Phil Gaimon has unsuccessfully tried to take back the world record for the fastest Everesting.
The retired pro helped thrust Everesting into the limelight during the initial coronavirus lockdown in May 2020, setting a new record of seven hours and 52 minutes, which was then broken within days.
Other pros and retired riders soon got involved in the challenge to cycle the height of Mount Everest the quickest, including Lachlan Morton and Alberto Contador, before American Sean Gardner took the best time under seven hours in October.
“If there’s one thing with Everesting you don’t want to do it more often than necessary. I was going to wait until the record was established so we could see where the plateau is because it kept falling all year,” Gaimon explained in a YouTube video.
“In the meantime I was training, I was doing big altitude days. I did a lot of hill repeats, endurance rides. I spent most of 2020 putting in the miles and endurance, which was good because I couldn’t really do KOMs and travel anyway.”
The other challenge was to find the correct hill, with Everesting rules stating the entire 8,848m needs to be completed doing repeats of one climb.
“When I finally found the [right] hill, I hilariously found one in Malibu that I’ve passed a thousand times that I thought would be suitable. By then it was August in Los Angeles, and I’m definitely not going for a world record when it’s 100 degrees every day.
“I also wanted to get back to my old race weight, every gram would count for something like this, on the bike and the body.”
In another video, Gaimon documents his effort, set against the backdrop of the Pacific ocean. Toiling against the gradient, which hit a maximum of 19 per cent, for four hours before abandoning the world record attempt.
“I was on pace the first four hours and then I wasn’t anymore, I was trying to do 6-15 laps and then I was getting 6-45 and there were two hours left and it was still 80-something degrees,” he explains. “If I have an excuse, it’s the Los Angeles weather.
“I’m covered in salt, boiling, no matter how you do the hydration, if you do that right, [that temperature] going to slow you down for sure.”
Gaimon had thought about cancelling the effort as the temperature crept up in the preceding week. Lucikly, it was an acceptable 66°F on the day of the attempt but turned out to actually be in the eighties when he arrived at the climb.
“With two hours left, I was thinking there was still a chance I could get the record in that ride, but I also knew I wasn’t going to get my best effort that day,” he said.
“For a record attempt, ideal conditions obviously matter. So it was going to cost me time and I was going to want to do it again, so in my head I was like if I stop now at four and a half hours it was just a good training day, if I keep going I’ll annihilate myself and it’ll take me a month to recover. I pulled the plug, it was the right decision, I’m still annoyed by the situation.”
Gaimon’s stats for the ride was 71km in four and a half hours, managing 5,943m in that time, and so was on track to break the record if he could have kept up his initial pace.
“If I got every KOM I went for it wouldn’t be an interesting life,” Gaimon reflected afterward. “And if I accomplished all my goals what would I do tomorrow.”