I Came. I Saw. I Bonked. I Learned.
Bonk. A word every cyclist knows. The feeling of your body effectively running out of energy and saying it's had enough. Bonking while biking usually comes with feelings of exhaustion, fear and defeat. This summer, I am proud to admit, I successfully bonked while biking and learned a lifelong lesson in-between.
I was fortunate enough to get to spend 5 weeks biking through the Italian and French alps. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and the climbing was categorically painful. When I finally adjusted to the altitude, I decided to try to tackle Col D’Izoard, a Category H Tour de France climb.
I got on my bike and started riding. It was roughly 30 miles to reach the base of the climb, and then the climb itself was 12 miles long with a maximum of 12% gradient. When I reached the base of the climb, I knew I was already tired, but I also knew, I couldn’t give up. I began to climb. 3 miles in, my legs were tired. 6 miles in, my legs were defeated. 9 miles in, my legs were dead.
This was the point where my mind went to a very dark place. I began thinking about how nice it would be to get off my bike and quit. I thought about how tired my legs were and how much farther I still had to climb. Just as I began to slow to a snails pace, I heard someone behind me scream, “ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ!” To my surprise, there was a car driving slowly next to me, cheering me on, undoubtedly witnessing all the pain I was going through. I looked down and saw “NIBALI” written on the street, looked over at the car full of smiling, cheering faces, and realized, I could do this.
At this moment, I realized how much stronger the body is than the mind. We often give up because our mind tells us we can’t. But this, this 7,743 foot climb up Col D’Izoard, taught me that our bodies can. That when we set our minds on a goal, we can’t give up just because it is hard (or in this case incredibly painful). We carry on because we can. So you ask me, what did I learn this summer while bonking on my bike? I learned that, despite the fact that we are not all Olympic athletes, we are all strong, in body and mind.