An Everest’s worth of climbing by bicycle
Carbondale 15-year-old completes Everesting challenge in 20.5 hours
Top Everesting times
Ronan McLaughlin, Ireland, 33, 7:04:41, July 30, Mamore Gap, Ireland, 76.9 miles, 14.2%
Sean Gardner, USA, 26, 7:25, Sept. 15, Reed’s Gap, Virginia, 89.4 miles, 12.3%
Alberto Contador, 37, Spain, 7:27:20, July 7, Silla del Rey, Spain, 87.1 miles, 12.9%
Corbin Carpenter is in rarefied company after climbing the equivalent height of Mount Everest in one day by bicycle.
The Carbondale 15-year-old took 20.5 hours to ride 32 6-mile laps, each with a gain of 960 feet. He rode from 6 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Aug. 29 on Thompson Creek Road (County Road 108) in Carbondale from above the cattle guard up toward Marion Gulch, totaling 197 miles and a gain of 30,720 feet.
Wait — isn’t Mount Everest only 29,029 feet tall?
“His Garmin stopped calculating elevation gain at one point so we got confused in the wee morning at how much he needed to complete. … He overshot Everest by more than 1,600 feet,” his mother, Kallie Carpenter, said in an email.
As if it doesn’t already seem like an honest day’s work, Corbin said he spent the first few hours in the rain.
“The first eight laps were very cold and raining. It rained for the first five hours,” he said.
That seems like bad luck considering how dry late July and August had been. But he didn’t have a lot of time to get ready once he’d made up his mind to give the challenge a shot.
“I heard that the full bike race season got canceled maybe a month before [Aug. 29]. We thought about the planning and just set a date and went for it,” he said.
His route was not quite as steep as he wanted, but the road typically has few cars.
“It was low traffic for the most part. It was a little flatter than I would have liked it to be, but it was the best mix of steep and not so steep that it would tire you out,” he said.
It appears from looking at the Everesting records that steeper slopes make for faster finishes. Of the 11 fastest times as of Sept. 21 all but one is greater than 10%. Corbin’s average slope was a little less than 6%.
Former pro cyclist Ronan McLaughlin currently holds the Everesting record of 7:04:41, doing 80 laps at Mamore Gap in Ireland at an average of 14.2% on July 30.
In all, as of 9 a.m. Sunday, only 6,398 people in the world have registered their Everesting by bike (though another 599 weren’t satisfied with 8,848 meters and completed 10,000 meters of climbing), according to the official Everesting website.
Of the people who listed their age, seven were 14 and 11 were 15, further putting Corbin in rare company. To see the results of Corbin and the others, go to.
The records don’t indicate what type of bicycle riders used, but it’s a safe bet that very few did it on a mountain bike like Corbin.
“He did it on a mountain bike because he has never been on a road bike, and we didn’t want to change his geometry. But his coach put on a different wheelset with slicks, which helped,” mom Kallie Carpenter said.
Corbin’s effort was a fundraiser for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, with whom he has raced for five years. Half of the money goes to his AVSC program fees, and the other half goes to scholarships.
“AVSC has given so much to me as an athlete so I want to give back to other athletes in our community. The community and the programs have grown into a very big part of my life,” he said on his fundraising page.
He surpassed his $2,000 goal, raising $3,771.67. Contributions are still being accepted.
Corbin had plenty of support for his effort, including from his parents.
“Either [father] Don or I were either biking or supporting the endeavor the entire 20.5 hours,” Kallie Carpenter said.
He had company for all but one lap, and some of his coaches did some laps with him.
Corbin, a sophomore at Roaring Fork High School, spent a year riding with Glenwood Springs High School’s Dirt Demons, a program begun by Randy Tuggle.
Tuggle and his mentor, former pro Peter Davis, did the last six laps with Corbin.
“We joined him about 10:30 at night, with the intention to carry him to the finish line,” Tuggle said.
Tuggle was impressed with Corbin’s consistency.
“He was consistent throughout. That’s another amazing feat, just watching him turn lap after lap after lap,” Tuggle said.
Corbin also rides for Scott Leonard, coach of Roaring Fork Cycling’s Pinnacle junior mountain bike development team. Leonard said he rode for three hours and 8,000 vertical feet with Corbin during his challenge.
Both coaches see a lot of potential.
“I think his potential is unlimited. He is dedicated, driven, passionate, determined — all those things you look for in success,” Tuggle said.
“He’s super motivated and talented. For endurance mountain biking he could race at the elite level when he gets older. His motivation level is quite high. He seems to be the real deal, with motivation and understanding of training at a really high level,” Leonard said.
Corbin is not new to bike racing.
“He was on a Strider at 3 and hasn’t stopped. He has always loved to ride and race,” Kallie Carpenter said.
He didn’t do any more training than usual for this challenge. He normally does a 4-5 hour ride each week, and said he had a day on his mountain bike with 8,000 feet of climbing.
Yet he never had the inevitable feeling of wanting to quit during his nearly day-long effort.
“A little under three quarters of the way there it starting raining and lightning, and it got super windy … so we took an hour-long break, and I didn’t know if I’d have time to finish it. But I don’t think there was really any point where I thought I wouldn’t finish it. … It definitely got mentally a lot harder for the last five laps of it. That made it really hard, but it didn’t make me want to stop,” he said.
He is human, though, admitting to feeling his effort afterwards.
“I was very, very, very tired. My legs were pretty sore. By Monday I was already feeling a little better, and got on my bike again on Tuesday,” he said.
One of these days he may try it again to improve his time.
“I could do it faster if I tried again at some point and picked a better day,” he said.
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