The Alpine Coast to Coast adventure is Sophie Radcliffe’s latest adventure. In rare company, Sophie is only the second person ever to be featured more
than once in the magazine. The first time we talked about her and all of her various adventures, this time it is to showcase her extraordinary
achievement with the Coast to Coast challenge.
The Alpine Coast to Coast challenge involved cycling the eight alpine countries and climbing their highest mountains over the course of four weeks.
From Trieste in Italy through Slovenia, Austria, Lichtenstein, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France, finishing in Monaco. This includes over
1600 kms of cycling through the Alps withstunning scenery and lots of hills! As well as 141km of climbing, 45,000m of assent and a lot of food.
This became the longest and toughest ride of Sophie’s career to date. Not only is this remarkable for the sheer feat that it is, but that it has
never been done before. Sophie has gone into the record books as the first and only person in history, male or female, to cycle the eight Alpine
countries and climb their highest mountains in one push. That deserves huge amounts of respect for all she has achieved.
For Sophie her motivation wasn’t about setting a world record or becoming the first to do something that just happens to be the icing on the cake.
This was about Sophie pushing herself, about her adventure and yet another learning curve for her on her journey through life. Sophie was very
clear through the whole conversation that this was about more than an adventure; it was about growing as a person, being open to changing as a
person. This is a holistic approach to adventuring (if I could coin the phrase?) if ever there was one.This is where there is both an adventure
and an achievement at the end, but this is only part of what the person is wanting from the experience, itis also about wanting to learn about
themselves and grow. This was paramount for Sophie and in so doing, she not only achieved her goal but has learned a great deal about herself and
has propelled herself onto her next stage in her journey.
“Can I do it?” was the question Sophie asked each day, propelling herself through thirty-one days of physical and emotional limits and in doing so
she was empowered by the feeling of being able to achieve each step along the way.There may have been a huge impact on her body, but she surprised
herself even with the ability to push through to the point where her body adapted to the rigours. Each day was not only about getting from A to
B but all that lay in between, from elements to emotions to hills but also about her continual growth as a person in all the challenges she faced.
Sophie said “….it showed me that we can achieve anything, like water. It always finds a way through obstacles and so I ask: how can I get
through this obstacle?” She continued by saying that “….we all have a toolbox that we carry through life that we use to get through challenges,
by using our skills.” For Sophie the toolbox grows and the ability to use the tools in it grows and makes her more adept at dealing with new situations
- andher tool box has definitely been upgraded on this adventure!
There are always two schools of thought for most things in life and planning is most definitely one of those. Sophie falls into the ‘don’t like to
plan’ school of thought that believes that taking each day and planning on that day and focusing on that day has huge benefits. This is how she
operated on the Coast to Coast challenge. “Let’s get on with it,” she says of her planning. The upsides for her were that everyday brought new
surprises and adventure, it also allowed her to focus on that day rather that on the whole plan and in many ways meant she enjoyed that day more
because of it.
The interesting thing is that prior to attempting to climb Mont Blanc for the second time and only a few days short of completing the whole adventure, she started to look to the finish and wonder if by pushing herself to do this assent (she had by this stage contracted a bad cold) she
would compromise the balance of the trip. This thought and the cold pulled her down. However, this is what separates the good from the great and
at this point she did two key things: firstly she allowed herself the emotion. “You need to let yourself feel, you are pushing yourself and body
so much,” Sophie said. This allowed for her to not use extra energy fighting the feeling or emotions but to go with it, to understand why she was
feeling like that and then deal with it. The result…she learned more about herself and in so doing could do the second key thing: to remember
what she was doing and focus her mind back to the challenge of the day, not on tomorrow, and to go on with the challenge. Having asked herself,
“can I do this today?” and having answered yes, she could leave concerns about tomorrow behind.
The thing that stood out for me, following Sophie as she was on her coast to coast adventure, was the openness and honesty with whichshe conducted
herself. Sharing her ups and downs, triumphs and emotions with all, never allowing herself to hide behind an ‘adventurer’ title. “I think it’s
reallyimportant to share your ups and downs. I want people to take something from it. If they see I’m totally normal maybe they will think they
can do something extraordinary,” she says of her desire to be grounded and to be transparent with her emotions and the challenges she faces.
I love this about her and this for me sums Sophie up best. She is an adventurer who is doing it in order to grow and learn more about herself, rather
than for the fame or glory. But more importantly than even that, she wants to engage with people. She wants to encourage others to get involved
and to achieve things they thought were not achievable for them. This was only a small nuance within the conversation and almost missed, yet these
words confirm her true desire: “If people see I’m normal they can do something extraordinary.”
She is ‘normal’ and wants to see others encouraged to be extraordinary, she is wanting to put them ahead and above her. Surely this selflessness and
desire to improve those around you is what makes people stand out from the crowd and become an inspiration to others.