Thumbs up to Sherpering on Donna

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Ewan and Blake do Donna. Sounds like the name of one of those films that play cheesy music in the background…..

Ewan Hilsdon

The boys were there to Everest Mount Donna Buang, a mountain in the southern part of the Great Dividing Range. This is the most Everested hill in the world with 25 successful attempts being recorded.  Many have tried, but many have also failed including pro rider Tom Leaper.  Who last year pulled the plug after 169 km in horrible conditions.  At 16.8 km in length with an average gradient of 6.4%.  On paper it appears to be the perfect type of hill to Everest.

In reality it is quite a difficult one. I’ve Everested it myself & Donna has given me some very painful memories over the years.  The second half of Donna is the part that will make or break you.   It has been known to drop considerably in temperature.  It’s not surprising to have a drop of up to 5 degrees from Cement Creek to the summit.  Which is 8.5 km down the road.  This makes for an icy descent, even on a good day.  Rule of thumb is to be prepared for anything on Donna.

Mount Donna Buang

I’ve had so much history on Donna, & none of it good. I’ve suffered hypothermia.  Heat stroke, injury, and have bonked on it more times than anywhere else. It holds a special place for me being my 5th Everest.  I haven’t been able to ride much over the past three weeks.  Due to straining my Achilles and I was really looking forward to today.  That was until I sliced through my thumb.  I guess the silver lining was that I didn’t sever any nerves or tendons but I went pretty close.  I’m not able to bend my thumb and it constantly throbs.  I was gutted as had to pull out of Sherpering for a substantial period of time.  My thumb wouldn’t hold up to the 16.8 km descent.  Being the stubborn s.o.b I am figured I could come along for the ride & takes some photos for the boys.

I wanted to ride, but there would be so much pain.  I thought about it and the pain of not riding would be worse……

Maybe I could just climb the second half of Donna.
Image taken by Marlon Bautista

Its great to return to Donna.  Its a beautiful climb to do & getting to meet new riders and catching up with old mates is pure gold.  I was injured but I figured I could rest my left wrist over the handlebar.  Over the first 4 km things were peachy.  The weather dropped the higher we rose & we came across some low hanging mist.  This is just incredible to ride through on a climb like Donna.

Thumbalina

My thumb began to ache.  I had to take my hand off the bars and continually shake my hand to help get circulation through it.  No dramas.  I’d ridden through worse.  Even though I was only riding 20 km I was in heaven.

Unfortunately I never met Blake.  But had a chance to ride with Ewan who shares a common passion for photography, and cycling of course.  I’d chatted with Ewan on social media many times & its always so much nicer to meet someone in person.

Sherpering on Donna

At the top of Donna my legs were feeling gold.   I could have kept riding all day on them.  My wrist was another story.  I let everyone ride off so no one saw how much pain that descent was going to cost me.  I couldn’t use my left hand at all on the descent.  Having to brake with my right hand which led to searing pain.  At the sorts of speeds you can hit on Donna.  I had to keep my hand on the brake and my right wrist was killing me on the way down.  Then there was the cold that was biting me to the skin.

It was not a pleasant descent and I was forced to pull over at the overflow car park for a break before making my way back to the car.  I felt nautious after the descent but I survived.  Now for the fun part, following the boys in the car stopping to get a number of photos to help document the day.

The pissing contest

I mentioned to Shane Harold who Everested Daniel Solander Drive with me about this little segment just out of Cement Creek.  Its 500 meters at 6% average & the KOM was 27 km/h which is easily doable.  His eyes lit up & he convinced Derek Trikaso to have a pissing contest.  You kinda feel sorry for the previous KOM owner.  Shane then convince Dylan Nicholson & Lewis Greenhalgh to have a go later in the day.  The KOM fell four times that day with Lewis ultimately nailing it at 35.5 km/h.   Good luck anyone else trying to beat that time.

Shane & Derek fanging it up the Tourist Road

I left after Ewan’s third lap & followed his exploits on social media for the rest of the day.

Sadly Lewis posted at 2:00 am:

“After a remarkable effort, due to safety reasons and tiredness, Ewan Hillsdon has made the right decision to call it a night. An amazing display of determination, perseverance and tenacity. Respect mate.”

Sh#t happens

I’ve had to pull the plug on two Everests now & its a gut retching decision to make.  But ultimately a wise one.  Its not worth hurting yourself over.  I’m sure he’ll be doing a whole heap of soul searching over the coming days and will come back stronger.  After pulling the plug on 7,400 vertial on Perrins, I received a whole heap of well wishes & it just made things hurt more.  Hearing several people say to me “I was sure that you were going to cinch it” just made it all the worse.   All I wanted to hear was “you can do it.  Get your lazy ass back to Perrins & Everest that mother f#%r!

Sherpering on Donna

What Ewan achieved was amazing & has earned him a heap of praise.  He later posted:

“I’m going to have to process everything so will write something up tomorrow. Needless to say, I will be sleeping for the good part of the next 14 hours”

He will be back & stronger than ever & Rich Kemp summed it up: Duuuude. Gutted but total respect to you. I’ve been in that very place and its gut wrenching to have to quit so late in the game but safety must prevail. Love you dude!!!

To be continued…….

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