2018 Year in Review — 1,000,000 feet of climbing!


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On December 23, 2018 George Vargas completed the REV Cycling Million Feet of Climbing Challenge.  2018 marks the third year in the last four years he has achieved 1,000,000 feet of climbing in one calendar year. The previous years were 2015, 2016 and now 2018. That is the headline if you would like to learn more please read on.

Let’s turn the clock back a few years.  Initially, I had intended to climb 1M in 2014.  I set the challenge to my REV Cycling team/club members in December 2013.  But on my first ride of 2014, January 2, I crashed and broke my right femur.  You can find the posts here that expound on my injury and recovery.  I finished out the year with some fairly strong numbers considering I was off the bike for four months.

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Now 2015 comes around and I’m raring to go.  I would have a full calendar year to do it but in fact I completed the REV Cycling Million Foot Challenge in only 10 months.  Additionally, I was proud of doing it in less than 10,000 miles. The last two months of the year should have been a bunch of “coffee rides” but I still accumulated another 106,422 feet and 1,079 miles on top of my 1M and 8,889 miles at the end of October. When you do the math you can see a few fantastic numbers — in my opinion of course.   Ironically, I’m proud of completing the 1M in fewer than 10,000 miles and yet I am the founder of the 10K/1M club on Strava!  10K/1M is 10,000 miles and 1,000,000 feet of climbing club.

1,000,000 feet in only 8,889 miles = 112 feet per mile

1,000,000 feet in 242 rides = 4,132 feet per ride

8,889 miles in 242 rides = 36.7 miles per ride

The breakdown of the additional feet and miles AFTER I completed the challenge are found below.

November 2015 (13 rides)

  • 556.1mi
  • 38h 7m
  • 45,226ft

December 2015 (18 rides)

  • 523.1mi
  • 41h 59m
  • 61,196ft

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2016 I was determined to remove as many “junk miles” as I could in getting to 1M feet. I had climbed 112 feet per mile in 2015, so how much more juice could I squeeze out of the lemon? LOL!  Regardless, I was on a mission to accomplish 1M in fewer than 8,889 miles.  Keep in mind I am still doing centuries and Double Centuries (DC) throughout the year that wreck my average since there is only two DC’s on the calendar that have 20,000 feet of climbing. In my opinion, they are too far to drive and do them but once every few years.  Most hard DC’s have about 13,000-15,000 feet.  The most difficult ones are 15,000 and above.

I digress, with my mission in mind throughout the year I did accomplish my goal of getting 1M in fewer than 8,889 feet but just barely!  I completed the challenge in just the nick of time on December 22, 2016!  It was getting so close to the end of the year that actually had my biggest month of climbing for the entire year was in December, nearly 129,000 feet.

December 2016 was a crazy month!  With all that was going on with my business and my life I needed 125,994 feet to get to 1M.   I amassed the requisite feet in a scant 809 miles that’s 154.7 feet per mile!!  The biggest bang for my buck in December was an Everest of 29,203 feet in only 78 miles.  At the time it was the shortest Everest in North and South America!  And as I stated earlier, there was one of those low elevation Double Centuries mixed in there of only 7,448 feet which completely wrecked my average feet per mile.

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  • 202.24 mi
  • 7,448 ft

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I only did one more ride in 2016 after completing the 1M challenge of 27.5 miles and 2,923 feet.  The final stats for 2016 look like this:

1,000,000 feet in only 8,384 miles = 119 feet per mile

1,000,000 feet in 245 rides = 4,081 feet per ride

8,384 miles in 245 rides = 34.2 miles per ride

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2017 was a busy year for my business and so I didn’t get out and ride as much.  I think I had decent numbers and a year most people would be proud of … I was anyway!

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW

 

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Thank you for indulging me to bring you from 2014 until today.  I realized I hadn’t posted a blog post for any of my previous 1M completions.

2018 is more of a tale of two seasons.  We can easily split it up by everything that happened before I got sick and everything that happened after I got sick.  Looking over my ride files it’s specifically, everything thing that happened from January until March and everything that happened from April 7- December 23!

Here is a synopsis of what I accomplished in January and February.  Not much to talk about just 2 notable rides.

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Now let’s talk about my illness. For the entire month of March I was sick and I didn’t ride. But not only was I too sick to ride, which may be shocking to many of you that know me well,  I was too sick to work! A minimum of two days a week I lacked the energy to get out of bed and get to my store. I tried to work from home but I didn’t have the mental focus to read emails or process internet orders. I had never ever felt this sick before!

I had Influenza B, pneumonia and Strep throat.  I had sores in my mouth and throat.  There were blocks of time 12-24-36 hours when I didn’t eat or consume fluids.  I dropped weight dramatically.  I weighed over 150 lbs in February.  During my month-long battle with the flu I reached an all-time low was 134 lbs by late March.  When I remounted April 7th I  was up to 137 lbs but I felt completely out of shape – no leg strength no cardiovascular fitness – nothing.  My journal entries point out a very elevated Heart Rate (over 185 bpm) for very minimal effort.

