When 30mph winds hit London, plans change.
We’d planned a 40 mile ride out to Kent but decided to swap it for the ever appealing Swains Lane. To give it a sprinkle of Sunday morning sass, we turbo charged it to Swains Lane x 10.
During my time in London, I've experienced every emotion possible on Swains Lane.
We’ve gone all out, trying to complete one lap as fast as we can, bent over the handlebars as we reach the top, trying not to throw up in front of the dog walkers.
We’ve done a few laps, trying to keep the pace slower but being distracted by our minds half way up the steepest section, telling us that no more laps are left in the locker.
When Gem suggested riding 10 laps consecutively, the challenge was too appealing to say no.
We kept the strategy simple. Go slowly. Keep talking.
If our energy output was low enough that we could keep our conversation going, there was definitely a chance that we could make it to the Swains summit 10 times.
By lap 3, we were feeling good. The enclosed lane meant we didn’t have the wind slowing us, but we were greeted by it on the descent to give us a quick cool down before turning left to make the upwards journey again. “A third done!” we announced, agreeing that the tenth lap didn’t count as it would be classed as our victory lap.
On lap 6, we had a hugely welcomed distraction from our two friends who had walked their dogs to the hill to be chief cheerleeders. We pulled over for 5 mins, snapped some pictures to mark the moment we turned up in matching red Rapha gilets, before continuing on with the challenge. The fact I could clip back in half way up Swains without falling off was another mini victory that I celebrated in silence.
On lap 8, I began to believe that we were actually going to finish. Our strategy was paying off. My legs felt fine and the talking meant every lap was interesting and different, not a tedious and repetitive chore.
We had previously agreed that lap 10 would be a big push. As we reached the top of lap 9, we decided to scratch that stupid idea. We did however, up the pace ever so slightly for that final ‘victory lap’. The minor increase of speed was energy sapping. The conversation stopped and we were accompanied by the sound of my heavy breathing instead. It was at this moment, as we dug deep on the final section of that last lap, that I realised the importance of the slow speed we had been disciplined to maintain. There would have been only losers in the camp, blowing up after lap two, if I'd tried to be a speed hero.
We pulled over and took our phones out of our sweaty back pockets. I wanted to make sure I pressed finish on Strava as so not to lose the data. After a quick swig of our water (pretending it was champagne) and checking the photographs we’d been tagged in on instagram, we made our way to Rapha Cycle Club on Brewer Street for the hard stuff. Two flat whites.
As we finished off our caffeine fix, mixed with the natural high from cycling, I realised that my Strava (followed now by my emotions) crashed whilst uploading the ride. FML. I got home to a new message in our cycling whatsapp group ‘Anyone up for 25 Swains effort?’ With the words ‘If you didn't strava it, it didn't happen’ ringing through my ears, there was no other option than replying ‘I’m in’.
Since the posting of this blog, the strava file finally uploaded.
It appeared not long after I sent this tweet: https://twitter.com/KPP/status/696318025138573312