Life lies in the challenges. In the idea of testing the limit of your possibilities and to find with fascination that you have no limits but the ones you draw in your mind the ones with which you chain to the comfort zone. I proved it to myself this Saturday. I took part in the Vitosha 100 km race by bike. For half a year the bike is my new passion. I haven’t cycled since 3rd grade but this year I tried – and it turned out to be an amazing feeling and possibility to experience the world, to go round peculiar, fascinating places
Not for a second have I doubt that I will pass 100 km. because I’m from the ones that believe in their abilities. This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. If you stand and watch, you may wonder why someone would willingly put himself through such a thing. If you participate you understand that this is much more than just a race or cycling. This is a path to yourself.
While cycling, a lot of thoughts passed through my head. At some points I wished I had a pen and a sheet to write them down. The best was that during all that time the thoughts weren’t connected to the future or past. They were just due to the present and the awareness, that every kilometer every difficulty, put before me.
During the race I realized that Vitosha tour was a symbolic living of one whole life. Just like life, which is not a straight line but a never ending wheel. You start at one place, it seems that you go far away from it, but in fact all the time you walk back to the beginning. The only one purpose is to be given something new through the years. To return to the same place but this place to be different – because you are different.
Just like in the race, the kilometers pass – with each subsequent you are growing more tired, more muddy and perhaps many parts hurt. If people look you from the side, they will feel pity for you, for the way you look because they won’t know. They won’t even suspect the way you are rising inside. The more your body suffers, the more you exult inside. The path and the difficulties you go through hurt, cause bruises, scratches to your body but enrich your soul. They give you the experience, in which the meaning of life lies. Isn’t life the same?
Years make the body grow older, lose strength. Sometimes difficulties make the body and mind howl of pain but they give you experience and wisdom that gives you inner peace. The more you survive the better and easier it becomes to go on.
I believe that for the first time I realized the beauty of the combined effort. For the first time I took part in a race where more than 1000 people start together. I’m not from those who like fuss and was embarrassed. I realized that it was unreasonable. There wasn’t any fuss. There is, if the people gathered at one place do not know why they are there and what to do. On that particular day everybody knew why they were there. All were there to challenge themselves and to race against not the others but against their own demons. I felt a strange feeling of gratitude and perfection even after the first 30 minutes. I have passed the distance from the residence to Tihiq kat (The silent nook) several times and even when I’ve given the maximum, it has taken me 50 minutes. That day I reached it for 40 minutes. And do you know what is the most interesting? It wasn’t hard at all. I did it with ease. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the people around me. When you are so many gathered by one goal, it seems that the others give you a part of their strength and motivation. They make the path easier and more pleasant. The feeling is indescribable.
Isn’t it the same in life? When you are alone the way seems hard and long. When there is someone right beside you everything looks different and easier. It starts making sense.
Here I would like to thank Ivailo for everything he is. If it wasn’t for me, he would have finished for less than 7 hours. Beside this, he told me that he would cycle with me and we would finish together. So he did. I admire the way he can tame his ego and I am really grateful for the way he loves me and the way he always manages to make me do my best.
I was charmed by the people. I expected to see arrogant contestants who will behave badly if you get in their way somehow. People were incredible. At the narrow paths, if there was someone faster behind you, he did not push you, he did not behave badly but just patiently waited for a wider place to pass you.
The route was so beautiful and picturesque. There were places where it was very hard. Places where not knowing what lies ahead, you want to stop. The mind tries to break you. But in the mountain after every steep slope a gentle descent follows.
Isn’t life the same? After every hard period, an easier one follows. After every effort and every stage of working for something when it seems to you that you are slow, comes the moment to see the results of the effort. After every steep slope, a descent follows but in the end you always reach the bottom and once again you have to make an effort to climb back. Life is the same. You can never go down in fast speed forever. You always reach the bottom and have to work to climb again.
During the way the weather changed – it was very hot, then it tried to rain and then it was cool and pleasant.
Life is the same. “Weather” changes but this does not mean that we have to stop or to give up. Every period is an opportunity – to live the years in a different way and to enjoy them. Only resistance causes sadness and struggle.
