I almost died yesterday… [Letter 7/365]

[Letter 7/365]

2 days after the event,

January 16, 2024,

11.00 pm

I almost died yesterday… 🏴

This is a story about faith, resilience, foolishness, and survival

Read on: Blog, Medium, and Substack

Read time: 20 minutes

Ride stats: Strava

0 km in

To start the day.

I had an impossible goal of riding 150 km with my new road bike.

I made my mom a promise of riding back home safely before midnight.

Never done such a distance before.

But I thought, why not? I did 90 kilos before, It wasn’t so hard…

I WAS WRONG. I almost planned to fail.

I didn’t study the conditions of the road properly.

(But more on this later).

Just 40 km in

Regretting every inch of my poor G maps’ decision-making process.

Back-pain? Check.
Legs? Sore.
Altitude? Higher and higher (1500m+)

It’s time for a break. (or a photoshoot)

Had some calories in my system and back on the road.

Body starts to adapt. I feel like I can do this.

Cars buzzing, waving, smiling, cheerleading my pain away.

But the only sound I can hear is my own.

No music, no distractions. It was all mental.

60 km in

Uphill was finally over.

I’m on time. Sun is up. Golden hour.

Enjoying the beautiful mountain landscapes, the traditional architecture, the green lands…

Farmers and country kids living life as it should be. Slow.

The magical beauty of it all.

I don’t have the right words to paint this image for you. I can’t give it justice.

It was a piece of art, designed by the creator of all landscapes, the one & only: Allah.

It was all downhill from here.

(Or as I foolishly thought so… But more on this later).

I was going 50 km/hr on a 20 km decent that felt like 2.

It was pure meditation. Pure connection with nature.

Pure focus on everything but time.

And soon enough,

What goes down must come up.

(Sorry Newton, gravity laws don’t apply on these hills).

I was 80 km in,
Life gets HARD from here

I was in the middle of nowhere.

The sun was down. FAST.

I was all alone.

In the top of what looked like an “isolated” mountain.

And I’ve seen many… But oh, this one was particularly special.

It was like a desert: A land for the “no man”.

Facing 50 kms of what felt like giant uphills.

70 km away from home.

Lost on a trail I’ve never met before.

No one dared to pass by. No signs of life.

Phone? Died on me in the time when I needed it the most.

(I managed to document the first half of the ride — https://www.strava.com/activities/10559782122)

So I started forcing my pedals… One foot next to the other.

Gathering whatever was left of me to finish the course.

I squeezed one more mile.

But that was the end of me.

I had no more food, energy, or will power to ride.

And all I was thinking about was…

How can I keep the promise I gave my mom this morning.

The promise of “coming home” safely tonight…

I started panicking. I didn’t want my mom to think I’m dead.

(This is why I couldn’t write you a letter last night).

Well I guess… People pleaser once, people pleaser forever.

I was focusing on the wrong part of the promise.

I focused way too much on the “coming home” call.

That I forget the “staying safe tonight” part.

What matters the most is me staying safe for the night, Despite mom panicking or not.

Let’s focus on that.

Survival instincts started to kick in:

  • Where can I find water to pray and drink? Walk & follow the sound.
  • Can I stay hungry for the night? Yes.
  • Can I make a small fire and not die of cold? I can try!
  • What’s a good spot to hide and sleep in? In mother nature? Dumb question. Everywhere.
  • Wild animal protection? A stick is a sword in the eye of the beholder. Live like a man or die trying… With a good fight.

At that moment, what looked like a solid plan.

I was ready for a one-night stand with the woods.

So I started walking,

Looking around, crossing my survival to-do list (ADHD issues).

Suddenly! I heard the voice of a car coming by.

I quickly turned around and stuck out my thumb in the hope for a lift.

(It’s called hitchhiking. I’ve heard… Very dangerous kids. Don’t do that).

4 cars left. None have stopped.

In the lost of all hopes but one’s of Allah.

I kept going.

Until finally…

Car number 5 arrived. My lucky number.

A group of what looked like construction workers have stopped.

They asked: “Where are you going?”
I answered: “70 kms away from here…”
They replied: “Our final destination will be 30 km away from where you’re going.”
I said back: “That works for me.”

So I put my road bike in the back and I jumped in the vehicle.

I was too tired to think of the possibility of getting robbed.

Thank God nothing bad happened.

I took that extra time to rest.

They were kind and welcoming.

They even offered to stay the night with them.

