On the road to Everest

The word “Everesting” has become part of the lexicon of cycling. Basically, it entails riding up and down a hillrepeatedly until you climb a total of 8848-metres. That is, you guessed it, the height of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.

It has become a thing to do to raise funds for charities. There is even an “Everesting” website.

South African Mark Blewett took it one step further in August when he attempted to ride to the Mount Everest base camp. Blewett is no stranger to pushing himself hard. He broke the record for the fastest bicycle ride from Cairo to Cape Town in 2015. But he knew the climb to Everest would bring special challenges, namely, the altitude. In the end, Blewett fell just short of his goal, suffering badly with altitude sickness, but he got to see Everest with his own eyes while standing at the side of the road beside his bicycle.

I came around one of the hairpins, and without a cloud in the sky and right up the valley she was in front of me. The North Face staring straight down at me. It’s hard, really, to describe it. Just magnificent. I know I was also partly hypoxic (oxygen deprivation), but I got off my bike and just stared up and had tears down my face. We were on a bike, on the slopes of Everest and looking up at the highest point on the planet. And she is beautiful, oh my god, is she beautiful.

Mark Blewett

Pictures courtesy Mark Blewett

Blewett began to have altitude issues when they reached 5000m, with his body trembling and his sight becoming blurry. He was rushed down to 4000m and felt almost immediately better. As he says, 5000m is not really that high, but it is if you are riding a bike for 14 hours a day. He needed more time to acclimatise. Of the four of them who attempted to reach base camp, only one, JJ Zhou a professional bike guide, succeeded.

Blewett saw Everest. He did what very few people will ever do. And he did it on a bike.

JJ Zhou breaks down in tears at completing the ride to Everest Base Camp.

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