When professional snowboarder and keen cyclist Nelson Pratt took his own life in 2012, Marcus, his best friend, and Nelson’s family were determined that his legacy and spirit were honoured. A place where friends, family, and fellow cyclists could come together and experience Nelson’s favourite rides, hear his story and use his legacy to help others. The incredible Tour de Test Valley was born.
8 years on over 7,000 cyclists have hit the road and raised over half a million pounds for CALM, raising awareness of suicide and helping fund our life-saving helpline.
This year – as we couldn’t be there together in the Test Valley – we asked you to take on your favourite ride.
And boy did you. What an epic weekend it was. From the Isle of Skye to Cornwall, Lisbon to California, you took on your favourite rides across the world. So many miles cycled (someone did 310K!!), so many brownies baked. We salute you all.
We asked Marcus to tell us what made the day so very special:
This Saturday, the scheduled day for the live event of the 8th Nelson’s Tour de Test Valley, turned into a very special day for me and the Pratt family.
As soon as the sun came up, and Nelson’s brother and I plus a couple of friends hit the Test Valley roads, riding the Full Monty 100 mile route for the first time since Nelson and did it over 10 years ago, the sadness and disappointment of not seeing everyone quickly turned into a powerful feeling of connection, community and one of an overriding spirit (excuse the pun).
This came from not just seeing so many ‘Ride On Nelly’ jerseys out on the normal routes, but also from the pictures and stories that started to pepper my phone and social media channels. Family, friends, strangers, seasoned riders, first timers, every timers, toddlers, tandem riders, hairy legs, shaved legs, skin suits, baggies – from the Isle of Skye to Cornwall, from Lisbon to California, it seemed hordes of people had embraced our virtual ride, stuffed their pockets full of ‘Edie’s Legendary Brownies’ and saddled up to ride their ‘favourite ride’. It’s was amazing to see and I’d lie if I said it wasn’t a bit emotional.
Without trying to sound evangelical it made me realise how powerful the event has become to people, Nelson’s family, and me for that matter. The story of Nelson, the stark tragic facts surrounding suicide in the UK and the heightened importance of our mental health in todays climate has meant that the event has become central to peoples year, seemingly for lots of different reasons.
This year the event has provided both an online and physical human connection, combined with the simple, scientific and holistic benefits of cycling outdoors. The event and jerseys make us feel almost like a club, combining to use Nelson’s story and spirit to help others, raise awareness and look after each other. And it’s working. I’ve seen people open up more and more, asking for help and using things like CALM’s services where before this may never have been an option.
There are too many stories and heroes from the day to mention but some standouts need a shout out…
Chris Parker cycled from dawn to dusk clocking a bum numbing 305km in 10 hrs,
12 year old Felix Cooper rode 150miles from Walney to Whitby,
Natalie Meyer rode with her whole family and a big gang of kids in Jersey across the island
Olly Wood and friends in the Isle of Wight sported nearly every jersey we’ve ever made,
CALM supporter Adam Gendle and family, Bryon Ford and friend on the Isle of Skye
Jenny Jones and crew repping in the Midlands
Nelson’s brother Chris rode his first 100 miles in years, eating 12 of his mums brownies in the process!
The list goes on and on… there too many to mention and too many high fives to be thrown. It’s cheap to say but we cannot thank you enough for making the day so so special.
I know how biased I am but Nelson was a very special individual, he touched everyone he met with his modesty and beautiful nature when he was alive, but what’s incredible is that he’s doing that now he’s gone as well. His spirit is with us and is serving a powerful purpose, to show there is another option and together we are stronger. We are here for each other through simple human connection, love, and there’s help out there which will work, even when it feels so shit. He is helping us all be more open and honest.
As I left the Test Valley I stopped at Nelson’s grave and left one of his Mum’s brownies for him. I had forgotten that his stone carried this quote below that perfectly sums up what this weekend showed me, and why the event is so important to us all.
“When you live in the hearts of those you love, remember then, you never die.”
Ride on Nelly. We ride with you, for you, and for others.
To sign up for news about what’s coming next, discover who won the prizes from the weekend or just to find out more about the event head here.
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