 

I need to emphasize something before we begin digging into the 2018 season.  I had no intention in climbing 1M this year.  The only reason I went after it was BECAUSE I was got sick and wanted a goal that seemed out of reach to do something epic for 2018.

April 7th I got back on the bike and I was on a tear.  I had a lot of time to make up and a lot of feet to gain.  I was routinely did the math of how many feet I was behind the million foot pace. Every time I would start to make some progress I either had work commitments, a Double Century or just life.

So that the math below makes sense to achieve 1,000,000 in 365 calendar days you need to climb 2,740 feet per day EVERY DAY.  If you take a rest day or skip a day then well that is 5,480 feet – skip two days and that is 8,220 feet just to break-even! With that basic calculation let’s now extrapolate what being off the bike for over a month looks like.  31 days in March and 7 days in April — that’s over 104,000 feet behind schedule.

JUST 33 RIDES

How did I close this huge gap? From April to December I set out to do some pretty epic shit. Many of my rides were big rides!  How big?  Take a look at this statistic — 33 rides produced 454,842 feet!  Nearly HALF of the million feet came from JUST 33 rides!! Let’s break this down.

454,842 feet in 3,755 miles = 121 feet per mile

454,842 feet in 33 rides =  13,783 feet per ride

3,755 miles in 33 rides = 113.7 miles per ride

Here are some more stats for just these 33 rides

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It’s important to mention that of the seven Double Centuries I completed in 2018, six of them were on the tandem with the indefatigable Lori Hoechlin. She is as true as the North Star. Her steady, fluid and rhythmic cadence is as constant, predictable and reliable as the pulse of a quasar. As a stoker, and better yet as an athlete she has no equal. Oh yeah and she is a heck of a good human being too.

The months of September – December were especially busy with epic rides, career achievements and Hall of Fame inductions.  Let’s review this four month timeframe.

Before beginning there is an honorable mention August 25, I visited the Eastern Sierras and climbed three monster climbs: Onion Valley Road, Horseshoe Meadows and Whitney Portal Rd.  17,000 feet in 127 miles.

SEPTEMBER

Mon, 9/3/2018

49.28 mi 10,108

Sat, 9/8/2018 EVERESTING San Elijo/Twin Oaks #5

166.87 mi 29,104

Sat, 9/15/2018

Career Achievement Furnace Creek/Silver State 508 – 10 Finishes Award and working the race

Sat, 9/22/2018 Beach Cities Double Century #51

190.37 mi 9,931 ft

Sat, 9/29/2018 Knoxville Double Century #52

197.73 mi 14,619 ft

Sat, 9/30/2018

Career Achievement California Triple Crown Hall of Fame Induction for completing 50 Double Centuries

OCTOBER

Sat, 10/6/2018 – EVERESTING San Elijo Road #6

175.35 mi 29,301 ft

Sat, 10/14/2018 Mt Laguna Recce

93.76 mi 11,010 ft

Sat, 10/20/2018 Solvang Double Century #53

191.14 mi 11,930 ft

Sat, 10/27/2018 Oceanside Double Century #54

193.29 mi 14,032 ft

NOVEMBER

Sat, 11/3/2018 Mike Nosco Ride

80.71 mi 8,114 ft

Sat, 11/10/2018 EVERESTING Twin Oaks Valley Road #7

132.60 mi 29,088 ft

Sat, 11/17/2018 REV Laps #1

86.15 mi 13,235 ft

Thurs, 11/22/2018 Thanksgiving Climbfest

45.83 mi 10,049 ft

Sat, 11/24/2018 Local Steep Climbing Day

49.06 mi 10,016 ft

DECEMBER

Sat, 12/1/2018 Fun Climbing Day

87.73 mi 12,034 ft

Sat, 12/15/2018 REV Winter Century Series #1

104.33 mi 11,253 ft

Sat, 12/22/2018 The Eleventh Hour Ride

43.01 mi 8,389 ft

Sat, 12/23/2018 The Coup de Grâce 1,000,000 ride

54.70 mi 10,568 ft

 

Some other things…

How about some other fun facts?  In 2018, I saw a couple new power number PR’s.

My 5 second power number increased to 995 watts.  Nothing to write home about I know but for me it’s fun to “sprint” every now and then.  Actually my top two all time 5 second efforts were in 2018.  995 watts 15 w/kg while weighing 66.33 or 146.2 lbs

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What about 1 minute power numbers? 608 watts for 1 minute 9.09 w/kg 66.88 kg 147.4 lbs.  These increases came after repeated efforts at sprinting up local hills of over 8% grades.  It is interesting to note that not only did I increase my absolute power number from 600 watts in 2015 by 8 watts but I also weighed less in 2018 which means I increased my w/kg as well!  The numbers for 2015 1 min PR were 600 watts at 8.82 w/kg at 68.02 kg or 149.95 lbs

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EDIT: 1/1/19 Finished off the year with 10,000 miles the last 3 days of the year I did two centuries and a 40 miler to tackle the last 250 miles.  Last minute goal not even in the plans during the year but I got so close I just figured I should go for it.  

