Sunday, August 21, 2022

2022 Alberta Rockies 700

680 km fire reroute: 2 days 18 hours 48 minutes. 6th place

Strava link:

This year I decided to try something different and use a bike with gears. This was my fifth time completing the Alberta Rockies 700. The first four times were on my single speed mountain bike and this time I put an 11-speed cassette on the back.

Look at all that stuff on the back wheel! So complicated.

It started at Rebound Cycle with about 50-60 riders congregating for the starting picture. 

Grand Depart
Photo credit: Kristin Anderson

At the grand depart I was able to meet Majo, who was the first to challenge the GRAAB Gravel Across Alberta Challenge after my inaugural run. It was great to hear his impressions of that route!

Majo and me
Photo credit: Kristin Anderson

The AR700 started with a smooth cruise along the Legacy Trail. It’s about a 20km paved path that goes between Canmore and Banff. This felt like a road ride with the group separating into a couple of pelotons. I was careful not to push too hard with the geared bike. With the single speed (SS), I would have maxed out at a slower speed and ended up near the back of the pack, so gears were nice on this part. 

Glimpse of the Peloton on Legacy Trail

The route then turned back toward Canmore on the Goat Creek Trail. It’s a double track that I’ve ridden many times on other races and rides like the Tour Divide. It was nice to have the easier gears to climb all the hills. I chatted to a few other riders like Colin where this was his first ever bikepacking event and Mike, the owner of Thief Bikepacking bags. I was using some of his product. Good stuff if you are in the market for bags! Colin had a background in off-road motorcycle racing like the Baja. He also participated in ice climbing and rock climbing.

The route continued on to the Spray Lakes and followed a short section of the High Rockies Trail along the water’s edge.

Spray Lakes

Then we were spit out on the dusty, relatively busy Smith Dorrien Road. Not my favorite stretch of road. I was feeling good and took the time with the easy riding to cram some food. I was trying to convince the organizer to avoid this whole stretch of road and follow the High Rockies single track instead but to no avail. At one point, I passed a touring couple with big saddlebags and a “Just Married” sign on the back. As I rolled by, I congratulated both of them and it was nice to see their smiles. I found out on social media after that they were on their way to Mexico.

Dust abounds on the Smith Dorrien Road

Thankfully the time on the Smith Dorrien Road seemed to pass quickly and we were on a short stretch of the High Rockies Trail. Such a fun, twisty, turny, flowy easy single track trail! I talked for a short while to Alistair who I met last year. He ended up having a strong ride finishing on the podium!

Obligatory photo of the High Rockies Suspension Bridge

The route then went into the Peter Lougheed parks and campgrounds following a complicated network of paved trails and roads. I went off route a couple of times due to the many choices of paths to take close to the track on my GPS. I stopped at the Boulton Creek store and chatted with some other riders including Majo and Theo who won the AR700, 700km version last year. We had a small thunderstorm roll by so we huddled under the eave of the store and snacked on junk food. I was off fairly quickly and went on the trails that led to the paved road of Highwood Pass.

I wondered where I was in the standings but was not too concerned. My goal for this race was to see how the geared bike felt and minimize stopped time. At this point I was only at about 20min of stopped time so I felt good about my ride. I also felt good because I was not pushing too hard. It made me wonder if I was not pushing hard enough. All of these thoughts are new to me because with a SS, the bike sets the pace. With gears, I had a choice as to how hard I could go and I had this nagging doubt that I could always go harder. One reason why the SS is more fun and mentally relaxing!

The paved, gentle cruise of Highwood Pass

As I rode, Majo pulled up to me and we leapfrogged all the way to the Highwood House store. On part of the descent, we had some interactions with some cows.

I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the store before it closed at 6pm so was happy I could get some snacks and cold drinks.


After Highwood House the route went back on the gravel and back uphill. It was continuing to follow the 500km route until it took a left turn toward Claresholm. Majo caught and passed me at one point and that was the last I saw him since he was doing the 500km race.

I took the 700km route left turn and it continued uphill over a pass and out of the foothills. Beautiful country! 

Climb up to the pass out of the foothills

After the pass, the route steeply descended down some thick, loose gravel. It felt pretty unstable at times, and I had to stay alert so my front tire did not get taken away. It would have been rough to crash at these high speeds! After the steep descent, the slope flattened a bit, but it still was a fast cruise most of the way to Claresholm. I was able to tuck in my aerobars and stay in my top gear. I passed Ian on the gravel, then when we came to the paved road, he passed me. We turned back onto gravel as the sun set and I went ahead again. I cruised on the gravel as the sky went dark and the moon rose. As it peeked above the horizon it was full and a deep red colour. Amazing!

I had enough snacks to make it but knew I was running short on water. We were travelling through farmland so did not have the abundant mountain streams like earlier in the route. I debated about taking the detour off route into Claresholm. At the last turn to Claresholm, I checked my phone and saw a river/creek up ahead and decided to take the chance that I could filter the water. I rode to the bridge, parked my bike, and made my way down to the “river’s” edge. It was a still, brown liquid but deep so I filtered 2L into my hydration pack. My plan was to finish the leftover water in my water bottle and drink this “water” the next day. I would double down and in addition to filtering, add a couple of purification tablets to the 2L of mank.

