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Nine Mountains

Two Riders - One Cause

Nine Mountains

Two Riders - One Cause

Wanting to raise awareness for Men's Mental Health Charity James' Place, Leo Russell and George Stagg decided to tackle something that would push them to the limits. This summer, over 15 days, the pair will cover 3200 km, over 50,000 meters of climbing, and nine of the most iconic mountain passes. We sat down to talk about the ride, training and their cause.

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GS: Leo and I met each other through mutual friends. We were friends long before we both started cycling together. I have always mountain biked as a child and bit into my teens. I completely gave up sport due to injury post school and university. I took up road cycling for commuting purposes once I had got a job and moved to London.

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GS: I think like many people once cycling gets into your blood it becomes highly addictive! I started riding more and more, further and further, proving to myself I was physically capable.

The interesting thing was the more I did it, what I gained most wasn’t the physical benefit, but the mental benefit. It was my only real opportunity to take myself away to another place and feel calm.

LR: My first true taste of road cycling was a few years ago when George asked me to join him and a group of mates to do a brewery and cycling tour in the Ardennes Forest. its safe to say I haven’t looked back, a fully fledged addict would probably be a safe category to put me in.
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LR:
Our ride is an opportunity to tick off some incredible climbs which I think is a dream, but the idea of cycling in between each of them is where the exploration aspect comes into it. We don’t climb big mountains in the UK, but we do go from county to county exploring the beauty of our surroundings. So it made sense to turn it into one big ride.

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_

GS: Mental health seems to be the underdog of the medical world. People do not consider it a real problem and thus it gets brushed under the carpet. If doing something mentally and physically extreme means we can give mental health a louder voice, then that is what we have to do.
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LR: The charity we're riding for is James’ Place. It's an initiative formed by Clare Milford Haven and Nick Wentworth-Stanley, the parents of James, following his death at the tender age of 21. James’ parents both believe that, had there been a place for James to visit and speak to someone more immediately and with the right training, his and countless other lives life could have been saved and probably countless other lives too.

_

_

GS: His brother Harry is a friend of mine and so it seemed appropriate to it for them over other charities in this space. He (and 3 other friends) rowed the Atlantic in 2016/2017 and raised a huge sum for the charity. It's this personal connection, but also the amazing work being done by them that's motivating us. We're working hard to raise money for James’ Place, and want to get their name out there.
_

 

_

GS: I do a lot of riding alone and love the meditative aspect of it. I also find when riding in a group it is nice to enjoy the social side, but also to embrace the quiet moments.


I find when riding with Leo, or others I know well, there are often long periods of silence where you have time to mentally remove yourself from whichever of life’s stresses you might be experiencing at the time.
_

_

LR: That being said people do seem to open up on the bike more. When you go on a ride with someone, and experience the ups and downs together, you often grow a bond with that person and thus opening up about life’s difficulties becomes much easier.

_

_

LR: Of all the climbs we're going to be tackling, it's the Zoncolan we're fearing most! The consistently tough gradients look pretty gruesome. That being said it is such a treat to ride up this climb so whether it’s Zoncolan, Galibier, Stelvio or any others, we cannot wait.

_

_

GS: Le Col have been able to supply us with some kit for our training and our challenge, and it's stood up well with some tough conditions. I think the toughest day I’ve experience in the Le Col kit was the photo shoot we did for Nine Mountains in Wales. The rain and wind were unrelenting. Doing hill reps in Wales, in mid January, made it pretty hard going.

We were wearing the bib tights, Aqua Zero long sleeved jerseys and a gilet, and it kept us warm and dry all day. I do not think any other kit I own could have stood up as well. Luckily the winter weather has been kind to us since!

_

Wanting to raise awareness for Men's Mental Health Charity James' Place, Leo Russell and George Stagg decided to tackle something that would push them to the limits. This summer, over just 15 days, the pair will cover 3200 km, over 50,000 meters of climbing, and nine of the most iconic mountain passes. We sat down to talk about the ride, training and their cause.

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_

GS:
Leo and I met each other through mutual friends. We were friends long before we both started cycling together. I have always mountain biked as a child and bit into my teens. I completely gave up sport due to injury post school and university. I took up road cycling for commuting purposes once I had got a job and moved to London.

_


_

GS: I think like many people once cycling gets into your blood it becomes highly addictive! I started riding more and more, further and further, proving to myself I was physically capable.

The interesting thing was the more I did it, what I gained most wasn’t the physical benefit, but the mental benefit. It was my only real opportunity to take myself away to another place and feel calm.

LR: My first true taste of road cycling was a few years ago when George asked me to join him and a group of mates to do a brewery and cycling tour in the Ardennes Forest. its safe to say I haven’t looked back, a fully fledged addict would probably be a safe category to put me in.
_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_

LR: Our ride is an opportunity to tick off some incredible climbs which I think is a dream, but the idea of cycling in between each of them is where the exploration aspect comes into it. We don’t climb big mountains in the UK, but we do go from county to county exploring the beauty of our surroundings. So it made sense to turn it into one big ride.
_

_

GS: Mental health seems to be the underdog of the medical world. People don't consider it a real problem and thus it gets brushed under the carpet. If doing something mentally and physically extreme means we can give mental health a louder voice, then that is what we have to do.
_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

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James Fouché - NZL - 20

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"Having won the New Zealand national championships, I am really excited and roaring to get racing to show my new jersey off. It's always been a dream of mine wear the Silver Fern, so for it to become a reality is beyond words."

