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What It Feels Like to Ride Your Bike for 27 Hours Straight

What It Feels Like to Ride Your Bike for 27 Hours Straight

Tahoe bike shop employee Harrison Biehl rode his mountain bike the equivalent amount of vertical feet as it would take to climb the world’s highest peak, 29,032-foot Mount Everest. And he did it all to raise money for a new trail.

In the end, it took Harrison Biehl 22 hours, 51 minutes, and 33 seconds of moving time to pedal his mountain bike up Mount Everest. Well, he didn’t exactly ride up Mount Everest. But he rode a trail on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore a whole bunch of times, covering 165 miles and totaling the amount of vertical feet—29,042, to be exact—that it would have taken him to ride up Everest. His efforts are documented in this new film by First Tracks Productions.

Biehl, who’s 27 and works at Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City, California, got into mountain biking at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. He got his first bike and started riding a lot. “The whole endurance thing for me started when I got a mountain bike two years ago,” he says.

Last fall, a friend of his planned what’s called an Everest ride to promote his new business. While on yet another long bike ride, Biehl got to thinking: Maybe I should do something like that? “Usually when I go for a big bike ride, I get ideas, I think more clearly,” he says. “I was like, this could be bigger than just a big bike ride for myself.”

He decided to make his own Everest ride a fundraiser for Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) to support the growth and development of a new trail along Lake Tahoe’s West Shore, in a grand master plan to connect the south shore to the north shore via bike-friendly trails. “The West Shore is so untapped. It’s absolutely gorgeous over there,” he says. “It’s the ideal location for adventures.”

His goal was to raise $29,032, a dollar for every vertical foot pedaled. He’s currently raised $21,500 and counting.

Donating to TAMBA was Biehl’s way of giving back to the trail-building community that he benefits so much from. “Did you know that just 3 percent of trail users are out there helping to build trails?” he says. “So, how do these trails appear and how are they so rad? It’s because there’s this core group of people out there working on the trails. I wanted to give back in a way that I could.”

Biehl chose to ride the five-mile climb up Tahoe’s Stanford Rock trail, which rises 1,700 feet of vertical, around 15 times, starting at midnight in late June. “A lot of people who do Everest rides go up and down a fire road or do short laps,” Biehl says. “But I wanted to ride a trail that I’d normally ride for fun. I knew I wasn’t setting out to beat any time records. I just wanted to get it done and to make it bigger than myself and more about the community.”

Biehl felt good throughout most of the day—eating what he could at an aid station at the bottom between each lap, then quickly setting off for another climb. By 5 p.m., he had pedaled 19,000 feet—and he still had another 10,000 feet to go. That’s when the doubt crept in. “There was a shift. I started doubting myself. I started thinking, here I am 17 hours into this bike ride and I still have a whole day’s worth of a bike ride ahead of me,” Biehl recalls. “I was questioning whether or not I could do it.”

He decided to switch to shorter hot laps, as he called them, riding up and down a thousand vertical feet instead of the full distance to the summit. That gave him quicker access to the aid station at the bottom and made each climb under an hour.

At 3:15 in the morning, 27 hours after he’d started, he climbed the equivalent of a Mount Everest and finished his ride. “At the bottom, my dad, my girlfriend, some friends—they were all still there, in the middle of the night, in the cold,” he says. “I was just blown away. Every lap, I was like, ‘Are you guys going to stay here until the bitter end?’

Afterwards? Straight home for a hot shower and some much-needed sleep. “Just like everything in life, ​​when you fixate on something that hasn’t happened yet, you’re waiting for it, you focus on that,” Biehl says. “When you finally get to that point you’ve been thinking about it, it’s awesome. But now, it’s like: What’s next?”

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