JOSEPH PESSANO’s JOURNEY / AN EVERESTING AUTOPSY

… and a testimonial!

I have been coaching Joe for just 8 weeks, after he asked for help in preparing for an Everesting out near Redwood City, California. Eight weeks is not a great deal of time and yet it is, if you can really connect with the athlete and be sure that you create the optimal plan for them – on their side, consistency is the key, plus motivation.

Luckily for me Joe has motivation to burn – and a bucket load of enthusiasm to go with it – and was just about the most consistent rider I’ve worked with. We had zero glitches in the 8 weeks, everything went perfectly, and yet…

Well, I’ll let Joe tell you 😉


Joseph Pessano / Everesting Report & Testimonial

When I decided to undertake this challenge of Everesting, I knew I needed to hire a coach, and more importantly that the coach I hire will tell me honestly if they believe I can do this challenge. After chatting with Lee, and having us both on the same page, we started this journey together. We had two months to get me ready for arguably the hardest physical challenge I have ever attempted.

In those two months, my endurance increased, my speed increased, and my overall confidence on the road bike increased, I was riding strong. In fact, I am without a doubt in the best shape of my life and I just turned 51. Initially, I was only going to hire a cycling coach for this Everesting challenge, but after the results I gained, I decided to stay with Lee because I know that I will get stronger and I know with Lee’s guidance, I will only get better on the bike.

His knowledge and flexible training philosophy fit perfectly into my life and I’m grateful to have found Lee when I did.

Thank you coach!

Ride Report

The plan was simple, start @ 8pm, ride through the night, when the sun pops up I’ll be rejuvenated by the morning rays, then my friends will come do some laps with me and I’ll finish with a massive dopamine rush.

How does the saying go, “best laid plans”?

I was meticulous with my planning, I had everything dialed in, my checklist was detailed, my food was real and not overly processed, I hired a coach and worked my ass off, and yet, things still managed to fall apart.

The weather was beyond perfect, mid to low 50’s with an expected high of 65 around 1 pm. It was pitch black out and the only illumination I had was from the single light projecting onto the road from my handlebar mounted LED.

My warm up went great, started off nice and steady getting into a light groove, being super light on the pedals. After about 9 laps, my pace naturally seemed to pick up and I was feeling absolutely spectacular. And then it happened.

Over the years and in the last 6 months especially, I have had a battle with, “hot foot”. If you’re not familiar, “hot foot” happens when a nerve in the metatarsals becomes impinged. There are different levels of sensation one can experience, a light tingly sensation all the way up to, the feeling like someone is hammering a hot spike into the bottom of your foot. I would love to tell you that I get the slight tingle, but I don’t, I get the hot spike and once it sets in, it is almost impossible to get rid of it on a ride. Stretching helps, and at first I was able to stretch every 90 minutes, then the time between stretching sessions dropped significantly to approximately 45 minutes, then 30 minutes. This didn’t sway me, it was a bummer, but I was determined.

Then, what seemed like it started from out of nowhere, I started suffering massive GI distress, I thought I was going to throw up, so I slowed my pace down a lot. If you look at my speed metrics you can see exactly when it happens. So I slowed down.

The downside of this was not being able to eat, ok, I ate 2 pieces of a honey stinger chew and even that insignificant amount of food was enough to keep my stomach turning. Every sip from my bottle containing my electrolyte blend seemed like it was certainly going to come back up the way it came, even water bothered me, just not as much as the electrolyte blend. But I was determined.

I had two lights for this adventure, I made sure they were fully charged and ready to go. The first light was working great, and I new that if I wanted it to last most of the night I needed to utilize the lowest setting, so that’s what I did. The challenge, because it was legitimately pitch black, was my descending speed and confidence was nonexistent. So I came up with a game plan, lowest setting on the way up, brightest setting on the way down. With that simple adjustment, my confidence skyrocketed and I was no longer being a snail on the descent. And then it happened.

I don’t remember the lap number, but as I was descending, all on its own, it went from the bright setting to the dimmest setting. This unnerved me because I know that these Bontrager lights have the tendency to simply shut off once the battery is at a certain level. So I proceeded to grab my other light from the car, strap it on, and continue the ride using the lowest light setting. This, as I’m sure you guessed, had a massive impact on my descending.

My stomach churning, my foot being nailed to the stake and my lights having technical issues wasn’t enough to stop my progress. I was determined.

I was worried that this might happen, so I came prepared by bringing a charging cable and figured I would charge one light while riding with the other light. I brought the wrong cable. So I wasn’t able to charge my first light.

And then, as I was starting my 32nd lap, my second light simply turned off, no warning, no dimming, it just shut off and now I’m standing in the middle of the road in complete darkness. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face.

Check out the video I included so that you can witness just how dark it was.

Thankfully, my first light still had a breath of illumination and I’m happy I made the decision to carry it in my back jersey pocket. So I slapped it on and gingerly made my way back to the truck.

No light, nausea and deep throbbing foot pain, I had a plan. I was determined.

My plan was this, get some sleep and wait for the sun to rise. Yes!!! This is it! It will give my stomach some time to settle down and allow my foot to chill. The challenge now becomes the time limit. To have a successful Everest challenge, you can take a 2 hour break if needed, but if you aren’t riding after 2 hours, your attempt is null and void.

Alarm now set, surely the sun will start warming up the sky, I’ll be able to see and this wild adventure will continue.

The alarm goes off, zero sunlight. In fact, it almost seems darker, if that is even possible.

I’m out of time.

My legs, not an issue.

My cardio, not an issue.

Everything else, ugh.

So I decided to call it a day, With some sadness and disappointment, I sent out the message to my friends who were going to come out to support me by riding a few laps, and I informed them that I was done for the day.

With my truck packed and the sun still asleep, I started my journey home with a head filled with frustration and sorrow.

I called my wife and she lifted my spirits in her magical ways and I started feeling better.

Then my amazing fried, Raziel Ungar, called and continued to assure me that I had nothing to feel bad about.

And then my amazing friend, Philip Levi, called and bestowed some well timed pearls of wisdom.

After these three conversations, my heart and head were much lighter and I no longer felt like I needed to put my face in the pillow on sob like a baby. And for your information, not a tear has been spilt.

Would I undertake this again: maybe. [ This has become a ‘yes’! ]

Will my strategy and game plan be different if I did this again? Yes.

Starting @ 8 pm sounded great and looked great on paper, it just may not have been the best plan.

Eating every two laps was a disaster. I truly believe eating every three laps, like I did in training, would have been far more ideal.

Double checking my charging cables and throwing out my Bontrager light, because seriously, who designs a light that simply shuts off instead of dimming as the power diminishes.

I believe I made a good choice on my climb. It had a couple moments that were challenging, but for the most part, it’s grade seemed ideal for me.

2 months ago I did the Death Ride and it took me almost 12 hours elapsed time.

3 weeks ago I did a half Everesting, more climbing than the Death Ride with less mileage, and it took me over 9 hours elapsed time.

Today I basically did the same ride as I did 3 weeks ago and it took me 8 hours and some change.

Am I stronger, absolutely.

Am I in the best shape of my life, without a doubt, and I just turned 51 three days ago.

Challenge yourself, that’s when you find out what your made of.

If you stumble and fall, pick yourself up, it’s not the end of the world.

Mistakes + correction = learning

I’m hear to learn, how about you?

I love you all.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

2 thoughts

  1. Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out this time Joe. Maybe grab yourself an Exposure light. You’ll know exactly where your power is at and you’ll never look back. I’ve lived through the ‘descending and lights turn off saga’….not good. Hope to read about your success soon enough!

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