With my water situation taken care of I started looking for a place to bivy. It was about 1am and I wanted to get about 3.5 to 4 hours of sleep. I didn’t feel tired but knew the sleep would do me good. I found a place in a ditch behind some low-lying bushes.

 Bivy spot for the night among the cow patties

I slept pretty well. Some riders rolled by in the night and the morning but I wasn’t too concerned. If I placed well, that would be nice, but I was trying to just ride my own race. As I slept, I woke to cows breathing heavily over me and walking around. I was happy they were on the other side of the fence.

At 5am, I got up and started rolling. The route was making its way back into the foothills and mountains. It was beautiful country!

On the way back to the mountains

I followed the gravel up a long, steady hill and it was nice to be able to climb it all the way up with the geared bike. If I was on my SS, I would have had to walk the whole thing. I leapfrogged the Block brothers and another rider quickly passed all of us. I met up with Ian again at one point too as he passed me, and I passed him while he got some water at a stream.

I forgot my sheet with the distance between towns so was going on memory. I saw a highway up ahead and thought it was the road leading to Coleman, but I was sorely mistaken. While I thought Coleman was just up ahead, it was actually about 50km away. I was excited to get some fresh water and snack on some new food. The snacks I brought from home were becoming less and less appetizing and I was essentially force feeding myself. I found a stream where I was able to refill my hydration pack with better water and clean off my sweaty face and neck. That felt good!

I still had to traverse another pass along dusty gravel roads that were busy with RV traffic. It was reminiscent of the Smith Dorrien Road. This was a low point for me on the ride. It was hot and I was disheartened when I saw the sign that said it was 35km to Coleman. Up to that point I didn’t know how far away it was and the sign showed me I had a long way to go. I took a few stops at campgrounds to use the bathroom and empty my garbage to break up the monotony.

Eventually I made it to Coleman and it was a relieving sight. I had a gas station pizza sub and some fresh liquids. That pizza sub was the first non-snack food I had for the trip so far! I felt refreshed but I knew I would pay for eating and drinking so much. I tend to overdo it when I feel extra thirsty and hungry. Sure enough, as I left Coleman I felt lethargic and got a case of “pizza sub belly”. As long as I kept pedaling, I would work my way through it.

Up ahead was a route I had not taken before. It was a double track ATV trail that was steadily climbing uphill. It was a lot of fun to ride some more mountain bike-like trails. I much preferred the remote off-road stuff to the dusty gravel roads!! I saw a large coyote on the trail ahead, but it was big enough that it may have been a wolf. I thought it ran off into the trees but for the next few corners I kept seeing it just ahead. I wondered if it was leading me into a pack of its buddies. Thankfully, I did not turn into dog food.

Nice double track after Coleman

There were a few water crossings, and the trail was essentially a stream at some points, but I was enjoying it thoroughly! Then as the sun set, the trail got steeper and steeper, and rockier and rockier. With the geared bike I was able to climb much of the steep trail while I saw many footprints where others chose to walk. But I found the climb was continuing and getting rockier. I decided to start walking like the other riders to change things up and prevent burning out. It was tough to ride and mentally draining to pick a smooth line among the rocks. When you walk, you just walk over all of it and don’t have to think about it too much.  

With the nifty gears most of this was climbable

 One of the rickety bridges

As it got darker, it got rockier

I eventually got to the top of the rough, rocky climb and declared, “I’m never doing that again!” It was dark and now the decision was to descend in the dark. I wasn’t sure if it would be as rocky on the way down because if it was, I’d be walking down too! I decided to go for it and started the descent. There were some sections that I felt should be walked instead of ridden but for the most part, it was not too bad. I got to the end of the ATV trail and got back onto a gravel road.

Periodically I would see these cute little boreal toads along the trail shuffling along.

Boreal toads eating their night insects

I started a climb on the gravel road as it was approaching midnight. I saw lights up high in the distance and wondered what would be so high in the sky. I think it was a mine or something. I was feeling tired after that rocky ATV trail so decided to stop and sleep for a couple of hours. Usually in these 2-3 day races I would only sleep the first night and push to the end but wanted to try sleeping more. Whenever I pushed to the end without stopping for a good sleep, I would be nodding off so much it took a lot of the fun out of the ride.

I stopped on the side of the road out in the open to sleep in my bivy for a couple of hours. It is bear country, so I stopped my bike, pulled out my bivy and walked down the road about 30m to sleep. All my snacks were in my bike, so I wanted to stay away from it while I slept. I was putting my food wrappers in my pocket, so I also took off my shorts and left them on my bike too. I was passed by another rider while I slept for a couple of hours. It was great! I slept well and felt refreshed after I got up!

