THE ROAD TO RESPAIR: MY MEANINGFUL MILES
The OED has “respair”, both as a noun and verb, meaning the return of hope after a period of despair.
The reason I'm doing this is a very personal one. In 2017 I reached a crisis point and couldn't see a way out. It culminated in two suicide attempts. I had isolated myself and tried to battle through on my own, it didn't work. Since then I've set out on a mission to help others by sharing my story and how I cope.
In 2019, I decided to raise awareness around suicide prevention and mental health and to support Movember and their incredible work. In June 2019 I rode across the Pyrenees, Alps and Dolomites, 2800 km and 48,000 metres of elevation. I followed that up with 8 passes in the Dolomites in a day which include the Fedaia, Giau, Pordoi, Tre Cime and more. In March I rode 4382 km in the UK. The significance of the number was that in 2017 the year I attempted suicide 4382 men in the UK took their own lives. My goal is to help bring those numbers down and to help show people that you can have hope and there are reasons to not give up.
With the onset of winter and a second lockdown I'm worried we'll see an increase in mental health issues and a rise in suicides over the next few months. Shorter days, winter weather and feelings of isolation and despair will no doubt be on the rise. On top of that 2020 has been a crap year all round. This year has taken its toll, people are isolated like never before and will be experiencing feelings of loneliness like never before. Others have lost their jobs or are generally struggling to cope. The days are getting shorter, the weather more miserable and it's hard to be positive.
I decided each day in Movember and the months ahead I'm going to ride and make sure I share a coffee or beer and "check in" on someone everyday. It might be a spin down the road, it might be 300 km, who knows? I want to highlight the importance of getting out with a friend, we can either ride together or just grab a drink, make sure they’re OK and maybe even provide a small distraction from all the doom and gloom.. There doesn't have to be a back story and it's not about epic sh*t, it's about social connections and their importance. A small effort can make a huge impact on someone who’s struggling, just knowing people are there and they care will help get them through these difficult times.
I want my mileage* to count for something. I don’t ride for numbers, I don’t care about distances or power, cycling for me is about experiences and creating memories. I’m hoping I can provide people with something positive and I want to encourage as many people as possible to do the same.
Thank you to everyone who’s joined me on this journey so far and to Muc-Off for supporting me. Drop me a line if you’d like to join me firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Obviously as a cycling snob I work in Km’s not miles