Follow the fitness addict as she takes on her greatest challenge to date in this 36-hour photo diary
Alpine Coast to Coast Has Nothing on Her
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London-based adventure blogger Sophie Radcliffe has made a name for herself across the pond for tackling some of Europe’s most amazing summits and adventure races.
This month she’s taking on her biggest challenge to date, the Alpine Coast to Coast. Radcliffe will ride 994 miles through the alpine countries of Europe—Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, and France—and climb their highest peaks in just four weeks, becoming the first person to ever attempt an endurance cycling and mountaineering challenge like this.
Her mission? “Encourage others to get fit and challenge themselves by showing you don't have to be an elite athlete or the fastest or fittest to accomplish your goals.”
Radcliffe has her husband, Charley, by her side as her one-man support crew on the trek. Check out some of her journey here, and follow her progress on Twitter @challengesophie.
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Slovenia is new country for me. I Googled it quite a lot, and the whole place looked luscious and clean. There were white churches in all of the pictures, so I was excited to finally see one on my ride. The cloud was so dense, I thought it made the village so atmospheric.
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Timing Is Everything
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I just finished my 145-kilometer cycling leg, and I’m checking the time on my Suunto Ambit2 S. I like the watch because it’s multi-activity, so I can use it for checking the elevation on climbs as well distance in cycling. Fifteen minutes later, Charley and I started heading up Triglav mountain.
Here Comes the Sun
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I thought this view was absolutely stunning. In the first 11 days of our trip, it rained eight days. Today started out rainy and cloudy, but every so often, the clouds moved around, and sun came out.
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We had a 15-minute turnaround after the cycling leg to get changed and pack up bags for the mountain climb, and I left the food in the car by accident. By the time we got to the Dolic Hut at 7,000 feet, four and a half hours later, we were starving! We ate sausage and cabbage, goulash, and polenta. This is our Slovenian beer and a pastry dessert with a chocolate and orange sauce.
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Some of the huts have indoor loos. This loo is not fun. You have to go downstairs, outside, and then pee in a hole in the dark with no paper. This trip is all about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
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We got completely soaked on the walk up to the hut. One of the German guys we were sharing the room with set up the line, and we took advantage. Our clothes didn’t dry, so I had to take them off and put them in my sleeping bag to speed it along.
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At the technical part of the mountain, climbers can use the via ferrata, Italian for “iron way.” It’s a series of iron pegs, ladders, and cables that were hammered into the mountains during World War I to help the Italian alpine military unites over the Dolomites. It’s a bit safer, but we didn’t really use it because we’re quite advanced climbers.
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Climbing mountains is bloody hard work. People always think of Everest, but there are so many more amazing mountains to climb. It’s an amazing experience going to the highest peak in each of these countries, and reaching the peak is always a big deal to the country you’re in.
The Best Fuel
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Because I left all of the food in the car, I had to buy more from the mountain hut, and all they had was chocolate. This is my kind of breakfast: chocolate on top of the highest part of the mountain!
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I’m a big water baby, and one of my objectives is to find water to swim in every day. After the climb on Triglav there was a river right by our camp, and we had a soak. It was glacial water, and it was so cold.
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This is getting into bed at the end of day and having a beer. Normally I drink half of my beer and then spill the rest on the floor of the tent. That’s happened a few times. I’m exhausted at the end of the night. I’m in bed at 9 p.m., try to go to sleep by 10 p.m., and then the alarm goes off every morning at 4 a.m.
Alpine Mountain High
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This is what you do when you reach a mountain top! The morning after climbing Triglav, I was shattered. My legs felt like blocks of wood, and there was another huge climb right at the beginning of today’s bike ride. This picture was taken after making it to the top.