Tuesday, 28 June 2011

cycling and mental health

As you maybe aware, my dear friend and all round good-egg Simon Lamb has long been an inspirational figure for me. He is also a great exponent for cycling and mental well being. Simply visit his blog site la gazzetta della bici and read how cycling can help.

 My point i want to make follows Simon's musings. I have also believed cycling to beneficial to mental well being. My Dr long ago suggested exercise would be good for helping me cope with  depression following the birth of my daughter.(she was born with a potentially terminal illness) It took a few years to figure out cycling was helping me. but once my doctor and i figured out i was better after 4 hours on the bike we decided it would help no ends if i tried to cycle as often as i could. It did me the world of good. Whilst i wasn't fast, or strong, or able to climb hills and was generally rubbish. i enjoyed every minute. I don't know why it worked. but i try and quantify it by saying it is meditative. Buddhists believe meditation is the key to balance in their lives, I sort of get this. I can meditate given the right circumstances. but cycling is so much easier. Get on the bike head down and spin for 2-4hours. no talking no thinking just pedalling.

I've let this slip of late. things in my life are.....well....shit. no wait SHIT!  My marriage of 15yrs is over. I am still struggling as a non-discharged bankrupt and work is so busy i generally work around 60 hours a week. this means its not always possible to cycle to and from work as i need to carry farm clothes as well as factory clothes. as a result, my mental state has slipped. I find my self sitting crying for hours. I miss my daughter so much i feel physically sick. When she comes to stay, its great till she has to leave and I'm foetal on the bed crying for hours. it feels like my heart has been ripped out. Then my dear friends and family members ask me whats wrong? do you want to talk? so i say Yeah, my doctor said i have to share my problems. but their responses are not really helpful. this is where i say FUCK YOU! and just clam up again.

So back to cycling i have turned today. I rode to work today. steady rid in. not too sweaty. coming home, i did 25 miles at 90% hrm(about 175. i buried myself. I hurt my self so much. i laid on the kitchen floor drifting in and out of consciousness. nearly four hours on my legs still shaking i write this. I was at my absolute limit. Not like the cycling i used to do. I save that my super-friend Mel. no, my cycling now is about focused emotions. I found this unique motivator on the Muur in Flanders. Almost in tears thinking about my daughter, i screamed yelled grunted and shouted my way up that hill to be met by Big-Kev and his welcoming arms. This is now how i cycle. My head empties briefly this fills with emotion. followed quickly by my fingers indexing through the cassette. no longer the averages of 13mph but now averages of 19, 20 and 21mph. No more walking on hills. No more granny rings. i mother fucking dominating you fuckers now.

But is this doing me any good? well i don't know. I'm physically drained after 'my' rides and i have a feeling of serenity as i lay shaking and hyperventilating on the floor. I have pain in my thighs I've not felt since playing top flight rugby. And, i feel i am venting my anger frustrations and emotion is a useful way. Rather than previously slicing my wrists, arms and body to shreds with a razor blade. The weight is dropping off me again. A culmination of 60hr weeks and riding so much harder. Physically I am doing brilliantly. Mentally? well, we'll see how we go. I had another tear filled night tonight talking to my best-friend Jo. She asked and well, i told her.

I may not speak as eloquently as my dear friend Simon Lamb on depression and cycling, but I speak from the heart. Cycling has helped me. Cycling is helping me. Cycling will continue to help me.


  1. Been there had the children for the weekend, drop them back , then I silence so loud the ears bleed. Won't work telling you it'll get better never goes but better. Cycling my space, my meditation, my killing zone, my playstation.
    PS my new toy is a specialized Langster but my babes always been my bianchi.

  2. I feel for you and I will pray for you. Never having been there, I cannot say I understand, but i can try

  3. Thinking of you Rich. Really sorry you're going through such a hard time.

  4. Regarding riding: you need a coach. A professional coach or just someone who is very knowledgeable and can help direct your training. 2 hrs at 90% isn't good. You'll die and never see your girl again. I hope you can work it all out friend. For her sake and yours. Take care