Sports Pulse: These determined climbers marched up and down stairs the distance of Everest USA TODAY
After the third or fourth time he climbed Geiger Grade on his bicycle, on the same day, David Greif was starting to wonder why he was doing this.
And he was only less than a third of the way done.
Greif, 25, was doing an ‘Everesting,’ a feat where athletes attempt to replicate climbing the equivalent height of Mount Everest on hills and mountains in their backyards: 29,029 feet.
The mental part of it was the toughest.
“The first three or four laps went by OK. And then, it starts to sink in, you’re not even halfway. It’s going to be eight more hours of riding. It’s the mental aspect of it,” Greif said. “Thankfully, I’ve got the experience on the bike. And the training, for years, that my legs were able to handle it.”
Everesting started about six years ago by a group of bicycle riders who liked climbing hills and wanted a challenge.
When Greif, a Reno High graduate, first heard about someone attempting it six years ago when he was at the University of Arizona, he thought it was a crazy idea.
The person he heard about had chosen a 1-mile hill to ride up, which meant he would have to do it 72 times to do the ‘Everest.’
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When Greif moved back to Reno, he had been training seriously, but when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered most of the bike races around the country, most of that training went away.
For about three months he was doing fun rides, until the Everest idea returned to the forefront of his thoughts.
His girlfriend, Maddy Ward, a professional cyclist who lives in San Diego, expressed interest in doing an Everest there to help benefit a charity that feeds children.
She told him about a week before she planned on doing it, April 25.
So Greif went out to get some training in and he rode up and down Geiger Grade, the road that goes from Reno up to Virginia City, about five times in one day.
Each trip, ascent and descent, took about an hour.
“I just tried to get a feel for what doing it over and over and over again would feel like,” Greif said. “It felt OK. It felt reasonable. The idea of doing it almost three times, that wasn’t appealing necessarily.”
Then, he got sick a few days before, with cold symptoms and body aches. He thought about backing out the night before the ride.
Nevertheless, on April 25, he woke up at 3:45 a.m., put lights on his bike and drove to the base of Geiger Grade.
There, he parked his car, full of water and Clif Bars, and started the trek about 4:15 a.m.
He was going to keep his effort quiet, at first, so he had no support team there, but then he decided to post it on social media to also help raise money for the charity No Kid Hungry.
His efforts, combined with about 15 other riders doing the same ride that day elsewhere in the country, helped raise more than $14,000 on their GoFundme.
He ended up riding about 220 miles that April 25 day, which took him 14 hours and 14 minutes on the bike. He finished as the sun was setting.
Greif said it was a mostly uneventful day once he got his mind set, except on his last summit, a herd of deer crossed the road right in front of him.
“It was a crystal clear night, I could see the Milky Way. I saw a couple shooting stars. It wasn’t too cold,” he said.
On his last lap, he decided to try for his fastest lap, not leaving any unused energy on the hill.
“I decided I would just empty the tank. On the plateau, about three-quarters of the way up there, there was a herd of deer going through and I had to pump the brakes,” he said. “Maybe it was a send-off, I’m not sure.”
Greif said he would have preferred a steeper route, with no flat spots, saying those were wasted time and energy.
He also could have coasted down more; instead he had to pedal down as the wind picked up throughout the day.
His energy and nutrients came from the Clif Bars, Red Bull, a sandwich, an apple and a banana. And two bags of Twizzlers, his favorite snack.
After every lap, he drank a bottle of water and ate two protein bars.
Greif said he recovered quickly the next day, despite it being the longest one-day ride he had ever done.
“I wasn’t too sore. It felt like I went for a long ride the day before,” he said, laughing. “But it didn’t feel like the longest or hardest ride of my life.”
He was able to ride again two days later, a much shorter distance.
Looking back, he said that although it seemed like a daunting ride before he did it, his Everest was not so bad once he broke it down into smaller segments.
“One thing that came out if it is, ‘What’s the next thing for me,’” he said. “I thought that was crazy, impossible, but I wonder what the next thing that’s going to be bouncing around in my head is.”
Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.
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