This is real cycling, where the glory is and where dreams come true. So said Bradley Wiggins when, after years of huge success on the track and in time trials, he reached the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 2009 Tour de France alongside the best in the business. Mountains are where professional cycling's legends are forged and its greatest heroes make their names.
Every amateur rider too wishes they could climb better, but what is it about mountains that enthrals them? Are they addicted to the pain? To the achievement? Or to the allure of the peaks? Some spend their weekends 'Everest-ing', some a summer holiday cycling up mountains from start to finish. But how does a rider push themselves beyond their limits to get up a 10 per cent gradient on pedal power alone? What is happening when they do?
Getting High is an exploration of the central place of mountains in the folklore of road cycling, of the mystique that surrounds the grimpeurs, or climbers, and why amateurs feel compelled to follow them.
Interweaving adventure and travel writing with the rich narrative of the Grand Tours, Max Leonard speaks to the riders who conquered the summits and encounters stories of courage and sacrifice, war, love, obsession and elephants.
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