uliana strongly refutes any claims that she is more remarkable than anyone else, which was effectively the motivation behind her cycle around the Earth. She rarely tells people this, but Juliana was born into a cult. It was one of the most notorious cults to date: the Family of Love, or Children of God as they had been known. She spent her childhood in secure compounds behind high walls, in communes that were locked away from the outside world and who lived their lives under the governance and jurisdiction of their leader.
Despite her extraordianry achievements to date and her extraordinary upbringing she adamantly considers herself to be as ordinary as the next person. It was her motivation to prove that an ordinary person, without experience, money or backing, could pick up a challenge and just go for it. She believes that we are all capable of the extraordinary, and that not enough people test what they are able to do by pushing their limits and getting out of their comfort zone.
She eventually broke away from the group as a young lady and with her sisters wrote a book, Not Without My Sister, that has helped to bring down the cult and it's questionable activities.
When she decided to become the first woman to cycle around the world many said that it was impossible and that she would never do it. Considering Juliana had never ridden a bike up until then and didn't have the resources to fund such an adventure the list of doubters continued to grow. This just spurred, the ordinary, Juliana on to complete the challenge and after 8 months of training she cycled her way out of Naples, Italy and began her journey. People began to follow her endeavour online and during the course of the ride over 100 private donors contributed small donations that would eventually see her cycle the Globe and take the honoured title of being the first woman to ever achieve it.
On her website, Juliana has kept an account of her journey and the experiences that had, both good and bad. Below is an exerp from a particular high that she experienced after a significant low point cycling over the rockies:
'Somewhere along that endless uphillroad I felt myself floating, as in a lucid dream, my limbs mechanically pumping, but I couldn’t really feel them. Maybe I had been pedaling under the sun for too long. The passage of time seemed indefinite, transient. I had one of those moments when I wondered if any of it was real. I literally grabbed my flesh and squeezed it hard to assure myself that it was, but even the knowledge that pinching my skin is meant to elicit pain, told my brain it must be so. I thought, if the mind can create any reality it chooses, then what is truly real?I knew that I was tired and hungry, my body fighting fatigue and yet I pushed harder because I thought, ‘it is not me, I am not really feeling this’. And that moment of self punishment became pure inner expansion. If our minds can surpass the dictates of our bodies, then there should be nothing we are not capable of doing.
Everything starts in the mind. It is the seat of power, of whether we succeed or fail, the beginning and the end of it all. When the mind gives up, the body follows. So I pushed my protesting muscles up that mountain and I was rewarded with the red sun setting against a livid vermillion sky, jutting ridges of rock to my left, and a river snaking along my right. I stood up on the pedals, Wagner playing on my earphones, the fresh wind against my skin, a giant grin on my face, tears in my eyes and miles of pure downhill bliss. It was the rush of feeling connected to everything, to life itself. A microcosm of a universal macrocosm. 100% alive. Nothing else existed except that golden moment.'
Upon her return into Naples, Juliana, was escorted by a group of cyclists who had turned out for the final day of the journey and who wanted to support her to the finish line. She is now lining up two more events in the future including the transcontinetal cycling race from London to Istanbul and in 2014 she will be kyaking to Yangtze river from source to sea.
Juliana has a simple way of describing her decision to get up and go with this and her future endeavours. She describes her stance beautifully when she says:
'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’.'
David Fribbins joined the TakeaChallenge Team in 2012, he is a keen triathlete and a sports scientist. Living and working in London David loves nothing better than getting out of the concrete jungle and into the forests and trails be it by bike or on foot.
Next year will see David take on his first iron distance race through the night while also trying to set PB's across the board at last year's events.
Image Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9379356/To-hell-and-back-a-cult-escapees-new-challenge.html