A local cyclist who enjoys the thrill of a challenge has officially become the first Canadian woman to bike 10,000 metres on hill repeats in a single climb after 'Everesting' Knox Mountain on Thursday.
Meaghan Hackinen cycled 10,111 metres - more than the 8,848 metre height of Mt Everest - at Knox Mountain on June 18, and it’s not the first time she’s Everested her way to the top.
"I decided to do it in 2018 because I had just come in second at the 24 hour Time Trials and my fitness was really high. I wanted to do one more thing before winter came and I lost my fitness, so I Everested in November."
But it was a cold day to take up the challenge run by international group Hells500, says Hackinen, and part of her motivation to complete the challenge again was to do it in the sunshine - along with achieving a faster time, and giving herself something to work towards during the pandemic.
"Because of all the lockdown stuff going on, I haven’t been able to compete in any events this year or travel to do any of the tours I would have liked to do, so I thought this seemed like a good time to do the Everest challenge again."
She started her first lap at 4:03 a.m., spending a total of 17 hours and 30 minutes riding 43 hill climbs of Knox Mountain, over the course of 19 hours.
As time went on, each lap of the hill started to feel more difficult, especially once she got past the 7,000 metre point.
"What makes it so hard is that at the end of the day you’re just getting more and more fatigued, and so everything feels more challenging. At the beginning the hill repeats aren’t so bad and then after 10 or 20 you’re like, "ok, this is getting tough," and after 7000 metres they refer to it as the death zone. I think that’s an Everesting term because that’s when people start dying on Everest. It feels like everything is impossible after 7000 metres so you really have to be committed and dedicated to push it out after you reach the height of Everest."
Hackinen allocated a total of two hours for rest breaks, eating a granola bar for energy or spending 15 minutes putting her feet up in her father's campervan, which he parked at the bottom of the hill in support.
Choosing to complete the challenge at Knox Mountain was an easy decision, she says, despite considering various places such as Apex Mountain Resort or Silver Star Resort.
"I think it’s a great hill right in the community, the climb is 7.6 percent grade so it’s a nice steady climb and it’s closed to traffic right now so it’s actually a very safe place to ride a bike.
"It was a joy to be out at Knox Mountain all day and see the role the hill has in the community and how important it is for people, how many people are up there hiking and mountain biking and walking their dogs - kids and families and couples and friends and solo people. It was super cool just to be outside and see everyone out and about, enjoying the weather and being healthy and fit and active. People were there from basically 4:30 a.m. to when I left at night."
Hackinen says although international travel won’t be an option for a while yet, she’s very much looking forward to spending the summer closer to home and exploring new routes around the Okanagan.