Everest Challenge

If you have been following us for a while you will know that one of our Pure Savage members, Calvin “Cool Shades”, has already conquered the Everest Challenge on Franschoek pass earlier this year. What was not blogged about was the second unsuccessful attempt up Price drive during winter, where the team only managed 5500m of climbing before throwing in the towel and crawling into a ditch. This was going to be the third and final roll of the dice for the boys up Everest.

After weeks of careful planning and scouting, which was basically Strava stalking and sarcastic banter on a Whatsapp group, the team decided on both the date and climb which we were going to use for the attempt. Having failed twice already some of the team knew exactly what the were looking for in a climb, around 9% gradient, decent road surface, not too much traffic and not too boring. So we chose the climb from Parel Vallei High school up to the Spanish farm in Somerset West, or as its now known, Savage Everest Climb.

Ready to rock and roll!

The team rocked up at the start ready to roll at 7pm, as we wanted to do some laps in the daylight to get used to the route before grinding through the night. The major reason for this was that we did not want to end in the dark as being tired is bad enough but to add darkness to that would be a bit demoralizing.

The four riders, Brendon “Pure Savage” Stevens, Calvin “Cool Shades” Moore, Delano “Complainy pants” Gallagher, and Kevin “The Trolley” Dolley, set off up the climb in high spirits keen to
see how the climb compares to the strava profile. The first stretch of the Spookhill climb is a steady 8% gradient up a straight road that goes past the school and Nursery, the road then snakes left into a dip and ramps up
to the right where the gradient kicks up to 15% for about 500m. The final 400m are a more pleasant 7% with a pretty sweet view of Somerset West (Well that’s true for those not doing a Froomey and staring at the length of their stem).  The
total amount of climbing per a lap was approximately 205m, unless you use Kevin’s Garmin that is 😛

On the first lap everyone was trying to suss out what the correct tempo would be, as
each of us had gone for different gear ratios.
Calvin had replaced his standard crank with a compact and kept the 28-11
cassette on the back, Kevin kept his standard crank and went for a new 32-11
cassette on the back, Brendon swapped out his whole bike for one with a compact
crank and a 30-11 cassette and our final contender Delano rocked up at the
party with a compact crank and a 36-11 cassette on his spare specialized bike.
The first time up the steep part of the climb there was a chuckle as a few were
standing to get over the first steep kick while it looked like Delano was in
Virgin Active spin class  (Picture Froomey attacking Bertie at this years Tour de France)!

Take in the ridiculousness of a 36 -11 on a road bike
Having completed the first lap and not needed to go into the
red the hopes were high. The road surface on the decent however was not amazing
which took some time to figure out the best lines for descending without being
shaken to death.
It was decided while we were fresh to try rack up the
metres as fast as possible. We initially knocked out 5 laps at a time before taking a break, gaining 1000m per set. During the evening we were using a bottle every
4-5 laps as the temperature sat at around 17 degrees for most of the night. We
reached 3am with around 3700m under the belt and very high moral, the
kilometres were ticking away and the layers of clothing was increasing with
every stop.

There were no pictures during the night as we were hammering away and
did not want to die, so here is a photo of Kevin at some point crawling into a ball.

Just after 3am on one of the descents Kevin had a blowout on
one of the highspeed corners near the top of climb, nearly taking Delano out in the process. A quick tyre change and the two of them were off again, Brendon and
Calvin had thought of going back to look for their missing team mates but kept to the Pure Savage code and merely carried on as usual.

Kevin’s tyre problems did not end there, 15 minutes later
another puncture on the same bend this time Delano was weary of Kevin’s antics so
was ready to take evasive action. This time Brendon and Calvin joined Delano in watching Kevin change his tube. The tyre was bombed and we were off again, but not
for long as half way down Parel Vallei road there was another loud bang and
Kevin’s rear wheel had given up again. The team went back for Kevin as he had
his car key and all our treats were in the car. 
Kevin’s usual cool calm “Luke Wilson” demeanor
had been replaced with a “Naomi Campbell” burning hatred for his luck/bike shop.On closer inspection of his wheel the rim tape had a
hole over one of the spokes, this was from last weekend when his rear derailleur
wrapped around his cassette snapping some spokes and sending one spoke through
the rim tape and the tube. Every time
Kevin hit a bump in the road the tube was being pinched in the hole and
popping. A few pieces of insulation tape, a bit of a wait and we were back on
the road. The team refused to go on without Kevin, this was either real team work
or the others looking for any excuse to lie around and stuff their faces. (Christmas Cake in particular).