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There you have it a year of climbing 1,000,000 feet summarized in 1,000 words!  What is next for George Red Eyed Vireo Vargas?  I’m not sure.   I haven’t made my goals for 2019.  I guess I better get cracking on that eh?

#everesting #everestchallenge

Everesting Twin Oaks – “South Village to School Entrance”


On November 10, 2018 George Vargas Everested Twin Oaks Valley Road in San Marcos, Ca.  More specifically he Everested an existing segment named “South Village to School Entrance”.  The effort took a total time of 14:06 for 132.6 miles (213.3 km) 29,088 feet (8866 m).  If you track ride time it was 13:09.  Regarding total time this was his third  fastest Everest at 14:06.  His fastest Everest was #4 Everest13:30 total time. His second fastest Everest was #2 Everest 14:05 total time. He had a flat and mechanical free day! This ride marks his seventh completed Everest Challenge. You can follow him on Strava here. #everesting #everestchallenge 

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PREPARATION 

This is a local hill where I have done many repeats over the last 4 years.  I am very familiar with this hill.  The grade is consistent 9-11% once you ride through the “shallow” run in of about 7% in the first 50-75 meters.  I had dreamed of Everesting this hill for the past two years but I just hadn’t summoned the courage to get it done.  The crazy thing is that I have done much steeper hills in the past.  For example, Everesting the top 1/2 mile of Double Peak (Everesting #2) which averages 11% but actually has two distinct ramps of 15-19% with a relief in the middle of that lowers the average grade down to 11% .  I had also Everested Coronado Hills (Everesting #4) which averaged 15%!  At the time I Everested Coronado Hills it was the shortest distance Everest in North and South America at only 77.8 miles (125.2 km) for 29,203 ft (8901 m).

So then why the trepidation on this climb?  There were a few glaring concerns allow me to list them.

  1.  SAFETY – When doing a recce of your climb one of the first things you need to consider is “Will this be a safe place to Everest? Ok it seems safe during the day but what about at night?” This climb has a lot of traffic flow during the day.  The bike lane is narrow.  At night the traffic is much lighter compared to the day but it’s not like it drops to zero.  There are only two lamp posts on the climb, at the bottom and at the top.  At night you are trusting your rear red blinky to provide an invisible force field around you as you climb at 6-8 mph while the traffic in the lane next to you is doing 50-60 mph.
  2. HEAT – During the day this climb can be very hot. During the summer when you have the most daylight it can be over 95F.  There is a slight tailwind every afternoon.  The trifecta now exists the tailwind, the ambient heat and the heat coming off the tarmac.
  3. GRADE – I climbed steeper grades on my previous Everests but for some reason this one I respected, admittedly probably too much, because of the all the times I have done this climb at full gas while chasing or being chased during a group ride.  During the group rides I would make the selection of the lead group and then suffer my way up trying to stay on the wheels of stronger riders until I would POP! That mental trauma of all the times I had suffered at full gas, all the times I POPPED, all those times were in my mind thinking that I had to climb it at least 75 times, albeit at a much lower intensity.

 

I wish to give some props to the smart people who created the logic behind Everesting Calculator which can be found here.  Take a look at my total time in the screenshot provided above of 14:06 the calculator predicted 14:04!  Unbelievable how close the calculator was to reality.  This is one of those situations when I believe I did better than the calculations.

  1.  The actual distance ended up being 132. 6 miles vs 126 miles for the calculator
  2.  The gain I was getting each ascent was more like 370 ish ft not 387 ft
  3.  The actual repeats were 76 vs 75 predicted
  4.  Using 185w avg in the calculator I ended up with an actual 175 np
  5.  The actual kj were 7,116 calculator predicted 6,959 kj again very close

In summary, I rode further, climbed more and still made the time cutoff!  

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GEARING —

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I chose to ride a 53/39 and an 11-28 cassette.  It was also my first Everest using AbsoluteBlack oval chainrings.  There are quite a few studies out there to the effectiveness of oval chainrings.  But here is what AbsoluteBlack states from their study “Up to 9% increase of Force effectiveness, up to 7% less oxygen consumption, up to 15% less Ventilation (breathing) and up to 10% heart rate decrease when using oval chainrings versus round. What does that mean? In short, it means that you will consume less energy at the same power output using Oval chainrings so you can ride for longer and/or faster.”  I have been riding really strong so who knows if they are helping or not but all I know is I’m kicking ass lately! 

As I mentioned earlier I have done many repeats on this hill in the past.  My current total is 519 subtract the 76 from my Everest it leaves you with 443 previous efforts.  I knew that the 11-28 cassette would be fine as I am not a spinner.  I also didn’t want to change out my crankset as I prefer to ride/climb with my 53/39 chainring setup for most of my climbing and everyday riding.  Having said all of that, my spare set of wheels had an 11-34 cassette installed on them.  Just in case everything went wrong I had a large cassette for the 10% grade. 

