Sometime next week, local rider Adam Billinghurst's GPS tally will top one million vertical feet — a goal he set for himself at the start of the season with the objective of doing it as quickly as possible.
Since opening day on May 17 he's ridden every single day except for one and as of Tuesday afternoon he had logged over 860,000 vertical feet. By the time Pique reaches newsstands today (July 11) he will easily be over 900,000 vertical feet and into the final stretch.
To put that into perspective, a run down the Whistler Mountain Bike Park from the top of the Fitzsimmons Express is about 1,157 feet. You'd need to make 864 laps of the lower park to hit a million feet.
As of Tuesday, the 54th day for the park, Billinghurst had been averaging over 15,000 vertical feet per day. That's the equivalent of 13 laps of the lower park, although he's also been riding the Garbanzo Zone since it opened, with runs to the bottom weighing in at 3,400 feet.
Billinghurst said he's had the idea in his head for years, and this year decided to go for it. "I've wanted to do this for probably 10 years now, and it stems from me testing products from SRAM and RockShox for about that long," he said. "I thought a million vertical feet is a good amount of riding to put on a product I'm testing."
His bike, a Trek Session 9.9, is handling the abuse fairly well, as are all the components he's testing. That's not to say he hasn't had to make a few trips to the mechanic. "It's the roughest bike park in the world and stuff is going to break, but everything is going better than I thought it would," he said. He is, however, on his seventh set of tires.
The poor weather through the month of June made it harder for Billinghurst. Although he's not against riding in the rain, there were a few tough days.
"I can't complain too much because I get to ride my bike every day, but after four days of riding soaking wet and then having to put on my already wet rain suit to go and sit on the Garbanzo chair by yourself, it can be tough sometimes."
Physically, Billinghurst says his hands usually hurt in the morning and at night when he gets home, but otherwise he's been able to stay in pretty good shape just by drinking lots of water and stretching after his marathon bike park sections.
All one million feet of the challenge is being recorded by Anthill Films, as well as a promotion for Sony's helmet-mounted Action Cam. Billinghurst said that some of the footage will be spliced together and released at the end of the summer.
Billinghurst will take one additional day off riding to celebrate his birthday this week, but expects to hit one million feet sometime next week.
He may have a few big days ahead of him as well. So far his biggest day is 33,000 feet, which he says is the equivalent of riding down Mount Everest, and then adding another Garbanzo lap. He's curious to see if he can top that.
"I don't know why I feel the need to set mini goals within the main goal, but I really want to see if I can do 40,000 in a day. You want to see how far you can push it."
After that, Billinghurst said he'll likely keep riding as usual but will stop tracking.
"I'm not going to quit riding the bike park or anything, but a million was my goal, and my goal was to do it as fast as I could," he said.
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