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photos of Phil Gaimon cycling

Breaking the Everesting Record

May 202020

When races & events go on pause athletes start to look for a new challenge to keep them occupied. Fortunately for us here at Monster Energy two of our Monster Hydro top cyclists took the challenge to crack the “Everesting” record within a few days of each other. If you are unaware of what Everesting is it is when a cyclist chooses a climb to ride repeatedly until they reach the height of Mt. Everest which is 29,029 feet.

Phil Gaimon who is currently retired, but a former World Tour cyclist looked to do his effort in his hometown of Los Angeles, CA and Keegan Swenson who is the current Elite National cross-country mountain bike champion chose a climb near his home in Park City, UT. On Monday, May 11th Phil completed his Everesting attempt in a time of 7 hours & 52 minutes to break the current record but coincidently just days later Keegan would go onto his Everesting attempt and go quickly to take the new record in a time of 7 hours & 40 minutes.

Other than the challenge at hand to break this new record there was a charity aspect involved as well with Phil raising funds for the Chefs Cycling for No Kid Hungry foundation and Keegan raising funds for multiple sclerosis through the Bike MS foundation. We caught up with both athletes to find out more about their Everesting accomplishments.

Phil Gaimon's ride on Strava

Keegan Swenson's ride on Strava


What is Everesting and what made you want to do it?

Keegan: Everesting is essentially climbing the total amount of elevation as Mt Everest in one ride or in one activity which is 29, 029 feet and the general rules are that you can only use one climb so you can’t use the momentum of going down one climb into another climb after. Other than that, it's pretty wide open, you can use any climb you want, any length of the climb, any amount of repetition but ya that’s pretty much it.

Phil: The idea is to climb 29,029 feet which are equivalent to the height of Mt Everest, and it’s been a thing that people have been doing on the bike for a few years now, but no real pro has taken to it where they have tried to break the record. None of the World Tour guys have looked to smash it before. I was originally looking to do it for the fundraiser that I work with Chefs Cycling for No Kid Hungry and every Summer I try to pick a campaign around that and my campaign this year was going to be the Tour of California that I was going to do which got canceled for obvious reasons so I was looking for something else and this has been a challenge that has been on my radar for a few years now. This now turned into something that I could do close to home that’s extreme and will help the fundraiser and we hit our mark of $100,000 this week so now we have moved it to $200,00. To sum it up I looked at this as a good way to raise the money I initially wanted to during this Covid-19 time.

"I haven’t necessarily been doing huge volume but the last few weeks I’ve been doing about 25 hour weeks"

Was this something that you had to put some time into from a training aspect or was it something that popped up and you figured you already had the fitness currently to go tackle?

Keegan: Well ya with the current climate with COVID we’ve kind of gone back to our base fitness from back in January training so I haven’t necessarily been doing huge volume but the last few weeks I’ve been doing about 25 hour weeks with around a 1200 TSS (training stress score) so pretty good size weeks but no real serious intensity. Going into this past week though it was a rest week so I thought I’d give my coach a call and I talked to him on Monday and we decided to do it on Friday, so it was pretty last minute. I’m about as fit as I’ve ever been according to my TSS I just don’t have that top-end snap yet but you don’t necessarily need that for an 8-hour effort so I figured I was good to go. 

Phil: Once I decided to do it about 2-3 weeks into quarantine it gave me a little time to train for it as a goal, so I put about six weeks of dedicated training into it so not too much time. Realistically I’ve been training for about 15 years, so I just added some volume and backed down my intensity. Most of the stuff I target is under an hour and the high endurance stuff I haven’t done in years, but I didn’t go and do specific hill repeats. I do enough longer endurance rides though so I knew my fitness wouldn’t be too far off but when I look to do my second attempt, I know I’ll have a little bit more volume. To come back to the question though I’d say I put about one month of dedicated good work into it.

"The hill that I found was pretty ideal"

What made you choose the climb that you did and what aspects of a climb were you looking at to find the most ideal climb for this challenge?

Keegan: At first I look at doing the entire Pine Canyon climb to the top but when Phil Gaimon ripped the record to pieces I was like well okay I’m going to have to re-evaluate my plans and see if I can find a little bit of a faster segment on this climb so I decided to go from the very bottom of the gate to the first switchback and that averages about 11% and there aren’t many turns other than one left-hand turn at the top and that’s where I was turning around so it was only taking me a couple of minutes to get back down to the bottom so it was a pretty ideal segment because I was only having to touch my brakes once on the sweet descent. 

Phil: Well I started by looking at the fastest previous Everesting times and what climbs they were on and what I learned was most of the fastest times were on the climbs that had the steepest roads because you just need the steepest to get the most elevation gain. I also looked at which climbs had the straightest roads so when I would descend, I could get down the quickest and not have to worry about breaking for turns. The hill that I found was pretty ideal because it was straight and at the top is a country club which is closed currently so there wasn’t much traffic at all. I do wish it was a little longer, I noticed that Keegan's hill was about twice as long, so he didn’t have to spend too much time turning around as I had to hit my breaks and turn around a little more. On paper, I believe it was the best hill in LA that I could’ve done.

"if I had anything left at the end I would look to up those numbers"

What was your strategy going into this as far as were you trying to hold a certain power number for each climb?

Keegan: I knew the main thing for me was to go off power and I felt I could sustain anywhere from 270-280 watts at this elevation for that long. The climb is right at 6,000 feet and if I had anything left at the end I would look to up those numbers and empty the tank the last couple laps. For the time on the climb, it was taking me about 14 minutes to go up and 2 minutes to come down, so I was doing about 16-minute lap times. That was my pacing strategy goal there. 

Phil: I’ve never done a steady effort like this where it's just 6 hours on the gas so I looked to just sit at 300 watts for the duration of the climb and then recover on the way down and I was able to do that for most of the day. I believe it was about 7 minutes on 1 minute off, repeat and I feel I paced it pretty accurately because I was pretty dead at the end.

"The monster Hydro helped with getting my caffeine intake and electrolytes"

How do you go about your nutrition for eating & drinking for a 7-hour effort?

Keegan: With food, I was trying to get about 90 grams of carb intake an hour I was alternating between gels and real food like doughnuts, fig newtons, pancakes, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and I had all of the flavors so I had a bunch of different options so that I wouldn’t get sick of anything. For hydration, I was alternating between water, drink mix, and then Monster Hydro. The Hydro helped with getting my caffeine intake and electrolytes and a decent number of calories so at the end when I started getting a little sick of eating foods, I started drinking more Monster Hydro to keep me rolling with the calories and caffeine. 

Phil: My girlfriend came out to help me with feeds and I’ve had a quarantine training partner for this downtime and his wife came out with food and drinks but I focused on alternating from Monster Hydro to water and I was doing about a bottle an hour which worked out well because I could get my caffeine and electrolytes from the Monster Hydro. For food, I would focus on doing a bar and gel every hour as well.

PC: Zane Adamo