SHEveresting Success!


A misty morning on Heritage Day, 24 September, provided the perfect conditions to knock-off a large proportion of the climbing before the sun came out and the day got hotter. Photo by Rae Trew-Browne/Outlaw Media.

With gale force winds and a late season cold front blowing into the Western Cape,

over the Heritage Day long weekend, the SHEveresting women brought their

Everesting attempt forward. Making use of the public holiday and the only day of fine

weather 11 women set out at 4:30am – on Thursday, 24 September – to achieve

their goals of ascending to either 8 848 or 4 424 metres. If they reached those

targets, they would complete a full- or half- Everesting, so called due to their total

elevation gained being the height of Mount Everest.


The hill they had chosen for the feat was Rotary Way climb, in Hermanus, which

would require them to cycle 66 laps. Up and down, repeatedly, over the course of the

next 20 or so hours. Only one activity, submitted to the keepers of the Everesting

records Hells 500, completed on one hill is eligible for entry into hall of fame. A feat

that 6 of the women achieved.


It was no easy ride however. Each cyclist battled their own personal issues,

experienced hunger and exhaustion induced lows as well as caffeine and adrenalin

fuels highs. The tale of successful Everestings were ones of overcoming the odds.

Particularly for Tegan Phillips and Tyla Setzkorn, who both endured particularly torrid

moments on the road.


Only Marisa van der Linde, arguably, made the task look easy. Having flown down

from Pretoria for the SHEveresting attempt she was undoubtedly the most prepared

athlete in the group. Van der Linde is the 2019 South African age-group champion

on the road in the time trial and off-road in the cross-country discipline. Those results

highlighted her racing pedigree, but it was her mental fortitude which saw her

through the 14 hours and 53 minutes of riding and to a new South African women’s

Everesting record.


Tegan Phillips (left) and Renata Bossi (right) are the co-founders of the SHEveresting challenge. Photo by Rae Trew-Browne/Outlaw Media.

Van der Linde set out at a steady pace and hardly seemed to flag as the day

progressed. Her pre-ride fuelling strategy spoke of experience with stage and ultra-

distance races, like the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Even through the heat of the day

she lapped with metronomic efficiency and only missed the chance of finishing in

daylight due to the need to complete a final, safety lap. As EF PRO Cycling’s

Lachlan Morton illustrated in June, one does not want to climb all that way only to fall

a few metres short upon final reflection due to a GPS over-estimating the elevation

gained.


The next rider to finish was Carrie van Rensburg. Van Rensburg’s time was 16 hours

and 26 minutes. Though she had been forced to grit her teeth and power though a

few low moments her ride had been relatively drama free. The same could not be

said for Phillips and Setzkorn.


On her penultimate lap, with a fading bike light, Setzkorn endured a high-speed

crash. A rabbit bound into the road ahead of her as she descended, to the turning

point, at over 70-kilometres per hour. Her speed, fatigue and lack of peripheral vision

– caused by the narrowing of her headlight – meant there was no way she could

avoid the rabbit. Setzkorn’s crash left her with large contusions on her quadriceps

and multiple abrasions.


Everesting requires cyclists to ride laps of the same hill, up and down, until their elevation gained is equal to the 8 848 metre heigh of Mount Everest. Photo by Rae Trew-Browne/Outlaw Media.

Her bike was worse off however. A broken rear derailleur and bent brake hoods

meant she had to wait for Phillips to finish her final lap in order to complete the ride

on her fellow SHEverester’s bike. The fact that Phillips was at that stage nearing

completion herself was testament to her mental strength.


Phillips had started the day noticeably off her usual form. Within a few laps it became

clear that the co-founder would struggle to finish. Eventually after enduring a few

hours of low blood pressure she took a break from riding. An hour’s nap did her

wonders however and when she got back on her bike, she soon established a strong

rhythm. Having overcome the trials of the morning, Phillips managed to reach the

height of Mount Everest in a time of 16 hours and 52 minutes.


She then passed her bike on to Setzkorn, who completed her final lap and the

Everesting challenge in 17 hours and 9 minutes. That left the sisters, Bianca and

Cally Silberbauer still riding. They were the only riders taking on the full Everest

challenge on mountain bikes.


