On February 28th 2014 I rode 39 laps of Perrins Creek Road which was 220 km’s. 7,450 vertical metres, and failed my Everest attempt by 7 laps. It was devastating & I did a lot of soul searching after the ride. I failed due to bad luck, but there were other factors that contributed. I took too long fluffing around in between climbs, which put pressure on me later on. It was freezing cold, and I hadn’t anticipated that it would be sub 7 degrees for 8 hours of the ride. Having been wearing shorts & finger less gloves. In hind sight, I know that I could have clawed my way through. But was feeling down due the bonking, and frustrated with a ridiculous amount of traffic on Perrins Creek Road. With the temperatures dropping on an hourly basis, so did my spirit.
In order to do so, I had to re-schedule a dinner on the Friday night. Request 4 hours of time in lieu on the Friday afternoon in order to get a few hours of sleep, and re-schedule my Saturday shift to Sunday. It was a far-fetched idea, as I knew that I wouldn’t fully recover from the last one by the Friday. Would have less sleep, and knew there was a high chance that I would fail.
The flip side to that coin was that if I did succeed , then I would be doing it Hells 500 style!
It took me 3 days to negotiate my work schedule, which was costly as I wasn’t training during this time. Everesting last week took a lot out of me, both physically & mentally. My body did not want to have to go through any more punishment. Instead of preparing to do it all again, honestly I was really was spaced out most of that week and watched a lot of TV. I knew that the whole thing was crazy. Maybe I needed someone to kick some sense into me. Instead of this I started to tell people that I was returning, so that I wouldn’t have an excuse to pull out.
I looked to different strategies, and packed a lot warmer clothes, & brought a lot more food & drink. I honestly gave myself a 10% chance of finishing. Maybe 5,000 – 6,000 vertical would be par.
I managed 2 ½ hours sleep in the afternoon & was tired to start the ride. When I was getting set-up half a dozen cars flew past me. I had a really bad feeling about this ride, and honestly felt exhausted. Piles of rubbish were left on the side of the road. I couldn’t believe that it was hard rubbish collection time. I had 46 laps to see a lot of trash. On lap one at 10:30 pm, 24 cars passed me, and my knee started to ache. 16 more cars passed me on my second lap, and my mind was screaming “what the hell are you doing here?”. In the first 2 hours over 100 cars passed me. Perrins is pitch back and the roads are very narrow, and I really wanted to throw in the towel.
My crazy dream of Everest didn’t seem so crazy with Stryder riding alongside.
At 3:30 am, my mate Milinda had decided to come down to do a few laps and 2 became 3. Perrins was starting to light up. The ride became fun, and we were tapping out a good rhythm and the hours flew. Milinda had brought these massive CX tyres on his Road bike which were not suited for climbing. He really had to push hard on each lap, and Kudos for him for busting his guts. He did have some fun, and scared the beejesus out of us bombing down on the descents averaging 50 km/h in the dark.
The hours flew, and then Geert, who for the second week running, was coming to help me Everest. He rocked up at 5:30 am and 3 became 4 and Perrins seemed as bright as day. Stryder who had only planned on riding for a couple of hours. Was now talking about knocking off the Strava 160 km challenge. The 3 Peaks was the next day and amazingly with no sleep, & riding through the night. Stryder climbed more than what the 3 Peaks riders rode after riding only 160 km’s.
Our posse remained together till 9:00 am, and I felt buoyed that my chances of succeeding had rapidly improved. Back again on my own with the sun out, I tapped out a steady rhythm over the next 5 laps.
But started to feel more & more tired.
I went to get some breakfast at the Kallista Deli. It took them almost 10 minutes to take my order, & took 40 minutes to get my meal out to me which cost me a ridiculous amount of time. Sadly I passed out at the table for about 15 minutes and was conscious of fatigue. I had finished 26 laps, and crunched the numbers. Theoretically I could do it. But resigned myself at that stage to pulling the plug after another 5 – 10 laps. I was exhausted, and was completely over seeing the same scenery over & over again. Groundhog Day had to finish one way or another!
And when he Everested, he did it hard!
From then on, Sam rode most of the way with me, and kept telling me that I could do it. More importantly kept telling me to eat. At that point, I was over eating, and without a doubt all the food I kept eating over those final 10 laps made the difference from finishing than collapsing again. Those laps were agonizing. My knee started to blow up, and time went slowly. I really wanted to throw in the towel, but I couldn’t. Too many people had come out of their way to help me out for me to let them down again. I had received so much encouragement, and channeled that into smart even laps.
Milinda returned to see me finish & brought his family along. That final lap I went through every human emotion; pain, grief, elation, euphoria. Everyone seemed so happy that I finished.
I knew it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my friends.
In two rides on Perrins Creek Road I spent 39 hours on the bike and rode 480 km’s, 16,500 vertical metres & completed 87 ascents. I had failed, and then I had succeeded. I paid for it in blood sweat & tears.
After failing the first time several guys had said “I thought you were a cinch to finish it!”, which was a dagger in the heart. Motivation to go back and finish. I wasn’t happy with the first ride, but made up for it by fighting every inch of the way on the second.
If you take on a ride like this you can’t be prepared to quit. You have to push past all sane limits and then keep on going. That’s what it means to join Hells 500!
For all those that wish to join the Hells 500 crew, thankfully there are still a lot of climbs around Victoria which you could Everest………
I am now a member of the Hells 500 crew. So what does this mean to me? There comes a pride in being able to achieve what so few have done before. Four years ago I was a cripple. My Achilles snapped off playing Squash & I was on crutches for 9 months. I was limping heavily for another 10 months following that. I was 33 and faced the prospect of never playing sports again. That was until someone suggested cycling to me. I have never looked back.
Everesting wasn’t all about the ride. I can now look back and say that I completed a challenge of Everest proportions. You look back and reflect on some of the special memories that happened along the way. Some of the great people that you meet and all of those epic rides that I did in order to be fit enough to complete this challenge. Everest has been conquered, but thankfully with Hells 500, there’s always guaranteed to be something more epic for the next year.