Words: Paul Chapman
Images: Dawn Queen Photography
On Saturday 28 June, the hottest day of the year so far, I received a call from my neighbour Richard, from The Bulls Head in Holymoorside, saying that someone was Everesting Loads Road. I popped up, where I witnessed Mark Travers, about four repetitions from completing the task, chatting with people and looking very relaxed.
“We work closely with a charity, New Life, so it was a sensible fit to do something for them, and combine my celebratory challenge, with raising some money for them.”
Mark completed the challenge and joined an elite club of cyclists… with 165 miles, 46 rides up (and down) Loads Road, and 8,992m or 29,501feet of vertical ascent under his belt in 21 hours 41 min… and all because he bought a new bike!
I also contacted Adrian Beckett, who is still planning to attempt this same feat on 2 August, to break to news to him. He was surprisingly relaxed about the news… and has since met up with Mark who’s shared top tips and has offered to ride with Adrian through the night to support him. Mark laughed, “I’ve been filling up on cake since finishing, so I’ve got a few calories to burn!”
I also met Mark the week after his ride.
So, a reminder of the rules; no time limit, as many breaks as you like, but no sleep, same hill up and down.
Mark, from Hasland, has cycled all his life and rides with Chesterfield Spire Cycling Club. At 52 years old, he realises he’s probably not going to get any faster, but wants to stay active and still loves riding. His favourite pursuit is hill-climbing, and he had been on the lookout for a new bike for this.
So the new bike… Mark had ordered a new Bianchi… but he spotted a special edition frame to celebrate Marko Pantani’s Giro d’Italia stage victory. He got up early and the next morning was hammering on JE James’ door at opening time to see if he could cancel his order and get his hands on a Bianchi, Pantani Specialissima!
“These things are so special” explained Mark “you almost have to pass an interview with Bianchi to get one.” He laughs. “The strange thing is, I made it through and took delivery of the only frame to come to the UK in my size. The bike, built up, weighs in at just over 6kg … that’s 13 bags of sugar.”
This bike was so special to Mark that he wanted to do something to celebrate.
Marks works at R82, a company who manufacture seating, standing and walking aids for disabled children. “We work closely with a charity, New Life, so it was a sensible fit to do something for them, and combine my celebratory challenge, with raising some money for them.”
“I could have done a 100 mile ride but decided that wasn’t tough enough. The children supported by New Life are on a tough journey, I felt I needed to do something equally challenging, and that’s how I got to the Everesting idea.”
The attempt started at 11pm Friday 27 June. “I realised very early on, that on a ride like this, you never really get warmed up. It was quite a cold night with clear skies, and once you reach the top of the climb you are turning around, plummeting back down the hill at 40 to 50mph, and any warmth you’ve built up is lost. Colin Williams rode through the night with me, I needed someone to make sure I stayed safe.”
Mark’s target was 18 hours (most people achieve an Everest attempt in under 24 hours), he’d planned 8 stops of 15 minutes, but as mentioned, the Saturday was the warmest day of the year so far. “As people started turning up to ride with me, my schedule started to slip a bit.”
“When I hit 20,000 feet of climbing, I started to feel the first signs of heat stroke. My friend Katy supported me, and between 1 and 3pm as I was struggling to eat or drink. Katy whisked up a mixture of electrolyte tablets and carbohydrate drink, which I think got me through the hottest part of the day. The temperature hit 35.8C (96.5F) and on each climb I was just focusing on that single rep, not the overall goal.
“I got really emotional on one rep, my mind telling my body to go to sleep, I had a wobble and bit of a scare, but fortunately this woke me, and I got through it.
“At 4pm, the temperature dropped by a degree. It doesn’t sound much, but it made a massive difference, and it coincided with me spotting mates from the Spire Club returning back home from their days ride. They came towards me across from Beeley and my spirits lifted. Andy Hicklin, Ian Johnson, Bryan Harrison and Stuart Knight, from the club, then rode with me.”
“Andy said to me that the last two reps will be easy. I’ve no idea how he knew but he was spot on. The last rep felt really easy, I felt like attacking it! I finished at The Lamb at 8:30pm to be a greeted by a sizeable crowd.
“I was elated I’d done it and I’m thrilled to appear in the everesting.cc/hall-of-fame where 3,738 Everestings have taken place (ED: At the time of writing) across the world in the 20 years it’s been a thing.”
Undeterred by Mark’s success Adrian Becket from Brookside, will be attempting to Everest Loads Road starting on 2 Aug to raise funds for Meningitis Now, after suffering from the illness. See our website or last month's edition, if you missed it, to find out more.
Mark’s advice to Adrian:
Keep an eye on the wind direction - a head wind makes 1.5 minutes difference to each rep. and has been the main reason people haven’t completed the challenge in the past… I got lucky with the wind direction.
Have a backup plan and be prepared to adapt it.
Ride with someone through the night.
Good lights are essential for the descent at night.
So, I asked Mark… would you do it again? “I suspect I probably would”, he said with a laugh!