Earlier in the day Frankie du Toit had completed a half Everest on her Trek Slash,

long-travel, mountain bike. Michaela Lubbe had also started the SHEveresting

challenge on a mountain bike, but sadly she had been forced to cut her full Everest

attempt short, due to a knee injury, after ascending 5 381 metres. Lubbe was not the

only rider who had been forced to downscale from the full 8 848 metre goal, but

those that did so all achieved the half Everesting target. Catherine Colyn had set out

in pursuit of the South African women’s record and aiming for a top 10 time globally,

but a strained hamstring put pay to her hopes shortly after the half Everest mark.

Colyn’s pace, had she maintained it would have put her in line for a sub-12-hour

Everest. Marike van Niekerk made it to 6 323 metres before injury put a stop to her

efforts, agonisingly close but still hours of riding though searing back pain away from

her ultimate goal.


Renata Bossi, co-founder with Phillips of the SHEveresting initiative, also completed

a half Everest. It had been her aim from the outset to climb 4 424 metres in order to

preserve her energy for the long night of supporting. That transpired to be a wise

decision as the evening shadows grew long and darkness set in.

Lapping minutes per 1.76 kilometre climb slower than their compatriots, due to their

heavier and less efficient mountain bikes the Silberbauers simply had to just keep

riding. Ensuring they had enough battery power for their bike lights became the

biggest challenge, especially after Setzkorn’s collision.


Bianca Silberbauer was the first of the sisters to finish, after 18 hours and 29

minutes. Her sister, Cally, continued on for a further hour and a half, eventually

completing her ride at 01:30. Her time of 19 hours and 53 minutes illustrates the

fortitude required to complete an Everesting challenge. Though the experience did

little to dent her or any of her fellow SHEveresters’ enthusiasm for the task. They will

undoubtedly be seeking to better their personal bests soon.


Versus’ South African flag socks lent a Heritage Day feel to the SHEveresting attempt, while Biogen’s sports supplements and Wintergreen Sports’ soothing arnica balms helped ease aching muscles towards completing the challenge. Photo by Rae Trew-Browne/Outlaw Media.

“It was an incredible experience” Bossi confided. “To be honest it’s difficult to put into

words what you go through riding up and down the same hill for hours on end. I’m

sure I speak for everyone when I say we couldn’t have done it without all the support

we received and the inspiration of knowing we were riding for a good cause. I’d like

to thank Biogen, Wintergreen Sports and Versus Socks specifically for their support.

Without the Biogen sports supplements and Wintergreen recovery balms the riding

would have been far, far harder. Versus’ donation of South African flag socks

brought a nice Heritage Day feel to the ride, as did the braai Carrie and Marike’s

husbands had at the top of the climb as the sun set.”


“The support of friends and family members meant that we could just focus on riding

our bikes” Bossi thanked. “I’d like to thank everyone who came out to cheer us on, fill

bidons and hand us food, so we didn’t have to stop unnecessarily. We also greatly

appreciate the support from afar, which we receive via WhatsApp and on social

media. Those words of encouragement and the kind donations to Khaltasha Cycles

made a massive impact. In total, thus far, we have raised over R40 000, including

R8 848 from Ciovita to match the target height. That money will now go to

purchasing bicycles and safe cycling starter kits in order to get more women from

historically disadvantaged areas on bikes.”


Cally Silberbauer, riding a mountain bike, was the day’s final finisher; taking 19 hours and 53 minutes to ascend to 8 848 metres. Photo by Rae Trew- Browne/Outlaw Media.

Fans who followed the inaugural SHEveresting attempt are encouraged to continue

following the women on Instagram, @sheveresting, and to like the SHEveresting

Facebook page. News of their next challenge and for updates on their fundraising

will follow in due course, along with the opportunity for more women and non-binary

cyclists to join the movement. Donations to Khaltasha Cycles can also still be made

via Back a Buddy: www.backabuddy.co.za/sheveresting.


SHEveresting Results:

Marisa van der Linde: 14 hours 53 minutes (New South African record)

Carrie van Rensburg: 16 hours 26 minutes

Tegan Phillips: 16 hours 52 minutes

Tyla Setzkorn: 17 hours 09 minutes

Bianca Silberbauer: 18 hours 29 minutes

Cally Silberbauer: 19 hours and 53 minutes

Marike van Niekerk: 6 323 metres climbed

Michaela Lubbe: 5 381 metres climbed

Catherine Colyn: 4 567 metres climbed

Renata Bossi: 4 506 metres climbed

Frankie du Toit: 4 472metres climbed

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