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Live Blog: 7 days to try and ride the height of Everest 7 times... can he do it?

Live Blog: 7 days to try and ride the height of Everest 7 times... can he do it?

Welcome to a wet and foggy Wales, our home for the next week and the stage for what is arguably endurance cyclist Chris Halls’ most brutal cycling challenge yet - riding the height of Everest seven times in the next 7 days.

Photo by Andy Richardson

Endurance cyclist Chris is tackling this challenge on Snowdonia's epic Stwlan Dam climb (pictured above) – a beautiful switchback closed road which leads from the tiny town Blaenau Ffestiniog of up to the Llyn Stwlan mountain reservoir.

In total he aims to cover almost 62,000m of elevation over the week.

Photo by Jack Hague

We're documenting the challenge live on our Instagram account, but will also be doing a nightly write-up on the day's events so you can keep up to date with the challenge.

Chris is doing this challenge to highlight the work Movember does to improve mental health. Click here to donate.

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Photo by Jack Hague

Day One and Chris began the first battle with his Goliath on the foggy but nonetheless picturesque Stwlan Dam road in the wee hours of the morning. And in typical British style, the weather is abysmal. Very much a pull on the warmers, grit teeth and get it done kind of day.

We knew from the forecast it would be this way. But it doesn’t make it any easier.


Still, that’s cycling. You keep grinding. And that’s exactly what he did.

Photo by Jack Hague

 
What we didn’t foresee is how the continuous rainfall combined with the freshly-laid tarmac on this technical, switchback-heavy climb would cause the road surface to become dangerously slippery. Chris got through two thirds of the day’s elevation, when the decision was made by his support crew – comprised of videographer Andy Richardson, photographer Jack Hague and our own Jimmi Nicholls – to take Chris off the dam road and have him complete the rest of the day’s effort on Zwift.

Photo by Jack Hague


Anyone who has spent a long time on a turbo knowns this isn’t the easy way out. This challenge is bigger than Stwlan Dam. It’s about doing something epic and raising awareness of the great work Movember does.

And so he pushed on to today’s finish line. 8,851m of climbing in the bag. And now a good night’s sleep well earned.

Photo by Jack Hague


They say tough days build character. This first one has certainly done that.

Chapeau Chris, chapeau. Tomorrow is a new day.

Day’s elevations: 8,851m
Cumulative total: 8,851m

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Day Two and the mood began fairly somber as the sun rose on a gloomy Stwlan Dam and Chris began preparations for the next phase of his gruelling test.

Yesterday’s battle took a big physical and mental toll, and the battle scars were visible. A usually chirpy Chris had few words to share as he soberly pulled on his kit, grabbed his bike and headed to the foot of the climb, which somehow seemed twice as long and steep as it did the day prior.

Photo by Jack Hague


A pep talk, a hug, a deep breath, and it was time to go.

The first few hours of climbing on aching legs are always punishing. Today too were the strong winds that engulfed the valley.

The elevation counter was ticking over, but as the weather deteriorated once again, so too did Chris’ mood and condition. The effects of struggling to get enough food in over the previous 36 hours plus the weather and road conditions were taking too much of a toll. At lunch time the support crew made the decision to change the goal of the week in best interests of Chris’ own safety and sanity.

Photo by Jack Hague


He puts a huge weight on his shoulders when he signs himself up for these charity challenges so publicly, and we firmly believe as his pals and his sponsors we have a duty of care to make sure he’s not crushed under the weight of that pressure.

So the new plan: Chris will ride from around 6am until 9pm everyday, outdoors where possible and on the turbo when not. He may ride the height of Everest in a day, he may ride less, he may ride more. But he’ll do all he can do get as close to a cumulative 62,000m of elevation by the end of the 7 day mark as possible.

Photo by Jack Hague


The new plan set, a good hot meal consumed, a fresh kit change and slowly the mood in camp began to lift. We all settled into the day’s rhythm. With rain stopping play on the road around 4pm, Chris moved under cover to the turbo to round off the day.

Day’s elevations: 7,549m

Cumulative total: 16,400m

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Photo by Jack Hague

A bizarre tale of unintentional theft and the awesome power of the cycling community are the themes of our latest nightly write-up, as we cap off an eventful Day Three of Chris Hall's attempt to cycle the height of Everest 7 times over 7 days.


