Chew better believe it! Grotton man ‘cycles’ up Everest

KEEN cyclist Des Thorpe has completed a two-wheeled ascent of the world’s tallest mountain – all without leaving Saddleworth.

In 21 hours, Des, a retired businessman from Grotton, successfully completed his gruelling challenge of riding the equivalent of 8,848 metres (29,032 feet) to the summit of Mount Everest.

To do so the 56-year-old dad of three pedalled 36 times from the footbridge at Dovestone Reservoir up Chew Track to Chew Reservoir, which at 1,600 feet is a mere pimple set alongside Everest.

Des on his bike

In the process, his marathon helped Des – also a member of Saddleworth Runners, Oldham Ruffyeds Mountain Biking Club and Saddleworth Clarion – raised nearly £3,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Unsurprisingly, the concept is called Everesting and involves picking a hill, anywhere in the world and riding repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8.848m.

The record currently stands to Irishman Ronan McLaughlin with a time of six hours, forty minutes, and fifty-four seconds.

Simply finishing was the target of Des and his companions, Paul Simpson from Grasscroft and Anthony Stanley from Micklehurst, the latter finishing in 28 hours.

Des (right) with Paul Simpson

“I was saddle store for two days afterwards,” grimaced Des at the reminder of his epic ride on April 30 and May 1.

“And we actually did two more climbs than we needed to. It was calculated through Strava we needed to do it 36.1 times to complete the distance. So, we rode 36 and then did another 200 foot to make sure we had done it.

“But our GPS watches indicated we only needed to do 34. Having set it up on Just Giving though some people had sponsored me for £36 so I felt obliged to do the extra two. That made it 31,000 feet instead of just 29,000.”

Riding up Chew Track

Setting off at 6pm on the 21st, Des took an average of 25 minutes for each up to ride to Chew Reservoir on his mountain bike and around five minutes on the descent.

He reckons he spent around 17-and-a-half hours on the move with the remainder of the time spent resting or food stops.

“It was just about mind over matter. We had from 9pm until 5.30am in the dark so that was monotonous and mind blowing difficult,” he said.

“It wasn’t the aching back, legs or sore bum. It was just the monotony of it all. The other low points were simply feeling nauseous and struggling to eat.”

Fortunately, friends and family were on hand to lend support.

Des added: “A couple of Saddleworth Runners ran up with me a few times and a few riders from Clarion came up as well.“Talking to people helped you forget the pain you were in.”

Des said he was inspired to raise funds for MND after Kevin Sinfield’s seven in seven marathon heroics last December and acting as an unofficial bike mechanic for support rider and neighbour Darrell Rogers.

He also stepped in to keep bikes in tip-top condition for Saddleworth Rangers’ charity ride for former club chairman Shane ‘Jocky’ Wilson.

“I have done some big things before and regretted not doing anything for charity.” he said.
“So, this time I thought MND was an ideal cause.”

Des is no certainly stranger to ultra-punishing challenges. As a keen runner, he successfully completed the Bob Graham Round, a 66-mile course over 42 fells involving 27,000 feet of climbing in the Lake District in 2017.

And the next one?

“There is something called the Frog Graham Round. It’s a swim-run challenge,” he explained of an event comprising 15,750 feet of climbing, 18 summits and two miles of swimming across Bassenthwaite Lake, Crummock Water, Buttermere and Derwent water.

“I am not sure my swimming is up to it yet,” he laughed.

“That’s what I am going to try and do before the end of the year.”

• Anyone wishing to sponsor Des for his Everesting epic can still do so at

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