Emma brought some amazing coffee for us and then gave us a motivational talking to.

An hour before the sun rose we passed the half way mark and the biggest challenge for some kicked in here, sleep deprivation. Having not had a proper sleep in over 22 hours and the exhaustion of riding for 9 of them combine to cause headaches, double vision and serious drowsiness. Calvin having Everested before up Franshoek pass decided that the sleep deprivation was too dangerous on the bike and worried about a serious accident on the decent; resulting in him bowing out with his head held high.

A pep talk by Delano got Brendon through his moment of UnSavageness as he complained of blurry vision and the like. Once the sun was up, some more Christmas cake was smashed and the coke was tapped into which helped alleviate the sleep deprivation.

At one point it basically was a smelly picnic.

At this point the different gearing ratios came to the for as Brendon and Kevin turned out to have almost identical gearing, requiring large sections of grind, with Delano having a ratio suited for massive cadence. Kevin and Brendon rode in tandem with Delano spinning away with his music to keep him company.

We had a great surprise when one of the Pure Savage Compact Team, Emma (Delano’s wife) popped by with some much needed coffee and encouragement and not too long thereafter one of the Pure Savage boys, Potti “PPP”, pulled through to do a couple of laps with the boys! Potti was caught laughing at the team as he was smashing up the climb on his Bianchi with a 39 small ring and 25 cassette keeping delano company for four laps.

Delano doing yoga or something while Kevin hides his nakedness out of shot.

At this point the mental game kicked in, we had done more than half the climbing in ten hours and the thought of another ten hours in the saddle put doubt into your mind every time you started the steep part of the climb to the Spanish farm. It was decided that 15 reps to go sounded more manageable than 22 so we set off on a mammoth session of 7 reps to take us to the magical 15 reps to go, which we would do in three sessions of 5 reps, this was better than thinking we had 10 hours of ride time remaining.

Foam rollers, ice boxes, picnic mats and Calvin kicking sand at Delano

We soldiered on through the morning as the temperatures picked up, changing into new kits and some icey cool new chamois cream at 5000m to become a bit more comfortable. The bodies started hurting all round, blisters, numbness, sore backs, knees and heads became part of the experience as we counted down the laps.

With the temperature reaching thirty degrees the team soldiered on and got in to a great rythm sticking to our planned 5 reps and then a break. The thought of spending anymore time on the road was sickening so we tried to avoid unnecessary stops as much as possible.

But first, let us take a selfie.

The nutrition at this point became rather interesting, Brendon was still chowing down on Christmas cake and snickers bars, Delano was munching on some saamies and muffins while Kevin was demolishing a pasta salad, potatoes, eggs and a recovery shake. (Not sure how that even got there) We were doing two laps with a high carb drink and then two laps with just water, we were using a more protein based drink in the first 8 hours of the event.

The second last turn at the top!

With a couple of laps to go we got another of the Team Compact ladies, Renate, start following us, with Calvin and Emma snapping pictures as we charged for the line. Brendon and Kevin decided that it would be worth waiting up for DJ Delano to listen to some epic tunes (Carley Rae Jepson and Taylor Swift) playing from his back pocket. In true Pure Savage fashion the last lap saw us really up the anti, putting our PRs for the Picasso close climb as we summited the final climb together.

Boys on the final accent

Brendon either pushing or holding onto the other two up the last bit of the climb  

Only 19 and a half hours later we get to take our final selfie!!

What a day! The boys had done it! 9008m climbed, 43 reps of the segment, 15:30hrs of saddle time, 19:23 hours since starting, 8778 calories, average cadence 66rpm, average heart rate 134bpm and 252km covered.

On the nutrional side, the big rigs used a mix of Cadence marathon and Cytofuel and Delano used Isostar for all his bottles. Nobody had any issues of bonking or getting sick of our juices.

A big thank you to all those that came out to support and those that wished us good luck online on the day! The encouragement really helped get through the pain and suffering. A massive thanks to Calvin that once he pulled out become the team soigner, making sure our bottles were ready and Christmas cake ready!

Here are the links to all three strava records:

Here are the certificates we have so far, once Kevin stops working and mails the Hells 500 guys we will update the blog accordingly.

Delano just getting the 90000m mark

Looks like Brendon was a little quicker than Delano
Kevin obviously took a 500m shortcut