Everesting for Veterans
Everesting for Veterans | The Story
First let me preface this by saying this was not an "I" accomplishment but a "WE" accomplishment. This is long, however if you believe in these words, please share. The greatest outcome of this event is to bring awareness to the problem, let's do more to make this number go away #kill22
I will try to summarize the last 33 hours as best as possible, as I believe the reflection is even more important than the journey, as the intent of this ride is to bring awareness and change.
In 2012, the department of Veteran affairs released a report indicating that 22 veterans die by suicide a day. This is tragic and needs our attention. These are people that are committing their lives to protect our freedom. A freedom I believe our nation has lost sight of. We cannot take this liberty for granted...we are burning and destroying our own flags, walking past our heroes as if they are invisible. Turn off the Superman and Ironman movies and look around you. Shake their hand, look them in the eye and say thank you. Pay for their lunch..take a moment to listen to their story.
To those who have served our country, to those who have fallen, to those that are fighting the invisible wounds post war, this ride was for you.
With the number22 in mind, I decided to climb and descend one of the steepest roads in North Carolina. Hwy 80..22 times.
In doing so, I would have climbed the equivalent of Mt. Everest. (over 29k feet of vertical gain) in 33 hours. This would be a continuous 33 hour ride, no sleep, riding day and night, 250 + miles
The ride began at 10:30am Friday, April 22nd. I had intended at starting at 9am, but heavy rain made me chose otherwise. Unfortunately the rain didn't stop, my first 6 hours on the bike were in the rain. While temps at the bottom of the mountain were ideal, at the top, it was hard to descend without my body shaking.
Each lap consisted of a 5.5 mile ascent and a 5.5 mile descent, totaling miles, with each ascent totaling 1700 + ft of climbing.
After 4 laps, even sitting in a controlled climate of 75 degrees, I couldn't stop shaking. With only 1 change of bike gear I began to get worried about hypothermia.
Enter "The Dream Team"
Jon and Krystal Haynes, Blake Young, Kevin Gauthier, Ken Young, Matt Plaster, and Danielle (my amazing wife)
These guys committed hours and hours following me up and down the mountain. Beeping, controlling traffic, drying clothes, assisted with food and muscle pain.
Jon, Krystal, and Blake each managed less than 2 hours of sleep during this time. I don't think Blake slept at all, Jon slept like an hour because we forced him.
As the sun went down and still 15 laps remaining, the night riding began. Temperatures began to drop, rain intermittent..things got cold. Jon led the way to ensure I stayed warm and conscious and each driver providing light as I descended a wet road at a high rate of speed. My brake pads were rapidly deteriorating as I progressed so I had to be modest where possible.
At 4:30am, 9 laps remaining, fatigue had set it. My body was done. I ate some pizza hoping it would restore function..it didn't. With each lap averaging an hour and 30 minutes, I realized that I still had 13 and a half hours of riding to do. My mind was cooked
The Darkest Hour is just before Dawn | It was
At approximately 5:55am Ken and Blake Young knocked at my camper door, they said "we are ready!" I wasn't. The thought that Ken only had 4 hours of sleep and Blake only 5 minutes, prompted me to put my bike gear on. But I still wasn't convinced I could get up the mountain again.
Exactly when that thought transpired, a truck pulled up with a bike on the back. my heart lit up. It was Isaac, he came to ride. New life was found
We proceeded to knock out 2 laps back to back, it was the momentum I needed to keep going. The timing could not have been more perfect and this is why I continue to point to God. For all that prayed, thank you.
First it was the road crew, then Isaac, then one by one more riders and people began to show up.
Krystal and Blake were posting updates to all following the story and one by one the support I needed was there. In my mind I refer to them as Angels, as I wouldn't have been able to finish without them.
Throughout the day, I was met with hugs and support from so many. An energy boost each time, this was in thanks to Kevin rallying supporters
After Isaac departed, Jennifer and Ben Hall pushed me up the mountain, then David Clark, then Paul Brown, then David Brophy. .
With 4 laps to go, a scary moment, completely my fault happened as Paul and I collided. I still have the tire track on my tricep to prove it. We got up and continued to ride.
The final four laps should have been the toughest, but with David by my side, I knew that he was going to pull me up if he had to. We were going to finish.
On my final lap, I ascended Hwy 80 faster than I had in the previous 21. I wept on the way down, to think that so many came to support me, so many prayed for me. So many came to my aid.
The final 10 miles to the finish. I was followed by a caravan of amazing people. Emergency lights from a rescue truck behind me, hazards flashing, people began to pull over as they realized "something big was happening" it reminded me of funeral procession, yet no one was dying, life was being restored.
To all that supported this, thank you.
38,866 ft of elevation gain (9,000 more ft than climbing Mt. Everest)
Over 20,000 calories used
There are two words that could define this entire experience. Love wins. The love that was shown to me, could surmount anything, including death.
As it relates to our veterans
Think about that warrior who has come home with one less leg, one less friend, one less job. Think about the mental strain that takes over the mind after seeing a friend die. Then to come back to a world that is oblivious to the lost life, the lost friends.
We all need to do our part to show our warriors of freedom that we love them. Love wins