The sky is not the limit

December 19, 2012 in Cycling, My Ramblings by Juliana

From the beginning, everybody told me I wasn’t ready. Without a sponsor or money, without
a technical and medical support team, with only eight months of training on a bicycle, I was
not ready to leave and should delay the entire endeavour for at least another year. I got a lot
of laughs in the early days. Nobody believed I would make it, certainly not all the way around
the world, averaging 200 km a day without rest. I was not an athlete and not a cyclist. In fact,
there was nothing to qualify me for such a huge undertaking. Nothing but willpower and the
determination to finish no matter what. I was out to prove everything is possible. That we
can do things that are greater than ourselves.

If I had waited for the perfect level of fitness, the perfect cycling techinique and mechanical
know-how, the perfect weather conditions, the support, the money, doubtless I would never
have left at all. I believe that many people put off making their dreams a reality, waiting for
the right time or the right conditions. There is no such thing. The right time is now. ‘One day’
is just another way of saying ‘never’.

So I hopped on Pegasus, and pedaled out of Naples on July 23rd, 2012. From the get-go, there
were problems. My shifter broke and I cycled 2 weeks in either the highest or lowest gear. My
iPhone fell, the screen smashed in. The first month involved a lot of adjusting to just being on
the road, ironing out all the inevitabile kinks and problems that are impossible to predict.
Before I knew it, I’d crossed America. The further I got, the more people began following my
endeavour. Soon I was being literally propelled along by an international support team of
friends, strangers and well-wishers who kept me going morally and financially and without
whom the journey would have been far more difficult and failure a real possibility.

And the difficulties were numerous:

Twenty-nine flat tires, gear/shifter problems, 6 broken spokes, broken pedal. There were four
serious falls (involving blood and bruises). 70% of the journey was against strong headwinds;
between 100 – 160 kmph in New Zealand (No joke, I had to walk, it knocked me over twice
and actually lifted Pegasus in the air, bags and all). Crossed 6 mountains, the Australian
Nullarbor, got diaharea and throat infection in India, cycled four days through a cyclone, dog
attacks in Turkey, magpie attacks in Australia and to finish, -9 degrees and frostbite upon re-
entering Italy.

As I’m writing this, I’m just under 400 km from the finish line. It feels like 10,000. Every day
is a fight just to keep pedaling. The moment I stop, all I can think of is curling up somewhere
and sleeping. It’s hard to believe the journey is almost at an end. Some days it feels like it
will never end. Even my dreams involve planning routes and pedaling…endlessly. Pegasus is
pretty tired too. We’ve conquered many challenges together.

More often than not, I wondered whether I had what it took to see this endeavour through to
the end. I guess I have my answer. And I guess too, I’ve proved my point: we can do things that
are greater than ourselves. You don’t need to be rich, famous, talented, or anybody at all to do
something extraordinary. The sky is NOT the limit. There are no limits, only social, cultural,
religious and self-imposed limitations. If we can break through those, I believe humans are
capable of going much further both as individuals and as a species.