He’s got a long night, morning and day ahead of him. He’s not done until he completes the gruelling journey - 64 times.
Why? He’s completing the ‘Everesting’ challenge, climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest on a bicycle to test his endurance.
The portion of Dawson Road he’s focused on has an average grade of eight per cent.
Pearce finishes, finally, at 7:30 p.m. on May 20, becoming the first person in Atlantic Canada to complete the ‘Everesting’ challenge. “I had a huge sense of gratitude for my supporters and also relief it was over,” Pearce said. “I mean, I could have probably done a few more, but I was happy it was over.”
In total, Pearce climbed 8,848 metres or 29,029 feet of elevation, cycling a total of 218 kilometres. It took him approximately 10 minutes to make each climb.
Atlantic Canadian first
Pearce said he wanted to do it because he enjoys pushing his limits.
“It’s been my cycling goal for the spring, so I’ve been training pretty hard for it for about two months,” Pearce said. “I cycle all winter, so I do keep in decent cycling shape all year.”
He heard about the challenge a year ago and knew he wanted to give it a shot someday – and when he realized he would be the first person in Atlantic Canada to do it, he wanted it even more.
Pearce said the biggest challenge of the Everesting trial was getting used to the constant climbing through his training.
“Typically, when I go for a ride, I usually go north of Highway 101, my favourite places like Avondale, Greenhill, Ashdale, which is rolling terrain with nice scenery,” he said. “Whereas with hill repeats, pretty soon the scenery is burnt into the brain. The training was a little tedious, repeating the same thing over and over.”
Pearce vs Dawson
But he has no hard feelings for Dawson Road now and will happily go back - just not that many times in a row.
He was able to take breaks during the challenge, but the rules emphasize that sleep isn’t allowed.
“It’s beneficial to take short breaks and not too frequently because otherwise, it could get very long,” he said. “The hardest part was around the halfway point because the initial excitement had worn off and the end wasn’t really in sight. It was as mentally challenging as it was physically.”
Luckily for Pearce, he had a large contingent of supporters out with him cheering him on throughout, which he said kept him going.
He managed to avoid injury during the challenge – but he was worried it could happen. At one point he noticed he had taken on a passenger: a tick had decided to hitch a ride, but Pearce caught it before it set up residence.
He selected Dawson Road because of its ideal incline, approximately eight per cent. He said the sweet spot for an Everest challenge is between five and 12 per cent grade.
The lower the grade, the more repetitions you have to do; the higher the grade, the fewer the repetitions, but the climb is more challenging.
Pearce says he’s considering doing the challenge again, this time on a dirt road because – why not?
Pearce has always been an avid cyclist and a big booster of active transportation.
“This area is actually ideal for cycling, there’s not too much traffic and the scenery is amazing,” he said. “I’d say about 90 per cent of motorists here understand that they have to provide a one-metre buffer, which is a lot better than some areas.”
He’s travelled all over to participate in cycling events and camping trips including Quebec, P.E.I. and Europe.
In 2016, Pearce cycled just over 16,000 kilometres. His longest ride was a three-day, 1,000-kilometre cycling trip to Moncton.
He’s hoping to break that personal record with a trip to France in 2019, where he’s planning to bike from Paris to Brest and back again, a total of over 1,200 kilometres in one journey.
Pearce, who is originally from Truro, moved to the area with his wife Tracy Burgess for a job. When the job left, he stayed anyway because he loved the community.
“We found that we really enjoy it here, made good friends and like the small-town atmosphere,” he said.
He now works in Dartmouth as an electronics engineer for a firm that builds underwater equipment, often commuting back and forth and parking somewhere in between and biking the rest of the journey.
He can also be seen riding his bike into Windsor to run errands or just to go for a ride around the county.