On this year’s labour day weekend, Nicolas Dickey, one of our proud ambassadors, and 19 other notable cyclists embarked on a 285km ride from Montréal to Quebec for the 3rd edition of the Rouler Sur Le Tabou cycling event. We received the opportunity to speak to Nicolas about this incredible cause dedicated to suicide prevention.
How Rouler Sur Le Tabou Started
The Rouler Sur Le Tabou, or ‘Rolling on the Taboo’, cycling event began in 2018 by Nicolas’s best friend, Frederick Besner, who he has known since high school. Nicolas tells us that in high school, Frederick “was chosen by his peers, under our school program called Entraide, to play a role as a confidant for classmates. Under this program, the chosen students would have training and retreats surrounding mental health. Therefore, he’s always been aware of issues surrounding mental health and was more equipped than average with resources if anyone needed help”. Frederick also shares a love for cycling and has been an avid cyclist for the past 4-5 years.
With his knowledge and love for cycling, in parallel with the growing need of support and resources in our society to combat mental health, Frederick had the idea to create an event surrounding suicide prevention. Thus, was how Rouler Sur Le Tabou was born. This cycling event aims to raise awareness for suicide prevention by cycling 285km from Montréal to Quebec in one day.
Photo credits: Charles Trudeau
Since then, Rouler Sur Le Tabou has successfully had 3 rides (or as they call it ‘editions’) and helped raised funds for the Association Québécoise de prévention du suicide (AQPS). With each edition, a certain target is set and surely enough, Nicolas shares how they have surpassed their target each year and how “this shows a lot, especially during the first year because it shows that it was a cause that speaks for others”. The money gathered from this cause has helped AQPS with their mission around suicide prevention through campaigns, advertising or implementing programs such like a chat system where people can comfortably resort to if they need support. Besides raising funds, Nicolas also passionately shares how:
“Rouler Sur Le Tabou is meant to crush the taboo; to get people to talk. The more people talk, the less of a taboo mental health becomes and the more comfortable it is to seek support. This is what we want to do and the funds we raised demonstrates how it is an issue that speaks to the community.”
The 3rd Edition of Rouler Sur Le Tabou
Photo credits: Charles Trudeau
The 3rd edition of Rouler Sur Le Tabou took place on September 4th 2021. This is also Nicolas’s third edition participating! During the first edition in 2018, he participated as a volunteer to proudly support his best friend. From the very start when Frederick reached out to him, for Nicolas, “it was an instant yes! I always loved getting involved to help people”. He also mentions that this cause struck very personal to him as he had lost one of his good friends to suicide in 2017. Meanwhile, during the second and third edition, Nicolas participated as a cyclist. He shares how he was so inspired by the cyclists in the first edition that he just felt that he had to ride it the next year. In fact, it was in 2019 where he fell in love with cycling and “in an athletic point of view, 285 km on the bike was a good challenge being new to the sport, but it was an even bigger emotional challenge to overcome. I am more than proud to have completed it".
In this year’s edition of Rouler Sur Le Tabou (the 3rd edition), the team really wanted to go big and so, they had a target of raising $15 000. Along with their partnerships with Rise Kombucha, Oberson Boutique and Cubo Inc, they managed to raise over $25 000! Nicolas expresses how “the entire team and community are immensely blessed that Rouler Sur Le Tabou keeps speaking to more and more people”.
Challenges Faced During the 3rd Edition
Nicolas, Frederick and 18 fellow cyclists, divided in two pelotons, managed to complete the 285km in a total of 11 hours and 15 minutes with 8 hours and 50 minutes of moving time. You can check out their ride below:
Photo credits: Nicolas Dickey
During the ride, Nicolas had to overcome both physical and mental challenges. Physically, he went into the ride with knee pain that first emerged early in the season during his training for the event. Moreover, he shares how during the ride, “there was a face wind, so we were against the wind for a big chunk of the way”. Although he had athletic tape on his knee to help prevent the pain, barely halfway through the ride after their lunch break at Yamachiche, where he was able to eat, stretch, hydrate even more and massage his muscles, Nicolas “told [himself] there [were] 2 options; 1) I drop off or 2) prepare mentally and accept the fact that it is going to hurt until Quebec”.
Alongside enduring physical challenges, he had to face mental challenges as well. He shares how he was thinking about his parents’ late close friend who they had lost to suicide a year prior, in addition to his late friend, and the emotional drive to finish the ride.
Overcoming His Challenges
Fortunately, Nicolas had the support of his fellow cyclists along the journey. He mentions how “my fellow cyclists were also a huge factor in helping me overcome the challenges during the ride”. Furthermore, having had the courage to seek help from his teammates by openly talking about the challenges he was facing perfectly embodied what Rouler Sur Le Tabou was about. Because of this, as a team, they were able to overcome the challenges faced.
When Nicolas was straddling between the two options to either stop cycling or push himself to reach Quebec, he glanced down onto his bike handles which he had taped with pink bartape. He explains how his late friend “always loved pink and so in his honour my bartape has been pink since my first edition. Adding his initials and ‘67’, his favorite sports jersey number, was a reflex as he was deep into sports. This became my symbol of a big reason why I ride. It also has its perks, I love pink myself, it’s cool looking on my bike and people recognize me more easily when we meet up for group rides. I can thank him for that!” After being stuck between crossroads from the pain, this served as a good reminder;
“I looked down, saw the pink, saw his initials, saw his number and realised there was actually only one option. Some people suffered or are suffering way more than I am right now so there is no other option but to finish it. From there on I forgot about the pain until I was off the bike in Quebec City”
- Nicolas Dickey
All in all, despite the challenges Nicolas faced during the planning and ride of the event, he tells us that he wanted to go into it and have fun. With plenty of time and dedication to get the event going, he is very grateful for those who participated and donated. He also shares how the 3rd edition ride has reminded him about balance and moderation, especially when it comes to training, and the importance of prioritizing mental health.
Nicolas closes with a reminder;
“Rouler Sur Le Tabou is about getting people to talk. I always encourage people to just start a discussion around it because just speaking about mental health really opens your eyes up to how it affects everyone. From there, you’ll see how we’re not alone and that in itself is comforting and shows that talking about it openly can only help.”
- Nicolas Dickey
Photo credits: Charles Trudeau
Näak congratulates Nicolas, Frederick, all the participants and volunteers for a successful 3rd edition of Rouler Sur Le Tabou. We hope to continue supporting Nicolas throughout his future rides, especially with Näak’s ULTRA Energy Banana & Chocolate Bars (his favorite!). Lastly, we hope that our community is inspired by the Rouler Sur Le Tabou team’s dedication and join us in keeping the conversation about mental health going to crush this taboo!
We fondly show our appreciation to the following cyclists and volunteers for making Rouler Sur Le Tabou’s 3rd edition possible: