American Cyclist Sean Gardner Smashes the Everesting Record

Sean Gardner, a 26-year-old American cyclist on the domestic elite team CS Velo Racing, set a new Everesting world record on Saturday with an impressive official time of 6:59:38. He’s the first cyclist to Everest in less than seven hours.

Gardner’s route of choice for his ride was Tanners Ridge Road, just outside of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The 1.1 kilometer-long segment he opted for averages a 15.5 percent gradient. To hit the goal of Everest’s 29,029 feet in elevation, Gardner rode 53 laps of the climb over 72 miles.

Everesting on a bike is no easy feat, let alone setting the record. To make it happen, Gardner said he burned roughly 9,000 calories and consumed a whopping 850 grams of sugar to help offset that.

Gardner told Bicycling he decided to try the Everesting challenge in part because of an “absence of other events.”

“I saw other teammates and cyclists doing this, so I figured I would give it a try,” he said.

This was Gardner’s second attempt at the record. He first attempted it on September 15 and set a time of 7:25, putting him right behind Ronan McLaughlin, who set the previous record on July 31 with a time of 7:04:41. His time then wasn’t fast enough for the world record, but it was the fastest Everesting time for American cyclists.

Learning from his first attempt, Gardner tweaked his pacing and nutrition, along with the location. Those changes helped make him about 30 minutes faster this time around. He told Bicycling that this second, record-breaking attempt actually felt easier than his first go at it.

“Last time I bonked hard after five hours. This time I stayed pretty consistent until the last 20 minutes!” Gardner told Bicycling. “I also mentally knew what to expect this time.”

As for any kind of Everesting-specific training, Gardner said he didn’t really do any. Living in Richmond, he said the longest climb there is only 30 seconds long. Instead, he’s been putting in some “big endurance miles.”

It’s been a popular year, if not the year, for Everesting attempts, with elite and pro cyclists looking for alternative challenges in a racing year disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Along with McLaughlin, Gardner had a faster time than a bunch of other current or former pros who set Everesting records earlier this year, including Alberto Contador, Lachlan Morton, Keegan Swenson, and Phil Gaimon.

So, would Gardner do it again?

“Well I am definitely not going to break my own record,” he said. “I’ll reconsider when someone else puts up a better time! Which might not be too long seeing how much popularity this competition is gaining.”

For both Everesting rides, Gardner rode his stock Cannondale SuperSix EVO. You can read our review here.

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