At about 2am I kept riding up and over a hill and started along the Elk River toward Elkford. It was cold when I got into that valley! I had to put on my puffy coat, gloves, and some toe warmers. After that, I was feeling okay. I rode through the early morning and waited for Elkford to appear. The sun rose and I heard crashing in the bushes a couple of times. Sounds that big were either moose, deer, elk, or bear.

When the trail turned onto some single track, I knew I was close since I did this part last year! Elkford came into view, and I rolled up to the gas station at about 6:30am. It was bustling with workers getting their lunches and snacks for the day. There were lots of catchy sayings like “working hard or hardly working” and “living the dream” being tossed around. They had some microwavable meals, so I had my first real breakfast the whole trip, potatoes, eggs and bacon bathed in hot sauce.

Real food is good!! Note the bike in the window.

I thanked the ladies working in the restaurant without calling them “princess” like the many workers passing through and was on my way satisfied.

Just as I left town, I ran into Neil. I have known Neil for several years in the bikepacking community through Bikepack Canada Summits and overnight trips but had never run into him in an event. He was doing the 500km route. It was nice to chat! We leapfrogged one another from this point all the way to the end.


The route gradually climbed up some single track and with the geared bike, it was nice to climb it all. I remember riding this at about the same time of day as last year and feeling really tired. But today I felt great! That 2 hour sleep was doing wonders for my alertness.

View from the top of the Elkford single track

After the single track I knew it was a fairly long stretch of undulating gravel roads along the Elk Valley that gradually climbed over Elk Pass.

Elk Valley gravel

At one point I started to feel tired and nod off. I stopped in a small field of daisies on the side of the road and took a 10 minute nap. After that I felt really good again. A while later at Tobermory Cabin I felt tired again so took another nap on the picnic table. I also filled up with water here from the stream.

Snacking on chips close to Elk Pass

Eventually I came to Elk Pass Arch. I arrived at the same time as Ethan from California, and he was gracious enough to take my picture with my GRAAB finisher’s shirt. The arch is the start of GRAAB and the last time I was here was last September when I rode that route for the first time. 

The start of GRAAB!
Photo credit: Ethan Albrecht

After Elk Pass, I could see the end in sight! Skogan Pass was the last major pass to go! I descended the other side of the pass with Ethan and we marveled at some big bear tracks in the dried mud. Ethan was concerned about bears, but I tried to reassure him that there is not much to worry about if you respect them and give them their space.

Big bear and slightly less big bear tracks

We passed back through the center of the figure eight of the course as we travelled past the Boulton Creek store. I had enough food and water to continue on, so I did not stop. The route went along some paved roads, and I was feeling good to be almost done! I thought maybe I’d be done by midnight!

I turned onto highway 40 and chatted with a cycling tourist from Los Angeles. He had been touring the area on his Surly Long Haul Trucker with panniers front and back.

 Sheep ahead!

There they are

The route turned off the highway and went on a fun bit of single track toward Fortress Ski area and Kananaskis Village. 

 Bridge leading to the single track

 Some of the rockiness

I had a lot of fun on this part! The trail flowed well and had some good viewpoints. I was glad it was more technical than a gravel road, so I did not have the chance to get sleepy. 

View as the single track passed the golf course

There were nice, paved trails around Kananaskis Village. I started climbing Skogan Pass and was curious to see what the footing was like. The last time I was there was for an October training ride for the 2016 Tour Divide. It was snowy and the footing below felt uneven. This time I was happy to see the smooth surface. I could ride a lot of it and walk a lot of it at a quick pace compared to the nasty ATV hike-a-bike before Elkford.

 Pristine, smooth surface of Skogan Pass

There was a lot of bear scat around, so I was yelling, “Hey bear,” every several minutes. I got to the top at sunset and then the descent was fast and smooth. 

Near the top!

There were a lot of moths that would go up in front of me as I zipped down the other side. I continued to yell, “Hey bear,” a lot because there was tall, thick grass where a bear could easily hide. It was a long, fast descent. I stopped a couple of times to rest my hands from braking so hard.

Hey bear!!!!

When I got to the bottom, I thought I was almost finished, but I knew there was a single track trail coming up. I was hoping it would be a fast one. I was getting hungry and was trying to eat, but didn’t want any more of my food. It was getting harder to swallow without water. I almost heaved from eating a Hot Rod.

I tried to find the trail to the single track called Guy Lafleur. There was a rickety plywood bridge across a fast-moving stream. 

Ride it! Nope!!

I hoped it was a fast, flowing singletrack but sadly, that wasn’t the case. It was a lot of short, steep climbs that I had to push my bike up. There were big roots so I couldn’t get any significant motion for much of the trail.

I saw 3 or 4 boreal toads that were cute that shuffled off the trail. One of them I had to take evasive action to avoid so I didn’t crush it. 

Save the toads!

Eventually I came out in the Three Sisters Village and thought the single track was done! But then the track started going back up the mountainside to Highline Trail. Sadness! Again, the hope was that it was fast and flowy. Again, that was not the case. It was similar to Guy Lafleur except instead of roots it was rocks, so very slow going.

