The 500,000ft challenge

Well. I suppose it’s time to share this year’s challenge. Not that every year needs a challenge. But I like the idea of having something to get me out of the house when it’s either cold, hot, windy, raining, snowing, or really any situation where the couch and my pjs just seem WAY more inviting.

Paul and I talked about our goals for the year, which included some biking (more on that in a moment), hiking (we’d like to do some 13ers and 14ers), skiing, and rock climbing (indoors and out). But how to make a challenge that involves all of that (and not do The Picnic all over again)?

We mused about it over coffee one Sunday morning – tossing out ideas, mulling them over, and subsequently scraping them. Finally, Paul threw out something particular interesting: 1 million feet of human-powered elevation gain.


We did some math, and quickly realized that meant roughly 20,000ft of elevation gain a week. Doable? We looked back at our previous year, which included our Picnic training in the first half. Paul had done just over 300,000ft, and I was just shy of that. And we had spent the whole first half of the year doing a LOT of biking and backcountry skiing, The idea of tripling that tipped from ‘wicked awesome’ to ‘really terrible’ real quick.

After throwing out a bunch of numbers, we settled on a goal of 500,000 vertical feet (or, for a fun stretch goal, 580,580ft which equals 20 Everests). That’s roughly 10,000ft a week. Which is still a lot. But we can get to it by hiking or biking (highest on our list), rock climbing (maybe this is the year we do multi pitch?!), and backcountry skiing. Unfortunately for us, we bought a resort ski pass to get used to this CO snow, and none of that skiing will count. But, like with the Picnic, the goal is meant to be stretchy but not take over our lives. We’ll still ski. Indoor stair stepper or treadmill climbing is also acceptable training, if needed. Ideally less than 10% of the elevation comes from that.

RELATED! Goal number two is to complete the Double Triple Bypass. This is a ride put on by Evergreen Cycling, and they probably explain it best, so straight from the site:




Back for 2020, we are offering the full Double Triple over two days.  Saturday – head west to Avon, Sunday – turn around and ride back to Evergreen.  Sunday Fondo timing is included for all Double riders.  Who needs a car to get you back to get you back to the start when you have a will to conquer it all?  Includes exclusive Double Triple wind vest and the astonishment of your peers.

Uhuh. Sounds fun, eh? Here’s what that looks like for Saturday (click to enlarge):

And Sunday (click to enlarge):

Yeah. That’s nearly 22,000ft of elevation gain and 236mi in two days. ??

We COULD have just done the Triple Bypass. That’s the Saturday ride that’s most popular. But when we talked about it, we sort of figured that if all things went roughly as planned, we knew we could likely pull off that ride. It might feel painful, and we might be slow, but we likely had it in us.

But to repeat it the next day… Neither of us has climbed 10,000ft in one day on our bikes (though we’ve come extremely close). I’ve ridden 123mi in a day, and Cycle Oregon gave me 463mi and 31,200 feet over a week. Paul’s logged about 105mi in day. But we certainly haven’t done two big rides like this back-to-back.

And it’s all AT ELEVATION. Between 7,500ft – 12,500ft. ?

So, that will happen in early July. For me, it will be right after putting on the final (10th) World Domination Summit in Portland, OR, which will be a sort of rest week off the bike (but exhausting in many other ways). I will really have to try and not get sick.

So, there are 2020 adventure goals in a nutshell. Go up. A lot. Bike a bunch. See great views. Play in the mountains. Explore. Push. Go.

Oh, and as for an update, here’s where I’m at 15 days into this thing:

I’ll be celebrating each 100,000K milestone, but for now I’m celebrating breaking 20K. It’s a start.

Author: cartwheelsandcake

Cyclist, climber, hiker, trail runner, back country skier, dabbling mountaineer Lover of cake, chocolate, brownies, and sweets. Excellent napper.

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