Henry nailed it on the head. You can, literally, talk yourself into or out of anything. It is up to you. I could not have had any more of a lesson on this than the day that I found myself at the bottom of a famous mountain, broken, terrified, and in tears.
Alpe d’Huez is a very famous mountain that has made many appearances in the Tour de France. Composed of a series of 21 switchbacks winding their way up from the valley to the peak, this mountain is not something to take lightly.
When I showed up at Alpe d’Huez, I was not an experienced cyclist, I was not an athlete, I was not in the type of physical condition that one should be to ascend such a monstrous beast.
I had a choice. I could not even try. I could simply give up and declare that I needed to find a way to get back up to the top of the mountain without using my own two feet. Or, I could try. I had travelled all that way. I was at the base of a very famous mountain. I did not know if I would ever be back there. Crying is great – it relieves a lot of tension. Allowing myself to completely break down, be honest about my fear, and to fully take stock of my situation, took me to the conclusion that there was only one option. I had to try. By choosing to face my fear, I found a mental resilience that I didn’t know was there.
I was willing my body up the side of the of mountain, one stretch at a time. Any progress I made was a result of mind over matter. Logically, I should not have been able to ascend. There is nothing logical about will power…it allows you to will yourself to do what seems impossible. When you completely decide to do something, when you choose to believe that you will, is when you really put things into motion.
My journey was nothing as smooth or graceful as the one shown here, by the famous Pantani who holds the record. My journey was one of struggle, brute force, and putting one foot in front of the other. I made my own valiant attempt, in my own way. It wasn’t pretty, but it was one that I will never forget, and one that changed me forever. The day that I chose to climb a mountain, I chose pain, I chose to suffer, and I chose to find my inner strength.
Check out my Alpe d’Huez climb page for more details about the cycling route, where to stay, and my personal experience with this amazing mountain.
Want to read the full story? Find it here: Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book