My Strive Experience: Stage 3
29th January 2019
By Susie Ma
My journey so far was off to an incredible start, with the team and I ending Stage 2 with a luxurious stay in the Monte Carlo Fairmont. It felt amazing to be back in civilisation again after the hike; living out of a backpack and drinking tea from bowls was fun, but I was ready to sleep in a proper bed again!
It wasn’t long since I’d been pushing myself to the limits on my bike, and the next stage of the challenge was, you guessed it, a 5-day cycle. This time travelling from Monaco to Tignes through the Southern Alps and taking on the iconic Tour de France climbs. The entire team knew this was likely to be the toughest part of the whole challenge, as we’d be cycling a distance of 110km and climbing 2,100m each day. I hit a wall of tiredness at this stage in the journey, as I think a lot of people did, and I became a little more socially withdrawn in order to concentrate on what I needed to achieve. I remember feeling like I just had to get through the 10 hour days so that I could enjoy a night of sleep to recover. Despite my lack of energy, I was still able to marvel at the incredible views on the Tour de France, with climbs that sometimes took us into the clouds - a surreal experience!
The altitude we were facing made it hard to breathe, and the constantly faltering temperatures made the climbs even more challenging, but we cycled on through some of the most famous cycling spots in the world, taking on: Cime De La Bonette (one of the highest paved roads in Europe, at 2,802m), Col De Vars (which featured beautiful French towns with pretty buildings), the Étape Du Tour route, Col d'Izoard and the epic Col Du Galibier, a 2,642m climb that I accidentally cycled with my brakes engaged! This last climb took around 5 hours to complete, and was unspeakably cold so I had to get off my bike several times to warm my hands up so that I could squeeze the brakes when needed. On the way down I actually fainted from sheer exhaustion, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to continue, but a fellow Striver named Steve kindly got me into a car to descend the rest of the way so I could rest up and carry on. This section of the journey was particularly dangerous, and the husband of one of our very own Ambassadors even ran into a car and got a nasty cut on his leg, but still managed to complete the day!
Luckily I was due for a break in the journey at this stage which allowed me to rest, as I was booked to travel back to the UK to appear on a panel at the Red Smart Women event, and then of course, the Glambassadors event - my favourite time of year! I flew back via Lyon, spent some time in the Tropic office, followed by the Red Smart Women panel talk, and then headed straight to our best Glambassadors so far, our ‘Greatest Show’, which was the perfect way to catch up with the Tropic family. I was thrilled to speak to over 2,000 women on the day, our biggest audience ever, and then enjoy our Managers’ training on the Sunday. In the blink of an eye it was time to go back to the airport to board a flight to France, before heading straight onto the hike to catch up with the rest of the Stage 4 participants.
I did a LOT of intense physical work and travelling over those few days, and both my body and mind were exhausted throughout, but it was a great chance for me to exercise the power of getting over limiting beliefs. Knowing that I had a challenge to take on for Big Change, and not allowing one limiting thought into my mind (“I’m too tired”, “I’m not going to make it to the end of this”, and so on) meant that I lit a fire of internal confidence that spurred me onward. I genuinely believe that giving yourself a challenge, no matter how small, helps your mind to push past negative thoughts and achieve what you want in life. I see it every day when our Ambassadors set goals for themselves in their businesses and don’t stop until they achieve them, and I saw it at every stage of the Strive Challenge when so many of the team ignored the boundaries of their comfort zones and smashed goals that they never imagined they could. Knowing that if I can do this challenge, I can do anything life throws at me, is a lesson I will take with me forever, and I hope I can inspire others to do the same.
Love, Susie xx