 

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ORGANIZATION

I decided after my last Everest that I would be better organized for all subsequent attempts.  As a former mechanical engineer, I believe in continuous process improvement.  If you standardize a process the end result is predictable and expected.  Then you take the process and seek ways to continue to improve it.  In the case of Everesting, you need to establish what supplies, clothing, nutrition and equipment you will need for each attempt.  Now that you have “your must haves” you should have them organized perfectly.  Once you are fatigued you may not be thinking clearly and not be able to find what you are looking for or you might doubt you even packed it.  

To wrap up my preparation I had intimate familiarity with the climb – to include day and night riding on it.  I had consulted the Everesting Calculator for a prediction prior to riding it and used it as a pacing tool while I was on my Everest.   I was much better organized this time by treating it like one of my long endurance events. 

See video below on how I set up my van for my Everesting attempt. 

 

 

THE RIDE

I got a late start but I wasn’t frazzled by that at all.  I like to sleep in until my body wakes up naturally.  I don’t use an alarm as part of my normal life.  On race days I use alarms as a back up but I am usually up before the alarm goes off.   I’m an odd duck… I like to take a shower, have a cup or two of coffee relaxing before heading out for my Everest.  Notice I did not mention having breakfast as part of my morning or pre-race routine.  I don’t eat breakfast before centuries, double centuries or even my 500 mile ultras so why would I have breakfast before an Everest attempt?  There are several reasons why having breakfast before an event is a poor decision.  First and foremost you don’t want an insulin spike which takes hours to settle back down.  Secondly, who likes to climb a hill/mountain on a full stomach? Not this guy! Once on the bike slowly begin fueling and continue through the ride/event/race or Everesting attempt.

The sun was up but most of the climb was still shaded by the higher hills surrounding my segment.  It was in the mid 40’s at the start.  The first few descents were quite chilly for this soft Southern California rider 🙂 You have to consider wind chill factor with 45-50 mph descents.  

Right from the start I could tell I was on a good day!  My legs felt great and I had to temper my enthusiasm so as not to go out too hard on my first few repeats and pay for it later.  I like to divide my ride into three distinct blocks of time/effort.

A Block – Early morning and early part of the ride.  Fresh legs cool temperatures… it’s time to make hay! The A Block sets the tone for the rest of the ride for me.  I like to set a good pace for which the rest of the ride is measured against.  I have done enough endurance events (centuries, double centuries, 500 mile ultras) to know exactly how hard I can push without wrecking myself and not being able to finish strong.

B Block – Slow down as the heat of the day comes on strong.  Keep a steady pace reduce stop time stay on the bike but keep the pace steady.  

C Block – Late afternoon and early evening.  In many cases you have a lot more stopped time for gear and nutrition and riding slower because of reduced visibility think increased safety considerations.

D Block- If we ever get to D Block things have not gone very well and we are into extra innings!  This block would be the very definition of pain cave.  Doubts and concerns about finishing go through my mind.  Something either physically, mentally or equipment-wise has gone awry.  This block is situation critical!

I have to remind people I am not a natural athlete and these things don’t come easy to me.  I suffer and I suffer a lot.  What I believe I am properly equipped with is a powerful mental edge over other athletes.  I say this to my friends and the athletes I coach… “most people don’t like to suffer” I also think about one of my sports heroes Steve Prefontaine — “It’s not who’s the best – it’s who can take the most pain.”

I digress D Block … I have been in D Block at two previous Everest attempts.  I had to do a lot of negotiating with my mind to make my body get back on the bike.  I experienced the dreaded time in D Block during my very first Everesting — Palomar Mountain South Grade – a monster of a climb nearly 12 miles with 4,200 feet on each ascent.  It is an ICONIC climb known the world over so it of course had to be my first Everest. It was the 25th of July 2015 and over 100F climbing the bottom 5.5 miles of this climb.  The second time was on my #5 Everesting September 2018, when it was also very hot with a tailwind.  On Everest #1 I spent over 4 hours off the bike trying to manage my overheated brain and body by pulling over and taking advantage of shade when I could find it.  On Everesting #5 There wasn’t any shade to be had anywhere on the climb so I just had to take the pace down several notches just enough to keep moving but nothing else.  I had to wait for the sun set before I could climb at my true potential.  On Everesting #5 I spent over 4.5 hours off the bike again dealing with overheating and dehydration.

BREAKDOWN OF EACH OF THE BLOCKS

Below is my A Block – My Normalized Power (NP) was 189 watts or 2.93 w/kg which is the very top of my endurance range of 140w-189w. That is a fairly fast start but I felt great so I went with it.  Additionally, it is important to reiterate that the climb is mostly double digit grades which demands a moderate to high power output just to climb it.  Usually during my A Block there are wheels to chase or pace yourself with or against since that is primetime for “normal” people to be riding.  It was during the A Block when an Instagram follower, Jason, came out to do a few repeats with me.  I was so happy to have someone endure a little suffering with me.  We chatted a bit which was nice since I had been talking to myself for a couple of hours before Jason showed up.  My apologies sir if our paces were not compatible at that time of the day but my legs were fresh and the weather was still cool so I pressed on.  Thank you so much for coming out Jason! 

