Cyclist ‘Everests’ on the Tak Ma Doon hill
A cyclist originally from Kilsyth, near Glasgow, has ridden into the prestigious Everesting Hall of Fame after riding a notoriously tough local Glasgow hill, the Tak ma Doon, 34 times non-stop.
Hugh Wardrope, the founder member of Arria Wheelers, rode a total of 176.5 miles from 5am to midnight at the weekend to reach the required total ascent of 8848m.
The 52-year-old rider said: “It was a very tough day and after just 11 laps I really started to doubt if I could do it. But I somehow managed to keep going and when I finished the ride at midnight it is something I will never forget.”
What is Everesting?
Everesting is a term to describe riding one hill repeatedly and non-stop to reach a total ascent the same height as Everest, the world’s tallest of mountain.
I have written about Everesting before. A couple of years ago a group from Falkirk BC Everested on another famous local cycling road The Crow
Hugh Everests the Tak
Hugh, now living in Kincardine, is 6ft 5in tall and claims he’s not built for climbing on a bike, however, he says he loves the “buzz” of riding hills.
It took him 15hrs 32mins of cyclingto ride the hill segment height of 259.6m (852ft) 34 times. An extra half lap at the end brought him to the correct Everest total.
The average gradient of the notoriously challenging hill is 6.3% with a steepest gradient of 20%. He burned more than 12,000 calories and lost an incredible 8lbs during the huge challenge.
Hugh says: “When I lived in Kilsyth, I cycled the hill many times on a mountain bikes and when I decided to do the Everesting challenge I knew there could be only one hill.
“I wanted to claim it for our cycling club, Arria Wheelers, and to personally achieve the asterix mark on the Hells 500 site for first Everest of the hill.”
A huge challenge
Hugh reports that the first six or so reps felt fine but from 11 laps onwards it became extremely tough. He says: “I was flying for the first six or so reps. It was dark then and the car convoy in front of me made it seem like fun. But when daylight appeared, it began to get tougher. I could see the hill and the magnitude of the task became clear.”
Other Everesting cyclists reckon the most difficult part of the challenge is from 7000m (21,000ft) but for Hugh it came much much earlier.
He says: “At 11 laps some 8,000ft in I was so far away from the prize and having cycled for five hours I was beginning to despair. So many people had turned up and cycled alongside and the summit was filling with cars and well-wishers but I was doubting if I could finish.
“I went through a difficult mental period. Physically my climb times were fine but deep down I felt dread. This was the toughest part for me so early in the challenge. It floored me mentally for an hour or so until I got my head back into the task in hand.”
Hugh had broken the task into sections to focus on. He says: “I work in an industry where scheduling takes priority so after that tough period I tried to focus on reducing the impact of the task. I started by setting my first goal of 10,000ft and then my second of 17 laps at the half-way mark, then after that I broke the remaining laps into two-climb blocks.
“I was a blank in terms of other thoughts as maintaining the physical task was taking up every thought I had.”
Around 50 people turned out to support Hugh,including his wife and young daughter. One of his support team, Phil Jones is also a founding member of Arria. He said: “We tried to fill Hugh up with food and water as best we could. His wife had made Team Sky rice cakes as the staple diet, along with gels, bananas, tomato soup, pasta and lots of sugary coffee.
“But he ended up reaching saturation point and then he just had gels, along with water bottles made up with isotonic powders. It’s incredible to think he lost so much weight in just one day.”
Riders from Arria Wheelers and other clubs, including RCCK, Lenzie Velo and Stirling BC, cycled alongside Hugh all day. Some did multiple climbs themselves, including one rider who did 11 repeats and another who did 10.
Phil says: “So many riders turned out to offer their support and every single one of them, regardless of how many climbs they did, helped Hugh to his target.”
Hugh stopped every two climbs for a refuel and around three-quarter of the way through he was treated to a quick leg massage from one of the team.
As Hugh finished he heard the cheers and clapping of everyone at the Tak summit car park. He says: “I will never forget that moment. I know I couldn’t have done it without them.”.
Three weeks before the Everesting ride, Hugh completed another tough challenge, the Haute Route Alps. He raised £3000 for Mcmillan Nurses though that event after his mum was diagnosed and survived pancreatic cancer. The Tak Rveresting was an extension of his fund-raiser.
See Strava information on Hugh’s Tak Everesting record.
Thanks to Gordon Young for the photos.