Jonathon Hobson; Kangaroo Point Cycling Club Member and official Hells500 #everesting champion of the iconic Goat Track. In his own words.
One Wednesday morning (at Mysweetopia) our Kangaroo Point Cycling Club el Presidente casually mentioned the idea of #everesting - ride the altitude of Everest in a day. I had just done the Goat Track that morning and the cogs began to turn over and I decided it was time to add one more notch on my "how nuts is Jon Hobson score card".
Before I knew it the date was set and the venue picked. My wife just shook her head in resignation and prepared her overnight bag for the pending hospital visit.
So why the goat track? Well two reasons really. Strictly speaking a true #everesting effort (Hells 500 rules) has to be done on a hill no one else has done and secondly it's the Goat Track, my favourite climb of all time where I can pretend I am racing the Strade Bianche.
I got in touch with the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation, a charity who I respect greatly for the work that they do, and they were super keen to be involved too!
To reach the required 9000vm I worked out I would need to do 15 laps of goat track which would mean covering about 250kms at 16km a lap. This was going to be a pretty serious day on the bike.
PhilP (riding) and JamesS (in the support car) turned up to the Goat Track just before midnight on Sunday the 16th of November and we were off. Phil had convinced me to start at midnight and given how long it took, I can't thank him enough.
Lap 1 was pretty uneventful but warm (24deg). I knew this was going be a tough day.
Lap 2 was pretty scary. I mean I like snakes, they are kind of cool. But half way up the Goat Track Phil suddenly swerved to miss a young brown snake. Yes the poisonous "you are going to hospital in a helicopter " type of brown snake. This was scary, but the fear factor increased to maximum when I almost ran over another one a few hundred metres later. Phil decided he needed a break after that, he claimed he was tired. I think he just didn't want to die from a snake bite.
The wildlife attacks continued on lap 3 with a Pikachu sized kangaroo thingy that refused to get out of my way. James was laughing so hard I swear he stalled the car. The laughs were on him not long after that though when a spider the size of my hand landed on his car and proceeded to work her way into to the driver side window. We found her later on James bag so that's not scary at all.
The end of lap 5 was a scheduled break, much to my astonishment it turned out to be better than just a break with Irene from mysweetopia turning up, at 4am mind you, with a breakfast hamper complete with homemade bacon and egg muffins and drinks. You are the best Irene!
Lap 6 with LeoP saw the return of snaky on the climb. This time I almost ran over him. He had the whole head reared up thing happening. Not cool man, not cool.
On the topic of temperatures; things were also really starting to heat up. By about lap 8 it was getting beyond unpleasant on the climb. We were getting a little bit of relief across the top of the mountain, but then it was just nasty from the base of the descent through to rejoin the Goat Track.
Laps 9 and 10 were pretty uneventful, though I had some good company. Thank you MichaelK, Steph and Dad, PhilW and DanJ.
At some point after the sun had risen the whole Kangaroo Point Cycling Club Social Ride turned up to cheer me on up the Goat Track. Sorry guys I was just a bit out of it by that stage! I can recall on the following lap all of my Club mates cheering me on, but it was all a case of doing my best Dory (from finding Nemo) impression "got to keep going, got to keep going".
Also around the same time, James also made me a coffee half way up the climb, though I suspect he just wanted me to chase away the spider which was at this point hiding in the boot of the car.
I took a big break after lap 10 as the temps were getting crazy now.
For laps 11 and 12 Timmy and MicM had arrived for some punishment. The temp on Garmin was already reading 50deg - holy crap and Anthony Z demonstrated why a carbon rim is not a great idea on "the descent" on lap 11 - the rear rim delaminated at 60km/h and I don't know how he didn't crash.
The end of lap 12 I was done, it was just too hot, I just couldn't eat. I told LeoP to put the bike on the roof racks and I was ready to quit.
I was around 2,000vm short, and I knew that with the temperature on the Goat Track now over 40degrees and the gorge well in to the 50's, it just wasn't going to happen. I was planning to sleep a few hours off in the air-conditioning before returning at dusk to continue, but the start of the local area bushfire warning alarms and the appearance of bushfire spotting planes in the sky signalled that it would be now or never as the area would most likely be evacuated that afternoon.
By midday CamH (the Club's President) and ClaireH had arrived. I had an hours rest and loads of water. Irene from MySweetopia arrived again complete with pies and ice blocks for everyone and the mood lifted. After about an hour somehow I knew I couldn't let my supporters or myself down. I had to finish. I knew If I left to come back later I would regret it, so I was off.
Lap 13 sucked, it was so hot, the climb was 50deg. I had been on the mountain for 13+ hours and had put in over 208km. I only had 2 more circuits and a final climb, but it wasn't getting easier. I think I managed about 7km/h on the Goat Track and saw another big brown snake at the top. The bottom of the descent was awful, blasting hot wind felt like an open oven. LeoP was following me in the car and I was getting water every few kilometres, some to drink, some to pour on my head.
At the end of Lap 13 I think I surprised everyone waiting at the start. I came to base of the climb and just kept going, I knew if I unclipped it would all be over. Lap 14 sucked slightly less, the temp was dropping and there was a tiny bit of shade. Still more water, more on me than I could drink.
Lap 15 was pretty amazing, the temp was down a bit more, the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club supporters were all waiting for me at the "true summit" just where the turn off to the descent was. I got my "Tour de France mountains moment" with them all running next me and cheering me on, actually they were probably just walking slowly because I sure as hell was crawling.
At the end of Lap 15 I knew I had one more climb of the Goat track to do to secure the 9000vm.
It was slow and pain full, but snake free. As I hit the top someone had put a "100m to go" on the road, thanks guys, and my Club mates had erected a finish line and everything! It was pretty awesome. Then I laid down on the road. It was time to go home and sleep.
The final stats are:
- Fundraising: $725 as at today - hopefully will grow, more would be better but pretty happy with that!
- Laps: 15 laps plus 1 extra climb of the Goat Track
- Distance: 243km
- Time riding: 13:25:22hrs
- Time on the mountain: 16hrs
- Elevation gain (vertical metres) measured by Strava: 11,405m (I am pretty sure this is wrong though as I have it at just over 9000m)
- Min Temp: 24c
- Max Temp:51c
Thank you to everyone who donated, turned up, did a lap (or more) encouraged me, fed me, held out a bottle, drove behind me or left a kind comment on the Facebook and strava pages. Without you all I am pretty sure I would have thrown in the towel.
Editors note: This was a feat of unimaginable suffering and determination. If you'd like to support Jon's fundraising for the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation, and we'd encourage you to do just that, you can do it by clicking here!