Everest No#5

The accidental Everester Mount Donna Buang

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My 4th Everest on David Hill Road at Monbulk was completed at 7:00 pm Wednesday night.  I planned on knocking out 5 – 6 repeats of Mount Donna Buang.  Less than 54 hours later on the Saturday.  With two full recovery days it would be touch and go.  Thankfully the legs recovered ok.  But I still had concerns with my pressure sores from Wednesdays ride.

I packed as if I were doing an Everest.  The difference from 6 laps to 8 laps isn’t that much difference in terms of preparation. I had no intention of going for an Everest.  But I knew myself well enough to be prepared.  When I arrived in Warburton I was able to get this awesome car park.  Almost directly opposite the turnoff, which was gold.  It was quite warm and humid, and it was looking good for perfect conditions. 

Mount Donna Buang Everest

Mount Donna Buang Everest

There was a buzz on the first lap, and there was a mixture of excitement, and what am I doing coming from the girls.  For the most part, the group stuck together on the first lap.  The first lap was quite a brisk pace.  There were quite a few Hells 500 boys along.  We all love climbing, and all know what it takes to finish one of these things.  My concern for getting through the ride was the descent.  Its given me hell too many times, but today thankfully it seemed warm enough.  I felt a bit soft bringing leg warmers, arm warmers & a spare vest for the descent.  But the warmth they offered me made it worth the while. 

The field broke up on the second lap.  Each lap I tried to spend with a different person, which also really helped time to fly by.  It was around 4:30am when I started my third lap, and I started to feel pretty tired.  The weather deteriorated overnight, and the winds picked up a bit, and it was colder.  There was a tailwind on the descents, and I was reading the corners brilliantly and was smashing it.  I should have recognised how tired I was as I overshot one corner and had to unclip and scraped my shoe along the ground to help me pull up in time. 

Maybe its time for a break” I thought.  

And went down to the Hells 500 base and got myself a cup of tea.  My body was exhausted.  Even 5 laps was looking impossible at that stage.  I shut my eyes for a second, and fell asleep.  Waking up about 3/4 of an hour later, and was delirious.  It was pitch black when I stopped, and now it was bright & sunny outside. 

Not nice, feeling like crap, and wondered what I’d be able to do.  I knew I’d have to do at least 4 laps, and headed straight out.  Halfway up to cement creak I remembered that when I stopped off for the tea I was also going to go to the car and get some food as I had been hungry, and realised that when I could feel myself bonking.  I ran out of energy, and the day was turning to shit.  It was a crawl up to cement creak, and rested there.  Wondering how the hell I was going to get up just this climb. 

This was not looking good, and I continued on.  At the toll booth I noticed a massage table next to it, and I stopped to check it out. This nice lady had volunteered to give massages.  Didn’t have to ask twice, and I jumped on the table.  Boy was I sore, and she was a gem.  The kinks she was finding were quite painful, but after she finished I felt human again.  I thanked her and headed up the hill, and was surprised that I had the legs to climb again.

The Accidental Everester

Lap 4 was done, and thought it was promising to get to 6 now. Lap 5 wasn’t easy, but I kept a steady tempo and I was able to finish it ok.  The turning point of my ride was my second massage.  This helped give me hope that I could get my exhausted legs through this.  It was 11:30am.  I was surprised, and actually thought that I’d have time to do the Everest in the daylight.  After I finished the next lap it would be time for the 2:00pm Domestique ride.  
No matter how stuffed I was at that stage I could pace myself with someone slow.  This would leave me 1 & a half laps which even if I was completely exhausted.  I’ve climbed Donna so many times wasted that I knew I could do it.  I bumped into Andy Van Bergen, and casually asked him if anyone had ever Everested 3 days apart, and his reaction was priceless.  

If this was the response I’d get for doing this crazy thing I’d have to do it.

Lap 5 the weather turned to shit, and it got colder.  It rained as I was on my way down to cement creek.  There was plenty of wet weather kit in my car. I’ve been screwed around too many times on Everests by the weather man not to plan for any contingency.  I knew I had to Everest it as well once the weather turned to shit.  It wasn’t an Everest for me unless there was crap weather involved.  I got back 15 minutes before the Domestique was due to start but was in the zone, and just kept going.  My toes in my right shoe were starting to blow up like a balloon.  I had to concentrate hard to ignore the pain and figured that if I kept on riding would ease the pain.

My pace was going all right, but I knew I was fading and had to ride really smart.  I was blessed when Steve Gardner who I had ridden with on his Everest on the Wall passed me about 7km’s to the peak.  When I told him what I had planned and he said “right, I’m doing this with you!”.  His conversation was gold, and I didn’t notice the km’s fly to the top. On the way down I couldn’t handle to pain in my foot anymore & pulled over at the ticket booth. 

My big toe was pretty swollen, & several of my toes were swelling up. 

I was lucky that some of the guys Everesting the second half of Donna had a first aid kit, and gave me some ointment & a bandage.  The pain died down enough that I could feel comfortable again.  Shortly after, another mate Ethan Edwards (no relation), joined the party and it gave me much confidence that it was in the bag.

