In The Field: Nick Frendo
MAAP.cc welcomes a new member to the MAAP Family, in Nick Frendo. As far as first entrances go, it’s a pretty good one too. With September 10 being World Suicide Prevention Day, Frendo set himself the audacious target of an all-day ride in the Dolomites.
It’s the second event he’s run in a series called AFGO – Another F*@%king Growth Opportunity – aimed at raising money for Movember, to fight mental illness, and raise awareness.
Speaking to Nick the day before the ride, he was fairly relaxed about how the next day would turn out.
There’s a rough plan, but my riding’s not really about numbers – how far, how high and that kind of stuff.
The goal is merely to ride all day long, that said, he’s aware the numbers are verging on the insane. The Valparola, the Tre Cima, the Tre Croci, the Fedaia, the Pordoi, the Sella and the Gardena. Somewhere in the range of 250km, with over 8000m of climbing, it’s a ride that puts to shame even the most epic.
I thought why not do something stupid before the year finishes, and here I am… It’s gonna be interesting, I’ve not done anything like it before.
No stranger to going pushing the limit, his previous fundraising was equally bananas; 2800km with 48,000m climbing through the Pyrenees, Montoux, Alps (French, Swiss, and Italian) and Dolomites.
These efforts have been part of a goal to raise 10,000 pounds for Movember, but the ultimate goal is to continue the conversation about mental health and getting people to open up.
Whether I raise 10, 20 or 30 thousand, that’s great, it all helps Movember. But I really want to know that I’m having an impact positively on people. I get loads of messages on Instagram or emails just saying thanks, and that means more to me than anything else.
The drive behind these efforts is Nick’s own struggles with mental health. It’s been a near-lifelong struggle for Nick and has resulted in two attempts to take his own life. The Nick Frendo that has come out of that experience is a stronger, more open Nick Frendo, and one that wants to share his experience to help others.
The Dolomites are where Nick decided to begin this journey of fundraising and raising awareness, hence it’s perfect that he comes back here for his final effort of this year. It’s been a year of growth; this venture is helping him as much as its aiming to help anyone else.
It’s kind of my way forward. By doing the things I do, if it helps one person pick up the phone, speak to a friend, send a text, whatever it is, then it’s all good. That’s the motivation for me now; I feel like I’ve found my focus, and what I want to do.
Despite being a tool now for him to get his message out, the bike hasn’t always been an escape. During the darkest period of his mental illness, running his own cycling touring company, Sommet Cycling, meant that he had no escape from the sport.
My life was cycling, my job was cycling, my hobby was cycling, everything I did was cycling. So, when one of those aspects wasn’t going well, it just added to all my worries. I think I used to use it as a reason to escape or run away, whereas now it’s quite the opposite. I use it to open up to people and get my message out.
This challenge on World Suicide Prevention Day captures the essence of what cycling is to Nick. It’s bold, it’s epic, and it’s beautiful.
That’s kind of what cycling is for me. You go around a hairpin, and this valley opens up and takes your breath away. Constantly hunting for those moments.
Chasing the epic? Well, this is about as epic as it gets.
The day after the ride, Nick was physically shattered but mentally as strong as ever. Doing seven climbs is hard when you’re looping around the rolling climbs near your house, let alone when you’re in the Dolomites.
It was pretty brutal, to be honest. I’ve never done anything like that before. But in so many ways it was amazing.
While temperatures early dipped to -3 degrees Celsius, he felt some much-needed warmth from the phone buzzing in his rear pocket. Messages of support were constant, thanks to those following the ride on social media.
As of yesterday evening, I had 100 messages on Instagram.
Despite early the early chills, there were several memorable moments across the day; those spectacular mountain vistas made even more beautiful.
One of the goals was to get to Tre Cime for the sunrise; it’s one of the most spectacular views, regardless of what the weather’s doing, or the time of year. It’s stunning. But to get there at the time of day we did, and with the light the way it was, it’s just going to stick with me forever.
MAAP is proud to support Nick as he takes on the fight against Mental Health Illness. If you’re looking to support him too, his goal of 10,000 pounds is nearing closer and closer (he’s passed 9,500 in the days after this ride).
You can also jump onto the next AFGO, planned for next June you’ll have the opportunity to accompany Nick and the rest of the team from Sommet Cycling in June/July as they tackle some of Europe’s biggest climbs like the Stelvio.
But as Nick says, the best thing you can do is keep talking. Keep talking about how you’re going. Keep asking your friends and family about how they are.