In the past five days we have cycled twice the height of Everest and more than 500km for the Virgin Strive Challenge. We’ve taken on many of the incredible climbs of the Tour de France route (including the Col de l'Iseran, Cime de la Bonnette, the Col D’Izoard, Col du Vars and possibly the most famous climb of all, the Col du Galibier).
I was so overwhelmed with such a feeling of pure joy when we made it to the top of Col de l'Iseran (our last climb and the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps) that I picked up my bike and held it over my head in triumph.
We’ve now completed the third stage of the Virgin Strive Challenge – I was so happy to finish after five days of relentless, gruelling climbs I gave my bike a wobble across the finish line.
It’s hard to comprehend from pictures the sheer beauty we are surrounded with – but along with the really steep climbs, it really takes your breath away. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful and extraordinarily difficult route that takes in many of the climbs on the Tour de France route - including Cime de la Bonnette, the Col D’Izoard, Col du Vars and possibly the most famous climb of all, the Col du Galibier.
Along with the stunning scenery, it’s the small things that keep us going – the smiles and waves of the local people, the bells jingling when cows turn their heads to look at us and the toots of the horns when the very occasional car passes us.
As I was coming up on one of the steepest climbs I heard one of the guys say ‘God, I wish I was at home’ – but sitting down for dinner in the evening he was so satisfied he’d managed to pull it off. Every single person has pushed themselves above and beyond anything else they’ve done in their lifetime. I feel incredibly fortunate that my body has held up really well – I feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger every day. This is the best (and youngest) I have felt in years!
It doesn’t matter if you are pushing 70 – anyone who is fit and well can take on these kind of challenges if they look after their body. Life is so much more enjoyable when you are able to say yes to these kind of adventures. It’s so important to push yourself in life beyond what you think your limits are – and a lot of it is down to your mind and not your body in the end. Keep pushing those pedals!
We’re giving our bodies a well-deserved rest today. Though work hasn’t stopped even when I’ve been striving - I’ve been waking up early and doing two hours work before Strive gets going for the day and then cramming some more in when we get back. I just want to say a quick thank you to all the wonderful people who work to keep things going even when I’m halfway up a mountain; the brilliant team keeping us going along the Virgin Strive Challenge and all of the Strivers who have achieved such incredible feats of personal endurance.
Stage Four will see us hike between the ski resorts of Tignes and Chamonix, taking in some lovely alpine views on our way to tackle Mont Blanc in Stage Five of the challenge.
Find out more about the stages and why we’re doing it over on the Virgin Strive Challenge website.