Mountains, the Opiate of the Bike Rider
I have never really done any of the "right of passage drugs" apart from the odd joint when I was at Uni (sorry mum), my limited experiences never once lived up to the hype. But in 1989, the year Greg LeMond won the Tour for the second time, I had an experience that would shape my life more than any other from that day forward. I rode my bike in the alps for the very first time, an experience made all the more poignant by sharing it with the two best mates a bloke could have. To this day I still struggle to find the words that rightfully explain just why riding a bicycle in the mountains is so inexplicably addictive.
Achievement yes, amazing scenery, absolutely unquestionable, the sense that you really can do what was once unfathomable. These are all part of the lure but none encapsulates and fully animates the FEELING. I guess that;s the point, it IS a feeling and no words will ever do it justice. Today riders from all over the world have the chance to conquer mountain passes made famous by cycling warriors of a bygone era, modern technology and cycling entrepreneurs combine to create a reality of what was once completely out of reach.
If you are contemplating a trip to ride the great passes of Europe, worrying about the expense, logistics and the nagging inner voice of doubt, consider this; all of that will be gone the instant you lay your eyes on the indescribable beauty of the Alps, Pyrenees or Dolomites and from the moment you summit your first "real" mountain pass, your life will somehow be different. How? I am not sure how to describe it for you other than to say that is is a "feeling" that will stay with you forever and nobody I know that has lived this moment has ever express a single second of regret.
Life is a catalog of experiences and feelings and few will stand the judgement of time as resiliently as riding a bicycle in the high mountains.
Stay safe out there.
Brian Bubba Cooke
Exercise Physiologist, coach & cycling tragic for 30 years. Love the freedom, reward and sense of achievement that one can only experience in our amazing sport.