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Irishman cycles the height of Mount Everest to set a new world record

Donegal’s Ronan McLaughlin took only seven hours and four minutes to complete a distance of 8,848 metres.

Ronan McLaughlin broke the world Everesting record yesterday.
Ronan McLaughlin broke the world Everesting record yesterday.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

IRELAND HAS A new world record holder. Ronan McLaughlin is his name, Everesting is his game.

To cut to the chase, Everesting, by definition, is a contest to see which cyclist can climb the height of Mount Everest in the quickest time. As a result, McLaughlin – from Muff in Co Donegal – rode 80 laps up Mamore Gap in his home county on Thursday afternoon, completing 8,848 metres, Everest’s height, in a time of seven hours and four minutes.

In doing so, he took the world record away from Alberto Contador, the two-times Tour de France winner. The Spaniard had set his record earlier this month.

imago-20170909 Contador (pictured) held the record for less than a month. Source: Imago/PA Images

Shortly after doing so, McLaughlin too had his first go at Everesting, again at Mamore Gap, only on that occasion it took him eight hours and nine minutes to do so, the fifth fastest time recorded. Then came yesterday, when McLaughlin adjusted his tactics, deciding to ride a shorter but decidedly steeper section of Mamore.

This meant two things: first, that he’d have to ride 80 rather than 64 laps; secondly that it would be physically tougher . 

But the strategy worked.

“To do the challenge twice in such quick succession helps as it did not give me much time to dwell on how hard it would be,” McLaughlin said earlier today in an interview with Highland Radio.

“It is incredible that someone from the north-west of Ireland has taken this cycling global superstar’s world record.

“I decided to shorten the segment I was going to use because I kind of thought, look you have to throw caution to the wind. By shortening the segments, it made it more difficult in terms of me having less recovery time. But I’m glad to have done it.”

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To aid his cause, he reduced the weight on his bike by getting rid of 19 gears and also hacksawing off the lower handlebars. “When you are going that distance, getting a kilo and a half off the bike from its normal weight is a big help,” he said.

So too were his tactics. “I had a pacing strategy laid out beforehand – and my times were consistent all the way through.

“You are taking the opportunity on the descent to get a drink in. It felt like four seconds rather than 40 seconds. You were straight back into the hard graft.

“It was a real mental battle. I must have downloaded every weather app there is. Every forecast told me that from 1pm onwards it was going to be the best weather for Everesting you could possibly hope for.

“I decided at 2.15 to get on with it. It turned out that after an hour-and-a-half, the rain stopped and the weather was perfect.

“Any time negative thoughts came into my head, I remember thinking ‘what good is worrying going to do?’

“I just kept at it and am delighted to have broken the record.”

McLaughlin currently races as an amateur  in Ireland, having previously ridden for the An Post-Sean Kelly team from 2008 to 2013. The purpose behind his Everesting attempts is to raise money for the Community Rescue Service, a charitable search and rescue organisation operated by volunteers.

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