Letters to Cyclingnews Graeme Obree Special Edition, #2
The news that former hour record holder Graeme Obree was suffering from bipolar disorder and had attempted to commit suicide shortly before Christmas was a profound shock to all of us here at Cyclingnews, and to many people in the world-wide cycling community.
As the news spread we began to receive emails asking where people could write to express their support for Graeme in his battle against this illness; the logical thing to do was to offer to collect and post those messages here on Cyclingnews. We published those letters last week, and since then they have continued to flow in. Here are the latest messages of support and sympathy for Graeme and his family.
Once again, everyone at Cyclingnews wishes Graeme all the best for a full recovery.
Please email your wishes for Graeme to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From: Francois Siohan
I would like to express my admiration for Graeme Obree, for his inventiveness and his strong personality. As shown by the many letters printed by Cyclingnews there are many admirers of Graeme in the cycling fraternity. Graeme I wish the best.
From: Evan Hawkins
From all at Midlothian Race Team, keep ya pecker up mate, you will always be the man, get well soon.
From: Mark Wilkinson
Good luck on a complete recovery
From: Paul Bailey
I shared this news with friends plus colleagues in the Ford Cycling club, we are all saddened by the tragic news, Graeme was and firmly remains a cycling hero for so many achievements.
Suffering in the way he has is outside the scope of words - if good wishes and thoughts can help we are piling them on.
We wish him and his family all the very best for a strong and healthy future.
From: Andrew Torrance
I would like to wish Graeme Obree a quick and long lasting recovery, and hope that his illness can be brought under control. I'm glad he failed (for once) in his suicide attempt and hope that this can be a turning point . In a sport where there are many sheep, independant thinkers are a rare commodity, and Greame has shown that in abundance . Perhaps when his racing days are over, he could harness that mind of his in other directions ?
From: Sam Torrez
Best wishes in lights of recent events. I've always admired your achievements, in light of difficulties you've overcome. You are a shining example of individual achievement, strength, innovativeness, and character. Everything I've read about you, and comments from people that have known you speak highly of your character, strength, and kindness to others.
These strong qualities will pull you through in the long run. As a former great champion (Greg LeMond) told me in person one day, - Keep Riding. Even if you're just pedaling throughout the countryside, enjoy the beauty of your beautiful home country, and enjoy the day and the people around you. Find inner peace and personal strength by smoothly turning those pedals - that by itself is therapeutic and helpful to the soul.
I never knew about the Marmalade sandwiches, but I used to always have a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich before races - I'll think of you every time I have one, and that will keep me pushing the gears harder and harder. We all hope to hear from you soon.
To be twice hour record holder ranked alongside Merckx, Moser, Indurain and Rominger says it all for your achievements. You are an inspiration.
Like you, my wife has only recently been properly diagnosed as having suffered mental illness since her teens, and like you a change of medication made her condition much worse. I hope that like her, being on the correct medication will make you well again.
I hope you can draw much comfort from the knowledge that so many people both share and understand your problems, especially since the launch in London last week of the 1 in 4 project publicising other famous sufferers and removing the old stigma (and the fact that 1 in 4 of us suffer such problems to a greater or lesser degree).
Get well soon
From: Neil Jeffrey
Get well soon big man.
From: Steve Farris
Graeme and Family,
I do not have the words to express the sadness and empathy I feel for you in your struggle. I hope and pray you will show the same strength and tenacity fighting this battle as you showed in your sporting life. There are many thousands of your fans throughout the world who are thinking of you in this hour of need. If there is anything we can do to help just call on us.
From: Steve Jennings
Graeme, Anne and Family
You have many true friends who really care about you, we are all alongside you in your journey.
I had the pleasure to be with you in both Hamar and Bordeaux when you broke the world hour record, they were special days that will live me forever, I never did really thank you for the pleasure you brought into my life.
You are a unique human being and proved to me what we are capable of achieving with determination and self-belief.
Anne and the boys will be your motivation for recovery, they love you.
