Two new videos follow a London cyclist as he attempts to ‘Everest’ one of the capital’s toughest climbs – Swain’s Lane in Highgate, which has a gradient that hits a leg-sapping 18 per cent.
Mat Ilic of Regent's Park Rouleurs tackled the 1.2 kilometre ascent 134 times to achieve the equivalent altitude gain as Mount Everest from sea level to its summit – 8,848 metres, to be exact.
Ahead of the ride in July last year, the charity director, then aged 29, told the Camden New Journal: “It is a hill close to where I live and our charity is Camden-based, so we thought, why not Swain’s Lane?
“It’s obviously tough but I’ve always been competitive and if you have enough grit you can get through. I have maybe done it up to 15 times in a row before but I am saving anything more for the actual day.”
One week before his attempt to Everest the Highgate climb, however, another cyclist got there first – Stanislav Cmaka, who completed it in 16 hours 31 minutes.
Ilic had just one option – he wouldn’t be the first person to achieve the feat, but he could at least try and beat the time, and supported by club mates throughout the day, that’s what he set out to do.
Produced by Gorilla Face Productions and Wodehouse Films, one video explores the cyclist’s preparations, with the other focusing on the ride itself.
Ilic is a director of Only Connect, a North London-based criminal justice-focused charity that works with young people to try and reduce first-time and repeat offending.
Admitting after his ride up the repeated ascent and downhill sections that “My God, is it a dark place,“ Ilic added, “There was nothing that was going to get in the way of raising awareness for Only Connect.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.