In competitive cycling, raw talent reveals itself when the road pitches up and pedaling becomes a contest between ability, mentality and gravity. Scottie Weiss came to cycling late in life and entered his first ever bike race when he was 23, a hill climb up Mill Mountain in Roanoake, VA.
I got out of the car, warmed up and up the mountain I went. I ended up with the best overall time and won the entire event.
Twenty years later, the journey Weiss started on Mill Mountain came full circle. On October 17th, 2015, Weiss climbed 29,029 feet in 8 hours, 58 minutes and 31 seconds, completing 48 laps up and down a 1.3-mile segment (each way) on Mill Mountain.
As his early battle with Mill Mountain demonstrated, Weiss has exceptional abilities as a cyclist and has spent much of the past two decades competing as an elite domestic cyclist in the US. In recent years he has transitioned to the masters ranks where he still competes at a high level, including qualifying for and racing the masters World Championships in 2015. He dedicates most of his time to his wife, his son and his full-time gig as a partner and designer in a cycling apparel company, Starlight Apparel, but he will never give up on going big.
Just completing an Everesting attempt is a bucket-list achievement for most cyclists. In order to do it in a record time, Weiss developed and executed a thorough plan to maximize his chances of success on the day of the attempt.
PUT SAFETY FIRST
Weiss lives near Mill Mountain, has trained on it frequently throughout his 20-year competitive cycling career and knows every curve of the 1.55-mile ascent. He chose the location for his Everesting attempt because:
1. He’s familiar with every inch of the road
2. It’s closed to traffic except to a few residents who have homes along the hill
3. His friends and family could help sweep debris off the road prior to his attempt and throughout the day to keep it as smooth and safe as possible
GET MORAL & LOGISTICAL SUPPORT
In order to stay focused and motivated during the course of the day, Weiss let his community know about his plans and they came out to cheer him on and provide moral support. They were there to cheer him on, and they also played a crucial role in helping to make sure he had everything he needed. “I promoted the attempt on Strava and on my other social media channels and those of Starlight Apparel. It was overwhelming how many people came out to cheer me on and to warn people walking on the road that an event was going on. My wife and son were there and I got to see them every time up the mountain.” Some of the support family and friends provided included:
1. Handing up bottles and food.
2. Sweeping leaves and debris out of corners that fell from trees during the day.
3. Taking layers as Weiss warmed up.
4. Cheering. “A lot of people showed up around lunch time. There’s something about people getting out there and yelling. It really made me want to do well for those people.”
FIND YOUR OPTIMAL RACE WEIGHT
“A few years ago, I stopped racing as a pro. I realized that you go to a restaurant and they give you these huge portions of food and I only needed half of that. I started trying to eat better and having more fun with the bike and it was like everything turned around. I started riding so much better than I’d ever ridden or raced even as a pro. I’m a pretty small guy anyway, so I really tend to stay right around the same weight, about 117 to 120 pounds. I’m 5’6” and my race weight has been below 117, but I ride best right in that range. To stay there, I just am mindful of portion sizes and food quality.”
FIND FOOD THAT WORKS
You have to find the food that works best for you and train with that food as your primary fuel far in advance of a target event. Over the years, Weiss dialed in his fueling strategy from breakfast to in-race and came up with a unique and effective approach. “I had my normal breakfast, eggs and toast. Once I started the event, I had a couple of Power Bars a few hours in. But mostly I ate baby food and bananas. Baby food is very easy to digest, it doesn’t bother my stomach, and that fueled me all day. It was a mixture of three-fruit baby food and also the vegetable baby food. The vegetable isn’t as tasty as the fruit but it mixes it up. I started eating baby food two years ago. When my son was younger I tried some of his baby food and I thought it might be a good alternative to carrying gels and bars and found it works well for me.”
There’s an art and science to pacing efforts of any distance on a bike, from a flying 200-meter sprint to an Everesting attempt. Weiss carefully calculated his target power ahead of time and adopted an aggressive strategy to reach his goal on the day of his attempt. “My first hour I tried to be above my target pace because I knew I would fade at the end. It felt like a very hard race and I was pushing myself. Through the middle part of the day I went through some painful ascents because it got windy and dusty.
Towards the end of the day, I had to dig deep, but I stayed on pace and felt good throughout the whole day.