'Knocking the bastard off', one lap at a time
I have always admired people who seek adventure. We all know famous adventurers such as Hillary, Scott and Hall, but we meet other people who always seem attracted to the challenge of the unknown.
One person I know who has this spark for something a little crazy is Deano Gaskin. Deano has been a pretty high level ironman triathlete, is extremely fit and is always up for a challenge.
Recently he read about a cycling challenge called Everesting. This involves riding your bike the height of Mt Everest which is 8848m.
There are some rules, but basically you find a single hill wherever you are in the world and continue to ride up and down it until you have completed 8848m of climbing. After Deano read about Everesting, he was determined to give it a try.
After planning his route, picking the right day, triple checking all of his gear and getting his nutrition sorted, he was ready to go. On the morning of the challenge he was up at 3.20am and on the road by 4am.
The course Deano set himself was Mt Victoria in Wellington, which has about a 6 per cent gradient. Each lap up and down would take around 10 minutes so based on his calculations he would need to complete 90 laps to hit the height of 8848m.
To say he was going into unknown territory is an understatement. Even though Deano had done some hard training in his time, he was about to face a new level.
This particular morning was drizzly and windy. The conditions were tough and didn't abate during the first four hours of his challenge. The conditions kept it interesting for Deano.
Six-and-a-half hours into it, he had completed 4000m of climbing and Deano had a break. His wrists and forearms were throbbing, his toes were getting smashed at the front of his shoes and his undercarriage was suffering from all of the movement on the saddle. He had completed the easiest part of the day and knew it was going to get tougher as time went on.
Deano described how at about 7500m of climbing things started to move in slow motion. At this point, he had been riding for more than 12 hours and on this solo experience he wasn't getting the lift he would often experience in races with others around him.
There were no crowds, no finish line, no competition to pass towards the end. It was just himself, his tired mind and sore body.
At this point, every time he reached the bottom and turned to head back up he felt an overwhelming sense of dread. He was becoming numb.
In his last few laps, no one was home. He counted every single metre and just wanted it to be over. When the clock reached just shy of 8pm, with 14 hours 10mins of riding behind him having covered 314km and 8848m of climbing, he had, to quote Sir Ed, "knocked the bastard off"'. He had completed his Everest.
Looking back on this experience, Deano would have gained amazing insight into how his mind and body work in the face of an epic challenge like this. I admire him for taking on this challenge. It was a solitary experience, just Deano and his mind for a very long time. That can be very tough when you are facing adversity.
Life presents us with opportunities to take on adventure and while Everesting is at the extreme end of the scale, there is value in us moving towards them.
If I could encourage you to do anything, it would be to have the spirit of an adventurer.
Whether it be exploring your local areas, trying a new activity, or taking on a big adventure, when you have the spirit of an adventurer you get to experience so much more of what the world has to offer.
Deano definitely reinforced this message to me.