I'll keep this post brief, as there's not a bunch to write about other than the madness of this undertaking... which I'll get to shortly.
I've covered the hazards and disclaimers regarding the Seven Summits in previous posts - it's a trail not to be underestimated. In case you haven't seen those prior warnings, here's the 2011 Seven Summits assault with Scotty, along with the mandatory warnings:
Here's the 2012 ride with Dave:
To give some perspective on Scotty and Dave, they are both International multiple 24hr Solo racers and they've spent their fair share of time on the podium, they are tough and seasoned racers. Both of them will tell you two laps on the Seven Summits is really hard, so don't use this three lap blog post as a good idea unless you are... prepared. I've never heard of anyone else doing two laps in one day never mind three laps in one day, but if I can do it there are others who can. So I'll make a standing offer right now... if you can do three laps back to back in one day I'll gladly buy you a cold beer. You'll need it. ;-)
Right, with enough carefully placed reminders of how hard something like this can be, let's get on with the story.
This year everything lined up nicely for a three lap attempt. As a family we had just finished 10 days out on the West Coast which had caused me to be off my bikes for 13 days, so I was in desperate need of some hard-suffering saddle time, I just had to identify what kind of suffering. Timing wise, Doreen and the boys were going to be out of province visiting family on the weekend which let me stay home and throw a bunch of hours at the trails.
On short notice I threw out a quick local 'this is what I'm going to do' heads up to the general riding community and from that point on there was no backing out.
The adventure began early on Saturday morning as I loaded up my gear and drove to the top of the Dewdney Trail to stash my 2nd lap water bottles. From there I drove to the North trailhead, parked the car, and began the first lap at approx 0800hrs. Knowing that I was first one down the entire trail that morning was pretty interesting. I'm used to riding or racing unsupported Solo, it's kinda my thing, but for some reason as I moved through the remote terrain by myself the whole concept of taking on the 21 Summits as an unsupported Solo felt 'bigger than normal'. Hard to explain, you had to be there.
The 1st lap was uneventful and not particularly hard. I made it to my bottle stash at the top of the Dewdney in good time, re-upped on Infinit and started heading back on my 2nd lap. The beginning of the 2nd lap was the beginning of the suffering, lots of hike a bike to the top of Record Ridge on a singlespeed hardtail, made all the more difficult in 95 Fahrenheit. It was a slog. A brain melting slog. By the time I made it back to the North trailhead parking lot I was cooked, so much so that I laid down on the parking lot tarmac for 20 minutes and had an internal debate about whether the 3rd lap was doable. Here's a photo I took with my phone at the peak of the parking lot heat meltdown.
I knew heading out for that 3rd lap was a no-joke decision. Starting a lap that late in the afternoon meant nobody would be riding sweep behind me, which meant I had to ride conservatively and safely as I was going to be the only one out on the trail for the rest of the day. Riding slowly was going to reduce my natural flow, which would make that last lap even harder, and I was already feeling worked over. While debating safety and achievability I kept thinking about this view...
That mental view was enough to tip the scales, I threw my leg over the saddle and began the 3rd lap, a crushing singlespeed climb back up to the top of Mount Elgood. Once I rolled beyond Elgood I knew I was committed, and from that point forward it was simply a matter of keeping up the pressure and choosing smart lines. A bad line on the Seven Summits means a tire slashing mechanical, or worse, an over the bars injury. I couldn't afford either on this lap so I played it smart and rode as smooth as I could.
I was a bit frazzled by the time I got to the bottom of the Dewdney Trail but the ride wasn't over yet. I still had the ride up the highway and back into town, with the goal to hit Ferraro Foods before they closed at 2000hrs. I wanted to walk into their cool air conditioning and get an ice cream bar, or bag of chips, maybe dill pickles, or a can of baked beans, maybe expired pepperoni, basically whatever the heck jumped out and said 'buy me, I will make you feel a whole lot better'. I buried myself riding up that highway, out of the saddle riding/sprinting as hard as I could, dirty sweat stinging my eyes and dripping on my top tube. After a bunch of hard work I finally arrived at Ferraro Foods at 1950hrs, and even though I was a bit wobbly, certainly calorie deficient, and a little giddy about getting to choose something inside the comfort of air conditioning, I managed to lock down my focus as I only had 10 minutes to make the very important post-ride snack decision. 10 minutes in air conditioning, with a crisp $5 bill waiting to be pulled out of my Backcounty Research toolbag, yes! As I pulled up in front of the sliding doors I noticed the Store Hours sign... closed at 1900hrs.
Huh? Does that mean...
I was 50 minutes too late. Snack denial. Quite possibly the hardest part of the ride. My glorious dreams of pickled asparagus or boxes of raisins dashed against the rocky shores of retail hours. My ride home was a blur.
With nobody at home to moan to I stumbled into the garage and put my Orbea Alma on the bike stand, pulled a pint off the kegerator and headed into the living room so I could lay on the floor while sipping an IPA through the side of my mouth. Cold. Refreshing. Hoppy. Carbs. ;-)
Laying on my back in the quiet house I convinced myself I would never do the 21 Summits again. But today (exactly one week later) I was talking with Scotty about the ride and mentioned it was hard, but not insanely hard, and that maybe 28 Summits is possible? I think we both laughed and shook our heads. One thing is for sure, an IPA would taste mighty good after a ride like that. ;-)