 

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It might be a good time to say that I do my Everests alone… mostly.  I don’t advertise when I am going to do them or where I’m going to be.  I also don’t invite other riders because I don’t want any uncomfortable moments between us if they or I am feeling better that day and the other rider is suffering.  Worst case scenario I won’t pace myself to the slower rider and I don’t ever expect another rider to slow down for me.  Hence, I do my Everesting alone.  But there’s more, I like the pain and suffering (refer above that I am not a natural athlete) that comes from the physical and mental challenge of completing an Everest.  I like what I think about during an Everest and I like how I transcend I like the way like a caterpillar I come through as a butterfly on the other end.  

Just for fun the largest butterfly in the world is the female of the Alexandra Birdwing reaching wingspans slightly in excess of 25 cm (9.8 inches).[2] This birdwing is restricted to the forests of the Oro Province in eastern Papua New Guinea.

 

I am proud of the discipline I exhibited by only having 8 minutes of stopped time in the first 4.5 hours.  My first stop for additional nutrition was 3:51 into my ride.  As mentioned earlier it is important to make as much time before the heat of the day takes hold.

 

 

My B Block

NP was 175 watts well within my endurance zone of 140w-189w or 2.71 w/kg . The weather never got hot.  The forecast was for 76F.  It was comfortable and pleasant.  I reduced the intensity of my pace so as to conserve energy for later in the effort.  Additionally, I reduced the pace so as to preclude having to stop more often for nutrition.  It is amazing how a short stop to refill your bottles can turn into much longer than you think. In your mind you think you have only been stopped for a 2-3 minutes and when you remount your bike it’s been nearly 8-10 minutes.  

 

It was during B Block when my friend Michelle came out to join me.  It was an awesome surprise!  She has been dealing with a few chronic injuries and is recovering/rehabbing from them.  This is not exactly the climb you would want to do while you are rebuilding your strength but there she was putting in the work! 

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B Block

 

 

My C Block

NP was 155 watts well within my endurance zone of 140w-189w or 2.4 w/kg. The weather never got hot.  The forecast was for 76F.  It was comfortable and pleasant.  I reduced the intensity of my pace so as to conserve energy for later in the effort.  Additionally, I reduced the pace so as not have to stop  as often.  The transition to night mode still took too long but I just can’t see how to reduce the time.  

  1.  This time I had all light mounts on the bike all I had to do was clip in the lights
  2. This time I had everything organized in drawers
  3. This time I prepared two bottles so that I would make one less stop than I did last time.
  4. This time like last time I had to remove my top clothing to don a wool base layer which I prefer to put directly to my skin. 
  5.  This time I actually put on a second base layer that has a wind shell on the chest so that I would not have to stop in a couple of hours to don another wool base layer. I ended up being too warm for the next hour though.  
  6. This time the Mother Ship was not located at the U-turn at the top of the climb.  It was a block away up further on the climb and I had to ferry stuff down to the turnaround point and stash them behind bushes.  There was a little time wasted there BUT… I wanted to keep the elevation gain to stay pure – just the climb only.

 

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C Block

 

CONCLUSION 

People ask me often “What do you think about when you’re on the bike for so many hours?” Well it depends.  I can tell you that this time I thought about all my Marine brothers and sisters out there.  Some are currently stationed in hostile environments, combat environments and some are even stationed at cushy posts around the world and stateside.  I thought about how the US Marine Corps is so steeped in customs and traditions.  How every year, while I was on active duty, on November 10th the world seemed to stop so that we could observe the Marine Corps Birthday, either with a small formation out in the field or a large formation and a band main side with all the pomp and circumstance.  I also thought of all the veterans that have been committing suicide in alarming rates … on average 22 veterans commit suicide a day.  Most recently a Marine veteran opened fire in a nightclub and killed 12 people then turned the gun on himself and ended his life.  It’s deplorable!  But those families were in my thoughts as well.  

This will probably be my last Everest this year.  Everest #7 allow me the opportunity to close the gap to 1,000,000 feet of climbing for 2018.  The weather is also going to continue to get colder and wetter and daylight hours fewer and fewer.  I am happy with my performance on this Everest.  It was my second fasted Everest at 14:06 and my fastest at 13:30.  My time off the bike was excellent at under 1 hour – being self-SAGed.  As an avid climber Everesting offers the rider a unique opportunity to challenge oneself to an extreme. I fancy myself a climber, an extreme climber, not fast but just someone that likes to take on the challenge of Everesting and conquer it!  

 

 

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Everesting San Elijo Road


On October 6, 2018 George Vargas Everested San Elijo Road in San Marcos, CA . He climbed 29,301 feet in 175 miles 1.6 miles 606 feet of gain 7.2% grade. He had one rear flat and no mechanicals.  He felt great on the bike all day long on his way to completing his 6th Everest.  Everesting is when you take one hill/mountain and do consecutive repeats until you attain 29,029 feet or 8,848 meters the height of Mt Everest. Follow me on Strava here follow me on youtube here older content on youtube here

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WEATHER

The weather in the morning was cloudy, foggy, drizzling and even raining at times.  Rain is rare in San Diego but I was more than happy to have rain.  The cloud cover kept the sun away for several hours.  It was a welcomed change from my last Everest attempt on September 8th.  It was in the high 90’s that day and a tailwind which is usually welcomed cooked me while climbing.  I was roasting and dripping sweat in buckets!  It was hellish for about 10 hours until the sun finally set.  But the weather on this Everest was, dare I say, enjoyable.  I was happy with the cool weather and enjoyed the rain showers throughout the morning.  The afternoon was overcast and the evening was fairly warm for October. I am sure the cloud cover trapped in the heat of the day and it made for a pleasant evening.

