So much has happened since I last wrote a blog on the Alpine Coast to Coast I could write a book! I wish I’d had more time to blog along the way but after a long day in the mountains or on my bike, getting my head together for the next day is about all I can manage. Instead of writing a diary of what's been happening, I wanted to share with you the foundation of all that's happened.
Two little words; Self-Belief.
In 20 days I've cycled 1155kms with over 15,300 metres ascent through 7 countries. Charley and I have climbed to the summits of the highest mountains in 5 countries, with over 15,000 metres of ascent and have been on the go for between 8-12 hours a day, every day apart from 2 rest days.
Before the Alpine Coast to Coast began, I had no idea what it was going to be like, how I would feel or who I’d become. These unknowns intrigued me enough to set myself this challenge and go for it. I didn’t know how far I’d be able to push myself, for how long, or where my limits might lie. I wanted to know whether I'd be able to ask myself to perform above and beyond any previous limits I'd had in mind, and what it would feel like to perform at my maximum day after day.
I had a vague idea about my capabilities from previous endurance challenges, yet the scale, intensity and duration of the Alpine Coast to Coast was far greater than anything I’d set my mind to before.
One Life, Live It
You might have seen me use #OneLifeLiveIt on social media and in previous blogs, as this is one of my favourite philosophies to live by.
The past 20 days have been inordinately full with life.
We’ve seen sunsets and sunrises that have stopped us dead in our tracks. We’ve been in touch with hundreds of people from all around the world, all communicating with us because one of our pictures, tweets or facebook updates has touched them in one way or another. We’ve had arguments and there have been tears. I’ve found keys and passages and secret doors to unlock motivation, drive and grit deeper than I thought possible. I’ve been amazed day after day at the strength of mind and body and how the two can work together to achieve anything. I’ve cycled alongside rivers that are blue, green, grey and turquoise. I’ve cycled up mountain passes that made grown men cry. I’ve been so cold my lips were blue and I’ve been so hot I had to take a break by collapsing onto the grass on the side of the road. I’ve felt so free, so alive and powerful beyond measure.
If I didn’t believe that I could do anything before I started this challenge, there’s no doubt now, that I feel I can.
I can't imagine anything could be more empowering than cycling and climbing up mountains day after day. Nothing.
What’s getting me through?
Of course I love the adventure of it all, I love the exploration of these amazing, diverse and rich countries. I love being here, living life, going for it. Being with Charley and climbing these mountains with him. The teamwork involved. Finding ways to get through the countless times I’ve thought “I can’t do this”. The long days on my own cycling from one country to the next. The time I spend looking into my mind and what I’ve found. I love meeting people along the way and finding out their story, what brings them here. I’ve even loved the camping, sometimes!
However, what draws me to these challenges and what gets me through day after day is finding out who I can become. Who am I? What am I capable of? These are the burning questions that I’m here to find out. How can I become more? How can I unleash my potential and feel powerful beyond measure?
Developing my own Ideals
I’m here to develop a set of ideals that I want to live my life by. Ideals that are already inescapable truths to me. To show myself what is possible and to understand how to achieve the impossible. Day in day out, I live and breathe this challenge, going out there and practising these ideals. I'm learning how powerful your mindset is, that all times pass whether good or bad, that nothing comes without hard work, that if you go for it - really go for it, anything is possible and of course that the most powerful tool we have is believing in ourselves .
There are many days when I didn't think I could do it, but I did, we did, pulled through and found a way and as a result comes more confidence to go further.
Day 5, on the summit of Grossglockner, I suddenly lost my confidence, the clouds moved in so we couldn’t see much and the descent freaked me out. I didn’t think I could do it.
Day 10, I cycled 215kms through four countries and felt completely empty mentally. I had lost my mojo and spent a fair chunk of time on the side of the road sobbing. I didn’t want to be on my bike, I craved normal life and I didn’t think I could do it.
Day 11, climbing Grauspitz in Lichenstein, stepping out onto the ridge with 2000m of sheer drop on one side to Switzerland and the other to Lichenstein. The wind was howling like crazy around us, I didn’t like the look of the ridge at all and I didn’t think I could do it.
Day 13, the last 10kms cycling up the valley to Zermatt, I was running on empty, shattered and fed up with the monotonous and never ending climb up the valley. I didn’t think I could do it.
Day 15, climbing Duforspitze. Being cold like I’ve never known wearing summer alpinism kit in near winter climbing conditions. Climbing up the summit ridge, feeling cold to the bone, having the hot aches that hurt so bad I tried to cry yet no tears came out. I knew it would stop, I knew I would be warm again, I knew I’d get through it, but it was desperately unpleasant and painful. I turned around briefly to see the entire Monte Rosa range lit up by the first light of dawn. I didn’t think I could do it.
Yet here I am, day 20 of the Alpine Coast to Coast, writing this blog to you with my message being loud and clear in my mind. You can do it. We can all do it, whatever it is.
This challenge has already delivered so much to me, above and beyond my expectations. Way above and beyond.
I took on this challenge not to prove who I was or who I am, but to find out who I can become.
Whatever you do in this life, do the thing that will build your self-belief and confidence the most. Without self-belief you may be half the person you are. With it, you can be more than you can imagine.
She believed she could and so she did.