Cole Kessler crushes cycling record

Cole Kessler, rising senior, biked just over the equivalent of Mount Everest in 9 hours and 59 minutes on July 18, the 28th fastest time in the world amongst cyclists of all ages and genders. His time is the fastest 18U (under 18) mark in the US, and the second-fastest 18U in the world. 

“Everesting is a challenge where you have to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest [29,029 feet] in a single bike ride up the same hill,” Cole explained. “I chose Ladera Lane in Montecito, CA and rode up it 60 times.”

This challenge is no easy feat. Everesting is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. “At about 15,000 ft of elevation gain, so about half-way, I felt really bad. Mentally, I was fatigued, and my back was killing me. But I needed to finish and I was on a good pace so I just grit my teeth and kept doing laps,” Cole said. “I reached a break-through point at 19,000 ft where the pain went away and I felt good again. It was pretty much smooth sailing from there.”

Cole’s endurance is not just record-breaking, but unheard of at his age. “A lot of people do the Everest challenge, but they do it five to ten hours slower than he did, and they’re typically older,” Simon Kessler, his cycling coach with no relation, said. “He did it in an incredible time for his age. I’m definitely proud of him and impressed with what he was able to accomplish.”

While Cole still mountain bikes for Newbury Park, he chose to start training in road biking at the start of this year for Boost CycleSport. He has only been working with his cycling coach, affectionately nicknamed one of his “bike dads” by his mother, for just over a month. “[Cole]’s great to work with; he’s super enthusiastic, disciplined, great attitude, and easy to work with. I don’t have anything bad to say,” Simon Kessler said.

His parents’ initial reaction to finding out he was attempting Everesting was one of confusion rather than excitement. “I had no idea what he was talking about or what a big deal this was becoming in the cycling world,” Pam Kessler, his mother, said. “Once he explained [Everesting] to [us], I was sort of like, why would you do that? He just said it was sort of a personal test of his will to see if he could finish it,” Steve Kessler, his father, said.

On that Saturday, Cole was surrounded by the support of his friends and family on his nearly ten hour journey. “It was daunting to think he had to climb that hill (an 11% grade) 59 times. He ended up doing it 60 times, an extra lap just to be sure he climbed the correct height,” Pam said. 

When he decided to attempt the challenge, Cole simply wanted to finish the full distance; he did not think that on his very first attempt, he would break records. “I was elated when he finished and that he had achieved his goal. I had no idea he had broken any time records. Everesting in itself is a tremendous accomplishment,” Pam said. “When we later found out he [broke the record], we were simply amazed.  I am so happy for Cole.  He worked hard for this.”

After almost ten hours of biking and a grueling 29,560 feet, Cole finished strong. “It felt great. I was super happy and I got to drink a nice cold coke at the end which tasted like gold,” the record-breaker said. “I was super happy that I made it in under ten hours and very grateful for everyone who was there supporting me. I got to hug my girlfriend, Mia Brooks, at the end who was there and watched me complete the challenge, which was super nice.”


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