Steve McDonald (Looking Back On 2013)
Back in 2013 I and my good friend Richie chose to do something that would not only change our lives but it would also, unbeknownst to us, kick the doors of opportunity right open with such force that no lock would have kept them shut. We left Dublin in the direction of Gorey on the 2013 Cycle Against Suicide, we’d signed up for the experience of a multi-day cycle but I also wanted to use it to remember a good friend taken by suicide. The first day was great craic, not as eventful as the cycle is now because many people were still a bit nervous, teething problems with food stops and people having mechanicals were the order of the day. That’s about the most interesting part of the first day, apart from being ridiculed by P.J. Gallagher and falling in love with Roz Purcell, some were struck down with love sickness more than others (Cian?). So anyhow, to get on with this…We had a few drinks in the bar of the Hotel we’d booked, The Amber Springs, our company was good but it got even better when we were joined by two Deise boys, James Skelton and Cian Chino Power. That was the first day of the first cycle against suicide for me (with a whole lot of important stuff left out) in a short paragraph.
It was the next day that made the difference, day two. We cycled to Waterford from Gorey, most people had never cycled two consecutive days to anywhere, let alone half of the East Coast of Ireland, but the mood was special and the spirits were high. I met the two rogues I’d spent the previous night sharing bottles of Clonmel Chardonnay with en-route and the banter was unmatched.
There was something special about the people on this cycle, something that was not immediately apparent the previous day but now it was starting to shine through just like the sun that was warming us on the road. The day drew on and we were nearing Waterford so the event Organisers, I think there were 3 or 4 of them altogether, Emmet McAviney (this is not a race) was the most prominent of them, apart from Jim that is.
Anyway, we pulled into a guest house/pub just before Waterford, it was the SOS Beag for the afternoon. I don’t really recall what happened but someone got the bright idea to get everyone to stand in for a photograph, at the time it felt like there were thousands but now when I look back I realise that it was a relatively small group of people, a small group that has grown into thousands because someone had an idea and brought that idea to life. Anyhow, this was supposed to be the last day of the cycle for myself and Richie, we’d planned two days and because of logistics, we were going to leave in Waterford. That changed just as that photograph was taken, John Byrne had mentioned that Deenside Wheelers were running a bus down the following day so a quick phone call secured passage for myself and Richie back up to Kilkenny for the third day extending our journey onto Cork.
It was that day that I realised the significance of the Cycle Against Suicide, it was that day when I felt that the Cycle Against Suicide was something special, an event where you could be yourself without feeling ashamed or embarrassed, it was that day when I met some of the most special people that were ever put on this earth, I guess it’s not their faults that they were from Waterford, just joking. So I felt that I wanted to be involved in this movement and I realised that just by wearing the Orange Jersey and believing that the words “IT’S OK TO NOT TO FEEL OK AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY OK TO ASK FOR HELP” resonated with the most simple yet important message I was one of the lucky people to have experienced such a joyful journey. That was 5 years ago and the movement that is Cycle Against Suicide has evolved into its current format today, some people think it’s better, some don’t and that’s ok because everyone’s opinion is personal to them, but for me what is important is the message that it brings “IT’S OK TO NOT TO FEEL OK AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY OK TO ASK FOR HELP”. I wish all of my friends and people who are trying to make a difference on the Cycle Against Suicide 2018 a safe and memorable journey, the fact that so many have returned is a testament to the power of the cycle. Be safe, Be seen, Be mindful, Be loud, but above all else Be yourself because everybody else is taken…. Yes, I stole that.