_

_

LR: The charity we're riding for is James’ Place. It's an initiative formed by Clare Milford Haven and Nick Wentworth-Stanley, the parents of James, following his death at the young age of 21. James’ parents both believe that, had there been a place for James to visit and speak to someone more immediately and with the right training, his and countless other lives life could have been saved and probably countless other lives too.

_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_

 

GS: His brother Harry is a friend of mine and so it seemed appropriate to it for them over other charities in this space. He (and 3 other friends) rowed the Atlantic in 2016/2017 and raised a huge sum for the charity. It's this personal connection, but also the amazing work being done by them that's motivating us. We're working hard to raise money for James’ Place, and want to get their name out there.
_

 

_

GS: I do a lot of riding alone and love the meditative aspect of it. I also find when riding in a group it is nice to enjoy the social side, but also to embrace the quiet moments.


I find when riding with Leo, or others I know well, there are often many long periods of silence where you have time to mentally remove yourself from whichever of life’s stresses you might be experiencing at the time.
_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_

 

"On the other hand, getting stuck with a long term perspective often leads you off track in the short term. Because you are focused on a big target, recognising when you're starting to head off track is harder, and it can be a little while before you notice there is a problem.

This is most commonly found when people over-train and don’t realise it until it is too late, by which time they need to take some time off and recover before getting back to the program."

_

 

_

LR: That being said people do seem to open up on the bike more. When you go on a ride with someone, and experience the ups and downs together, you often grow a bond with that person and thus opening up about life’s difficulties becomes much easier.

_

_

LR: Of all the climbs we're going to be tackling, it's the Zoncolan we're fearing most! The consistently tough gradients look pretty gruesome. That being said it is such a treat to ride up this climb so whether it’s Zoncolan, Galibier, Stelvio or any others, we can't wait.

_

_


"Coming from the Southern Hemisphere into a Northern Hemisphere race calendar, I think the only real challenge is not doing too many races throughout December and January when it's peak racing season in NZ. If you manage that well then I think there are only benefits from living down here throughout the European winter. It makes it easy going out for training in sunny warm weather, especially since this is the time for base training with lots of kilometres."

_

_

LR: Before setting off, we're running a podcast to try and raise awareness around mental health. The response has been amazing, with friends of friends helping out and people straight out offering to come on it.

It's an issue that touches so many people and more than anything, we're inspired by how people have managed to cope with and overcome the issues they've encountered.

Whether it be sports, God, pilgrimages half way across the world, or even simple day-to-day mindfullness techniques – there are always people out there who have experienced a problem that you might have experienced, and crucially, could help. Give it a listen!
_


We would like to thank George and Leo for taking the time to talk to us about their adventure. We'll be following their progress closely as we get closer to their challenge. In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about their project, listen to the Nine Mountains Podcast or even donate to James' Place, head over to the George and Leo's website or Instagram account.

With the team targeting top level performances in the coming year, we look forward to hearing more from our riders throughout the season, with their insight on the pro-circuit and its demands. With the first race of the season approaching fast, we'll be bringing you news of how the team get on at the Tour of Antalya UCI 2.2 race.

_

 

"On the other hand, getting stuck with a long term perspective often leads you off track in the short term. Because you are focused on a big target, recognising when you're starting to head off track is harder, and it can be a little while before you notice there is a problem.

This is most commonly found when people over-train and don’t realise it until it is too late, by which time they need to take some time off and recover before getting back to the program."

_

 

_

GS: Le Col have been able to supply us with some kit for our training and our challenge, and it's stood up well with some tough conditions. I think the toughest day I’ve experience in the Le Col kit was the photo shoot we did for Nine Mountains in Wales. The rain and wind were unrelenting. Doing hill reps in Wales, in mid January, made it pretty hard going.

We were wearing the bib tights, Aqua Zero long sleeved jerseys and a gilet, and it kept us warm and dry all day. I don't think any other kit I own could have stood up as well. Luckily the winter weather has been kind to us since!

_

_

LR: Before setting off, we're running a podcast to try and raise awareness around mental health. The response has been amazing, with friends of friends helping out and people straight out offering to come on it.

It's an issue that touches so many people and more than anything, we're inspired by how people have managed to cope with and overcome the issues they've encountered.

Whether it be sports, God, pilgrimages half way across the world, or even simple day-to-day mindfullness techniques – there are always people out there who have experienced a problem that you might have experienced, and crucially, could help. Give it a listen!
_


We would like to thank George and Leo for taking the time to talk to us about their adventure. We'll be following their progress closely as we get closer to their challenge. In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about their project, listen to the Nine Mountains Podcast or even donate to James' Place, head over to the George and Leo's website or Instagram account.