 2 climbs in the dark, or more importantly the 2 cold descents to follow. I wanted to quit. It would have been easy to quit. I just couldn't quit 2 weeks in a row. I convinced myself to ride one more climb to see how I felt.
From climb 7 on, my pace dropped to around 1:25. My easiest gear was 34-30 and I wasn't afraid to use it. Physically, I didn't feel too bad. I was just slow. Climb 8 didn't feel much worse than climb 7, so I kept riding. The sun began to set as I was riding climb 9. The sunset seems like such a small and simple thing, but it really changed the scenery and gave my mind a welcome distraction.
It was dark on the 9th descent, but the sun hadn't been down for long and the temperature was still comfortable. At this point in the ride even descending was starting to hurt. I was going slow in the dark, so my hands were getting sore from all the braking. The pressure on my hands made my shoulders and neck start hurting. Usually the descent is the fun part, but not this time.
The final climb started out as a celebration. It's hard to celebrate for over an hour, though. At some point reality kicked in that I still had some climbing left to do. When I finally made it to the turnaround point there was more of a sense of exhaustion than anything else. I sat down on the road to put on my leg warmers and I didn't feel like getting back up. I sat there in the road for a while and it was so peaceful- no traffic, no noise, and no wind. I took a look up at the stars, which are so bright and clear at that elevation and with no city lights nearby. I thought to myself that I should be out there camping, just relaxing and enjoying a beautiful night. Instead, I was beating myself to a pulp for no good reason. Why the hell do we do this?
Around 11:00 PM I started my final descent. Thankfully, the temperature wasn't cold at all. It was nowhere near as cold as that first descent, at least. I took it super easy. Just imagine how terrible it would be to ride that far only to crash on the final descent.
I finished in just under 19 hours. I did Geiger in 18:30, and that ride was 31 miles longer. I spent about 30 minutes more off the bike this time. I had way too much off-bike time. That's something I will focus on if I ever attempt another Everesting ride. I would definitely say that Monitor was more difficult than Geiger. The climb is longer & steeper and there was more wind. The good news is that the traffic is lighter and the scenery is better.
Do I plan on Everesting again? Yes, but not this year. I want to focus on some different goals for a while, but I definitely want to finish a ride on a shorter & steeper climb. When I'm out there riding I know Everesting will be in the back of my mind. I'll always be looking for that perfect climb to Everest.