Everesting: the most boring and offensive thing you can do on two wheels

By The Mamil

About a year ago I was told about a guy who was planning to “Everest” Swain’s Lane in Highgate, North London. In other words, climb and descend it about 900 times in order to cover the same vertical distance of the world’s highest mountain.

My initial reaction was “I wonder where base camp is?” I’d like to think it’s at the grave of Sir Leslie Stephen, the Victorian mountaineer whose ashes are interred in Highgate Cemetery.

Swain's Lane approaching Camp III. Note the treacherous speed bump. Experienced climbers know to take the central gulley route in order to avoid the sudden increase in gradient.

Swain’s Lane approaching Camp III. Note the treacherous speed bumps. Experienced climbers know to take the central gulley route in order to avoid the sudden increase in gradient.

Apart from that rather tenuous connection, the closest Swain’s Lane gets to the Himalayas are the Yetis.  There are certainly enough to be spotted, however, the Highgate variety are the 4-wheel drive Skodas driven by yummy mummies rather than the mythical creature alleged to roam the mountains of Nepal.

My second thought was, “that sounds like possibly the most uninteresting challenge one could attempt on a bike”, because let’s face it, Everesting is like being on a turbo trainer but without the option to watch TV or fall asleep safely.

There is little, if any, doubt that such a challenge, while physically demanding, is tedious beyond belief. No, let me be more precise here: there is absolutely no doubt that such a challenge is tedious beyond belief.  Indeed it’s so tedious that people have been known to shove their fingers into their slowly rotating front wheel just to relieve the monotony of the 98th ascent of their selected 2 kilometre grind. Don’t get me wrong, I love climbing; point me to the start and I’m away, but over and over and over again? And again? No thanks.

A support group has been set up for people who wish to rid themselves of the compulsion to Everest. They are required, by way of introducing themselves, to acknowledge the truth of their problem: “My name is Graham and I am an altoholic”.

Devout Catholics deal with the problem in a slightly different way. Rather than seeing it as a psychological illness, they regard it as a sin. Offenders confess to their priests: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. My last imperial century was xx weeks / months / years ago. On Tuesday I committed adultery and on Thursday I Everested.”

A typical penance meted out by the priest might be five Hail Marys for the adultery and 30 How Much Farthers for the more heinous crime.

All that aside, the really very worst thing about Everesting is that it is yet another example of that dreadful abuse of the English language: turning a noun into a verb. This phenomena, which I hereby name “verbing”, is responsible for such linguistic atrocities as “to text” and “to podium”and it is simply horrible.

For that reason alone the practice should be considered an offence akin to wheel sucking, failing to fit mudguards in winter and wearing pro-team kit other than at fancy dress parties.

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18 thoughts on “Everesting: the most boring and offensive thing you can do on two wheels

    • Does going in rounds for one hour on velodrome make more sense? Does crit racing make more sense? What about trans-am or trans-continental? Do they make more sense? I don’t think that EVERESTING is missing the point at all. But you would first need to face the challenge yourself to understand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ok, fair point – I have never tried everesting. It’s not for me, but perhaps I was a bit dismissive with my comment – we all get our own kind of challenge from cycling and you’re right to correct me! Cheers.

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      • I stand corrected – I have no doubt it’s a massive challenge and you’re right; we all have our own ideas about what the ‘point’ of cycling is – thanks

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  1. Hi Nick,
    great write up but let me correct you about few details. Firstly it’s not 900 laps of Swain’s Lane but mere 132. Secondly it’s not boring at all. Actually by the time you get to 100 laps it gets pretty weird but in a good way. It’s about 320km which is pretty good training ride. It makes you mentally stronger than anything else you can do on the bike.

    The guy you are referring is Big Mat from RPR. He did it for a good cause and he smashed few PB along the way. And admirable achievement.

    I think you should try everesting Swain’s and then write about your experience. I recommend you start 3am or earlier. The traffic is is low and you can really go for it on the downhill section. I will come to cheer. I may even get you a coffee and croissant that, you will definitely need.

    Stan – the wheel sucker who everested Swain’s Lane

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You should travel back in time and confront William Shakespeare and probably also Charles Dickens over their terrible corruption of the English language turning nouns into both verbs and adjectives. Anyway it’s not as annoying as making new words out of acronyms.

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  3. Hahah love the article! But you have to do it or help some one else do it before you get to bag it. I did my Everest on the most picturesque gravel road in Brisbane (on the road bike) on the hotest day of year 45deg at lunch time. What makes Everesting cool (pun intended) is the people that rock up for a lap or two, the bragging rights and the reason people climb Everest (the real one) – because they can there is no point or world changing benefit, it’s hard physically and mentally and worth doing – at least once

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  4. Wow! Guess you cats and kittens haven’t rolled along to these Everests to actually see what goes on, Yeah having a whole bunch of folk rolling laps supporting a rider who most properly are meeting for the 1st time and helping the rider suffer through a gruelling test of endurance and character is toooootally against what cycling is about. As we all know Cycling is about the latest teams kits of dentist spec carbon bikes and riding along looking oh so pro is much more worthwhile… Guess this event coming up on Saturday would be extremely tedious and basically a waste time and certainly wouldn’t be a good fun and enjoyable event. https://www.facebook.com/events/582569138541180/

    We really need to be rid of Everesting as it goes against the spirit of cycling with its community feel, celebrating people who really enjoy riding a bike, unpretentious and welcoming of riders of any skill level and of any background and the worst of all! People have fun which is just sad.

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  5. Well I didn’t expect this level of response when I posted the piece, so let me add a couple of less tongue in cheek thoughts.

    Is Everesting a challenge? No question. My greatest achievement on a bike is to complete the Bedouin and Malaucene ascents of Mt Ventoux in a single day. That’s a little under half the vertical distance of Everest but so much more memorable and interesting. Those are the sort challenges I look for, not repeating a local hill multiple times.

    Is Everesting a suitable fundraising challenge? Definitely. It’s easy to measure success, it offers different ways to sponsor a person and it lends itself to group cycling depending on the width of the road and number of participants. Furthermore, non-cycling sponsors will recognise the difficulty it entails.

    Is it proper cycling? In the sense that it requires one to ride their bike, of course. Does that mean it is a way I want to use my bike? Not in a million years. I want to look around me at the scenery when I go out for a ride. I want variety and to be kept alert to changes in road conditions, traffic patterns and as yet undiscovered coffee shops.

    So to those of you who favour Everesting, all power to your legs. I salute you. I just think you’re a bit nuts, that’s all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nick – a great blog. I particularly like your point about the destruction of the British language by “verbing”. The Americans are particularly guilty of this. My “favourite” example is “front-yarding”, which means to give something prominence.

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