Vuelta Skelta Strava challenge: the wrap-up

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To coincide with Eurosport’s coverage of the Vuelta a Espana on Foxtel, we teamed up with Strava and Eurosport to bring you the Vuelta Skelta Strava Challenge. The 15-day challenge is now over so what better time to share some amazing efforts, statistics and photos from the challenge.

In case you haven’t been following the Vuelta Skelta, here’s a quick summary of the challenge: to climb more than 7,135 vertical metres between September 1 and September 15. Why 7,135 metres? It’s the amount of climbing in the Vuelta’s two biggest stages combined: stage 14 (which was won by Daniele Ratto) and stage 15 (which Alexandre Geniez won).

More than 9,500 people signed up for the challenge and together we clocked up more than 50,000,000 vertical metres. Of the 9,500 entrants, roughly 2,800 (30%) managed to complete the challenge but as is always the case with Strava challenges, there were plenty of riders that went well beyond what the challenge asked of them.

The competition was won overall by Brian Sing who amassed more than 57,000 vertical metres in 12 rides — an average of 4,750m per ride and more than eight times the required amount.

Brian seems to have entered the competition later in proceedings and while his Strava profile says he’s based in Mt. Dandenong, Victoria, Australia, all his rides for the Vuelta Skelta appear to have been done in and around the Dolomites in northern Italy. Chapeau Brian!

In all, six riders managed to notch up more than 50,000m in 15 days with another seven managing more than 40,000m. Another three had 30,000m+ to their name and by our reckoning a further 66 riders managed 20,000m or more. Remember, the challenge was just to ride 7,135m in the 15 days!

Here’s how the overall leaderboard looked at the end of the competition:


In our mid-challenge update we shared the story of Melbourne rider John van Seters who’d done a staggering ride to kick off the Vuelta Skelta: 7,222m of climbing over 16 hours and 350km, all on the 7km stretch of road in the Dandenongs known as the 1 in 20.

Well, last weekend, on the final days of the competition, John one-upped himself. After doing 24 laps of the 1 in 20 a few weeks earlier John thought he’d aim for 30 … and he got there. In a touch under 20 hours in the saddle John rode 430km and climbed 9,110m, all within 7km of his house. Truly staggering.

The inspiration for John’s ride came from a guy called George Mallory whom you might remember from this post on CyclingTips last year. George set himself the challenge of climbing the equivalent height of Mt. Everest (8,848m) on Mt. Donna Buang, and got there in impressive fashion.

John’s plan was to replicate George’s feat on the 1 in 20 and he did just that.

We asked John whether he had any kind of celebration upon reaching the top for the 30th and final time.

“It was probably more of a relief actually because on the last three or four laps the legs were starting to say ‘well we’ve done a bit now. Come on, give us a break! – come home.’ So it was probably more of a relief in the end to finish it.”

The full interview with John van Seters can be found here.

John managed 29,710 vertical metres for the challenge putting him second on the Australian leaderboard — behind Brian Sing, the overall winner — and 17th overall. The top ten on the Australian leaderboard looks like this:


But it isn’t just the superhuman efforts that left us inspired. Check out this great comment from CyclingTips reader Tim Johnson last week:

“I’ve got not a hope of making the target – I’m not quite 50% of the way there. But, the challenge has had me out riding hills more than I ever have before – and it has been great.

I’ve done more climbing already than I’ve just about ever done in a month before, and I’ve been setting PRs every other day on my rides up the hills/mountains around her.

It’s really given me the motivation to get better at big climbs, and I plan to keep it up from now on. And then hopefully you’ll run the challenge again next year so I can actually complete it!”

Of course this challenge was about more than racking up a shedload of climbing in two weeks. In conjunction with Eurosport we’ve got a Bianchi Impulso road bike to give away to one lucky competition entrant. And, thanks to Foxtel, we’ve also got 500 cycling caps to give away. We’ll be notifying the winners of that competition via email later in the week.

Thanks to everyone that took part in the challenge and in particular to those of you that posted your photos to Instagram using the hashtag #VueltaSkelta. As you can see there were some stunning photos taken throughout the second week of the competition (click here for some photos from the first week).

And finally, here’s a little something about the name “Vuelta Skelta”. When we were trying to come up with a catchy name for the challenge we were reminded of that classic Beatles song Helter Skelter. At first we just thought Vuelta Skelta was a cool sounding name that seemed to fit, and then we realised that the song is actually all about doing hill repeats with a mate:

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide,
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride,
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.
Yeah yeah yeah hey.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out some more of the great Instagram photos posted during the competition.

So how did your Vuelta Skelta go? Did you make the target?

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