Kingston Wheelers Cycling Club has raised more than £13,000 for their local NHS hospital after climbing 200,000 metres in an elevation challenge.
61 members of the London cycling club took part, and originally planned to scale the 43,316 metres of the Seven Summits but by the end of the weekend had managed to climb nearly five times their original target.
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The event took place in support of Kingston Hospital Charity and the money raised will go towards the staff wellness centre that provides beds, showers and counselling services as well as a new foodbank service that allows staff to pick up groceries while the lockdown is in place.
One rider, Mark Aldred, was celebrating his birthday on the day of the ride and managed to get a tow on Fabian Cancellara’s wheel on the Alpe du Zwift. Other members also saw Mark Cavendish out on the virtual road, who was completing his own half-Everest ride.
Three riders, Alice Lethbridge, Gregg Ball and Harry Bunnell completed individual virtual Everesting rides by ascending 8,864 metres.
Lethbridge, who is a former 12-hour TT champion, managed to set a new record of nine hours and 24 minutes for the fastest woman to complete a virtual Everesting on the Alpe du Zwift, ten minutes quicker than Trek-Segafredo pro Giulio Ciccone who completed the same challenge on the same weekend.
More impressively, Lethbridge didn’t even plan the virtual Everesting beforehand, saying: “I’ve only been on Zwift just under a month and knew nothing about vEverests until my clubmate Harry started nudging me with the idea last week.
“I’d read the Everest rules on Thursday in case I felt okay to carry on past 5,000 metres, but I didn’t make the call until my sixth ascent of the Alpe. I could see I was on pace to break the women’s vEverest record and when my coach gave me the go ahead, that was enough.
“My third wind came and I went into 12-hour TT mode topping 8,848 metres in just under nine hours and 24 minutes. I’m so pleased with how much we’ve raised for Kingston hospital and with how many members got involved. The event was great fun – at times it was like being on a club ride, one of the things I’ve missed the most during lockdown.”
Gregg Ball began his ride at 6am and originally planned to stop after two ascents of Ventoux but went on to scale the mythical climb five times, clocking up 8,857 metres of elevation, spending 13 hours on his turbo.
“By this point [three quarters of his way up his third ascent] I knew Harry and Alice were going for an Everesting and – having now done about 5,000m myself – thought I might as well have it a crack too,” Ball said. “We were getting regular updates on donations, which had gone through the roof! The fact that so many people had contributed was a big motivation and I wanted to repay that by giving it my biggest effort. The last six hours were a total grind and I wouldn’t have made it without the incredible support.”
The Kingston Wheelers JustGiving page is still open at the time of writing.
“Massive thanks from everyone at Kingston Wheelers for all the support and generous donations,” the club said on their website. “Kingston Hospital and its wonderful team of staff have looked after so many of us over the years and it means a lot to be able to give a little something back.”