PACING

I climbed at Endurance Zone all day. I felt great from beginning to end.  Endurance Zone for me is 140-189 watts or 2.17 w/kg to 2.93 w/kg.  I know what you are thinking wow those are some low wattage numbers and you would be correct.  But this is an endurance challenge not a race.  You can ride at any pace you want as long as you complete your Everest.  I find that riding at Endurance zone works best for me. Even riding at Tempo range you might dig a deep a hole too deep that you won’t be able to get out of later in the day/night.  I think my pacing was perfect for my fitness leveland my overall capability as a cyclist. Some further analysis follows below.

I took my total time (18 hours) and divided it by 3 equal parts (6 hours).  Then I looked at my Normalized Power (NP) and compared it for the three equal segments.  For a refresher on NP click here.  Basically NP is a calculation “takes into account the variance between a steady workout and a fluctuating workout.  In a highly variable ride the NP will be much higher than your Average Power.”  Let’s keep it simple for the purposes of Everesting.  You want to maintain your NP within your Endurance zone.  One test I used was to just breathe through my nose.  If I could climb and breathe through my nose I knew I was still in Endurance Zone.  This tactic works well for recovery rides too.  Sure enough I would look down and my heart rate would be between 135-140 bpm.  I conserved energy and maintained a consistent pace all day.  To wit, for the last 12 hours my NP for 2/3 and 3/3  deviated by only 2 watts at 154 w (2.4 w/kg) and 152 w (2.37 w/kg) respectively.   My first 6 hours I purposely was riding a little harder.  The weather was cloudy, foggy, misting and raining so I was trying to ride fairly fast to take advantage of the cool conditions 174 NP or 2.72 w/kg.  My tactics worked very well I climbed an extra 1,100 feet in the first 6 hours compared to the last 2 – 6 hour blocks.  1,100 feet may not sound like much but it is 2 complete laps which were about 22-25 minutes each lap.

 

I have also included my Heart Rate zones if that is more friendly to you than power data.

 

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RANDOM THOUGHTS

Did any of you watch the old Batman series on TV with Adam West? Maybe I’m dating myself a little here but…you can catch reruns on some stations that play 60’s shows  I believe TV Land is one of them.  In those old shows, Batman and Robin would be climbing a rope up the side of the building and some of the Hollywood celebrities of the day would make cameo appearances and pop their heads out the window and start talking to them.  It’s funny that I thought of my interactions with other riders in that way.  I spoke with only three riders that day: Will Barnes, Steve Fellows and Evan.  Yep 18 hours only 3 riders.  Why?  Because most riders seemed to be in too much of a hurry to chat with me 🙂   I past a few riders but they didn’t seem to want to talk. I wonder if maybe they were in their own pain cave.  In case you need a little reminder of how hokey the Batman show was I have included a video from youtube below.  Strange things come to my mind when I’m on the bike 12 plus hours. Funny thing Robin mentions Mt Everest in this video compilation!

 

What was my conversation like with the three riders mentioned above?  Will Barnes is training for a ride in the Palomar Mountain area I think he said Gran Fondo.   Steve Fellows, he was a former Cat 3 racer who was always in the winning break but couldn’t close the deal when it came time for the sprint at LOTOJA.  I eventually want to do LOTOJA.  Evan, a full size guy, was doing one of my typical hill repeats ride “up and over”. He said he needed to lose some weight.   We talked about Intermittent Fasting as strategy.

HOW LONG IS AN EVEREST?

I’d like to give you some idea of how long it takes to do an Everest.  Here are a couple of examples:

I saw people gathering at this house mid-afternoon.  On each repeat I would see this progression before my eyes almost like time-lapse photography shows you rose blooming.  I then saw them partying on the patio. The sun set and they were still partying.  In the evening, I saw them watching the Mcgregor Khabib fight and cheering. Cheering loudly I might add.  I caught glimpses of the fight as it was projected on the wall nearly life-sized. More cheering and then some jeering.  I then saw them enjoying their post-fight party.  Each repeat I had a different vignette into their lives.  Eventually, I saw the people leave and the lights go out and go quiet.  Their action-packed, fun-filled and alcohol supplemented day with family and friends was done and dusted with everyone under their doona … and I was still climbing.

I saw a wedding party taking pictures in the park around the water fountain in the light of day.  I then saw them convene at the local watering hole for a wedding reception. Between my repeats I saw people coming and going, dancing and cheering, laughing and hugging.  More pictures and more hugs and more toasts. The shiny disco mirrored ball shining it’s random beams of light across the dance floor and out onto the sidewalk where I would ride through them.  I felt part of the party for those few seconds I passed the watering hole.  I wondered what it would feel like to be off the bike and dancing under the lights … you know being normal on a Saturday night.  Then I saw the wedding party disperse.  Then the clean-up and eventually the watering hole closed… and I was still climbing.

