Riding an epic ride or race takes a big toll on the physical and mental state. After a massive ride, one feels tired, exhausted, fatigued and maybe even in pain.
1. Recovery starts during the ride. Getting enough fluids and food during the ride will make the recovery process so much faster. Electrolyte and other powdered drinks make my stomach upset and can be easily over-consumed so I keep hydration to plain water or fruit juices and coke if available.
The key for my food intake is to listen to the body. I eat when I am getting hungry (contrary to what is said that you should eat before you are hungry). But I also dont wait until I am starving, I know my cues when I need to eat. (Food and fluid intake is a very personal choice; but the above said works for me). For example, during the Everesting I was constantly craving pizza. At Jam for Jamieson, I couldnt say no to the home-made cookies and the fruit cake.
2. Right after the epic ride:
I eat whatever I feel like but try to stick to real food. This is not the time to start a diet. Still, I try to keep the sugar content low as it suppresses the immune system. I will carry now a water bottle wherever I am going and remind myself to keep drinking.
If it was a hot ride, I try to immediately cool myself down – jumping in the water, taking a sink shower, etc. The body takes an immense amount of energy to keep the body temperature constant. By helping the body to get to the desired body temperature, it can focus faster on muscle recovery .
3. The next 24 hours:
With a suppressed immune system the following 24 hours are key. Eating good food (especially lean protein), sleeping as much as possible and staying in a quiet place with as little external stress (overcrowded places, cleaning supplies, sun exposure) will give the body the rest it needs to get out of the “emergency” stage. Not only physically but it is also good for the mind, especially when it was a mentally fatiguing ride. If I am not in too much pain, I might do super light stretches.
4. Two days after: Depending on how I feel, I will try to get out for a ride two days after the event – and that as slow as possible. Either by myself or with a friend who understands I will be super slow. The goal of the ride is to feel fresher at the end than in the beginning. The chosen route should be somewhat flat and should not require accidental power spikes. At the end of the ride I evaluate whether I need more rest or if I can get back to my normal training regime.
Although everyone has different recovery strategies, I wanted to share mine so it might help someone to recover quicker.
Everesting is all about repeating the same hill over and over until you reach a vertical gain of 8848m.
I am not a big fan of repeats.
But I decided to give it a go when I had the opportunity to do it with eight friendly, welcoming guys. And we would even raise funds for a good cause.
I was now committed.
Our chosen hill (there is a strategy for choosing a climb) was short.
1.1 km long with an elevation gain of 50 m.
That meant 177 repeats.
Sounded like I better start liking repeats.
So although there is no question about the huge physical challenge, I was worried how I would deal with the shear amount of repeats.
Would I go bananas from all the repetition?
Friday 10 pm was the kickoff for many, many laps ahead.
It was a nice, cool temperature. Clear sky. No wind. Pitch black.
Lights and bike computers were ready. The countdown started.
We dispersed within the first few laps. Jeremy and I stuck together for a few hours. However, at some point our pace didn’t match anymore.
I was riding by myself now.
In the dark.
The only excitement were the other eight headlamps popping in and out of the night.
I got bored.
Boredom is the worst place to be in. I had time to think of all the things I shouldn’t be thinking of.
The remaining distance. The lack of sleep. Body ache.
It was 1:00 am. Only 3 hours into the ride.
I had to come up with something quickly!
I usually dont listen to audio-books but was recommended to give it a shot.
I gave it a shot.
5 hours passed and I cannot recall anything that happened around me.
Listening to an ultra-marathoner crossing the Saharan desert made my 177 laps look… normal. (Audiobook: Running Man by Charlie Engle.)
Time passed quickly.
7:00 am. Within a few hours, a massive amount of cyclists, families and supporters started dropping in.
There was so much action going on. Meeting old friends. Making new friends. Eating pizza. Trying the new arrived brownies.
And the laps ticked away.
I realized that as long as I am engaged, I am ok. As soon as I am not engaged anymore, I would get into trouble.
But with such great support around us, there was always something going on. Plus, Danny, a newly made friend, dedicated himself to be a super domestique. He rode 6+ hrs with me until the finish.
My original worry was that the repetition would get me at some point. But that never eventuated due to the fantastic support we had.
Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us. That was huge!!!
Special thanks to:
- A fantastic Mo-Everesting group! Thanks to Stuart, Joel, Brodie, Daryn, Ray, Eddie and Jeremy for a great time – from preparation to execution!
- Supporters. Thank you so much for the motivating and encouraging words. For the delicious meals and baked goods. For cleaning the road! For fixing four flats. For taking pictures. And for listening to my non-stop monologue.
- Alistair for creating and monitoring the live tracking website.
- Blake for letting me use his solar-driven battery pack
- Mark O’Gara and Graz Ina for the pictures!
In the recent past, a new kind of challenge has crept onto the bucket lists of hard-core cyclists who love pushing their own limits: Everesting.
The term coined by Andy van Bergen describes climbing one single hill of choice as many times until the elevation gain of the height of Mt Everest – 8848m – is achieved. The number of repeats range greatly. Alpe d’Huez would have to be climbed almost eight times, a small neighborhood climb of 40m vertical gain would require 221 repeats. There is a lot of strategy involved what climb to choose. But there is only one rule: It has to be continuous riding so no sleep between.
When I heard about Everesting the first time last year, I was intrigued. I love challenges that pushes me to my physical and mental limits.
But then I realized what that meant. Doing something repeatedly. Seeing the same corner, the same tree, the same crack over.
I am not good in that. I don’t do crits for exactly that reason.
So Everesting was off the table. Off the bucket list. Nada. Done. Won’t do it.
But it was tough to ignore it. The idea kept tickling me, cyclists from everywhere were doing it. It popped up on Strava, on Facebook, friends were talking about it, friends were doing it and randomly you come across a strange arrangement of furniture and food at the start of a climb in the middle of the night. Ah, yes, someone was in the process of Everesting.
Besides being surrounded by the omen of action, there was something else about this mystical circle of Everesting that made it increasingly appealing.
There is not a lot of talk about it. There is no pressure of doing it. No boasting. Just action.
I kind of like that!
But Monika, this is still not for you! The repeats don’t become fewer because of that!
Well, but then two weeks ago I was pushed over the edge to the side of serious Everest commitment business.
For two reasons.
The first reason is the main reason I ride my bike: the community. I will join seven guys who know how to have fun on the bike. A few of the many, many laps ahead will be absorbed by laughter, awe, tears and silence. More about this crew will be shared soon with some sweet film shoot material!
But another reason made me decide to do an Everest:
This is not about me.
This is not about a personal accomplishment.
It is bigger than that. It is to raise funds for Movember – a foundation for men’s health issues. Now, all of a sudden, the 120 something laps seem a minor obstacle compared to what bigger problems are out there in the world.
18th of November is the showdown.
A month to go. A month to get ready for the most elevation gain I will ever have ridden in one single ride.
Stay tuned for the next posts about the Everest challenge including introducing the crew, my preparation, training rides and anything else what I am not aware of yet!