Friend of GritCX, Rab Wardell got in touch to tell us about his bike packing trip to Belgium. We liked the sound of the trip anyway, but learning that it was for a good cause, we thought you’d enjoy the photos and appreciate the opportunity to support CALM. Over to Rab…
Earlier this year I hatched a mad plan to bikepack (or cycle tour for non-hipster trendies) to the heartland of cycling to ride one of the most iconic cyclocross races in the world. The Koppenbergcross in Belgium.
I’d been riding my Stigmata a whole lot and was stoked on how versatile it was. It’s my road bike, commuter, gravel bike, adventure whip and cyclocross race piece!
I want to be open and honest about the fact that riding my bike is like therapy to me – it keeps me happy. Like so many people these days I suffer with high and low moods as well as depression. I now know that I’ve developed poor coping mechanisms over time to deal with this. I avoid my problems far too frequently and I am guilty of distracting myself from them instead of facing them and finding a solution.
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser) I try to learn from my mistakes. I try to recognise the changes I have in mood, to understand why and then find positive ways to cope or problem solve. During the last few years I have had to deal with grief, bereavement and failure. Social media likes and partying have been a quick fix to feel better for a short period of time, but often the low which follows the high can be worse than the one which came before…
That’s why to me, discovering and choosing positive mental health choices is more important. Regular exercise, personal goals, adventure, real friendships, face-to-face social interaction, more family time, less screen time and a healthy lifestyle routine makes me feel so much better physically and mentally. It’s not always exciting and it takes discipline and sacrifice, but it is worth it.
Ignoring mental health warning signs and low moods can result in serious and tragic consequences. Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men aged under 45 in the UK. I know too many people (male and female) who have felt so trapped and helpless that they have taken their own lives.
Through my blog, and in real life too, I want to try and contribute to the movement to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. I also want to help remove the cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times, and failure of being in control to be seen as weakness and a loss of masculinity.
CALM is an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. I decided that if I was to embark on a crazy adventure with a bike race at the start and end of the trip, I would like to raise money and awareness for their cause.
Bikepack To Belgium is a wrap. With my friend George Eccleston, I raced Irvine Beach Park National Trophy Cyclocross before riding 535 kms to Belgium to tick the Koppenbergcross off my bucket list. As it stands I have raised 85% of my £2,500 target for CALM. If you would like to help me reach my target you can donate by clicking here.
I want to thank everyone who has shown support for Bikepack to Belgium, as well as a huge thank you to the photographers who have let me use their images below. I have so many people to thank and I will do so in person when I see you, hopefully sooner rather than later…
So that’s a wrap! If you made it this far then thanks and I hope you enjoyed the bants! You can check out the whole ride on my Strava page! One last reminder that if you would like to help me reach my fund raising target you can donate by clicking here.
’til next time….
Over and out
If you want to find out how Rab’s race went, head over to his blog for the rest of the story…