And this song was stuck in my head

I saw the local coffee shop open, serve coffee and breakfast.  I saw it close. I saw it reopen for lunch.  I saw it close after lunch.   I then saw it convert from a local watering hole into a wedding reception hall. I saw it close for the last time … and I was still climbing.

The neighborhood security patrol began their rounds … and I was still climbing.

18 hours … it can also be your fasting window 🙂

These long epic days on the bike remind me of the time I was riding the Mulholland Double Century (200 miler with 17,000 feet) I was sitting at the side of the road just before the Decker climb. I was 150 miles into the event and I was just spent.  I was running in the top 5, riding alone and completely hammered.  I had to pull over and regroup with myself.  I sat down next to a fire hydrant and drank an entire bottle while watching the other riders catch and pass me.   I was no longer running in 5th, or 6th or even top 10.  I have seen and ridden by that same fire hydrant since then and I have reflected back on this day.

As I sipped on my bottle and nursed my energy back up, I allowed myself and my mind to disassociate with what I was doing and then connected to where I was physically at that very moment.  You might call it being present.  It was May.  It was Saturday. It was early afternoon. It was a beautiful sun-filled day with a clear sky.  I still remember it.  I could see people going about their day.  Surfboards and bikes, you know the beach cruiser types.  The type of bike you take to the beach and leave it there because you know no one will steal it.  It will be there when you return from surfing.  Couples walking hand and hand, carrying bags and towels and stuff heading down to the beach.  Will they be joining friends or having an intimate date alone but together.  Will they be staying until sunset? How romantic that would be?  As beach goers sunsets are eagerly anticipated and watched with awe.  As a cyclist, it means a completely different way of riding.  What did they do earlier in the day? Did they do anything?  Did they sleep in? What will the rest of the day bring for them?  I allowed myself the time to think of being someone else for a moment and doing something else … for a moment and then it was time to get back on the bike.  If I stay on task I might actually enjoy dinner tonight at a reasonable hour and maybe even at the same time as this couple.

So how long IS an Everest?  It is long enough for the average person to wakeup, have a full day of activities with family and friends, get a modest workout at the gym or outdoors, go home change get dressed go out to dinner, go to a movie, then go to a bar, close it down, drive home get in bed … and I would still be climbing.

ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS

You would think after 10 Furnace Creek/Silver State 508’s and 50 plus Double Centuries that I would have the ability to pack all the requisite items for an endurance ride/race/event.  Once packed and accounted for it you would think I would possess the organizational skills to have everything in it’s place and a place for everything.  Well, you would be mistaken because I take too much for granted.  The thing is you need to be very well organized because as the hours pass and fatigue sets in. During your Everest when  you are looking for something you second-guess yourself whether you packed it or not.  Logic, reason and memory functions are compromised the longer you are out there.

Allow me to provide for you two examples of the stress I experienced looking for things.  The first was my knee warmers.  I was sure I had packed them but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I usually keep them in a cubby drawer thingy that I tote around with me to do my Everesting and the Furnace Creek/Silver State 508.  BUT… the weekend before I had taken them out to take to a Double Century up in Northern California (blog post in draft mode still) and I forgot to put them back in my cubby.  The second was my top tube bag.  I used it to hold my external battery pack to recharge my electronics i.e. Wahoo Bolt, Cell Phone, lights etc.  I searched and searched and in the dimly lit cabin of my minivan I couldn’t find it. Eventually I found it when I was looking for something else.  Isn’t that the way it usually works out?  These are minor and it could’ve been a lot worse.  But these two instances were huge time killers and time off the bike is time you don’t get back and it extends how long you will be out there.

I have already thought of how I will organize my night gear for my next Everest.  Things like my top tube bag but also my reflective clothing, lighted vest and additional lights.  I wasted a lot of time converting my bike to night mode.  Next time I will already have my second taillight mounted on the bike but just not turn it on until after dark.  The handlebar clip that holds my headlight, should have been on the handlebar as well.  I mount my headlight under the handlebar so that the light doesn’t bother me.  When I climb my hands are very close to the stem and the light on top of the bar would get in the way and cramp my style lol!  But on the day of the Everest at the very least the clamp wouldn’t bother me as much and it’s a necessary evil anyway.

Would you believe that for me one of the biggest stressors during an Everest is keeping all my shit charged?  It’s obvious to have your lights charged and to have backup spares as well.  GPS units also need to be charged during an Everest – yes units.  You should always have a spare GPS unit as well. If one craps out during your ride or one doesn’t upload properly you should have a spare GPS unit.  In addition, I document with photos and videos during the event as a back up to the back up!

SETBACKS

I had a couple of setbacks that also wasted time.  A flat tire on the bike and a dead battery.  I had a rear puncture.  It’s so strange because at that time I had gone over that same stretch of road for approximately 6 hours.  I flatted about .2 of a mile from the end of the climb so I just rode it to top to the van which I affectionately refer to as the Mother Ship vice SAG wagon.

