Member Memories: Daniel Payne

I first heard about Everesting* after a pro cyclist managed to break 8 hours while climbing 29,029 feet, the same height as Mt. Everest. I’m not a pro, and don’t race, but I do cycle for fitness and have done the one-day STP rides before. Two weeks ago, I started asking cycling buddy Calvin about doing an Everest attempt, then I made the fateful statement, “If you do it, then I’ll follow your wheel. I’m 63 and we’re not getting any younger.”

To my shock, Calvin said, “OK, February 6th at 6 AM.”

Uh-oh, what did I just commit to?

My previous climbing record was 10,000 feet on a 100-mile ride, so yeah, this would be a bucket list attempt. Calvin calculated 14 hours, based on his recon training doing a 17,000-foot climb. I don’t like climbing and avoid doing it, but I do ride 220 miles per week, year-round, and I figured that this virtual Everest would be a nice replacement for the canceled STP ride of 205 miles. 

I’m happy to report that we had no mechanicals, no dropped connections, and no cramping. I think that our first ascent was about 79 minutes, then on the second climb I did maybe 72 minutes, and the fastest uphill time was 66 minutes on the third rep mainly powered by Andy Skinner leading me up all the way, but that had my heart rate in the 140s, so after that lap I ramped down to the 130s and on my final laps closer to the 120s.

I was delighted to finish in 12 hours, 34 minutes. During the ride I gained 1.2 pounds while eating bananas, Clif bars, gorp, oatmeal and two plates of spaghetti. We invited all our cycling friends on Zwift to come alongside and do one or more climbs with us, so that was such an encouragement. The Discord app allowed us to talk the entire ride, making it a very social experience; we didn’t race, we just set an endurance pace to avoid injury and pain. I wore the same bib short the entire time, only changing my socks midway, because the wool made my feet warm enough to start perspiring, causing discomfort.

With virtual Everesting, when you reach the summit on the Alpe du Zwift course, then do a U-turn to descend, there’s a 10-minute window to hop off the bike, eat real food, stretch, fetch more electrolytes, change clothes, or take a bio break. My JayBird X3 headset lasted seven hours on a single charge, then I swapped it out for a JayBird X4 headset to complete the adventure. We saw a few dozen other folks vEveresting, and many came from Poland and all over the world. We texted in the Companion App and kept giving each other words of encouragement.


Q: Will I do another Everest ride?

Not likely.

Q: Will I do a Marianna Trench Ride of 36,201 feet?

Not likely.

Q: Who should consider doing an Everest?

Well, if you have an endurance body, or just love to climb, and have done a Century ride, then it’s likely you can complete an Everest ride.

Q: Was Everesting harder than the one-day STP?

No, I actually felt like this 132-mile ride felt easier than STP at 205 miles. My nickname is “Diesel Daniel,” so this is the ideal ride to just lay down some consistent power, just over 12.5 hours.

Q: Is virtual Everesting easier than outdoor Everesting?

Oh yeah, big time, because on each of the 8.5 reps you have 10 minutes of gliding, or 80 free minutes total to get off the bike – not even having to steer, balance or brake, plus in Zwift you don’t have to think about drafting and not crossing wheels in a pace line.

Q: What would you change?

I would get lower gearing, I rode this with 34 teeth in the small chain ring, and 30 teeth in the rear, I would instead use 34-34 gearing, because 12% inclines feel better when you’re spinning, not grinding. Outdoors I spin at 90 rpm; today I was grinding at 50-60 rpm for much of the time, but my legs adapted to it, pain free.

Q: Do you sweat a lot on the trainer?

Surprisingly little, there was not one drop of sweat on the mat below my trainer, I also have a bath towel draped between the handlebars and the top tube, and often wipe sweat off my face, and what sweat I have falls directly onto the towel.

Q: Did your bottom feel sore?

Not at all, and I don’t use any chamois cream, never have.

Q: Did your neck or back get sore?

Nope, but ask me again tomorrow morning when I attempt to get out of bed.

Q: Did you ever feel disoriented?

Yes, when I did a bio break and walked into the bathroom, I found myself not standing upright and feeling a bit unbalanced.

Q: Did you hear any “dad” jokes?

Oh yeah, I specifically requested from many people to tell me any “dad” joke; it lightened the mood and made me laugh.

Q: How long have you done Zwift?

I used to disparage Zwift rides as not real cycling, but then in September 2018 Calvin brought over a Tacx Neo trainer for me to recover on, after I broke my collar bone in real life It was a godsend, so now I use Zwift on rainy days and took the fenders off my bike.

Q: Why does your bike make a clicking noise?

I think that’s coming from the Speedplay pedal on the left cleat, but maybe it’s time to ask a shop to make the clicking noise go away… because who wants to ride with a metronome, right?

Q: Would you have done this ride without Calvin?

No way, José.

Daniel Payne, Club Member


* Editor’s note: Everest-ing is an activity where you pick any hill, anywhere in the world, and ride repeats of it until you have cumulatively climbed a distance equivalent to the elevation of Mount Everest.