Ravelo climbs 29,029 feet in an effort to get more Colorado kids into the mountains
AVON – Cristhian Ravelo became the third local this year to climb 29,029 feet in a single day, completing more than 70 laps up and down the steep section of Buck Creek Road on Saturday.
The challenge is known as Everesting and was also completed by Mike Brumbaugh and Josiah Middaugh in June. Brumbaugh rode Horizon Pass in Bachelor Gulch while Middaugh rode Buck Creek road.
Ravelo, who is a member of the CS Velo Domestic Elite Team, opted to take the same route as Middaugh, despite a warning from Middaugh that the repetition of Buck Creek road added to the mental challenge.
“He was right,” Ravelo said.
When he was about eight hours into the effort on Saturday, Ravelo started regretting his decision. He was off his pace, Middaugh’s warning was ringing through his head.
“I didn’t think I was gonna finish,” Ravelo said.
Ravelo’s longtime friend, James Leonard, had driven up from Durango to help in any way he could. He tried riding alongside Ravelo for support, but he was struggling to complete more than a lap or two at a time alongside Ravelo.
Then Colby Lange and Josiah Middaugh showed up, two of the most elite cyclists in the valley. They rode alongside Ravelo, kept him company, talked to him and successfully attempted to divert his attention away from pain of the moment.
“Those guys saved me,” Ravelo said.
‘I went into a hole’
Lange is a track cyclist, a member of the gold-medal winning American squad from 2018 which became the first group of Americans to break four minutes in the Team Pursuit discipline during their win at the Pan American Championships.
But a four minute effort on the bike is a lot different than what Ravelo was attempting.
Nevertheless, Lange rode alongside Ravelo for an hour and twenty minutes.
“It took my mind off of it,” Ravelo said.
Ravelo said at the five-to-six hour mark, he was feeling great. He did a few Facebook live broadcasts from his phone while pedaling. Those also got his mind off things.
But then his phone ran out of battery.
“I went into a hole for a little bit,” he said. “A lot of self talk … at altitude it’s hard. You go over, and then coming back is not easy.”
Cristhian Ravelo completing the #Everesting Challenge to support Chris Anthony Youth Initiative ProjectPosted by Vail Daily on Saturday, July 25, 2020
Ravelo, who finished 8th at the 100-mile Leadville Trail mountain biking race in 2016, said it was one of the harder, if not the hardest, cycling efforts of his life.
But in doing it, he said, he found purpose as a cyclist who understands his solo efforts are impossible without the help of others. In addition to Leonard, Ravelo relied on locals Bob and Sarah Doyle, whose son — former professional cyclist Chris Doyle — is whom Cristhian has to thank for his name. Chris Doyle and Cristhian’s father Carlos Ravelo were best friends and teammates on the Colombian professional road cycling team when Carlos’ wife, Alexandra, became pregnant with their first child. She liked her husband’s friend’s name, Chris, and decided to name their son Cristhian after the bike racer.
Bob and Sarah Doyle provided support to Cristhian all day on Saturday, providing food, directing traffic, swapping out water bottles and cheering him on.
Cristhian said thinking about his Colombian heritage, and the fact that he is a minority in the United States who has not faced the challenges that he knows exist for many like him, is what prompted him to undertake the Everesting challenge and fundraising effort. Ravelo raised thousands leading up to his day of cycling on Saturday to give to the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project, which gets disadvantaged kids out into the mountains.
“It bothers me to know there are kids living in Colorado who aren’t able to experience the mountains,” he said.