After an hour and a half of pushing my bike up steep climbs and riding some of it, there was a really fun downhill section that finished at Quarry Lake. Along the way, a tiny little mouse jumped out in front of me! This little mouse was just sending it around the berms. It really stood out among the lights and the white, dusty trail. I slowed down a bit to watch it go, then it went off into the trees. Keep shredding little mouse!

Those last two stretches of single track were relatively soul crushing when I thought I was almost done. Both locals familiar with the route and finishers thought it was a cruel addition when the town was in sight. Once I got past Quarry Lake onto the road, I was sooo happy the single track was finally over.

The route snaked through town on some of the nice, smooth pathways. Kristin, Evan, and Megan greeted me at 1:43 AM with Evan holding a “Congratulation!” sign he made. I was elated to be done! 



Neil arrived about 15 minutes later and we complained together about the end. Misery loves company! That was a tough one! Kudos to everyone who made it!

Neil and me with feelings of intense relief



So you might be wondering what the verdict is between gears and SS! Well, each has advantages for different types of rides, but I’ll be using SS for my next bikepacking event. Gears were nice for the sustained downhills and technical climbs, but sitting all the time killed my butt. 

I also find the simplicity of SS very relaxing and it makes the ride more fun. I don’t need to think about which gear to be in and wonder if I should go harder or easier. On a SS, it is what the bike is and there is no choice. It leaves more time to enjoy nature, the surroundings, and the riding itself. I’ll use gears on my fatbike and road bike, and put gears on the Unit X for tours and bikepack trips with other people, but when it comes down to riding for myself, SS for the win!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

2022 Winter Everest 2.0: Everesting on Ice!

by Dean Anderson. Photos by Kristin Anderson

Turning wheels with Matt and Jason on the icy slope.

Everesting again? One more time in the winter? Why!?

Everesting is a challenge where the same hill is ridden over and over again until the 8849m elevation of Everest is reached. Walking or sleeping is not allowed.

This was my third Everesting.

The first Everesting was on Signal Mountain in Jasper. In July of 2019, I rode my single speed mountain bike 11 laps up the rocky, muddy, trail for 26 hours to complete my first Everest. The Strava link is below for that ride.

The second Everesting was in January of 2021 on the Jasper SkyTram Hill on Whistler Road in Jasper. This was my first Everesting in winter. I rode this hill 36 times for 31 hours. Good times! The links to the Strava and Blog posts are below.

So back to why. This year I decided on a yearly goal to ride to space. That’s 100km straight up! 100,000m over the course of the year; and all outside – no virtual rides allowed. I live in St. Albert, AB which is in the Canadian prairies so gaining elevation is a challenge. So, what’s a great way to gain elevation? An Everesting!

The previous ones that I did were in Jasper, and I have wanted to do one locally so started looking for some hills to ride in the area. Kristin and I searched and found Wolf Willow Hill in the Edmonton River Valley that was a gravel path about 40m in elevation. We test rode it a week before the event and it looked great! The snow was in good condition and the grade was steady. With the Everesting Calculator it would be 220 laps. February 11th, 2022 would be our day!

I decided to raise money for Edmonton’s Food Bank. People shouldn’t be going hungry. The pandemic and struggling economy have been tough on everyone.  Many in our community need help providing food for themselves and their families. I wanted to encourage everyone to help the Edmonton Food Bank in their mission to provide food and other essentials to those in need. I was blown away by how everyone helped in donating to this cause. I set a goal of raising $1500 and at the time of writing this blog, we raised $2450!! Thanks to everyone for your support!

Donations can continue to be made here until February 28, 2022.

We had chosen the trail and picked the date, then the warm snap hit! Typically in February, the temperatures are below freezing. But for the week before our planned starting date, the temperatures were in the plus 6-9°C range! We have had a lot of snow this year and it was all starting to melt. It melts during the day, and at night it freezes again – the freeze-thaw cycle. This effect creates large sheets of ice where the melted snow can pool.

Needless to say, I was getting concerned about Wolf Willow Hill. I don’t ride that hill on a regular basis so I wasn’t sure of how the ice pooled or flowed on that trail. There are two kinds of ice. One is white, snowy ice. It has some air in it and will break up a little when you ride on it. It’s the good kind of ice. Then there is the solid, clear ice. This ice is harder and does not break up as much. If the downhill section of the trail had a lot of solid, clear ice, I would probably not be able to ride it. It would be too treacherous.

We planned to go the night before the attempt to check out the ice. I was incredibly curious as I working the day away in my office, so I searched the Local Legends in Strava to see if anyone had ridden it recently. I found a guy, Matt, that had. I commented on his post describing my ride and incessant desire to know how much ice was on the trail. I felt a bit odd creeping someone’s account in search of a trail report, but what can I say, I was really curious! Lol! Lo and behold, he replied and gave me a detailed trail report. He heard of my ride and was considering coming out if it was to go ahead. Based on his description, it was about 50-50 for the ice. 50-50 is better than a no-go in my books, so I was encouraged.

