20 women to cycle the height of Everest this weekend

A group of 20 women will put their cycling fitness, mental stamina and strength to the test this weekend as they take part in a mass women’s worldwide everesting attempt.

Everesting is one of the most difficult climbing challenges in the world. The concept is simple: pick a hill and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb the equivalent height of Mount Everest – that’s 8,848 vertical metres.

Starting at midnight on Friday 4 December, roughly 20+ women will come together and tackle the full everesting or basecamp everesting challenge (4424 vertical metres) on the Ghin Ghin climb – The Swiss Highlands. The 7.87km climb is near Yea, 1.5 hours northeast of Melbourne.

It’s expected to take at least 20 hours to complete the full challenge. As it is not an event, all riders are expected to be self sufficient and responsible for their own safety.  

It will be the first time that many of the women will attempt an outdoor everesting, after turning to virtual challenges on Zwift during COVID-19 lockdown to maintain their fitness and stay connected.

Women are underrepresented in the Hells 500 Hall of Fame and the group is hoping to work towards turning that around.

Team Bicycle Network’s own Shel (pictured) and Fats will also be joining in the Women's Worldwide Everesting Weekend.  

Women from other states and overseas have also signed up to take on the challenge, including members of the Veloroos in NSW, a gravel Everesting in Queensland, an attempt in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges and some members of the InternationalElles completing a virtual challenge.

Q&A with Shel, Fats and Sarah 

Bicycle Network had a couple questions for Shel, Fats (Team Bicycle Network) and Sarah (another challenger) in the lead up to the attempt. 

What made you decide to attempt the challenge?

Shel: Having completed Peaks Challenge quite a few times I was looking for the next big challenge and an Everesting feels like a natural next step. Also I wanted to qualify for one of the coveted ‘Grey Stripe’ jerseys that you can only buy from Hells 500 if you complete an Everesting

Sarah: With lockdowns imposed in Melbourne early this year, a lot of us turned to virtual cycling. A group of us decided to take part in Hells 500 vEveresting weekends earlier in the year and from there the obvious next step was to turn our minds to an Everesting in the real world. As word spread, more women jumped on board. We've used this challenge as a motivator to keep cycling and work towards something which can go ahead in the absence of other racing and challenges.

Fats: After deciding to take a break from racing I needed a challenge that would push me to my limits.  Something that required consistent training.  2020 threw a spanner in the works and was forced into a lot of indoor training on Zwift.  Also, women are underrepresented in the Hells 500 hall of fame and I wanted to change that.

How have you prepared for the challenge?

Shel: I’ve been training pretty consistently since we decided to go ahead with an attempt – about four months. Most of the training has been on Zwift, including one full virtual Everesting, one virtual 10k (10,000 vertical metres) and two Base Camps (4424 vertical metres).

I love making a list! I’ve got lists for nutrition, lists for gear and tech, lists for timings…as long as I’ve got my lists I feel prepared. Haha

Sarah: The prep started back in March when I completed a vEveresting. I managed to keep the fitness up until July, when a series of health challenges kept me mostly off the bike for a few months. I've gone from feeling confident about completing the challenge, to now having to be more realistic about what my body can tolerate right now. So my goal is to work through to the Basecamp Everesting and then fingers crossed keep pedalling from there.

I taught my (non-coffee drinking) partner to make coffees on our espresso machine. The coffee machine (and my partner) will be parked at the top of the climb for support. 

Fats: By spending a lot of time on Zwift!  In preparation I have completed a full virtual Everesting, one virtual 10k (10,000 vertical metres) and two Base Camps (4424 vertical metres). A few weeks ago (when restrictions eased) I did a Basecamp on Mt Donna, which was a good trial run for the Everesting attempt. 

Also using Shel's list! Positive thinking, listening to/ reading motivational material

Can people join you for a couple laps in support?

Shel: As it’s not an official event, just a group of individuals all attempting an Everesting on the same hill, anyone can come along to ride a lap or two. We’d love people to come along and show some support for the riders.   

Fats: It will be great to have some company at various points throughout the day

Show your support

There are some key ways that you can support the women over the weekend: 

  • Riders are welcomed to join the women for a couple laps. If you do plan to go along in support, please be mindful of COVID-19 restrictions.

  • You can follow along in the lead up this week (rider features), and on the day, via Instagram at @hills_angels_everesting

  • Join the Facebook event and keep up with all the latest news

  • Offer some words of support in Bicycle Network's 'We've got your back' card 

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