PROFILE: TRAVIS STREB, CLIMBING 1M FEET OF VERTICAL TO RAISE $ FOR PANCREATIC CANCER RESEARCH
Cypress Mountain, at 613 meters (2010 feet) is no small cycling feat. But what if your goal to was to climb it an equivalent of almost 500 times in one year? That's the goal that Travis Streb set for himself for 2017: climb 1M (one million!) feet of vertical in a single year, all to raise awareness and much-needed funds for pancreatic research.
Look for his trademark pink bar tape on the North Shore mountains (virtually every day), cheer him on, and do your part by signing up for the Cypress Challenge.
We spoke with Travis about his goal and checked in with his progress at a little over the halfway mark of the year.
Q: Why 1M feet?
A: I'd been thinking about this challenge for a few months last year and landed on the million foot goal for a couple of reasons. First, it roughly works out to a climb up Mt. Seymour once a day, every day, all year. This seemed like a lofty, but a possible goal. I was also inspired by Greg Hill who managed to do two million feet of climbing on skis in a calendar year. I cut his goal in half given the fact that I have a career and family, among other things.
The other reason that one million feet is significant because it's a tough goal to hit, yet I believe it possible. No point in chasing an easy goal. This is similar to our mission to find a cure for pancreatic cancer. It's going to be tough to do, but if we continue to put in the effort, we can accomplish it.
As of today, I'm at 630,000 feet. This has been overwhelmingly done on my bike—yes, even during the rough winter we just came out of. I've put in about 50,000 feet on my skis or running up stairs in hotels around the country.
Q: How has the challenge affected: A. Your love of cycling? B. Your fitness?
A: It's been a series of ups and downs. As I sit here in early July, with long days and sunny skies, it's all up! I feel great and still look forward to throwing my leg over the bike every morning. If anything it's solidified my love of cycling since I've yet to regret a single ride, even in the worst of conditions. In late April, it was all down.
I was feeling run down, sick and not loving riding my bike up Seymour in sleet and rain. I was also a little behind on my goal and wondering whether I could actually accomplish it. It was a long winter for sure!
On the fitness side, it's been a different kind of fitness. Riding every single day means that you don't really get faster since fitness gains tend to come from a combination of hard efforts followed by rest. Instead, I've been putting in huge amounts of riding at a moderate pace. So I'm not in great shape for racing, but I'm in top form for long rides. For instance, I can bang out 5 laps on Seymour without feeling much in terms of fatigue.
Q: What would you say to the first time Cypress Challenge rider who is still thinking about whether to enter?
A: Surprise yourself. This has been my affirmation all year long and it works wonders. The tendency for most people is to find reasons not to sign up:
"I'm not ready." You are.
"It'll take me forever compared to everyone." It might, and it will still feel incredible to see the top of the mountain.
"I don't like riding in crowds." Then don't. Line up at the back of the group and enjoy your ride at your own pace.
"I've never ridden up Cypress before." Everything you do today was new for you at some point. Think about the first time you jumped on a bike. You'd never done it before, and it was one of the best things you've ever done. It'll be the same with the Cypress Challenge.
Q: Any parting words of wisdom?
A: Sign up. Ride. Give back.
Follow Travis's adventure on Instagram, on Strava or on Pinkbartape.com. Or to donate to support Travis, visit his fundraising page.