One ride. One hill. 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) of elevation gain.
Everesting, named after the highest mountain on Earth, is a grueling challenge for cyclists. Find a climb and keep riding your bike up and down until you’ve climbed the height of Mount Everest. Do this in Zwift and it’s called virtual Everesting, or “vEveresting.”
The idea was popularized by the Australian cycling club Hells 500, known for their epic rides. They were inspired by George Mallory, grandson of the British Everest mountaineer, who in 1994 rode Mount Donna Buang until he reached the height of the famous peak. Hells 500 created an Everesting website which includes a set of Everesting rules, a Hall of Fame, and a special kit for successful Everesters and vEveresters.
And it caught on. As of fall 2019, there have been more than 3,900 successful outdoor Everestings and more than 260 on Zwift.
Frank Garcia became the first-ever vEverester in 2015. He rode a Strava segment on Zwift called “Watopia Wall” – the first piece of the forward KOM/QOM hill – 315 times in 24 hours!
How it’s done
All of the rules and guidelines for vEveresting are listed at everesting.cc. Here are the basics:
- Elevation gain must total at least 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) – the height of Mt. Everest.
- The ride must be made up of hill repeats of a single climb.
- There is no time limit, and you can take breaks – but don’t go to sleep. The ride must be finished in one activity. Breaks count toward your total time, so manage them carefully.
- A controllable smart trainer with the gradient difficulty set to 100% (maximum) is required. You’ll have to feel that hill!
- Your Zwift profile weight must be accurate as of the day of your vEveresting.
- Record and save your activity data both on Zwift and on a bike computer. Also take screenshots throughout your ride as evidence.
- Upload the finished ride publicly to Strava and submit it to everesting.cc.
Tips from a vEverester
Is the mountain calling you?
Australian Shane Elliott has completed three vEverestings on Zwift... and a whopping 10 more Everestings outdoors! Here are this tough Zwifter’s tips and some general advice:
Choose your climb and make a plan.
Elliot has vEverested on three different climbs: first Watopia's Epic KOM reverse climb (which he prefers), then Alpe du Zwift, then the Innsbruck KOM reverse climb. The choice is up to you.
“A long climb like the Alpe (du Zwift) will give longer breaks on the descent. Some like the Epic KOM require some pedaling on the descent, so this gives less rest time, but being shorter you get breaks more often,” he says.
Steep hills are slower to climb, but they add up elevation faster than shallow ones. Figure out how many repeats and how much distance you need ahead of time, and double-check!
According to The Everesting Calculator, this is how many laps it should take to vEverest some of Zwift’s biggest climbs:
- Alpe du Zwift: 8.5
- Watopia Epic KOM Forward*: 19
- Watopia Epic KOM Reverse*: 20.1
- Innsbruck KOM Forward: 22.1
- Innsbruck KOM Reverse: 22.3
- London, Leith Hill: 65.9
- London, Keith Hill: 38.7
*Note: These include uphill parts of descents. “Descent gain” counts only if you have to work to climb it.
Train long rides and hill climbs.
Most recorded vEverestings have taken between 14 and 20 hours, including breaks. Before you try one, you should be able to complete a 6 or 7-hour endurance ride without problems. Focus your training on long days in the saddle and roads that go up. Start at a level you’re used to, then slowly increase the length and the amount of climbing. Go ahead, set that trainer difficulty to 100% now!
Eat early and often.
“Regular eating and early on is important,” Elliot says. “You don't want to be using your energy stores in your muscles early, or you will bonk or suffer early.”
Elliot personally likes to eat two pizzas, a couple of self-saucing puddings, biscuits/cookies, and gels. Test out foods during training rides to see what your body tolerates. Trust us, you don’t want to try anything new on the big day!
Have a hydration plan for your ride with plenty of water, electrolytes, and sugars. Keep drinking sips of fluid regularly.
It is possible – and dangerous – to drink too much water, as well as too little. Make sure to balance water intake with sodium and other electrolytes through a supplement, sports drink, or other foods.
If you haven’t done something like this before, it’s a good idea to get the advice of a doctor, nutritionist, and/or coach before attempting a vEveresting.
Shane Elliot on Zwift
“Mental challenges come from knowing how long is left, and how long it has taken,” says Elliot.
You can distract yourself by watching movies, listening to music and podcasts, or getting some company.
Everest climbers can go up alone, in groups, or with helpers who join for part of the journey. Elliot’ first two vEverestings were Hells 500 group events. He was the only one doing the challenge on his third attempt, but he still wasn’t alone. Riders from the Zwift community group TBR (The Big Ring) dropped in to do laps with him in support.
Having a hard time late in the ride? Something as small as stopping to change clothes can make a big difference, Elliot says.
“It is endurance, not a race,” he says. “If you need to stop for extra breaks then do it.”
“And enjoy the suffering.”
Rest and recover.
Take care to eat, drink, and sleep plenty after the ride. Your body needs refueling after all that suffering. Conquering Mount Everest is a massive feat. Bask in the glory and celebrate!