Iain Nussey – A Wee Ride Round The Lakes
Iain is a endurance cyclist, regular Audax rider and mental health advocate, doing many challenges to help raise money and awareness for charities like Mind. I met Iain whilst cycling to the Lake District with Steve Abraham, Iain is a big fan of Steve’s and was delighted we got to have a quick sit down and a chat about bikes.
A wee ride around the Lakes.
“I’ll need some information first, Just the basic facts, Can you show me where it hurts?”
Yesterday I set off just after 04:00 on Victor the single-speed (44/16), and returned after 17.5hrs on the road at 21:40, after covering 154 miles with 13,812Ft of climb (maxing out at 30%), burning 9,975 calories. The weather was very wet to start with, then very hot. Yes I put my foot down, and that’s ok.
Why this ride? Why Single-speed? WhyRethink? After the credits there is a piece of writing please find the time to read.
“There’ll be be no more, ah, But you may feel a little sick, Can you stand up?” (Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb)
Thank you to all that made this happen, especially my family (C.H.A.I.N), Jamie, James, Mark, Terri, Paul and Andy, Cheers Iain
Rethink Mental Illness Stolen Goat Proviz Sports Itnetuk.com Ltd 1 media Ltd Follow My Challenge Mountain Hardwear KAPZ Custom Bicycle Headset Caps APIDURA
World Bicycle Day and Stolen Goat/ReThink jersey launch ride. 3rd June 2018
Pre-ride prologue. 27/05/2018
My feeling of flatness and self-doubt has always been there, and I have learnt to live it, but periodically it spirals into depression. Are we a product of our environment or are we born this way? In my case I believe both to be true, but there is no denying the fact that our lives have become increasingly more complicated, thus adding more pressure and when more pressure is applied something has to give, like an inflated balloon. Time to release the pressure before it pops.
“United we stand, divided we fall” was Winston Churchill. Though quite possibly from Aesop (The four oxen and the lion) before it was used for military speeches.
Kirkstone 1,489Ft, Matterdale End 1,125Ft, Honister 1,168Ft, Newlands 1,093Ft, Whinlatter 1,043Ft, Cold Fell 978Ft, Hardknott 1,289Ft and Wrynose 1,289Ft. A total of 12,959Ft of Ascent in 112 miles Max gradient 30%. These figures are for riding the Fred Whitton Challenge, a ride that takes place in The Lake District every May, I will be riding an extended version.
Why this ride?
Simply it is not possible (for me) to ride on a single geared bike (44/16) without putting my foot down on these hills, but that is ok. When I reach breaking point I will stop and walk, but I will get back on knowing I will quite possibly have to stop again, and this is ok. I have done all the passes separately (bar the beast; 30%), and many tagged onto another one or two, on Victor the single-speed (yes, I name my bikes). But never as a complete route. I have ridden this route twice as The Fred, and a few times from home but always on geared bikes. In this life, one may not have a lot but one can still ‘do’. All so this is the ride I was going to use to introduce Lee to The Lakes. We talked about it but never got around to it, now it is never going to happen, I hope he will be with me in spirit on the day. R.ide I.n P.eace Lee.
On my bike I seek my own space, a place where the real does not matter, right here right now nothing else matters. One cannot out run the past, one does not have to be happy about it, just try and learn to live with it.
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill.
It’s alright not to be alright. It’s alright to stop and put your foot down when you have had enough. It’s alright to be you, and feel the need for help. It is not alright that in our society we feel shamed into not asking for help. In 2015 there were 6,188 suicides registered in the UK, the highest rate was for men aged 40-44 (Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report: 2017). This is at a rate of 84 men per week (Project 84: ITV). Even more shocking is that “75% of people that take their own lives have never been diagnosed with a mental health problem, or that only 5% of people who do suffer from depression go on to take their own lives” (Sam Parker, Esquire: 09/05/17). These figures are unacceptable, the sigma of seeking help has got to change, just imagine if those 75% sought help.
