The day began at 3 AM on September 5. After completing an “Everesting” effort on a road bike in May, Canada’s top-ranked Xterra racer decided he would make another go at the climbing challenge, this time on a mountain bike and over some of the most difficult trails near his home in Whistler, B.C.
Madsen’s planned route would take him through 208.1 km of riding to achieve the elevation of Everest, 8,848 m. The day would serve as a fundraiser for WORCA (Whistler Off Road Cycling Association) “as they have experienced a massive budget cut this year (down to $40,000 from a previous $120,000),” he wrote on his website.
“WORCA uses their budget to build trails sustainably, respecting and protecting the surrounding environment,” Madsen continued. “When I made a permanent move to Whistler in 2018, I was blown away to see the hard work that was being put into the trails I was riding. I would notice new trails being dug and old ones being upgraded. It became clear to me that Whistler is the standard for trail building and that WORCA is the association responsible for, among many other things, supporting local building. If we want to continue to have the best riding, we need to support our local trail associations – now more than ever!”
After that early start, Madsen ended up completing six of the 7.2 loops up the “Into the Mystic” trail and down “Lord of the Squirrels” before having to call it a day 15 hours after he’d begun, which included 14 hours of riding. He’d ridden 160 km and climbed 7,000 m, but realized that the challenge was starting to get dangerous.
“I had to pull the plug,” Madsen said in an interview last week. “I couldn’t descend safely. It wasn’t in the spirit of the event to use medical or emergency services.”
Madsen’s goal was to raise a dollar for every metre of Everest, but in the end, even though he wasn’t able to complete the ride, his efforts were a huge success. As of yesterday he’d raised $13,470.
“As a fundraiser, it was an absolute success,” Madsen says. “That part was the real win.”
After finishing his Everesting challenge on a road bike in May, the runner up at last year’s Xterra Pan Am tour thought he would make an attempt on a mountain bike. In the end it was his choice of a physically demanding track that forced him to call it a day earlier than he’d hoped.
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“You’re going down a very physically demanding trail – 30 minutes of descending getting your body and bones rattled around,” he said.
Madsen is hoping that he won’t be thinking about another attempt next year – he’d like “to get back into my race season next year.”
“I’ll be working towards the world championship again, when the resume button hits next year,” he said.
That doesn’t mean we won’t ever see Madsen go after his tough off-road Everesting Challenge again – we’re all just hoping he’ll be too busy in 2021 to give it another shot.