Tougher than Everesting: I rode up Box Hill 91 times

To highlight the shocking statistics on men’s mental health, Chris Hall rode down, and up, Box Hill 91 times. He tells Vern Pitt how it went

(Andrew Richardson)

It’s the early hours of Sunday morning on the slopes of the famous Box Hill in Surrey. The mercury has dropped below zero and the surface is starting to get slippery. Bombing down through the darkness for the umpteenth time, his way lit only by the lights on his bike, ultra-endurance athlete Chris Hall tentatively squeezes the brakes through the Olympic climb’s off-camber hairpin. 

He’s lost track of the number of times he’s done this now, his body and brain chilled to the bone and his head is starting to loll with fatigue, his eyelids getting heavy. An icy slip could derail his whole quest to complete his metaphorical, and literal, descent into the darkness. Things are getting dangerous.

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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.