On 20 September 2014, Kevin Benkenstein is planning to attempt “Everesting” to raise funds for Qhubeka. Everesting is simple in theory: the cyclist chooses a hill of his / her choice and rides it repeatedly in a single ride until ascending the equivalent height of Mt. Everest above sea level – 8,848m.
The first person to attempt Everesting was George Mallory (whose grandfather attempted to climb Mt. Everest in 1924) who rode up and down Mt. Donna Buang in Australia until he has ascended 8,848m above sea level.
Kevin will be the first person in South Africa to attempt to Everest. He has chosen Old Howick Road in Pietermaritzburg (PMB), KwaZulu-Natal, as his “hill” (see the photo above, taken by Kevin).
The 28-year old is originally from Pietermaritzburg, although he’s recently moved to Durban. He learnt to ride on the roads of the Natal Midlands and has a soft spot for the area, where his family still lives.
“I consider myself a cyclist first and foremost,” he says. “I am fortunate enough to have been able to travel a bit because of my bike and my weekends are always spent on the road, searching for new places to see and experience.”
He first found out about Everesting on Twitter, which he jokingly calls “the great resource for all useless information”.
“Some friends of mine in Cape Town were discussing it and I decided to have a look and see what it was about. I immediately knew that it was something that I had to do,” he says. “It is hard and most people wouldn’t even attempt it; that was enough reason for me to give it a go. I enjoy challenging myself physically and also just showing people that something that seems really tough can be done. To be honest, I got quite hyper when I first read about it. I wanted to just get on my bike and go. Luckily, it was the middle of the week so I had no choice. Once I had thought a little more about it, I decided to give myself a few weeks to prepare a little and also to get some support behind the project.”
“I will be doing the ride on Old Howick Road in PMB,” says Kevin. “I grew up riding this climb almost daily, travelling down from school to town to ride with mates before heading back up after the ride. It is still, without doubt, my favourite 8km of road in the world. Some roads have so much history in your life that you can’t help but love them, in much the same way that your childhood home might, and that is Old Howick for me. To Everest it just seems natural. I know every bump and gradient change – it will be like riding with an old friend, for 15hrs. Although I do hope some mates come to help me out, because it’s going to be a hard day on the bike!”
Kevin says he’s known about Qhubeka for awhile and has wanted to get more involved. Everesting seemed like the perfect opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Qhubeka. “There is a great tie-in between me riding a bike to raise the money and Qhubeka’s mission of mobilising people with bikes,” he explains. “Bicycles are the most incredible things, and in so many different ways to so many people. For me, my bike gives me freedom and the ability to explore my country. For the beneficiaries of Qhubeka, the bicycle is a way to give themselves the ability to do more with their day and their money. For both of us, it provides a way to better ourselves and our lives. Contributing to that just seems natural.”You can support Kevin by making a donation to his Everesting project through our secure donations platform, Given Gain. “Most of us are very fortunate to have more than we really need in life,” says Kevin. “Giving a little to those who need it most will make a huge difference in their lives.”
Follow Kevin on Twitter to keep up with his preparations.