Imagine riding the equivalent elevation of Mount Everest, in one ride. That is 8,848 metres of climbing. Or why not just keep going and round it out to 10 000 metres because your brain likes nice round numbers.
That is exactly what Kevin Benkenstein did, several times.
The Everesting concept started in Australia where you choose any one climb and ride it repeatedly until you reach 8,848 metres of climbing.
Benkenstein ended a racing career and was looking for a revitalized love of the bike.
“I was sitting in a coffee shop between meetings, scanning Twitter and I saw this new craze had hit Australia. It seemed like something everyone thought was crazy and I thought, that’s perfect, I want to do things that other people think are crazy.”
How long does it take to climb between 8,848 metres in one ride?
“The quickest one was just under 14 hours and that was a goal for me to break. The longest one I’ve done was 18 hours. The shortest one was 195 kilometres which means the climb is steeper. The most comfortable one in distance was 300 kilometres because the climb isn’t as steep.”
Seeing something that piques your interest on social media is one thing, going out and doing it is another. A scan of Benkenstein’s Instagram account shows he is a cycling fanatic. Adventure on the bike is never far away and he has the photos to prove it.
This year, he chose to up the stakes and added a charity campaign to his Everesting expedition. Benkenstein decided to do three rides, three weekends in a row and used the platform to raise funds for the bicycle charity, Qhubeka. He called it Climbing for Qhubeka.
In the end, 120 cyclists joined him for certain parts of the ride.
In line with looking for challenges to keep him interested in riding, Benkenstein decided on his next adventure – The Munga. A mountain bike race from Bloemfontein to the Cape Winelands in South Africa, where single entrants race non-stop for over 1000 kms. The rider decides when to stop, how long to sleep, when to eat. You manage your own time for 5 days and hope to avoid the cut off time.
There was only one problem. Benkenstein broke his hand a week after completing his last Everesting challenge.
In order to be in shape for the daunting task of completing The Munga, he had to do something he hates. It’s evident from his cycling photos, that the man who calls outside ‘home’ had to do something that goes against everything he loves about cycling.
He had to ride on an indoor trainer.
“I had never ridden an indoor trainer and I swore I never would. But it actually allowed me to slow down and recover before The Munga. The extent of my riding on a trainer was limited to warming up three times before time trials. It was a test of mental strength because it’s quite boring staring at your handlebars with no view.”
“I took the positives out of it and it actually ended up being good mental training for riding through the Karoo for hours when there are just flat roads and you can’t see anything around you.”
Benkenstein says one thing he learnt on his long adventures is that you will have a patch during the ride where you just can’t go anymore. It doesn’t matter how good you feel there will be a bad mental patch where you hit the wall. He has learnt to combat this by being flexible in his effort level at the beginning. He measures his effort so he has the energy to ride through the bad patches. Overcoming setbacks, riding through the pain, saying Shut Up Legs, I have goals to achieve.