SHEveresting for charity

The proposed route for the SHEversting attempt is the climb to The Hydro, in Stellebosch. Pictured, from left, are Renata Bossi, Tegan Phillips, Michelle Heyns and Michaela Lubbe on a trial ride of the ascent. Picture: Seamus Allardice

During the break from elite cycling races, enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenge of Everesting became increasingly popular. As lockdowns lifted and cyclists could take to the roads once more the records tumbled. Riding one hill, up and down, until the accumulated meters of elevation gained reached 8 848 metres – or the height of Mount Everest – did not seem so boring; in comparison to long hours indoors, on a turbo trainer, it appears. Inspired by the likes of Katie Hall, Lauren de Crescenzo, Hannah Rhodes and Emma Pooley – all of whom have bettered the Everesting record in the past few months – a group of South African women have decided to take up the challenge, in the Western Cape.

Their attempt is to be known as SHEveresting. Pronounced {Shev}-e-resting, it provides “an opportunity for female/non-binary cyclists to push their bodies to the limit by attempting a full or half Everesting,” the project’s media liaison, Renata Bossi, said.

“Through the attempt we’re aiming to showcase the strength and fortitude of women cyclists, as well as raise funds for a worthy cause supporting women’s cycling. The programme we’re fundraising for is Khaltsha Cycles. We hope to raise enough money to donate 9 bicycles to women in historically disadvantaged communities.”

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm SHEveresting has been met with,” Ms Bossi said. “Thus far we have 10 riders signed up for the full Everesting attempt and seven have committed to the half Everesting. Donations via, the Back a Buddy page, have been coming in nicely too and a number of organisations have already pledged their support. Notably Dragons Sports, the importers of Giant and Liv Bicycles to South Africa, have already donated two bicycles to Khaltsha Cycles.”

Ms Bossi’s co-founder, Tegan Phillips, is leading the full Everest attempt, while Ms Bossi will be taking on the half. “I find the beauty of Everesting lies in the fact that it’s simultaneously universal and personal,” Ms Phillips said.

“The concept is so simple that it can be explained in a few words and attempted anywhere in the world – but to actually do it, every rider has to dip into their own brand of strength and face their own totally unique challenge. As female riders, we often feel underrepresented or misrepresented by the broader cycling industry, so part of what inspired this challenge was us wanting to actively participate in shaping the culture of the sport.”

Ms Phillips will be joined by professional riders, Amy McDougall and Catherine Colyn, as well as, Tyla Setzkorn, Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius, Bianca Silberbauer, Cally Silberbauer, Michaela Lubbe, Carrie van Rensberg, and Marike van Niekerk. Michelle Heyns, Frankie du Toit, Dominique Leclercq, Kylie Hanekom, Jo Dobinson and Kasha Dickie will be making a half Everest attempt with Ms Bossi.

“We aren’t aiming for records specifically, though the South African women’s Everesting FKT (fasted known time) of 19 hours and 4 minutes is probably achievable by a few of the women in the group,” Ms Phillips said. “With riders like Amy (McDougall) and Catherine (Colyn) taking part there’s every chance one of them could set an aspirational benchmark time, for South African women to aim for in the future.”

SHEveresting is set to take place on Friday September 25 and Saturday September 26, weather permitting, on Lelie Road between Rustenberg Wines and The Hydro.

Riders taking on the full,
8 848-metre, challenge will start on Friday evening, while the half riders will start early on Saturday morning.

The organisers would like to call upon any potential road-side fans to adhere to Covid-19 regulations if they decide to support.

“We’d love and appreciate all the cheers we can get, but supporters also have to exercise caution, maintain a safe social distance from other groups and wear a mask if they come encourage us on the hill,” Ms Bossi said.

“It’s not ideal, but we’ve all started to get used to supporting the events we love a little differently recently. SHEveresting fans can show their support online, too, by sending us messages on the day, to our social media handles. Any donations to Khaltsha Cycles are also greatly appreciated. Those can be made via the Back a Buddy link in our social media bios.”

Follow the build-up to SHEveresting on Instagram, @sheveresting, and on Facebook, SHEveresting.

Click here to donate to Khaltasha Cycles, and their campaign to get more women in historically disadvantaged areas on bikes.