When I feel alone and/or overwhelmed, I seek my own company out on the open road. To quote my socks: “I am not anti-social I am pro-solitude”. On the road I don’t find solace, I find a plateau of emotion; I push, and in this state one cannot think of anything other than the now, the past and the future vanish, the same can be said for emotions. Truly escaping in the moment. For me cycling is not the destination, performance and equipment, it is there in that moment where nothing else exists but the ‘now’. The chance meetings are uncomplicated, there is no past and no pressure of a future only the ‘now’. As for the random acts of kindness, they certainly give hope when it feels like there is none. As an example, I was doing a night ride with a friend when it was pointed out my front light was not working. A plan was formed; I cycled behind to the nearest service station. They all stock cheap torches, don’t they? Not this one! A man overheard our conversation and offered to give me one out of his van. He was gone for some time to the point I thought he couldn’t find it, but no, he was looking for new batteries. Asked what he wanted for the torch his answer was “for you to be safe”. Back at the bikes I asked my friend whether he had any cable ties as I had forgotten mine, turns out so had he. Another chap overheard “would tape do the job?”… The tape did the trick. Amateur hour was saved by these two random acts of kindness.
Before I hid behind the camera trying to get the message out there regarding mental health, and I hope to a degree I did before I stepped away from art into the ‘real’ world. Now I seek refuge in cycling, and use it as a tool to think clearly. I now hope to use my love of cycling and what it has given me to bring about more public awareness to these important mental health issues.
Why single-speed? This was fate and a strange return to the beginning. Single-speed is a bit like brown bread. Before it was only the poor who ate brown bread, now it is fashionable as we now know it is better for you. Like the brown loaf it is now fashionable to cycle rather than ‘I cycle because I am too young, or poor to drive’ mentality. With the cycling industry desperate to keep up sales they complicate things, more gears, lighter, stiffer… more, more, more… Funny that we are now seeing the launch of ‘one systems’ and also ’12 speed’ it will be interesting to see how this plays out, will it be a return to basics? My first grown up bike was a single-speed and it set me free, independent travel with no strict time-table, but always with a slight edge of shame; it was second-hand, hand painted bike, unlike the shiny new geared bikes of my peers. Then I was sucked into the ‘more’ way of thinking, brought my first brand new bike, this was success ‘I’ve made it feeling’. Only this was not to last, it was stolen from me, the feeling of violation and being kicked back down is still with me. Oddly a touring bike was given to me, how was I to know this would end up tainting my cycling forever? This machine was amazing I went further and further on it, mainly on my own. One short call turned my world upside down nothing was real anymore, everything was put into doubt, I certainly couldn’t ride that bike again it was tainted, as was all the memories created by it. Sorry to be vague on this point I have my reasons. All these emotions and events were explored in my photography (1999-2002) and my final show ‘A distorted reflection of the past, fragmented memories’ was meant to draw a line under it but it didn’t.
Shortly after this I rediscovered cycling again, 150-200 miles a week, made up of fast 20 mile sprints. Fast forward 15 plus years and a few bikes later and I am back riding a single speed (brought my lightweight carbon bike out the other day and didn’t enjoy it). I even got sucked back into the ‘more’ way of thinking on more than one occasion along the way. Victor was brought because he was cheap and I wanted to ‘save’ my other bikes, but the more I rode the more I loved it. Two wheels, one gear, no excuses, live in the moment; it either works or it doesn’t. You learn to live with yourself and feel more at one. Victor is no light-weight, yet most of my PBs are on this machine for my set routes, even though this makes no physical sense, also I have ridden in groups comfortably. Most importantly I feel ‘connected’ when I ride Victor, and this is the only logical explanation for my performance. Truly mind over matter. Many parts have changed but he is still here, morphed into the character he is. By limiting myself, the goals have become limitless, in the same way as in my photography days when I made the decision to only use a basic camera to express myself. Set free from complications, back to the pure. Maybe this is my comfort zone ‘the simple’.
Riding with one gear and riding hard helps focus my mind on the now, if only momentarily by only allowing neutral thoughts to take place, and in doing this my senses become alive; hearing and seeing things in an exaggerate version of the real, this is particularly true in the case of night riding. All so while doing this the body releases endorphins which in turn makes one feel better. None of this will erase the situation but I feel better equipped to deal with it and in turns one sees it for what it is, it no longer feels so big and feels more manageable. Some air has been released from the balloon.
This is me and I am ok with that.
“If you are going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill
If you are feeling low, you are not alone, speak to someone, anyone. The more I speak out the more people have spoken out and ‘confessed’ to feel low etc. You will be surprise, a high number of people are out there that want to help and/or listen.
If you are feeing ‘normal’ go commit a random act of kindness, spread the positivity, it is infectious. In doing this you may just turn someone’s day/life around. Plus, karma might just come back to you in your moment.
Be safe and look after one another and yourself.