Stay calm and pedal on

a cyclist on the 2018 strive challenge
Image by Asanka Pathiraja
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 5 October 2018

The Virgin Strive Challenge 2018 was another brilliant success, filled with passion, drive and unbelievable achievement – I'm so proud of everyone who took part. One of my favourite things about the challenge is meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people.

We all come from different walks of life and have different motivations behind taking part in the challenge, but one thing unites us; a passion for creating change.

Asanka Pathiraja is the perfect example of someone striving to go further than he, or even medical staff, ever thought he could, to create a Big Change.

Asanka Pathiraja holds his bike above his head with a hillside behind him
Image by Asanka Pathiraja

In the lead up to Strive 2018, my severe asthmatic condition made me take a hard look at the different challenges Stage 3 (the cycle challenge from Monaco to Tignes through the highest peaks of the Tour De France) would summon.

Doubtlessly, and confirmed by my doctors, cycling at such high altitudes for such durations would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible with my condition. Inspired by so many other Strivers who have battled through much over the years, I took a deep look within and decided not to allow physical limitations to stop me from striving and giving back.

During Stage 3, there were points where I thought I may have bitten more off than I could chew. Each summit resulted in ever thinner air as we journeyed deeper into the French Alps – triggering ever worsening asthma.

However, I refused to stop and just kept thinking of all the children whose lives will be enhanced through the positive impact of Big Change. “Stay Calm and Pedal On” my mind kept saying… so I did. Crossing the finish line in Tignes, a feeling of euphoric joy enveloped me like no other – I had done that which many thought was impossible.

In closing, I thank all my fellow Strivers for their never ending well of positivity and encouragement that helped me push through during my darkest moments. Lastly, I want everyone to know, regardless of the obstacles or heights of the mountains they face, to never stop pushing forward.

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