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The first attempt, a little over a week ago, came on a whim and ended in heartbreak. Lachlan Morton thought he rode 8,848 meters in seven hours and 32 minutes; accurate elevation data, dug up after the fact, said otherwise. He’d have to go back.
His loss is our gain. Not only do we get another glimpse of his slightly mad sort of talent, we now see it through the lens of his brother, Angus, a man adept in the art of capturing a brutal day. You may have seen his work before, in the Thereabouts series and elsewhere.
A week after the first attempt, Morton returned to the same climb. Locals call it Ford Hill. It drops down the west side of Rist Canyon, outside Fort Collins, Colorado, at 11%, mostly straight with just a little s-bend, slight enough that brakes aren’t necessary. A bold rider, tucked, hits around 100 kilometers per hour, a speed aided by the thin air. The segment starts at 2250m and finishes at 2440m.
It’s the same climb where Morton won his first Pro/1/2 race in Colorado, as a 16-year-old.
Each lap was worth 190m. He needed 46.57 laps. The existing record, held by Keegan Swenson, was seven hours, 40 minutes, and five seconds.
Morton put tape down on the asphalt, an X at the top and an X the bottom, 1.69km apart.
At 5:42am, still deep in the climb’s morning shadow, he set off.
The margin for error on an Everesting attempt is low. A few seconds or meters on each lap adds up.
Morton remained remarkably consistent. His first lap up the climb, he averaged 333 watts. Halfway through, that had dropped to just over 300. Seven and a half hours later, he was still ticking away at nearly 280.
Most of his climbs, the middle 30 or so repetitions, all sat within a few seconds of 8 minutes. His last full climb, #46, took him 8 minutes and 28 seconds, less than a minute more than his first time up.
The result? A new record.
Seven hours, 29 minutes, and 57 seconds.
And almost immediately, the question: What’s next?