No matter how much I try and focus on the road ahead my eyes can’t adjust to the light. Another long blink and it’s the same. Black. Not just your regular opposite of white with a sprinkle of light pollution either to soften its edge.

The world feels heavy on my limbs, like the higher I climb the stronger the gravitational pull on my body back down to earth. That annoying voice in the back of your head, you know, the one that tries to plant a seed of self doubt has tried to speak on several occasions but this time there’s nothing to say, either that or I simply can’t hear it anymore. The line’s been crossed and there’s no going back…..

That annoying voice in the back of your head, you know, the one that tries to plant a seed of self doubt has tried to speak on several occasions but this time there’s nothing to say.

mike-cotty-riding-at-night Climbing The Col du Galibier at night – Les Alpes Challenge, August 2013.

per·cep·tion

/pərˈsepSHən/ noun: perception; plural noun: perceptions

1. The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. “the normal limits to human perception”
 “the perception of pain”
 “our perception of our own limitations”

2. A way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. “The perception of speed, distance and time being of unique value to the individual”

Forget about what is perceived as a long time or distance and you’re now faced with a blank canvas with the only limitation now being the strength of your mind.

For two decades I’ve been intrigued by the word perception, a benchmark in quantifying my own thoughts on what may be possible. It’s only when I learnt to look beyond this that I realised that things like time and distance are merely measures relative to one’s perception of their own ability or limitations. Forget about what is perceived as a long time or distance and you’re now faced with a blank canvas with the only limitation now being the strength of your mind – the most powerful dictator of all. What’s more you can apply this to everything you do in life.

Have courage in your conviction, keep calm and believe in your ability.

The good news is, it’s not rocket science. You have to commit and want it more than anything. It sounds simple but let’s not take this lightly. I mean you have to really, really want it like nothing else and focus everything you have on making it happen. Finding this mental state of mind is not easy. Ask yourself the question “what made you stop?” Was it your body or your mind that said you can’t go on? Getting close to the line is one thing, but that’s normally where the doors blow off and that voice inside takes a resounding victory lap of honour with a blatant disrespect for everything you’ve worked for. This is the critical moment. The moment when, despite everything, you absolutely have to find the courage from within to shut that voice up – or it’s over, for good.

Getting close to the line is one thing, but that’s normally where the doors blow off and that voice inside takes a resounding victory lap of honour with a blatant disrespect for everything you’ve worked for.

It’s more than just sprinting harder (although that can help) it’s about self control, discipline and an implicit belief in yourself. Embrace the suffering and turn it into a positive. Only then can you pass into new territory where it’s possible to use this focus as a way of distorting reality to your advantage even more. Suddenly you’re in a new dimension where everything seems possible.

mike-cotty-pain Approaching the summit of The Col du Glandon after 11hrs still with another 22hrs to go.

…..finally I reach the summit, tonight the Col du Galibier is beyond all expectations, standing proud at 2,642 metres above sea level. The darkness of my mind subsides to reveal a billion stars of the never-world high above. It’s already taken 16 hours, some 300 odd kilometres, 8,000 metres elevation and nine mountains to reach this point. It’s 1.30am and if perception had any hand to play I’d be long tucked up in bed by now. As it is I’m still not even half way yet. “Is that all you’ve got? Come on I’m just getting warmed up. Show me your pain and I’ll make it my pleasure”.

It’s 1.30am and if perception had any hand to play I’d be long tucked up in bed by now. As it is I’m still not even half way yet. “Is that all you’ve got? Come on I’m just getting warmed up. Show me your pain and I’ll make it my pleasure”.

col-du-galibier-night-sumit Gifted with a calm night and bright sky at the summit of the Col du Galibier.

For further insights into my take on perceived reality watch Les Alpes – a non stop journey across the Alps.

Photos by Loris von Siebenthal and Deborah Malin.