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Monday, 22 September 2008

Was I good enough?

Standing on top of the world at 13,000 ft watching the sunrise?

Spending a week with like-minded people who understand the life-changing effects of attempting things when you don't know you can complete them?

Being at one with nature in it's purest form?

I really don't know where to start with my tales of Borneo - it was the most amazing week of my life and no matter how I tell the stories and the photos you see, you still won't understand the emotions involved.

I figure the best thing to do is tell it in bits and what I learnt from each day.

I want to start with the cycling because I'm still buzzing from what happened at the end.

10km from the end of a gruelling day of endless hills in 35 degree heat, Yami (the Malaysian cycle guide and 3rd best mountain biker in the country - see photo above) issued me a challenge.
Could I beat him to the hotel we were resting at that night?

Me? Having done just 5 cycle rides in preparation. Against one of Malaysia's best?

This after climbing Malaysia's largest mountain 2 days before.

With 45 miles of undulating terrain in the baking heat under my belt for the day, it seemed a stupid idea.

So I accepted.

The sunglasses went on, and I necked what water I had left.

There wasn't going to room for error or pitstops.

A quick gear shift and a nervous look back at Yami's rippling leg muscles and it was time to put the kettlebell training to the test.

I knew Yami had the endurance capacity of a Duracel rabbit on speed so I was going to have to find something else in my locker.

The only way to get close to Yami would be to take the pain levels through the roof and see if he could take it.

And off we went.

Flying along the open roads with just the noise of the local wildlife to distract us.

Small Malaysian children waved and cheered at us as we sped through their villages.

7km left.

Yami wasn't even breathing hard yet. I was!

Past rice fields and random cows in the middle of the road, the hot sun beating down.

I realised that although I was trailing sweat as it poured off my chest, I had never felt so alive.

Yami shouts that there's 5km to go.

My legs are burning (as well as my suburnt shoulders).

Yami cleverly stayed behind me in my slipstream so I couldn't see if he was hurting as much as me!

Yami shouts that we're burning along at around 30mph now. Not bad considering we're on mountain bikes with tyres like a monster truck.

The sweat started stinging my eyes and the leg burn was cutting in. My chest was heaving so hard I thought my lungs were going to blow.

"Yon, Yon 3km left - you're doing well"

This was it. Play time.

I let rip.

2 minutes later I lifted my thumping head expecting to see Yami laughing at my attempts.


I looked behind and saw his red shirt 100m back.

He'd been dropped with 2km left.

I nearly burst into tears (again - I'll tell you about the mountain soon).

When you go beyond what you think possible and justify the hardwork which has gone before, it's hard to control emotions.

I wish I could have bottled that moment up and kept it. Writing about it gives me goose pimples.

All the pain and the suffering in training had paid off in a challenge I didn't know I would face until 30 minutes earlier.

I always promote 'random fitness' when training people. The ability to call on your body to be faster, go for longer, be stronger or whatever else the random situations in life call upon.

This is why I don't admire bodybuilders or those who train purely for long-distance running. They usually fail miserable in anything other than their specialist subject.

Having done little cycling training I was able to beat a top cyclist albeit over a relatively short distance.

Clearly I don't claim that if you want to be a top cyclist you don't need to ride a bike, but on that day, mentally and physically, everything came together for me and I have never felt so much at peace with myself or with nature.

The effects of out training methods were spelt out loud and clear.

This is how life should be lived.

Where physically you are ready for anything and mentally you are at one with yourself and the natural environment.

Unless you were on that bike with me, flying through rural Borneo with the bursts of warm tropical air racing over your body, you'll never quite grasp the adrenaline surge experienced in the making of this story.

But it's my story and it will live with me forever.

You have the power to create your own life-changing stories you just have to want to do it enough.

Next up....climbing Mount Kinabalu.

Remember if you want to start developing the type of fitness which makes you ready for anything (as well as roasting body fat) sign up at . You could be writing your own story soon.

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