“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
Halloween is set for Adams horror story. A tale about going up and down one of the Dandenong Ranges steepest paved climbs not once, not twice but over 102 times. Kia Ora Parade was one of those climbs that was on my short-list to Everest a couple of years back. Ever since I discovered it in 2012 I fell in love with the climb. I remember my first ascent thinking “sh#t! I can’t even see the top of this thing. WTF”.
Ultimately I took it off my to-do list to Everest. It was simply too hard, & the descent far too crazy for my liking. When Adam Dawson told me that he planned to do his very first Everest on it.
Adam was no stranger to doing an epic. On the 23rd April Adam had taken on the Hells 500 cchallenge High Roulers which challenges riders to complete 10,000 vertical in the one ride over two days. Adam rode 427.5 km & a massive 10,478 vertical metres. This still left one box that he wanted to tick. Everesting. There was always this allure to be known as Hells 500.
Kia Ora Parade
Adam began at 3:30am, riding from home on the 31st October. It was Halloween and Adam was trick or treating. Melbourne weather threw a trick in producing one of the coldest Halloween days in history. A day where there was a forecast top of 14 degrees and showers, and it was a cold start to the day at 4 degrees. This is the kind of day you would expect during winter, not the end of October. Nothing would deter Adam who got straight into the business of Everesting.
I joined Adam at 4:30am and he was flying. I’ve been out of sorts all year and don’t know whether it was lack of fitness or whether he was super fast (probably the later). He killed me over the first five laps. It was a battle to keep up and right from the outset was getting a sharp stabbing pain in my hip & through the synaptic nerve. I foolishly battled through it & kept the pace until other Sherpas rocked up & dropped off to ride at my own pace (slow).
Andrew was the first to show up, and only lived around the corner. The u-turn at the end had a tonne of loose rocks and debris & we were blown away when we’re riding though Kia Ora & Andrew’s climbing this nasty 20% pinch with a broom under his arms, and continued to spend much time clearing away all of the rubbish to make the Everest as comfortable as possible.
Having ridden so many Everests myself, I’ve gotta say that Sherpa’s can be awesome. The name Kia Ora is a Māori word and means to be well/healthy, and is also used as an informal hello/farewell and an expression of thanks, and this piece of road really brought the best out of people. If you asked Adam, fairly certain that he would say that Kia Ora is a word which he will relate with pain and suffering.
I pretty much rode my own ride from now. Admitting that I had no hope of keeping up with Adam, and had the day free & still wanted to roll as many laps as possible. My aches got worse and worse and every time I hit that 24% pinch of Kia Ora Parade my mind and body had to battle every single pedal stroke. Every fibre of my body wanted to get off and walk, but I kept at it. If Adam was suffering through 8,848 metres surely a handful of laps wouldn’t be that bad for me.
The meaning of Kia Ora
The surprise of the day were the people of Kia Ora. Like the Maori word, they were all friendly. One lady asked what we were doing & she told me “we were wondering what you guys were doing going up and down the hill. How do you get up it even once?“”. Another guy came and sat out the front for about 15 laps, chatting with us every lap, and walked a lap with us. We also happened to park right in front of a couple of cyclists homes.
Their hospitality was amazing, offering us Coffee, & help in any way. They even came out to ride with us for some laps. Across the road was a triathlete who offered the service of his garage if we needed any repair work done. We were blown away by the hospitality of Kia Ora Parade. Whilst riding past a family reversing out of their drive, one of the passengers, an old lady told me “you so strong“. She must have thought more of Adam because he was told several minutes earlier “you so handsome….”
Trick or treat
Things were looking good. Halloween was delivering some treats until it hit 8:00am. Adam went to do the u-turn at the base and somehow landed flat on his arse. He wasn’t hurt so no dramas. The following lap at the same spot he fell flat on his arse yet again. This time he wasn’t so lucky. He destroyed his bike. His rear chain was dangling loosely off the back. There was no need to panic. I offered to drive Adam home to pick up his spare bike. I left my bike in Dave Smith’s car & we drove off. This cost Adam close to 40 minutes, but he had time on his side. No need to panic. There was more concern about his muscles going cold in the meantime.
The return of the Kia Ora kid
We got back and Adam threw himself straight back into it. I had hoped that the 40 minute rest would have given my legs a chance to recover. Sadly my first pedal stroke brought immense pain. My legs weren’t liking me & wanted to throw in the towel. Sitting on 1,500 vertical, I had to question whether to pull the plug. I pushed myself through several laps, and knew I needed a rest.
Out came my SLR & I spent the next hour taking photos of everyone. No one would have known that I was mainly doing it because I was struggling to ride. More and more Sherpas rocked up to dance up and down this incredibly steep hill. Adam continually burning through more & more Sherpas who just couldn’t match his strength and pace up this mighty monster. There was always someone by his side keeping him company. Halloween was not giving my aching body any treats. Halloween is yet another one of those holidays where the true meaning has been lost over time.
Hollywood has popularized Halloween in countless horror movies, and a clever marketing campaign from companies that produce chocolate. Candy & lollies, has convinced people to spend a small fortune on their products for trick or treating. Halloween today is about dressing up in Halloween costumes, the Jack-o-‘lanterns, telling scary stories and watching horror films. The true meaning of Halloween is in fact is a celebration of the eve of the Western Christian feast of ‘All Hallows’ Day’, which is a day to celebrate the dead. It is believed that Halloween originally originated in Britain and Ireland, although Hollywood will tell you otherwise.
At 2,000 vert my legs were screaming in pain. Several more Sherpas were there, and Adam had it in the bag. I didn’t need to ride to make a difference, and I don’t know why I did it, but I kept rolling lap after lap. Taking countless breaks in-between. Everything was a blur and somehow I made it to 3,000 vert, and then said that I was done. Then did several more laps and said that I was done. Then several more and I was done.
I was about to throw the bike in the car when a group of 4 trick or treaters came out & I gave them a bag of Twirl chocolates that seemed to make their day. This cheered me up which gave me an excuse to roll a few more laps. My Garmin said I was at 3,746 vertical & 70km. It was very tempting to roll a couple of extra laps to make it to 4,000 but my body was gone. I could barely move and Adam was on 72 laps at that stage. He only had 20 laps to go & there were half a dozen riders rolling laps with him. It was in the bag.
Done and dusted
This is my 26th Everest that I’ve been to now & easily up there with some of the hardest Everests ever completed. Adam has certainly earned a well earned reputation as a climber, and deserved the praise:
Marlon Bautista: Magnificent work Adam. A tough one but you did it with ease
Ashley Douglas Hats off my friend. Huge respect and admiration goes to you and your day
Mr Macchiato Phenomenal effort Adam top shelf stuff mate sorry i couldn’t be there to ride with you a couple of laps #RESPECT
Mesh Gammuné Inspirational stuff, Adam!!!! Brilliant amazing effort!
All up 21 riders came out to Sherpa, and Adam’s Everest on Kia Ora Parade has helped to introduce a number of new riders to this great climb which was climbed a whopping 400 times today. Many of the Sherpa’s had never met Adam before & an event like this helps to unite the cycling community, and to inspire others to get out there to ride. Who know’s whether someone who came along developed the bug to Everest themselves….
Elevation: 8,960 elevation
Riding time: 13:27
Overall time: 16:38
Click here to be directed to Adam’s Strava Activity. Please give him some Kudos as he is now the king of Kia Ora Parade.