Kristin and I went out that night with temperatures about 9°C and rode the hill in the slush. It was forecasted to get a few degrees below freezing that night so I knew all this water and slush would freeze before the attempt. One section at the top was flatter and water was pooling a lot. Other than that, there were only a few other spots where the clear ice would be. The rest looked like it would be the white, snowy ice. We decided to shorten the segment at the top to eliminate the pool of ice. The ride was still a go on the shortened segment! It would take 245 laps now! Now it was time to sleep, prepare and wonder exactly how slippery it was going to be after everything froze overnight.

We prepped and got out to the trail at about 11am. As we were unloading, Evan from CTV Edmonton was there for an interview! I said some words and he strapped his GoPro onto my bike for the first couple of laps. We were encouraged hearing that he was happy to be reporting on something positive. With the pandemic stretching on for much longer than any of us probably thought it would, there is a lot of negative news out there. He was happy to see something fun and encouraging and we were lifted by his enthusiasm.

Evan from CTV Edmonton. (Our son has the same name!)

Kristin was set up on top of the hill and we had everything ready to go, so now the work started - churning out laps. The segment was 370m long one way and 37m of climbing, so an average of a 10% grade. The top of the trail had some clear ice patches but most of the grade was the icy snow. Since Everesting is mental game, I had a strategy. One big challenge of this one was the number of laps. 245 is a daunting number so I decided to break it up into groups of 10. Every group of 10 is a “lap”. That means I only have 24.5 laps to do. That’s manageable, right? My goal was to only stop every group of 10. I followed this for the most part and it worked quite well!

Base camp. My turn around point and Kristin's home for the next 27 hours.

A bit of the clear ice at the top.

Up and down, up and down. Each lap was taking me about 5 minutes and 20 seconds (5:20). There were quite a few dog walkers and walkers from the neighborhood, and everyone was friendly and positive. I knew this would be a factor since the path was in a popular area of town. I made sure to ring my bell and slow down when passing to try to be as considerate as I could. Of course, slowing down was only required going down. Going up, I was only going slightly faster than them as they walked up the hill. “Passing on your left… slowly… still passing… have a good day…”

The one picture I took on the trail. See the lovely white ice!

I banged out the first 20-30 laps pretty smoothly. I was starting to feel the little aches and pains that happen on these rides and I knew they would pass. Right at the start, the first guy I saw was Tom! I know him from the ultra cycling world and he is a legend single speeder. I ride single speed mountain bike too and we have ridden together in the past. He had his cowbell and its ring propelled me up the hill! Thanks, Tom!! This was the start of many generous acts as the day (and night… and day) passed by.

Tom and his cowbell of joy.

We all need more cowbell in our lives. (

About 2pm, Robbi stopped by. He was a chap I spoke to online before the ride. He was stopped at base camp and left me a San Pellegrino! How awesome! Shortly after, Doug from Edmonton’s Food Bank stopped by for a photo and he dropped off a swag bag with some hats and masks! More encouragement! It meant so much to us to have people stopping by.

Robbi's San Pellegrino and Doug's Edmonton’s Food Bank swag.

I kept plugging along with groups of 10 laps passing by. For diet this time, I decide to try sandwiches. Bread-mayo-sliced turkey-mayo-bread…lots of mayo. Those would be my every 2-3 hour snack and I would munch on primarily Clif Bars and various chews along the way. To drink, it would be 2 scoops of Tailwind in the bottle. Each time I would take a bottle, I would tell Kristin what flavour I wanted next. I even had some Dr. Pepper for a periodic treat. With the short laps, it was really easy to stay on top of my calorie intake for the most part. At each turn around at the bottom, I had a few pedal strokes where I would either take a bit of Clif Bar (or something else), or take a swallow of Tailwind. This kept me on track for the 200-300 calorie per hour pace I’m used to. The only time this slipped a bit is when I would forget if I happened to talk to someone at the bottom.

No-freeze cozy for the water bottle. Skillfully knitted by Kristin herself.

Chonking down on a sandwich.

The afternoon passed into evening and darkness fell. Just as the sun was going down, I saw a lone coyote trot out onto the trail in front of me. He walked along the trail for a while and then cut into the trees again. Kristin saw it a bit later at the top of the hill. This prompted her to get the shovel as a self protection device. Smart! Throughout the night, she would hear them yelping in the bushes. We learned from some of the locals that they frequent the area hunting bunny rabbits. Circle of life and all that.

Here in Canada at this time of year, sunset is about 5:30pm and sunrise is about 7:50am. That makes for a long night. Thankfully we had some visitors… on bikes! I stopped for a pizza break and shortly after that, Jeff came rolling by.

My only slice of pizza. And first of a few cups of cider.

Jeff is a guy I met online and we have commented on one another’s posts in the past. It was such a blessing to be able to meet some of these people you know from just the virtual world. He joined me for several laps and we chatted about many things such as biking, life, family, career, and trying to achieve a balance among all of those things.

