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September 4, 2020
Photography by Richard Jackson
Weeks after breaking the world record for Everesting, Emma Pooley has slogged her way through another massive ride – this time Everesting on gravel.
On Wednesday, Pooley rode 16 laps of the brutally steep ‘Himmelfahrt nach Matten’ gravel segment in central Switzerland. The climb is 3.66 km in length at an average gradient of 16%, rising 571 vertical metres from the valley into the mountains and topping out at just over 1,870 m.
Pooley’s latest ride was clearly far from optimised for another world record – for starters, it was ridden on gravel, with a challenging descent involving many switchbacks. That didn’t stop Pooley from setting a quick time nonetheless, notching up over 9,000 metres of climbing with a moving time of just 12:26:10, in a very concise 119.15 km.
Based on the title of the Strava activity, this one was just for the joy of it: Pooley labelled the ride ‘Happiness dawn until dusk’, with a wry note of ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop…’
Pooley set the women’s Everesting world record in July, setting a time of 8 hours 53 minutes and 36 seconds on the 13% Haggenegg climb, not far from the site of her latest effort.
She wrote about her record-breaking ride for CyclingTips, reflecting on the mentality and the physical exertion of the attempt. “I didn’t take up cycling to just watch other people take on stupid challenges and consider myself inferior,” Pooley said.
Now retired, Pooley is considered one of the best climbers and time-trialists of her generation. She includes among her accomplishments a silver medal in the time trial at the Beijing Olympics, a world championships in the same discipline in 2010, and a lengthy career as a pro that included more than 40 victories.