One of the Cardinia Climbers Steve Gardner was putting out there that he was Everesting. But was keeping the location a secret. I pointed out that it would be great that eventually someone would have to Everest the last icon in the Dandenong’s “The Wall”. It would have been good to see the look on his face as I wasn’t trying to guess his climb. I just got lucky. There are thousands of climbs out there after all. Maybe I should have put a bet on the Lotto that week…..
With the cat out of the bag Steve put on social media that he was Everesting the Wall. 10 laps of the 1:20 was considered epic several years back & I had 10 laps of the Wall in mind. I had a lunch party to get to and decided to get there around 5:30 am. Which should have given me enough time.
Hitting the Wall (a Sherpa tale)
I rolled up & it was the worst conditions I had experienced on the Wall. Usually it is always calm there but there was a swirling breeze throughout & was quite humid. I don’t know what Steve was thinking exactly. But he had that “what the f@#k am I doing” look on his face. I was the first to show up, and Steve was riding a bit too fast. We worked on finding the right tempo. Slowing down the pace a little and things began to flow.
Lap flowed into lap, and as the sun rose out came the cars. I have been party to many Everests but the Wall was easily one of the most challenging. The climb has so many gradient changes that it’s hard to get into a tempo. Just when you’re feeling good a car would come by, and there were many of those throughout the day. The road is really narrow & you would have to get as far to the left as possible. I always felt uncomfortable when cars pass me on the Wall. Every car passing would screw up my chi, & I was only there for a morning.
Steve had an eternity to go.
I tried to stay positive and encourage him. The laps slowed a bit come mid-morning, but we kept cranking lap after lap. Steve’s a popular rider and his entourage arrived and throughout the morning a number of riders came and go. Ben de Ritter was the funniest. He’s pretty tall & athletic looking and when he showed up his face was beetroot red & was gasping for breath. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Was he out of shape or…..
If I had known then that he had done a hot lap and landed 8th on the Wall segment board. I would have been blown away that he had just thumped the time of many a pro rider.
I met quite a few riders who I had followed for awhile that I had never met including Martin Hlavca, Rob Walker & David Coulsson. It was a shame that I had to leave when I did. I managed 124 km, climbing 3,236 vertical over 10 laps. It’s quite remarkable to think that a few years ago 10 laps of a climb like the Wall would be considered extreme. Not now.
Steve planned on finishing his ride around 9:00 pm, which ended up being just before 2:30 am the next morning. He was quite relieved to say the least:
“A huge thank you to everyone that came out to help, seriously couldn’t have done this alone. Garmin had a melt down at 6200 vert metre so it didn’t measure a climb, I used my phone for one then remembered reading somewhere that phones weren’t accurate enough, funnily enough I was going to give up and just put it down to a very big training exercise! Garmin comes good, doesn’t measure speed or distance anymore, but it did keep clicking up the vert meters so I painfully kept going. Massive thanks to Brendan for getting there early, when after the 2nd climb I already had thoughts of “what the fuck am I doing!” Dave who kept me going all afternoon and was there to witness the pain on my face when technology stuffed me around. And my biggest thanks goes to Mark who slogged it out right to the end with a positive attitude the whole way, seriously couldn’t have done those last 10 climbs without him!”
Unfortunately the effort damaged his knee & he was off the bike for closer to half a year. Everests are off the cards for him now. Like myself Steve finds it a lot easier and more enjoyable Sherpering than doing an Everest. Thankfully he has gotten back into endurance riding and nailed a lazy 518 km ride earlier in the year with Clint Woodward which I wish I could have joined.
Link to segment here:
I definitely got the best end of doing this ride. Steve has come out to support me on 3 of my Everests since then. Helping me & Stryder on Colby Drive (Belgrave South). David Hill Road (Monbulk) and was instrumental in getting me across the line on my Mount Donna Buang Everest.
Here is a link to Steve’s ride here:
- Distance: 226 km
- Elevation: 8,856 vertical
- Time: 21 hours