“It really is turning into survival at this point,” an aching Chris admitted as he clipped in at the bottom of Stwlan Dam road this morning and set off for another punishing day of climbing.

Photo by Jack Hague

Riding started a little later than planned, as the support crew first had to bandage the painful blisters he had woken up with on his hands after clutching his handlebars for a frankly disgusting amount of time over the past two days.

Bandages tied and aching knees taped, Chris was finally able to get on the climb and settled into a great rhythm as the clouds finally broke over the dam and revealed a glimmer of sunshine. The weather was finally in his favour and Chris resolved himself to dig deep and make the most of it.


Photo by Jack Hague


It looked to be a pretty ordinary day - well, as ordinary as a day can be when one is doing hill reps for 15 hours - when an unexpected turn of events left the team in a spin.

The crew had left a large unattended box at the bottom of the climb containing all of Chris’ gels, bars and other food paraphernalia for the week. Next to it was a box of 8 bidons filled with carb drinks. The idea being that he could stop at any point, select what he fancied and go.

Photo by Jack Hague


But as Chris stopped to refuel mid afternoon, he discovered the boxes had gone. He radioed the team and a frantic climb-wide search was launched to locate the missing stash. But to no avail.

There was only one explanation: they had unwittingly entered the crime epicentre of rural Snowdonia and had become the victims of a terrible theft. And some smug prick now had a literal treasure trove of delicious premium cycling gels and carb drink to enjoy for their dastardly efforts.

Devastated, we scrambled to get a post out on social media asking for help. The guys could rustle together some food from the shops, but without proper water bottles that would fit on Chris’ bike, the whole challenge looked to be hanging in the balance.

And this, my friends, is where the epic power of the internet came into play. We asked for your help to get some more bottles and were inundated by messages of support and offers to help over the following few hours. The cycling community helped spread our message far and wide. And that’s when we received a very unexpected message indeed…

“I have your food and drink. Somebody donated it to the local food bank. Where are you so I can bring it to you?”



We were all stunned. Not a heartless, premeditated daylight robbery after all. Probably, actually, a case of some well-intentioned, kind-hearted person who thought a bunch of tourist numpties had dumped their unwanted food and were no where to be seen (you can’t see up the climb from the very bottom). And rather than leaving it to pollute the beautiful countryside, they thought they’d take it to the local food bank. Thankfully a member of staff saw our post, which was shared by one of our followers on a local Facebook group, and arrange to get it back to us.

Half an hour later and with the help of the lovely staff at 
Y Dref Werdd food bank we had our stash back. Huzzah!


Faith in humanity restored, our merry band of tourist numpties rallied around Chris and to help him see out the day with the help of a few local riders who turned up for some laps.

At the time of writing, the day’s elevation stands at .

Thank you once again to all those who helped today and to the wonderful staff at Y Dref Werdd food bank. We’ll be making a donation as a gesture of our gratitude.

Day’s elevations: 6,403m

Cumulative total: 22,803m

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You join us on the evening of Day Four of Chris’ Movember challenge, and the fallout of riding four consecutive 15-hour days has well and truly set in.

Fatigue and the effects of sleep deprivation are inevitable in a challenge of this magnitude. It can’t be avoided, only managed.

And that’s the task that Chris and his team are now constantly faced with.


Photo by Jack Hague


On the climb by 6am, a still-bandaged-up Chris was joined for the morning by fellow rider Josh Reid. But by mid morning Chris had to pulled off the road because he was becoming delirious. A brief break, a hot drink and some food got him just about back on the right side of functional. Which is the most you can hope for at this stage. And then he was back to the gruelling task at hand. The weather has been dry but the temperature is changeable on the exposed hillside, so changes of kit are a regular occurrence.


A break for lunch in the afternoon, and then just as Chris was due to head back out to the climb once again, the team noticed him stood with one of his eyes literally just closed.