Mount Donna Buang EverestMount Donna Buang EverestWe descended for my final full lap, and I knew it was going to be hard.  Running on empty forced me to really pace myself.  I knew I had it, but when you go slower, it makes it hard to stay positive as it seems to go on forever.  The thought of the half a lap to go after this one.  I had to ignore and shelve it to the side.  This was going to be incredibly hard, but knew this was the last hurdle before the finish line. 

That section up to cement creek was hell!

and we had a few riders pass.  It always helped to say g’day or what not.  We stopped at cement creek for a much needed break.  My legs were sore, but could keep going, I was just lacking energy.    

It was a major struggle from cement creek.  My sore tail bone from Wednesdays Everest made it uncomfortable to ride.  I tried getting out of the saddle as much as I could, but just couldn’t hold any power for too long.  At one of the lookouts, I suggested we stop for a photo, but more for a break.  I needed to stop before the last 3km steep bit, and we filled our bottles up at the carpark.

Surprisingly, the last 3km’s was the easiest for me to get up.  Think I prefer the steeper stuff.  I was surprised that I was able to get out of the saddle and pump out long stretches before sitting down.  I was 400 vertical short at the top, and I knew that wouldn’t tickle on my last lap. 

Descending Mount Donna Buang for the last time was a pleasure.  Simply too exhausted to do anything and rolled the whole way.  I felt elated that I was about to turn around and do it for the last time.  I looked at the board, and a couple of the girls had almost finished.  There were quite a few on the same lap as myself.  They were such an inspiration for me.  I hoped that my stupidity could possible help motivate them to finish.  Ethan left us, and I headed off with Steve to finish this off.  Two Everests in 3 days. 

I was running on empty, and it was hard.  

Looking through my playlist for a victory song, I couldn’t think of anything appropriate.  In hindsight I should have played “I’ve done all the dumb things”, but opted on Survivors “Eye of the Tiger”.  The beat really helped to push me along, and I rode really well until the song stopped and then collapsed in a heap and went back to crawling. 

My first Everest when I completed it I was on sky high.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  4 Everests later, and it’s just business.  I was relieved and happy, and given that I only committed to doing the Everest around lunchtime, was one of those ones like Olivebank where I can ask myself “how the hell did you do that?”

Mount Donna Buang Everest
Didn’t feel great right from the start

Most people would see me as crazy for doing this Everest, but I was fine with that. 

I’ve done some incredibly tough rides under very difficult circumstances.  I don’t see myself as a hard rider, I just know that I can deliver when I need to.  Most of my Everests have been on short climbs, and doing one on a HC climb was amazing.  I also had to remember George Mallory who owns this climb.  He has done an Everest, not once but twice, and who is the true Everester of Mount Donna Buang.  And of course all the girls.  I was a mere tourist trying to knock off a few laps.  They were the true heroes of the day, and my effort shades in their performance.

I came to do 6 & ended up doing 8.5. Feeling tired right from the start, I really had to pull something special out for this one.  I was now sitting on 19,000 vertical and just under 700km’s in little over 4 days of riding.  Honestly I was disappointed with what happened with me on David Hill Road, and really wanted to make amends for it on another Everest.  I let Stryder down by not being able to make the 10,000.  Maybe this was the driving force behind my effort today.  I am certainly happy, and it still hasn’t sunk in what I’ve done yet.

What’s next?

5 Everests in the bag, but I can’t keep on doing Everests forever.  I had talked with Stryder about an end game.  The motivation behind my first success on Perrins Creek Road was the number 7.  The image on Perrins Creek Road looks like a 7, and so does David Hill Road.  With that in mind I have 2 more that I’d like to complete.  Swans Road I failed on last year, and will be one of them and who knows what the other will be.  Boy was I tired after this one.  I stayed in bed almost the whole day.
Was it worth it?

Hells yeah!

Mount Donna Buang Everest
8,848 metres. Done & dusted

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Recovery from an Everest

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Recovery from an Everest

The day after completing my 5th Everest on Mount Donna Buang I was well and truly knocked for six.  Given that I hadn’t planned to Everest, it was a bit of a shock to the system.  I was lucky to have the next couple of days off as I needed them to recover.  Overall my body wasn’t sore, but I felt as flat as a pancake and could barely move.  Surprise, surprise.

I spent the day reflecting and making sense of what I had just done.  The response I was getting online was a mixture of disbelief, respect and condemnation for hurting myself so much.  You always hope that you get out there and do something which defines you.  With cycling this is challenging as everything becomes a blur.  Especially when you are constantly doing long distance rides like I am.   I honestly don’t think I am going to be able to top the craziness of this week.  So much has gone wrong, and for me to bounce back like I did was unbelievable.  The help and support that I received during this week was amazing.  Especially to Stryder who really carried me through my first Everest for the week.

My next big ride will be the next Domestique ride.  This is on next Sunday and I’m hoping to get the day off from work to go out & do it.  I could have easily ridden today, but felt an extra forced day of rest would do me wonders.  Plus I figure that its more important to have the energy for the Baw Baw ride.

It still hasn’t sunk in that I did just under 700km’s & 19,000 vertical in 4 days.

It still hasn’t sunk in that I did 2 Everests in 4 days.

Not bad for a week of Annual Leave.