Connor Swift is a professional cyclist who currently rides for British team Madison Genesis. He recently won the British National Road Race Champion in Stanfordham, Northumberland after a gutsy solo attack with 12km to go, which has put him in the classic blue, white and red of the national jersey for the next twelve months.
We are very proud to have Connor on the Journal and we would like to congratulate him on such an amazing achievement, in what looks set to be a very bright career.
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
I think having recently won the National Road Race Championships that has to be my proudest and best result to date! Being a national champion I will wear the white, red and blue stripes for a whole year and then carry the British bands on my arm for the rest of my career, that’s pretty special! Everytime I put my jersey on I can think back to the day and remember everything about it.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
I do love lots of little lanes that a good friend Tom Stewart has shown me in the Peak. That lad knows every little treasure there is to be had on the roads out there! I think the reason why I like the little lanes and The Strines etc is because they are smooth, quiet and very picturesque. You can just enjoy riding the bike.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
I haven’t yet ridden my bike abroad much, however out of the places I have been so far I reckon some of the climbs in Gran Canaria are pretty special. Again the roads are quiet and the scenery is mega.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
There is so many but one that does stand out is going on the Sunday gang which has the likes of John Tanner and Wayne Randle and it’s been going for years. Them guys just ride as hard as they can for as long as they can. The first time I went on this ride it was through and off all the way out to a cafe. Everyone had beans on toast or a full English breakfast. We set off from the cafe and it was like a bloody race! It was crosswinds home and if you wasn’t strong enough to keep up going through and off you were left to fend for yourself. I can remember sprinting after a few that had got a head start leaving the cafe. Thankfully I hung in there until I was near home otherwise I would have been left in no-mans-land.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
I think it has made me love riding my bike even more. I am in a very lucky situation to be able to ride my bike full time and not have the stress of a normal job. Being able to go out and ride my bike and race around is something I don’t just take for granted.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
I don’t think so! Maybe some women might with some men but my girlfriend Sian Randall definitely without a doubt strengthens mine. She has supported me from day one she has been with me and I think this question has made me realise I maybe haven’t let her know how much I do appreciate her asking me how my races have been, telling me to train in the gym, riding her bike with me, watching me for hours on end at races and much much more!
We are in the midst of a well publicised boom, has it affected you? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?
I think it’s great how many people are now supporting cycling and it probably has affected me in a good way by local people in the village getting behind me and supporting me for what I do. I think the negatives that do come from this are the media and then people that have little knowledge of cycling history etc jumping on the negative band wagon from certain media releases.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
Picking up a light bike is instant motivation! However that’s only if it’s your own.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
Yeah for sure. Now I train for a fair bit longer and I am a lot more focused on the bike and enjoy my efforts. In the past I used to train but I just don’t think I trained properly haha.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
It’s got to be Wiggins. Everything he did in his last years of his career were phenomenal and he caused a huge boom for cycling in the UK.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
I wasn’t around and have only seen clips of the older era’s or cycling on YouTube. I think back in the day them guys were sooo cool. However I think currently racing is so exciting.
Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?
Used to be no mudguards however times have changed and I think everyone is pretty fed up of being covered in crap. So mudguards are now essential. Show respect for others!
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
I love a cafe stop for sure!
Assos, Rapha or neither?
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
I reckon a gilet that I currently own. This isn’t for the sponsors or anything. But Madison clothing created a gilet and I don’t leave for any ride without it. Best bit of kit ever. Does the job - Keeps the wind chill off, perfect fit with pockets, is mega breathable and is pretty water resistant. Can you ask for anymore?
Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
I do love the B-roads for efforts etc and general training however when just cruising along, the back-wacks are spot on. The rough stuff is always fun to ride on and to mix things up too! Not gonna say no to a bit of Paris roubaix action!
What do you think about Strava?
Love it! Every ride uploaded and I do scroll through it from time to time.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
I think they are great for the guys that don’t want to race and just enjoy setting themselves a challenge for a certain distance over different types of terrain.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
I really don’t like people offering a hand sling (to me) in a race for some reason haha. I know they are being nice and wanting to help if they drop the wheel but I feel like I can’t accept them for some bizarre reason.
Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?
Nothing that really springs to mind here. A massive tradition for me is a chaingang with a solid bit of through and off action to the end. As long as these stay and no one goes soft then I’m happy.
Cotton cap or helmet?
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?
Around 90rpm is a solid cadence to look at.
White, black or coloured socks?
White socks all day long
Frame pump or mini pump?
Mini pump. Frame ones are cool but don’t want to scratch the bike.
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
Depends on my mood and other people’s mood. It’s always good to have banter and it’s always fun on a long training ride with someone to get your teeth stuck into the depths of space and what we are all doing on this planet or how to spend your millions.
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?
I would say my girlfriend but she might not contribute to the pedalling as much as I would like haha. I reckon I would maybe choose my coach Kev Dawson. We would go bloody fast that’s for sure and I would like to go captain.