The second setback was a dead battery on the aforementioned Mother Ship. A huge shout-out to my friend Paul Sims who came out and gave me a jump.  When my tandem partner Lori, Everested the same hill last year her car battery died also.  The battery being dead is a misnomer since the interior lights work but you don’t have enough cranking power to turn the engine over and start it.  We didn’t notice until she was done and we were leaving but luckily I was there to give her a jumpstart.  Here I was trying to be proactive and start my vehicle so as to prevent draining the battery but little did I know it was already too late.  Fortunately, it was still early in the evening 745 pm. Thank you Paul!!

EVEREST TIP Two helpful hints when using your vehicle as your SAG:

  1.  Turn off all interior lights
  2.  Have a friend on standby not just for the jump but for supplies since you can’t leave your Everest location – food, ice, spares for your spare, clothing etc

 

NUTRITION

For me this is the easiest piece of the “how to complete a successful Everest puzzle” I use a product called Spiz.  Hour after hour I am completely fueled with all the macro nutrients and tons of other good stuff.  I can “pre-make” my bottles by placing the powder in the bottles without water.  This small step saves time.  Sure you end up with a lot more dirty bottles to clean after the event.  I then add water when I am ready to use it.  I am usually one bottle ahead in the cooler.  Each serving has 20g of protein so I don’t mix until I need it or at least not more than couple of hours before I need it. A 4 scoop serving is 517 calories.  With Spiz you get your macro nutrients and everything you need to sustain your energy through your event and beyond.  What do I mean by beyond?  Because I am fully fueled during my, in this case, 18 hours of Everesting, my recovery was so much faster.  You can purchase Spiz here.  Please take a look at the nutrition panels for Spiz.  You may contact me directly if you have questions. revcycling@gmail.com

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By the way, I bring other things with me but I don’t rely on them for any appreciable amount of calories or fuel for my ride.  They are things that are treats and provide a cleansing of the palette.  For example, I had the following items with me:

Peanut Butter filled pretzels (I love pretzels and I love peanut butter I had some of these)

Ms Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar potato chips (never opened the bag)

Black Pepper Triscuit (never opened the box)

Bananas (I had 2)

Grapes (a few handfuls)

Energy Bars (I had 3 – 140 calories each)

Energy chews (I didn’t have any)

Coca Cola – (I had 3 – my first one at the half way point 15k feet into it)

WEIGHT LOSS

I have been experimenting with Intermittent Fasting or IF to lose those last 5 stubborn pounds.  I wonder if doing the Everest in my Endurance Zone I was using more fat stores than glycogen and/or the carbs I was consuming as I was riding.  I never felt like I was fading never felt extreme fatigue.  This was the most gentle grade of all my Everests.  It is my longest Everest at 175 miles.  The climb was only 7-8% most of the way with a flat spot at the top.  1.8 mile climb with .2 of a mile at the top that was flat with a median in the middle that prevented me for making the u-turn sooner. 1.6 miles 606 feet of gain 7.2% grade

Besides being in fat burning zone, maybe, the real benefit has been losing those stubborn pounds, the last 5 pounds you just can’t get rid of. Enter Evan, late in the day I got the opportunity to ride with him as he was returning home.  We had a chat about weight loss and the subject of IF.  I told him that for many years I was 155 and no matter how many miles I rode I would always gravitate to 155 lbs.  FYI- When I first started cycling I was 190 lbs.  Then last year my focus was to get down to 150 pounds.  Now this was the new normal and no matter how many miles I rode or calorie watching I did I would gravitate back to 150.  So this year I thought I would shoot for 145 pounds.  Success!! I can proudly say I am a member of the sub 145 pound riders club if there is one.  I think IF helped because I just found a reason to restrict calories with a plan and goal in mind.  I IF about 3 times a week.  I eat regularly on weekends beginning on Friday if I am racing that weekend.  I eat regularly on Friday pre-race, Saturday race day, and Sunday and Monday on my recovery days.  However, regularly now means almost a complete elimination of carbs from my diet. I don’t buy rice, potatoes, pasta, bread and so on for the home.  If I am out and it’s a race weekend then I indulge otherwise I abstain.

If you are considering an Everest I strongly suggest you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed and lose those pounds you have been thinking about losing.  You will thank yourself as you are 15,000 -20,000 feet into your Everest.

Here is a video compilation of each time I stopped and documented the ride for Instagram (IG) and Facebook.  IG has 1 minute video limitation so that was just perfect to get the pertinent information out to social media.  It also makes the compilation short and concise.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please subscribe if you haven’t already. Please leave a comment so I know that you are reading and enjoying or not enjoying my blog.  Either way I would like to know so that I can find new and interesting ways to entertain you.  If you have suggestions of something I should blog about feel free to leave a comment.  Please refer your favorite cycling buddy to my blog.  Follow me on Strava there are a few more epic adventures coming up this year.

 

Here are my other Everests:  #everesting #everestchallenge

 

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