Thanks for riding with me Jeff!

I kept turning out laps and ate another sandwich.

Sandwiches are the spice of life.

Then about 9pm, Dale, Mike, Gavin, and Daphne came by. I met Mike and Dale through the 24 hour solo mountain bike world. We were pit neighbors a few years ago in Canmore. They brought chicken soup and many encouraging words. They walked down the path and cheered as I rode by. It was so great to see them and get that encouragement.

Thanks for coming Dale, Mike, and family!!

Just as Dale, Mike, and their crew were leaving, Matt rolled up. He was the guy I contacted out of the blue on his Strava post. It was so nice that he was able to make it out! We rode a few laps together and then Kevin joined the group too. His beard is magnificent. Three guys going up and down the hill chatting about many different subjects. It was fantastic! I appreciated it so much that these guys (and everyone else) took the time out of their schedule to ride with me on this bonkers adventure! After Matt left, Kevin did a loop around the trails in the area and then came back for a few more laps. Thanks, Kevin, for dropping off the cookies!

Thanks for riding with me, Matt and Kevin!

After Kevin left at about 12:30am, I knew the real work would begin. These are the times it can be tough to stay awake, especially if the trail is easy to ride (which it was) and I start getting tired (which I was). In the dark, I tend to stare at the dot of light in front of me and get relaxed. As I get more relaxed, I feel like I am going to nod off. I must say, the number of laps was daunting, but it was really nice to be able to see Kristin every 5-6 minutes compared to the longer laps I have done in the past. At least with these shorter laps it gives me more opportunity to talk to Kristin and snap out of the drowsy state I was in. We purposefully delayed caffeine intake until about 11pm to hopefully improve its effectiveness. It probably sort of worked, but I didn’t notice that much.

My bundled savior at base camp.

More laps, more up and down. When I started, the trail had a hard, icy surface, so I was running my tires at 5psi to engage all of the studs. But after going up and down the trail 140 times, I was breaking up that hard surface into smaller grains of ice. That means more traction! I decided to pump my tires up to 7psi to improve rolling resistance. It was nice. It saved me about 30 seconds a lap!

Pump it up! (said with Arnold Schwarzenegger accent)

Between 3 and 5 am, the sleepiness was hitting me hard. Every 2 laps, I would have to stop to try to wake up enough to do two more. I took a lot of breaks, but they were necessary. I had some vinegar in case I started cramping, but this time I took a shot to try to wake me up a bit. It actually worked! For a little while at least.

Bottoms up!

Then about 7am, my saviors came! Dale and Mike were back with their bikes! Chatting with them helped so much in getting out of that sleepy state. The sun rose and we turned out some efficient laps. Riding with those guys brought down my lap time too. In the night, I was slowing down to about 6 minutes a lap, but with them, I sped up to 5:10 to 5:30!

Mike and Dale saving my bacon! See the path worn into the ice?

The Saturday morning light came upon us, and the dog walkers and runners emerged. The trail started to get busier and people started asking questions. The sign at the top helped a lot and we even got some donations from people casually walking by. It was such a positive response! We chatted a lot with a group of trail runners who were doing hill repeats on the same hill. They had many encouraging words that helped so much!

Lap 200 chocolate milk. Note the vacant red eyes.

Dale and Mike stuck around until about 10 am and it helped so much! Their conversation, encouragement, and willingness to ride for 3 hours up and down the same hill to support me and Kristin meant so much! Thanks Dale and Mike!  We met many people on the trail who stopped by and encouraged us including Brenda. Her enthusiasm was infectious! So many people seemed to be getting into it! Nicole, who is someone I know from online, decided to do her running workout on the same hill to give support. She was running the hill but keeping pace. So fast!!

Mike, Me, Dale. (photo credit: Brenda Shaughnessy;

After Dale and Mike left, I thought I would slow down to my 6-minute laps again. I had about 40 laps to go, so about 4 more hours of riding. I’m not sure what got into me, but I started turning out the fastest laps I had ridden yet, including a 4:42 and several more sub 5-minute laps! It was pretty awesome and I was feeling great. Obviously tired, but the aches and pains disappeared and I was cranking hard! Hmmm, now that I think about it, this was shortly after I took my first and only ibuprofen. Maybe that had something to do with how good I felt. If that’s the case, I’ll take it!

Then Matt from last night and his friend Jason showed up for a couple of laps. It was great to see him again… and actually see him because last night it was too dark to really see his face. And it was nice to meet Jason too. They rode with me for a bit, wished me well, then I was on my own riding to the end.

I kept waiting to slow down and I did, but not by much. I think I just wanted it to be done. Dave from CTV Edmonton was there to take some follow up photos and video. It was so great to see their interest in how the ride was going! My work colleague, Adam, and his family stopped by too. So much encouragement from everyone!

Adam and family.

