At La Velocita we love to hear about a good epic. Dave Edwards recently completed his fourth Everest, and we were blown away by the courage and struggle that he went through to complete it.
Words and Images - Dave Edwards
I’d Everested 3 times before, and wanted to have a crack at one on dirt. I could have done it easy on fire trail, but the idea of an extra challenge was appealing. I wanted to test myself on a single track.
For the most part, Chambers Gully Trail meanders along at a manageable 6% average slope for 4.5 kilometres. There are a lot of loose rocks like big marbles, so standing up is a bit tricky when climbing the steeper sections.
Eventually you get to the part that I named ‘Kenny Loggins Bend‘, so-called because it became – the DANGER ZONE. This is an 80 meter wall at 24%, with the only rideable partbeing just 6 inches wide, followed by five more steep little lumps. I was looking at 35 laps to get it done. I thought it would be tough, but doable… I was a tad optimistic.
THE START – DARKENESS & THE BLAIR WITCH
I started as the sun was setting and on my own and in a forest, in the dark. It wasn’t pleasant. I discovered that baby Foxes make a sound exactly like a screaming infant child. EXACTLY.
Try riding at 2:00am in the middle of a forest by yourself, hearing that sound, and not thinking the Blair Witch is waiting behind the next tree. Koalas were the worst. They kept climbing down onto the track, and growling at me. I really didn’t want to be the first guy to pull the pin on an Everesting due to a Koala attack.
By lap four, I was really starting to hurt. The long descent was very bumpy, and was causing significant discomfort to my hands and forearms. Negative thoughts popped into my head – “You can’t make it,” and “Just stop now before it gets really hard”. I wasn’t even a quarter of the way through, yet I was struggling.
Sunrise came, and I could finally see where I was riding. My arms seemed to hurt less, and I could hammer down the descents at breakneck speed. Plenty of people came out to support. Mates turned up and did anything they could to help – bring food, beer, coffee, ride laps or have a laugh to keep my spirits up.
It was bound to happen eventually, Kenny Loggins Bend defeated me. I was no longer able to ride it in one go. After the first pinch, I’d be hunched over with my head slumped on my handlebars, gasping for breath, and leaking sweat, every lap. The descent was hurting badly too. The rough track, combined with the need to brake hard for the corners, in case of a walker coming the other way, was taking a huge toll.
EIGHT LAPS LEFT
My forearms were in searing pain. It was agony, and I was forced to stop. I stretched my hands, rubbed my arms, and steeled myself to deal with the pain. I couldn’t descend, but I needed to get to the bottom of the hill. Nothing made it better, I had grin and bear it. I was feeling every rock, and every bump for the whole way down. That was one of the most painful things I’ve had to endure.
The clear realisation that I may have to pull the plug was devastating.
At the bottom I gave up. I was hunched over my bike and cried my eyes out. There were lots of supporters there, but I cried anyway. All that was left was a raw and fatigued bloke, in pain and despair.
I’d given up, but my wife and mates hadn’t. Someone organised some Ibuprofen, I dropped three capsules, and had a crack once more. Surprisingly that climb came and went. At the top, the pain had reduced, and I could deal with descending. I was back in the game! On the next descent I set my all-time fastest time! 23 hours of riding and I dominated that descent. I dropped three Sherpas on the way down.
TWO LAPS LEFT
At some point in time, sleep deprivation catches up to you. I had run out of coffee, all the caffeine I had left were some cans of Coke, and it wasn’t enough to keep me awake. I became adept at riding whilst asleep. I was able to stay upright, I just couldn’t steer, and copped several shocks when I would jolt awake whilst riding into a thorny bush.
ONE LAP LEFT
Slow, very slow. I was worried about crashing, my arms were in pain, I was knackered and now I was having VERY vivid hallucinations. Crazy stuff... I was nearly through it all and was out-loud counting down the final metres, when all of a sudden my computer said 8848 metres. I had done it. I checked, and checked again, just to be sure.
294 kilometres, 35 laps, 29 hours and 30 minutes, 8848 metres of climbing. I couldn’t believe I had made it. This time I thought it was all over, yet I’d made it.
I set out to test my limits further than I have before, and I had wanted to see how far I could push myself. I could have done all of this on a gravel road, and it would have been easier. But I didn’t, I pushed really damn hard, and it was beautiful.
You can view the whole ride on Strava