The Cyclist Determined to Leave The World a Better Place Than He Found It

A Dunholme resident completed a 300-mile cycle challenge in July to raise funds for Mind UK – the mental health charity offering support to those in need.

In April, David Tapper celebrated his five year anniversary since his attempted suicide, which was a big milestone for him. “My son was born in October, and it completely changed my life. I was talking to my wife about getting life insurance, and I remember filling in the form and they said I couldn’t have life insurance because I had a suicide attempt in the last five years, so I was very proud when I hit the five year anniversary.”

It was around that time that David had taken up cycling to work in North Hykeham, so he decided the milestone was the perfect opportunity to challenge himself, deciding to cycle 300 miles – the equivalent of London to Paris – throughout July to raise funds for Mind UK.

“When cycling I am on my own, so I thought it was a good chance to come to terms with my inner voice – and with Mind UK being a mental health charity, it brought it all together perfectly” David explains. “I strongly believe in the idea of giving back and I’d had help from the charity previously; all I want is to leave the planet slightly better than when I found it, so if I could just give a little back, I’d be happy.”

David didn’t just want to raise money for the charity, he also wanted to start a conversation about male mental health and join the fight of combatting the stigma often still found in society.

Sadly, during his challenge, David encountered a negative response from various drivers which included illegal overtakes and verbal abuse. “No one knew I was doing it for a mental health charity, which is fine, but to shout abuse at me which affects my mental health, whilst I’m trying to raise money for a mental health charity really was something else.”

David took to Facebook to share a very tongue-in-cheek post, where he encouraged those inclined to shout abuse at him to instead share an anonymous donation on his JustGiving page, where they could add a note of what they wanted to say to him. This post gained plenty of praise from residents, but also raises the issue that even if David wasn’t raising money for charity, the behaviour of a certain motorists remains unacceptable.

“I think it is more visible that I am a fat guy trying, rather than just a cyclist. Everything about me screams different, so I think I get more abuse because of that – the words hurled at me would suggest that is the case” says David. When he was very young, David recalls noticing a larger woman jogging whilst in the car with his dad. He isn’t proud of it, but he remembers chuckling, to which his dad said, “don’t laugh at her – every lap she does, she is lapping everyone that are sat on their ass!” and David has embodied that mentality throughout his life ever since and wants others to do the same.

As we make a point to educate our children to be kind, there are still adults that don’t stick to their own advice. David gained weight through injury and illness but has recently got to the point where he was ready to reintroduce fitness into his routine. Cycling is a low impact form of exercise, so that paired with the fact David must commute approximately 11 miles to work and 11 miles back, it was a great option for him.

David won’t let the negative reactions of individuals deter him from his newfound love of cycling, and he finished the 300-mile challenge by the end of the month – despite a hiccup with his breaks which swiftly got fixed by local business Barnes Bikes – raising £250 as well as starting a dialogue with residents about mental health, meaning David’s challenge was well and truly accomplished.