A conversation about mental health and cycling

A conversation about mental health and cycling

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Vestry Hall

21 Paradise Road



United Kingdom

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18.30: Registration and drinks

19.00: Event - Panel and Q&A

(Four panellist - details below chaired by Adele Mitchell award winning writer: women's cycling & mountain biking)

20.00: Informal post-panel discussions with drinks and light refreshments

21.00: Event ends

The event is taking place during mental health awareness week and BellaVelo wants to take an event off the bike and offer the chance to come and listen, learn and engage with experts in the field of mental health. We want to celebrate cycling and the positive effects, listen to speaker case studies, raise self-awareness by knowing your body and mind, and what to do when you can't ride, be that through injuries or unable to get out of bed in the morning.

We hope you will join us for drinks and light refreshments following the event. The venue is fully accessible and in close proximity to Richmond Station. Please encourage friends who wouldn't ordinarily ride to join us. This isn't all about the bike and we'd love to encourage as many people to come along.

If you have any questions for the panel ahead of the event or any questions about the event please send an email direct to Charlie at bellaveloevents@gmail.com.

Charlie and the BellaVelo committee


Christine O’Connell is a keen cyclist (road and CX) and a recent escapee from many years in corporate strategy and finance. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2012 and successfully treated, but in February 2018 she suffered a seizure while cycling through Central London, which led to the discovery of a brain tumour, and a diagnosis of incurable Stage 4 cancer. A week after surgery to remove the brain tumour, she was back on the turbo trainer and progressed from slow park laps to completing the Etape du Tour and Manchester to London. She’s training for the Etape again, keen to improve on her snail’s pace performance of last year, though she never saw the broom wagon. For Christine, riding is her way of living with her disease and provides a host of physical and mental benefits.

Her cancer diagnosis led her to found One More City, an annual cycling challenge to fund a Ph.D student at Imperial College London conducting research in secondary breast cancer. One More City is a multi-day challenge starting from where the previous year’s ride has finished, and has progressed from 4 people riding from London to Paris in 24 hours to this year 32 people undertaking the 720k between Amsterdam and Strasbourg in 4 days. The ethos of ‘One More City’ is that the journey is never over; we are always progressing towards the next city, there are always more kilometres to do, more climbs to conquer and more challenges to face. This is akin to the reality of anyone living with cancer, especially secondary cancer, for whom the challenge is never over; there are always more treatments to endure, more scans to face, more side effects to manage. For more information about One More City and secondary breast cancer please see onemorecity.cc

Chris Jarvis

As a child, Chris had an unusual degree of autonomy and would escape from the pressure and turbulence of a large dysfunctional family by heading out on mini cycling adventures. One of which saw him riding on the M25, probably the only cyclist to have done so. Now with a more serene home life, he tries to get out on cycling adventures when he can fit them in around working as an IT Professional in the publishing industry.

An avid utility cyclist that was politically active in his youth, he inevitably got involved with cycling campaigning after feeling that descending from a mountain at 70kph was less dangerous than cycling on London roads. After reality kicked in and all hopes of ever riding with the pro peloton faded, he has been involved with the British Cycling Accredited Marshal scheme enabling safe road racing in the South East region for the last 5 years.

He has more bikes than his flatmate is comfortable with.

Victoria Walford BA MBPSs PGdp EMDR/AF-EMDR, Psychologist & Psychotherapist

In 2009 Victoria was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Refusing medication she returned to university to study Psychology to help herself heal naturally. Whilst healing she founded an award-winning Free-From bakery, Victorious Baking, but the wounds were slow to heal and over time she took greater pleasure in using her understanding of healing to help others.

In 2015 another accident stalled her further however, the healing time helped her formulate Pocket Stress Buster and her final career choice of being a trauma-informed Psychotherapist. She now has a private practice in Victoria and is about to complete another MSc in EMDR psycho-therapy.

In 2017 Victoria finally returned to cycling adventures and last year completed 1000 mountainous kilometres in Vietnam for PTSD Resolution.

Exercise continues to be more challenging than it appears, both psychologically and physiologically as her body adjusts and re-adjusts to training. This said she remains in awe of how adaptive the body and mind are - no matter one’s age. She believes objective curiosity, self-compassion and pragmatic action is paramount to enhance performance - no matter your goal.

Lastly, If you’re feeling stressed, Victoria is looking for participants to partake in a unique 6 week self-guided stress-busting programme to help you reach your life goals. The programme is part of a research study she’s undertaking for UCL’s EDUCATE ed-tech incubator programme. Please ask for more information if you’re interested.

Nerina Ramlakhan PhD is a physiologist who has specialised in maximising individual and organisational performance for over two decades. After completing her post-doctoral training and research into the effects of lifestyle interventions on the alleviation of mental disorders, she spent five years in corporate health screening before studying organisational psychiatry and psychology at Guys Hospital and beginning organisational consultancy, workshop facilitation and coaching. For over a decade she worked with the Nightingale Psychiatric Hospital in London on their sleep, energy & physical health programmes that are designed to support mental wellbeing.

As the original founder of BUPA’s Corporate Wellbeing Solutions, she is a regular speaker at many City groups. In April 2000, she set up her own consultancy and has worked in various industries including sport (Chelsea Football Club), legal, insurance, accountancy, management consultancy, various sections of the police services, media, investment banking, telecommunications, healthcare and pharmaceutical, oil, TV, defence, engineering and IT.

Nerina’s work with individuals and organisations includes motivational and leadership programmes at Ashridge Business School, Wellness and Energy programmes, return to work coaching following long-term sickness absence and burnout prevention. She also runs regular sleep/energy workshops for women recovering from cancer at the Haven Centre in Fulham.

Nerina’s work is featured regularly in the media - The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Sunday Express, The Guardian, New Scientist, The Evening Standard, The London Paper, Woman & Home, Healthy Living, Red and Psychologies Magazines. She has talked about power napping on the Radio 2 Chris Evans show and has appeared on GMTV, CNN and more recently, SKY NEWS talking about technology addiction. She recently appears on ITV’s This Morning show teaching the nation how to sleep peacefully. Nerina is the sleep advisor to the Silent Night bed company and Melia Hotels and Resorts.

Nerina uses her academic background in physiology, philosophy and psychology to guide her teaching, but her approach is highly practical. She has a strong belief that everyone can live a healthy and more fulfilling life by tapping into and nurturing their deepest inner resources – even in these hectic, technologically driven times that we live in. Her work, both with individuals and organisations, is dedicated to helping people to create greater balance, vitality, meaning and peace.

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