Why Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb Ranks With Alpe d’Huez–for This Cyclist

By Marcus Leach, (coming from the UK to take it on; His bio HERE)

The moment I heard about the ride I knew I had to find a way to take part, which when you live in rural Wales some 7400km away is not as easy it it sounds.

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to pain, at least when it comes to cycling.

It started when I was thirty. Having never ridden a bike, other than as a small child chasing the ice cream van, I decided to cycle up the iconic switchbacks of Alpe d’Huez. That might not sound much of a challenge to some, but given it was the middle of winter, and I had spent the previous twelves months in a gym as a body builder, you begin to get a better understanding of my undertaking.

Despite looking like Donkey Kong on a bike, and cycling at an ape-like pace, I eventually made it to the summit. I won’t lie, it hurt, a lot, but there was something in the suffering that I loved. From that moment I knew I was hooked, the greater the sense of pain, the greater my love of the ride. The need to get my fix of mountain-induced suffering has since lead me to riding all over the world, completing numerous European sportives on my way to becoming one of fewer than sixty-five people in there world, professionals included, to have ridden the entire Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España in the same year. In my case this was done riding just one day ahead of the professional pelotons.

Like any addict I am always looking for my next hit, and the more I get the more it takes to satisfy my needs. Which goes a long way to explain why in July I will be lining up in Idaho Springs to take on a truly unique sufferfest. The Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb (Register HERE). The moment I heard about the ride I knew I had to find a way to take part, which when you live in rural Wales some 7400km away is not as easy it it sounds. The moment I suggested a family holiday to Colorado my wife was suspicious, but just as happy to accept my idea.

I waited until the flights were booked before mentioning the race, not that I needed to worry, as ever since she supporting me on my ride up Alpe d’Huez she has known that there would be a lifetime of trips with some form of cycling challenge or another worked into them. Truth be told I think she was relieved it was a short race, given our last trip saw us travel to Taiwan, a three-year-old and three-month-old in tow, so I could take part in a 1150km ultra race.

Mount Evans is by no means the highest I have ever been, but it will certainly be the highest I have ever been on my bike, and I am under no illusion as to just how hard it is going to be. Even at the summit of the highest passes I’ve conquered in Europe, none of which exceed 3000m, it can feel like you’re breathing through a straw, every breathe a struggle to fill the lungs and body with oxygen. But in those moments where the world narrows to the six feet in front of me, my mind free from all thought, present in the moment, I feel alive. That’s what I am chasing, and its comes high up mountains, often when I am alone.

So what better way to chase my next fix than on the slopes of Mount Evans? As always there will be those who don’t understand my need to do this, or any of my challenges for that matter, but I take comfort in knowing that there are also those who do. Not only do they understand, more often than not they also feel the need. To those I say ‘see you on the mountain’.

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