Photo by Jack Hague


He was forced to go to bed for a 20-minute power nap and we’re pleased to report that it worked wonders. He finally found his rhythm in the afternoon’s session, spurred along by riding partner – InternationElles team rider Louise Gibson – and has been bashing out the reps ever since. As we write this, he’s just finish off his final elevation for the day, before he departs for a good - but probably not long enough - night’s sleep. Chapeau Chris.

Day’s elevations: 6,501m
Cumulative total: 29,304m

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Day Five and the weather was rocky again, with periods of lashing rain making a skate rink of the silky smooth tarmac on the dam road.

Photo by Jack Hague


The team hunkered down indoors as Chris bedded in for a long day on the turbo. Our good pal and Internationelles rider Louise Gibson did an impressive job of pushing Chris’ pace over the morning stint, and even kindly donated her turbo fan before she headed off. It made a huge difference to Chris’ comfort.

Photo by Jack Hague


The controlled indoor setting also gave the team an opportunity to implement a more structured food and sleep routine: 20 minutes sleep every 3 hours, consistent sugary sweets and coffee. They’ve also been resetting Zwift periodically so Chris didn’t have a large number to watch.

The closed setting has also given Chris the chance of having constant company – a welcome distraction to take his mind off his aching legs and the monotony of turning the pedals.

Photo by Jack Hague


All of the day’s efforts have worked wonders. Even with the naps, his time on the bike has been high and his power numbers are up again.

By 3.45pm he was already on 5,418m for the day.

Photo by Jack Hague


By the time he’d got off the bike at 10.15pm, he’d smashed 1000m more than an Everest. Even better, his @movember fundraising page has now reached over £10,000. Chapeau.

Spirits are high as we move into the final stretch of the weekend.

Today’s total climbing: 9,449m
Cumulative total: 38,753m

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It’s been an emotional rollercoaster on what is the penultimate day of this mammoth challenge.

 

 

Day six and Chris was joined on the road for laps this morning by a whole bunch of lovely people who travelled down to spur him on, and this afternoon was reunited with his girlfriend Fee and their dog Marshall.

Photos by Jack Hague

This feels like the longest week on earth. But tomorrow, Groundhog Day finally comes to a close.


The final push. We’re ready.

Total climbing for the day: 8,852m
Cumulative total: 47,695m

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And just like that, all of the hardships of the past 7 days have drawn to a close.
Chris Hall has completed the final ascent of his 7 Everests challenge.
Photos by Andy Richardson
Final climbing for the day: 8,850m
Final total climbing for the week: 56,455m
Unfortunately this means that Chris did not achieve his goal of cycling 61,936m in a week (aka 7x the height of Everest).
However we hope that if you've followed this story, you'll agree this week has been about so much more than the final numbers.
Chris' effort and determination to keep going these past 7 days have been truly inspiring to witness. He has pushed himself to his absolute limit… and then kept pushing some more. 91 hours, 41minutes of riding time, 1289km later, he’s successfully cycled the height of Everest more than 6 times in 7 days.
We hope we've also shown over this challenge how having a good support system around you can help lift you out of what may seem like a hopeless situation.
Chris took on this mission to highlight the work Movember does to improve men's mental health. Three-quarters of all suicides in the UK are men. Globally, on average, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day.
Movember does incredible work focusing on prevention, early intervention and health promotion. They are working towards a world where men take action to be mentally well and are supported by those around them.
Chris said that through this challenge he hoped to highlight “that people can suffer at any point, no matter what day of the week or what time of day it is”.
And I think we can all agree he has definitely achieved that. On top of that, Chris’ donation page has now reached a massive £11,395 (and counting). Money that will make a huge difference to people’s lives.
Photos by Jack Hague
We also hope this week has shown guys out there that emotional vulnerability is not a weakness. Chris wears his heart on his sleeve and rather than hiding his emotions, they really are part of his strength.
There is no weakness here. There is no failure. There are only things to be proud of and we are bursting with pride for our friend. So please join us in congratulating Chris on this phenomenal effort.
Thanks also go out to all of you lot for all of the fantastic support. From the people who came and rode to those who left a kind word – it’s made such a difference to morale.
Our final message is this: If you're struggling, please reach out for help.
To speak with someone immediately, contact NHS 111 on 111 or contact Samaritans on 116 123
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