Mount Fuji is trying to break me, one hairpin turn at a time. My bike groans with the strain of each pedal stroke and a fine drizzle coalesces into rivulets that run down my skin, cutting a path through the grime of the previous four hours in the saddle.

It’s 1 a.m. and I’ve just crossed the 2,000-meter mark in an attempt to complete a sea-to-summit climb of Japan’s tallest mountain with my old schoolmate Ollie Leader.

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