Ben Houston Ride for Freedom: Day 6

Oct 12 2013

Distance: 70 kms
Average speed: 24.5 km/h
Max speed: 93.7 km/h (dean)
Average H/R: 141 bpm
Max H/R: 178 bpm
Ascent: 1288 m
Calories: 1810

Total Distance: 655 kms

Day six of our A21 Freedom Challenge was the day of the dreaded Großglockner, the highest pass in all of Austria, and in case you didn’t know, Austria has some pretty big mountains!

We woke early this morning in Salzburg and when my alarm went off I felt like an Airbus A380 had landed on top of me. Five straight days of pushing myself beyond my limit had all caught up on me.

I begrudgingly walked out to breakfast and noticed that there had also been a slight change of scenery… it was absolutely bucketing down with the largest snowflakes I have ever seen! We had received word that in this weather they may start closing roads.

A couple of the guys jumped in a car to go check out the route and the rest of us loaded in the party bus. For a random team of unprofessional misfits, we have definitely come together this week to make this challenge fun.

At even the slightest possibility of stopping the bus would unload and the biggest snow ball fights would break out. Singing and dance parties have become a common occurrence. I’m pretty sure we have woken up half of Europe with the amount of laughter that follows everywhere we go.

We got word the highway had been closed due to an accident. So Vladi, our Bulgarian rally car driver, took us on an alternate route that weaved through the most magnificent mountains you could ever imagine.

We were like a bunch of school kids seeing snow for the first time. I think we are well beyond sanity with a tinge of altitude sickness. But we have definitely made the trip enjoyable in the midst of a lot of pain.

The road ended and we worked out we needed to load the cars onto a train that cut through some of the mountains. We ended up in a small town that became the start point for today’s torture.

There was a tiny descent with a little bit of flat road and then we began to go up. The Großglockner is an incredible mountain. It was dry and green down where we started, but you could see the snow up high. The thought that we were going to eventually end up there was hard to digest.

The climb went for about 23kms at a grade averaging around 10% and an elevation rise of almost 1300 vertical meters. I have never in my life done anything so hard and challenging. There were so many points I wanted to stop, but I kept staring at my A21 “because” band and singing Y&F songs. (thanks Lausie!)

Ben Houston A21 Freedom Challenge: Hillsong Collected
Ben Houston A21 Freedom Challenge: Hillsong Collected
Ben Houston A21 Freedom Challenge: Hillsong Collected
Ben Houston A21 Freedom Challenge: Hillsong Collected
Ben Houston A21 Freedom Challenge: Hillsong Collected

It’s one thing to do the most physically hard thing of my life, but to have pushed myself for five days straight leading up to it took this beyond measure. The feeling of finally reaching the top is indescribable. I was smiling ear to ear. And by the time everyone got to the top there was only one thing left to do… DANCE PARTY!

After sweating it out for the climb we got changed for about the 8th time and prepared for the descent. It was wet and snowy at the top but the lower we dropped the dryer it got. The dryer it got the faster we went. At one stage I was giggling out loud at how amazing it was.

It wasn’t just the beauty, or the speed, or the adrenaline, it was the sense of accomplishment as well. What had almost killed me moments ago was flying by and I was loving it.

Today we conquered a mountain, but unfortunately we have a long way to go to conquer the human slave trade. Only 1 in 270,000 victims of trafficking and exploitation are ever rescued.

If today taught me anything, it’s that the impossible is only a state of mind. It may require a lot of sacrifice, it may involve a lot of pain, it may push you past what you can bear, but we can do more than we give ourselves credit for.

Add to that the fact that scripture teaches us we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. It teaches us that what is impossible for man is possible for God.

We CAN make a difference!

We are doing this to raise awareness about the realities of slavery and human trafficking. But also to raise finances for The A21 Campaign to physically fight this evil injustice. If you are able, no matter how big or small, I would love your support. Click Hillsong.com/freedom to donate to this amazing cause.

Much love

Ben