230, 240, 245… We got closer to the end. Based on the math, I should have been able to stop at 245 but the elevation on my Garmin was showing a lower number than I expected. There was no way I was going to stop until that number read 9000m or more! There must be no chance of being short! I kept cranking along and before I knew it, I was done at 253 laps. My children, Mia and Evan, and my mom came for the finish and the kids made posters too! It was so awesome to have everyone there!

This Everesting had such a sense of community to it with the riders that joined to those who walked and those who stopped by. There were runners, dog walkers, walkers, and people that lived in the neighborhood. Everyone seemed to get into the event and were supportive about what was happening, and many donated too! What a blessing! Thank you so very much!!

253 laps!


Mia and Evan with their posters with my mom in the back. So great!!

My lovely wife Kristin! This could not have happened without her!


Winter Everesting 2.0 Support Crew Edition 

by Kristin Anderson

“I’m going to do another winter Everesting,” Dean announced. What?? Last year’s winter attempt I was supposed to crew from the luxury and warmth of our Jasper hotel, the main reason I agreed to it. Plans changed and I wound up having to support him from our vehicle. That was adapting out of necessity. Did I want to do it again outside voluntarily? No, I didn’t.  

But I learned a lot from that experience. When you’re sitting in the cold for 35 hours, you come up with wish lists of what could make things better pretty fast. I could see my begrudging state was affecting Dean’s enthusiasm and jeopardizing the attempt as a whole. What was my hang-up? Access to washrooms at gas stations were only a 5 to 8 minute drive away compared to 12 in Jasper. I had the advantage of preparing in advance. Riding the Global Fat Viking event a few weeks ago confirmed I could handle being out in the snow for hours, and I had all the warm clothing I needed. I could do this. It wasn’t about me. It was about Dean raising funds for Edmonton’s Food Bank and I had the ability to help. I indulged in purchases from the wish list and set some terms. His next attempt, should there be one, had to be in warmer weather.

ROCKSOLAR Weekender 80W Power Station. No more dying phone!

We arrived at the trailhead where Evan, a friendly photojournalist from CTV News, was waiting. He interviewed Dean while I set up the pit stop further along the way. I had worked on a poster describing our event until 3am that morning, since I never sleep well before big events anyway. I fought the chilly wind as it tried to blow my sign away. I taped it to the table and we were set.

Dean & Evan from CTV News

Prior to our arrival, we shoveled sand from our neighborhood community box into a couple of empty ice melt jugs for the icy sections of trail. I took some video of Dean taking off for his first lap, then sanded the pit stop area and any shiny ice spots leading to the descent. Between tending to Dean’s pitstops and documenting the event, I chatted with visitors who came to support him, including our bikepacking friend and cowbell ringer, Tom, and with curious passersby.

There were many walkers and dog walkers, some kindly donating trailside. A lot of the dogs came up to me as I sat in my lawn chair. Since I’m allergic, I didn’t pet them, but I always said hello. I later saw a dog in my periphery about 5 meters away, so I turned and said hello. It stopped to look at me. It looked like a giant mutant red fox. I don’t know much about dogs, but I realized it was wild and said, “Whoa!” to it out loud. Then it ran into the woods. It was confirmed by a woman pulling her dog away and telling it to stop going after the coyote.

It got dark early, and it was very heartwarming the first time I saw two sets of headlights summit. Dean arrived with another rider, Jeff. For both of us, interacting with so many people made this a very joyful, lively event. The first Everest in Jasper in 2019, I was isolated in our vehicle, so I rarely spoke to people apart from interacting with those following online. A local, Chris, came to meet and congratulate Dean at the finish. His visit was a really uplifting way to end the trip.

2019 Everesting Finish with Dean & Chris

Last year’s winter Everest in Jasper, we were cautious about COVID protocols because of provincial government restrictions. I spoke with Chris whenever he’d come by to check on Dean’s progress.

2021 Everesting with socially distanced Chris and Dean

Other locals came to cheer for him from their vehicles. We’d chat from inside our respective vehicles with our windows rolled down while we waited for Dean to summit. Our bikepacking friend from home, Tim, and his son were in town and drove up to cheer for Dean too. Closer to the end, locals came to ride with him, including reporter, Bob, and a hardcore guy on skinny, studless tires. Chris and Bob came back to welcome Dean at the finish. The Jasper community was amazing.

2021 Everesting with Dean, Bob, and hardcore guy with skinny, studless tires

2021 Finish with Chris, Bob and Dean

Flash-forward to 2022. After Jeff’s arrival by bike, our friends Mike and Dale came by along with Mike’s kids. Dale dropped off a thermos of hot chicken noodle soup and chocolate for us. I was so touched! Dean was later joined by Matt and Kevin. Kevin dropped off cookies made by his lovely wife. Again, touched, just melting at our visitors’ thoughtfulness and generosity.

Our visitors eventually went home. The moon was so brilliant, and the night was crisp and still. My pizza was starting to freeze and that particular texture isn't very good. I stuffed a couple of slices in a Ziplock and put them in my pants pocket. The next time I ate, the slice was more room temperature. Not great, but tolerable. The trick to fueling this Everesting was keeping everything from freezing, so food, drinks, everything was insulated.

