The Everest Challenge -

A recap of the day by Chris van der Spek

Unsurprisingly, the most common question I have been asked after the Everest Challenge has been 'So how was that ride you did?' I think the answer many were expecting was something along the lines of 'oh it was hell', 'I almost died', 'So glad it’s over', 'I'm never doing something like that again'.

The Everest Challenge -

But honestly, my experience was the opposite. While there were a few moments over the course of the day where I questioned my sanity, it was the most fun I've had on a bike in a long long time. While part of this may have been down to chance (e.g. the weather could not have been more perfect), there were a number of intentional things that helped the day be such a roaring success. 

1. Purpose: I have never done something remotely as bonkers as an Everesting attempt before. But I knew that if I wanted to tackle something way outside my comfort zone I would need the right motivation. As it would happen, supporting the amazing cause that is First Steps Pregnancy Support was the perfect fit. Feeling part of something larger and helping to raise awareness and funds for a truly meaningful purpose made it easy to put in the hard work to be prepared for the event. Thank you especially to Sarah Jensen and the team for helping to make this idea become a reality!

Chris with FSPS Directors, Sarah and Laura

2. Preparation: I wouldn’t say I am your typical planner, but for this challenge, I knew I would need to be structured, organised and prepared. Every time I ticked off an item on my to do list, I felt that little bit more confident that this might actually be possible. Having a well-structured training plan in the lead-up to the event, a detailed nutrition plan for the day and having a well-maintained bike were all little things that make complete sense, but were in most cases unfamiliar to me in my approach to cycling. The end result was that despite the nerves on the day, I was the most physically and mentally prepared I've ever been.

3. People: Without my family and friends, the preparation and event would not have been possible. Firstly, my wife was incredibly supportive and understanding during the months of training and not once made me feel guilty for going out on the bike at all hours. Secondly, the people that showed up on the day - especially those cycling mates of mine that came out for a few reps - made the event something truly special. Despite it being an individual challenge, I never felt alone or unsupported. This was especially true during the last hour of the ride where my cousin Bart and brother Brendan were riding with me through the darkness, pumping gloriously terrible disco music to help get us across the line. And finally, to our community that so generously donated to First Steps, I am in awe. We set the goal of $1 for every metre climbed because it felt impossible and kind of catchy. I initially wondered whether this goal of $8849 was too ambitious, but ultimately was blown away by your incredible generosity, reaching a massive $11,215.00!! Thank you so much for your support!

While I am by no means an expert in pregnancy support, I do believe that the things that enabled me to push my limits are nicely aligned with the work of First Steps in our community.

  • Purpose: Helping vulnerable mothers believe in themselves. Find themselves. Find their purpose in the midst of impossible situations.
  • Preparation: Supporting vulnerable mothers through the anxious and uncomfortable uncertainty that can be pregnancy.
  • People: Surrounding vulnerable mothers with the right professionals and care to give them the best possible start with their child.

See Chris in the Everesting Hall of Fame here.

Given the success of the inaugural Everest Challenge for First Steps Pregnancy Support, watch this space - we are hoping to go bigger and better in 2023!