I refused.

I had a mission to finish, to come back home “safely”.

The story doesn’t end here.

What felt like “I finally made it” was far from reality.

Car was parked.

Engine, stopped.

They said: “This is us.”

The moment they stopped the car, my heart started racing at, 1000 km/hr.

It was time to go.

It was pitch black.

Deadly quiet.

What I’m I going to do now?

110 km in, Still 40 km left

Should I try to hike my way back home? Should I go back to the survival plan?

Not one single moment passed by,

I saw a light coming from afar.

This is surreal…

It was another car!!

This is my RIDE or DIE.

If it doesn’t stop, I’m screwed.

But God’s will was stronger.

The car didn’t want to stop at first.

But they second guessed it and parked 100m away from me.

I went running down to it.

I noticed that the car owner was alone.

I asked him for a lift.

He said: “No…” with a scared face.

I said back with my lights on: “Even if I’m sitting on the back all by myself? You won’t even notice I’m there.”

He said: “Fine, jump over.”

(This whole sales thing: “Like a fly in the boardroom”, was def handy — I say this all the time and I will say it again: Sales skills are life skills).

That was music to my ears!

Cold? I can survive.
Dizzy? I can throw up.
Tired? I can rest later.

I can’t lie. I enjoyed the ride.

The thrill of looking at the mountain views at night from the back of an old mini DFSK truck.

Lying back and feeling that sweet cold breeze hitting my face.

After 20 km.

We arrived to the city nearby my home.

The car owner kindly apologizes for leaving me in the back.

He said he was scared, and the car wasn’t his.

I said thank you, you saved my life.

And each went on his way.

130 km in, Almost home

I rode back the last 20 kms with blood, swept, and tears.

Nah, I’m just being melodramatic.

It was within my comfort zone.

Took me around 30 mins or less.

With a total of 150 kms crossed.

(Can you guess how much did I actually ride?)

Finally home (150 km 🏁)

“KNOCK KNOCK”

“Hi Mom, I’m still ALIVE!!”

The overwhelming joy and happiness was all over her face.

She said: Thanks to Allah for responding to my prayers.

In my head, I said: OH, YOU BET !!!

That’s it. That’s the story

I learned so much about myself.
I learned my limits.
I learned how to break them.
I learned to experience life fully.
I learned to plan better.
I learned to grow into the man I want to be.
I learned when it’s time to stop, rest, or ask for help.
I learned that not all paths can be crossed in one day.

But most importantly.

I learned that Allah would never let down someone who’s a true believer in his faith and religion.

I experienced first-hand my connection with my faith.

I never felt truly lost or unsafe.

I did my best to plan ahead.

But no plan is perfect.

I put all my faith in the one above.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

I have experienced so many stories like this.

Stories that have reinforced my faith every single day.

I’m sure a lot of you have experienced at least 1 or 2 stories like this in your life that you simply couldn’t justify with human logic.

Hope you find some comfort in my words, And some sense to my nonsense.

For those who wished me dead reading this, I’m still alive, MFers.

For the rest, Thank you for your wishes.

And with that said.

I want to leave you with a set of principles that I developed from this journey.

15 timeless principles

  1. Do hard things once in a while.
  2. If you’ve been thinking about it for months, and it finally hits you; Don’t you dare to look back or hesitate. HIT THE ROAD JACK.
  3. Risk it all, once, and you’ll never live life the same way again.
  4. If you can do it with a friend you enjoy spending time with, do it. If not, better do it alone than with bad company.
  5. The only way back is (moving) forward.
  6. Slow and steady is better than fast and deadly.
  7. Survival instincts will take you further than a dead phone with no signal.
  8. Charge your batteries: Prayer, Food, Water, Rest, Phone, Powerbanks.
  9. Plan to arrive home safely. Plan for your backup plan. Plan for what could go wrong. Plan for what could go right. Do it anyway!
  10. Listen to what your body has to say. It’s your only friend on a lonely, long, and beautiful road.
  11. When lost, ask for direction. Or worse, a lift.
  12. When unsure, lay on the ground and do nothing. Let clarity come to you.
  13. When you can, let loved ones know where to find you.
  14. Leave a note behind. Mark your territory. Document everything.
  15. You are not alone — Keep God in your heart, and you’ll never get lost in your path.

Till next time,

Your misfit friend.

P.S. I’m not perfect, Instead of chasing 365 days, I’m going to chase 365 letters.

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