When the moon hits your eye like a big(?)...

First we heat the water, then we insulate the things

I was spooked when coyotes howled nearby, way too close for comfort. I thought about how they could come after the food, so I’d haul it with me whenever I had to make a trip to the vehicle for water, which was often. The nice thing about this Everesting attempt was Dean’s arrival about every six minutes, so I never felt alone. On his next pit stop I told him my idea to get the bike pump so I could defend myself if coyotes came by. He said, “No, get the shovel.” He took off down the hill while I went to get my sleeping bag and shovel. The sleeping bag was rolled up lengthwise like a rug, and I tossed it over my left shoulder while I grabbed the shovel with my right hand. I wondered if the neighbors would call the cops on me thinking I was burying a body in the woods.

Basking in the warmth of the moonlight with a shovel at the ready
Photo by Dean

We were blessed with good weather, although the wind gusts were cold. It was the wee hours of the morning where Dean was really struggling to stay awake. We were trying to come up with ways to keep him distracted. I hadn’t seen the Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge yet so I figured I would walk down the hill swinging a lantern to break up the darkness that lulls him into a stupor. I took some *video of him riding up the hill with the massive moon above.

Talking to the moon

I continued downhill. The bridge looked beautiful in the distance and I made my way towards it. I finished up taking pictures thinking how nice and peaceful it was there when an emergency phone caught my eye. Oh... Yikes! I started to head back uphill with purpose. I saw Dean’s taillight disappear up and around the bend, so I figured I’d wait for his return to get footage of him at the lower turnaround point. It was taking a while for him to return, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the purpose of that emergency phone. I heard the snow crunch in the trees behind me, so I ran up the hill. I’ve been training to do Jasper's Skyline Trail in a day, so I ran non-stop.

Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge. Blue emergency phone by right lamp

I found Dean still spaced out at the pit stop. I made him coffee, got him a banana, and poured him a vinegar shot. The tartness seemed to startle him awake. I read him comments on social media and updated him with donation totals to keep him engaged. I was feeling the fatigue too. I wrapped the sleeping bag around myself and settled into the lawn chair. I was comfortable with my two down coats up until the humidity rose, then nothing was protecting me from the chill. I was in a mild panic until I remembered the excess of chemical toe warmers I’d purchased, one of my wish list items. I sandwiched my toes, stuffed some in my pants pockets, coat pockets, and gloves, then all was right with the world again.

The next time Dean came by, I told him to wake me up if he needed anything. I must have slept for 10 minutes when I heard footsteps on the ice nearby. It was around six in the morning and still dark out when I saw a headlamp coming around the corner. The woman then turned around and walked back in the deep snowbank beside the trail. I think she was a runner deterred by either the ice or me, the sketchy transient bundled up in a sleeping bag by the trail. I was too tired to feel bad. I would’ve done the same.

The sun was finally coming up. Mike and Dale returned around 7am with bikes in tow. Dale brought me a bagel and a hot chocolate so massive that my arm shook as I brought it up to drink. It was so nice yet so strange. It was like I drew an UNO reverse card. The support crew was being supported. They helped Dean out of the sleepy state and made me laugh at the pit. I was incredibly thankful for their presence.

Hot Chocolatus Giganticus

I took some pictures and video of them with some beautiful dawn light followed by a blazing sunrise. Knowing that Dean was in good hands, I left him with a spare bottle of Tailwind. I walked towards the vehicle to make a food run and pit stop of my own. At the trailhead I met a couple of runners who had arrived specifically to cheer Dean on. Once I got in the vehicle, I heard the ladies cheering Dean’s arrival. I laughed to myself and took off.

Sleep monster slayers

After I returned, I noticed Dean’s lap times were much faster with the guys. Runners began to arrive. At first it was a couple at a time, then a massive clacking of ice echoed up the trail. A big group of trail runners arrived for their Saturday morning run. Hill repeats on ice. Impressive! A couple of trail runners stopped by at different times. Melissa, a friend of Matt’s, and Nicole from Facebook each came to cheer for Dean. One a triathlete, and the other an ultrarunner who’ve crewed for other athletes themselves, they were a great encouragement to me. They knew the amount of work involved and acknowledged the extra challenges of doing it outside in winter. I felt seen.

The running activity died down with the occasional walkers remarking how Dean was the guy they saw on the news. We expected his lap times to increase after Mike and Dale left, but he stayed at a speedy five minutes. Matt came back with his friend Jason to ride a couple of laps. The end was arriving fast. One of our engineers, Adam, arrived with his family to cheer Dean on and later, Dean’s mom arrived with our kids to greet him at the finish. He finished so strong, and I couldn’t have been prouder. We met so many wonderful people and surpassed our fundraising goal. 27 hours and 42 minutes well spent.

*Videos of the Everesting can be viewed on Instagram and at Dean on Wheels on Facebook.