There were a lot of muddy areas where the mud was above our ankles; we had to carry the bikes on our shoulders and to climb up steep, slippery and muddy slopes. In such moments it does not matter how muddy or dirty you are. All that matters is that you haven’t reached the final point and you have to go on.
Isn’t life the same? If you have a goal, you don’t care what you have to go through. You go ahead despite all strikes, betrays and disappointments. You reach the final tired but satisfied.
During the way, on the steep slopes, I constantly overtook people who then overtook me down. I thought that life too is a pursuit – some people come into your life and then go. Years after you catch up with them again, overtake them, while others are always at the same level with you. The thing that someone has passed you doesn’t mean that you do not have the strength to catch up and overtake them.
My strong side is climbing but going down does not come naturally. Going down the rocky paths scares me but that day I surpassed myself. I climbed down confidently and quite faster that usually because I overcame fear. At the moments, when my mind tried to break me, it was like I let the fear and plunged forward with all my strength. I realized that when you descend, fear tries to push the breaks and that that was the most dangerous. The more you push the breaks, the more your bike slips because of the roots and rocks, and you can fall and get hurt. I realized that the faster and more confident you go down, the more stable your bike is and the less is the possibility of falling.
And again! Isn’t life the same? When you walk confident you make progress. If you are scared and push the breaks you don’t go far. You sit overwhelmed by fear and watch others passing you by, and you don’t manage to reach where you want because you are paralyzed with fear. A feeling that is not real. A feeling that keeps you in the comfort zone and does not let you live the best.
Right before the final is the hardest. You are already tired and may be you are bored by the efforts. You wish after every curve to see the final descend, but as if this will never happen. At that moment if you do not give up but do your best – you reach the final.
The same is in life. We are the closest to the target at the moment we most want to give up.
100 km are not few. If you start with all your strength, it may not be enough for you to finish. That is why you have to know when to give more and when to slow down. When you have to do your best with the bike and when to get down and push it in order to save some effort. The final can’t be reached at one go, but just like that with ease and constant efforts.
Life is the same. Goals are not achieved in one go but with accumulating of efforts.
We did not know what to expect that is why we had prepared additional clothes and a little bit more food (for which I will write in another article). At the final we still had food and we did not use the other clothes at all.
The same happens in life. Before we go, before we try we think we need more, that something is not enough, but at the end we realize that we don’t need much. Only ourselves.
I am proud of my fellow Rado who took part without having cycled for 10 years. Rado finished within 12 hours and did wonderful. Just another proof that not much is needed to achieve a goal – just to try.
The same is in life. We don’t start, we don’t try because we think that something is not enough and then we get overtaken by those, who do not have the right prerequisites but have the courage to go. It always helps to be prepared but even the most prepared won’t reach the target if they don’t try.
After me, two boys finished – aged 13 and 15. Unique boys! All the way we moved together and I admire them. The future stands before them and they proved that there is no age for aims. The same is in life – it makes no difference how old are you and you are never too old or too young to do something you want.
I personally stopped only 3 times – once for exactly 5 minutes, during which I ate 1 steak, and two times for a minute or two to poor water and eat a banana. Some people stopped more and probably some didn’t stop at all. Besides, all reached the final and for each of them the achievement was a triumph.
Isn’t life the same? Some people gasp for breath earlier, stop and rest. Then continue. Others pass them at full speed but this doesn’t matter. Everyone keeps their own pace and lives through the route (life) in their own way. At the end of the day (life) we all get to the final and everyone has succeeded in their own race (in their own life).
I can write a lot.
The most important is that it wasn’t just a cycling competition.
Vitosha 100 km race thought me a lot. Most of all…Vitosha 100 km. thought me how to live better and more conscious.
I thank the organizers of the event. Everything was organized very well. People at the pit stops were amazing. Even though I didn’t stop at the pit stops, just passing by I felt their positivism and support. The way they encouraged us with words “You are great.”; “Only a little left.”, “You’re doing it very well”…just a few words that meant so much at that moment.
I thank you all! I live for such moments like the 13th June.