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What it’s like to complete ‘the world’s toughest bicycle hillclimb’ 34 times

What it’s like to complete ‘the world’s toughest bicycle hillclimb’ 34 times

Mark Greenleaf racing in the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. Provided by Mark Greenleaf It all began with a dare. Mark Greenleaf was living…

Saturday, Mar 12

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Mark Greenleaf racing in the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. Provided by Mark Greenleaf It all began with a dare.

Mark Greenleaf was living in Providence in 1983 when he grabbed the mail before going out to dinner with friends. That’s when he noticed an article about New Hampshire’s annual Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in Bicycling magazine.

“After a couple of beers, we dared each other to do it,” said Greenleaf, 61, of Foster, Rhode Island. “The three of us signed up and we went. And the rest is history.”

Greenleaf will compete in the 49th annual Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb on Aug. 20. It will be the 35th time he attempts the race, billed as “the world’s toughest bicycle hillclimb.”

The individually timed 7.6-mile race to the summit of Mount Washington attracts riders from around the world. Mount Washington, notorious for its bad weather , is the highest peak in the northeast at 6,288 feet.

“The Hillclimb features an average grade of 12%, with extended sections at 18% and culminates just before the end of the ride at a heart-pounding, leg-cramping 22%,” according to Tin Mountain Conservation Center, organizer of the event, which is its largest fundraiser of the year.

Greenleaf has been seriously biking since college, pedaling anywhere from 2,500 to 4,500 miles a year. But during his first race in 1984, he learned quickly that the race is a mental as well as a physical challenge. Racers begin the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in 2017. […]

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