I was invited along to attend a group Everest at Brimbank Park in Keilor East by VeloOne & La Velocita. It was touch & go whether I could attend the ride. Last week due to heat exhaustion I became quite sick. And had further complications on the Tuesday. This led me to spending a fair bit of time in the Emergency department at the Dandenong Hospital. Sensibly I should have pulled out of the ride, but then again I’m not that sensible. So on Boxing Day I joined 5 riders; Brad Akers, Marlon David, Kristen Slade, Andre Vidic and Frank Zgoznik to Sherpa for their Everest.
Brimbank Park Everest
The climb is 6.3% for 500 metres. This is deceptively challenging as there is a flattened out middle section that brings the average well & truly down. There are two speed humps as well which also offer an extra challenge. Mainly on the descents.
Link to the Strava segment here
The weather wasn’t ideal. It was highly unstable with heavy winds battering us from the south-west. I had hopes of nailing the KOM. Things were going well until I hit the final steep part of the climb and copped a stiff cross/head wind. I had been working hard up until this point. Flying up a 10+% pinch into a headwind was like shoveling shit uphill. I completely dropped pace and only managed 8th position on the leader board. And wasted a fair bit of energy in the process.
Army of the Hells 500
Just before 7:00 pm a contingent of Hells 500 riders descended Brimbank Road. There was an Everest going and they wanted to crash the party. There were some very strong climbers amongst them. Between nerves & some of the Hells boys setting the pace. It was on for one & all. I was expecting the pace to drop after the first few laps. It sped up and the field cracked pretty early as a result of the pace. I was envisioning that at this pace they would either crack some of the riders completely. Or else leave them with a hell of an Everest to contend with. Conditions were challenging & that wind at the top of the climb made it that extra difficult. It was forecast to die down in a couple of hours though.
One thing was for sure. This was not going to be an easy Everest.
I floated from group to group chatting away. The Hells 500 boys stayed a short while. Once they left it was really noticeable that the pace dropped off. The weather fined up for the briefest of moments. And we were treated to a brilliant sunset as everyone prepared themselves for the overnight section. This is the section that’s always hurt me. I’m just not used to being up late and always battle fatigue. Deciding to ride through the night is no easy feat.
Most of us are used to sleeping through the night. On an Everest you can experience your own private hell trying to stay awake throughout the night.
One down sight to this Everest was the fact the park has no lighting. It was lucky that there was a full moon. Yet with close to two dozens riders riding up & down this short hill. I found it a challenge to adapt to the night. Every time a rider would come from the other way. I found myself blinded by their lights and had to concentrate extra hard on the road.
The most challenging part of the climb overnight was the two speed humps. It was a very fast speed descent. With my night vision constantly being screwed up. I was having trouble seeing that far in front of the bike and every descent felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I would forget where the speed humps were and not realise until I was metres away. I would either have to pull hard on the brakes or go for an extra long jump off the speed hump. You could easily jump up to 2 metres off one of those things. When you’re in mid-air your lights don’t really pick up what’s under you. When you hit the ground you really needed to have nerves of steel for the landing.
It was a strange night for me. I didn’t ride that strongly up until I had completed 1,400 vertical. I stopped and grabbed a banana & a handful of chips. Not exactly overly nourishing, but it was like I had an injection of spinach. I found my on button and was smashing lap after lap. I was really enjoying myself and was saddened the nearer it approached midnight. Sadly I knew that I had to leave. I was feeling good & could have easily kept knocking out lap after lap throughout the night.
I completed 80 laps & over 2,500 vertical with the team. It was a fun ride and the riders were looking pretty strong when I left them. And followed their exploits on social media the following day. One by one they all achieved what they set-out to do; Everest.
One of the greatest things about the whole Everesting phenomenon. Is the impact it has on the cycling community. This Everest brought a climb which lots of people never knew existed and is now on the map. Close to 50 riders came down to Brinbank Park over the weekend. Which was climbed 3,236 times that weekend.
On the drive home I was struggling to stay awake. I reached over to my sports bag to grab some food. I felt a massive sharp stinging pain in my hand which was excruciating. Something was biting me & I quickly flung it off. I remembered that the site where we had set-up. Where I left my sports bag had a population of Bull ants. My hand had gone numb and was throbbing. I could barely move my fingers over the next 20 minutes and couldn’t use my left hand. Which was quite worrisome and I was seriously contemplating driving myself to a hospital. Shit happens & I laughed it off the next day though.
Not only did all 5 guys Everest, but there was an accidental Everester (David Januskiewicz) who showed up to Sherpa & ended up climbing Everest. I was touched by how much comrade there was amongst the riders, and I was proud to be a small part of this great Everest.