Everesting the Yeah Gnar trail? That’s not simple. That’s nuts. Not only would you have to climb 8,849 vertical meters but you’d need to descend 36 laps of Wellington’s hardest trail.
Yeah Gnar is not only a technically difficult Grade-6 track but also has very high consequences for mistakes so when Jesse Cseh unveiled his plan our ears perked up and our mouths dropped open.
“I’ll be starting about 2:00 AM, in pitch black, which will be pretty hard I think, especially trying to warm up and getting into the flow in the darkness"
It’s fair to say that to tackle this challenge you’ve got to have next level confidence, riding skill, and fitness so I fired up the espresso machine and sat down with Jesse to find out more and learn more about his bike and riding style.
Here’s what I learned from Jesse.
He’s picky about bike setup
I’m always fascinated how some riders can get on any ol’ bike and rip whereas others are super picky about their setup.
“If I'm riding my race bike and I'm at a race or having to push to the max, I need to know the bike really well. I’m very particular about the bike feeling the same every time."
“Something I’m really particular about is my bar width: my bars are 770, I’m pretty particular about that and the brake set up and brake angle. I've got a little mark that I've scribed into my bars which lines up with the stem clamp so that I know I'm going to have the exact right angle of the bars.”
“My favourite thing about my bike is how stiff it is. It just works; it’s reliable. I always know where the bikes going to be; it’s easy to pick a line and know the bike’s going to stay there and not squirm around.”
“One of the more important parts of my bike are definitely the wheels and their stiffness. Knowing I'm not gonna blow up a wheel, I can go into a rock garden or anything full noise, and not have to worry about smacking a rim, losing spoke tension, or that sort of thing."
“Wheels are your only contact with the ground and need to be something you can trust everything with. I’ve been running Wheelworks wheels just over 2 years and had no failures at all; 1 broken spoke is all I have to show. For me that’s pretty amazing as prior to these I couldn’t make a set of wheels last more than a few months. Having something so reliable is second to none and you can’t put a price on it.“
One reason people like Jesse are our ambassadors is because they ride harder and more frequently than most of us. They do things to wheels and suspension that, frankly, most of us can’t do.
“I think there’s a big difference in servicing suspension quite regularly - it helps keep them nice and supple on the first bit of the stroke. It makes a big difference having stiff wheels, having a stiff bike but a really supple suspension.”
“I’m pretty particular about tyre pressure – I check it every time I hop on my bike, no matter what for and no matter what bike it is, whether it’s an XC bike, Enduro bike, I’m always checking the tyre pressure with my pressure gauge.”
This aligns with his picky bike setup. Tyre pressure with modern wide rims and tyres is super critical and a 1psi difference makes a huge difference to how your bike rides. We’ve found the Accu Gauge to be a fantastic tyre pressure gauge with great repeatability.
He’s done his prep
A challenge this big needs some serious preparation and it’s no surprise Jesse has been working behind the scenes doing his homework.
“I've picked up over the last couple of years that preparation makes a big difference for my mindset coming into races, knowing I've got my processes ticked off. It helps me stay calm and feel like I've done the things to get into the point where I wanna be and the rest is just, you know, you just gotta perform.”
“I've had a chat to a couple of people who have Everested and got some pretty good tips about trying to pace yourself. There's a couple of small things that I need to iron out, like having the Garmin charged all day, having enough lights and food. Preparing for the worst if stuff goes wrong. I don't really want anything to stop me so I need to make sure I'm prepared.”
He’s in pursuit of smoothness
“Smoothness is something I’m chasing and I think I could improve on. It's kind of a hard thing to describe, 'smoothness', just the way of somebody can ride a bike and look effortless; they’re going so fast; have so much grip around corners; Just look so confident, never looking sketchy.”
“I’ve been spending a bit of time riding Yeah Gnar recently trying to ride smooth and figure out lines that I can ride when I'm really fatigued because I know that getting into the 30th lap I’ll be struggling to hold to that track with some pretty big compressions.”
I can only hold Jesse's wheel for the first 20 seconds of trail so I’m probably not the best person to comment on his riding style. Jesse describes it as “just trying to go fast, fast, fast instead of more stylish."
“Squashing lots of jumps I suppose. The way that I ride jumps and stuff, it's always really low. I think it's just something I picked up over the last few years is just always trying to get most of speed out of the backsides of landings and that sort of thing, and it's something I do subconsciously now."
“So much has been being cancelled this year, it’s pretty hard mentally to stay on top of wanting to keep fit and doing all the training and that sort of thing. We haven't really got too much to train for at the moment so having a goal like Everesting has been good.”
I’ll be popping out to Mākara to cheer Jesse along this Saturday, weather permitting (18 December is Plan B). If you’re in town and want to join Jesse for a lap up / down or just want to give him a cheer to keep him motivated he will have a tent set up at the shipping container on Snake Charmer with food, water, lights etc, and hopefully a white board with a lap count so people can see where he’s up to and cheer him on as he comes past each lap. He’s in for a bloody long day!
To keep up with Jesse's latest Everesting updates give him a follow on instagram!