From: Michael Dow
Dear Graeme Obree
I am very sorry to hear of your personal troubles, and just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you. You have been a HUGE inspiration to me for the amazing things that you did on the bike, and no doubt to many, many other cycling fans around the world. I too have suffered from depression, and have had thoughts of suicide. But, with the combination of loving and caring friends, amazing therapists, and a lot of hard work in many areas of my life, I have managed to put these days behind me. I hope that you can too.
Thinking about you in Canada,
From: Huw Salway
I was shocked to here of your recent troubles all I can really say is that you can only get better from here on in, There are some amazing people out ther who are truly rare in their abilities Graeme, you are one of those, your achievements are indelibly imprinted in sporting history, something that we lesser mortals can only dream about and indeed gain huge inspiration from. You may be at a low ebb right now but you are still the same remarkable character that achieved so much in such extraordinary circumstances and you will be able to put your troubles behind you and enjoy life again Take care, best wishes
From: Steph Maxwell
To Graeme and his whole family, I cannot really express the way I felt after learning this news. It was the most shocking Cyclingnews ever.
In mid 2000, my partner suffered life-threatening injuries in a cycling accident. He is now a quadriplegic with an almost constant need for assistance. One thing that played a big role in sustaining our spirit through the months in hospital and rehab was the support and encouragement of others. Primarily support and love from friends and family, but within weeks of the accident word spread through the cycling community and we received many emails from people we have never met. Some had experienced traumatic injuries in the past. Some just wanted to shoot the breeze and tell some stories from the outside world to someone forced to lie flat on his back for two months.
For Anne and others close to Graeme, I know the trauma and pain of supporting a person in Intensive Care and through ongoing rehab, living in an unfamiliar environment with all sorts of dramas going on around you at perhaps the most difficult time of your life. But what I feel the most is sorrow that such an extraordinary person could be brought so close to the edge of life.
Recovery and the journey that awaits will be hard for Graeme and everyone around him. You will be forging new ground, and I wish for all of you strength and endurance for the road ahead. These letters to Cyclingnews are just a small sample from the crowds lining your way to cheer you on.
From: Andrew Rubins
You have been an inspiration for all of us for many years. I echo Bill King's words- please read these words..." and sense the overwhelming support and friendship of strangers that urges you to hang in there! The respect you have earned as a cyclist has brought many of us to the point of writing these notes now to urge on the man. All of us who ride a bike -- to ride or race, or simply enjoy a pedal around the park or to race at speed -- wish you the very best!"
Our thoughts are with you
From: Tony Lyons
Your colourful life story has started a new chapter: as a cyclist you are a maverick, an inspiration, a star; as a person you are approachable, caring and human; as a human you are in touch with reality and have prioritised in your own way... not sucked into the 'spectacle', but rather put your family first...
I hope that the next chapter of your life sees you continuing to motivate and contribute to others in your unique way.
With every good wish for the future.
From: Chris Price
As a police officer here in Canada I run into bipolar individuals everyday, you're not alone. For the most part all that is needed is a levelling of medications and something like a suicide attempt will not happen again. Get well, stay well.
From: José Ibarguren Taus
Dr. Ibarguren (Lampre-Daikin Team)
From: António Rocha
This is the first time I'm writing to Cyclingnews and made me do this was the news about what happened to the great cyclist Graeme Obree.
I wish he will recover very soon and that he and his family will recover from it.
I'm from Portugal and I've a film showing when he was training for the hour record. I was delighted to see it.
Antonio Jose Rocha
From: Dean Moffit
Hey Graeme, Being a top level racer doesn't come easy, with the tenacity you've shown to be one of the fastest riders in the world, YOU again shall defeat this challenge as well! Hang in there and all the best down the road!!
From: Ken Yamaguchi
Thank you cyclingnews for the news on Graeme Obree.
Clinical depression is a misunderstood disease but I hear its treatment methods have developed dramatically.
Mr. Obree is truly a one-of-a-kind athlete, and I regard him as one of the greatest of all, regardless of genre. Please wish him well.
From: Richard Grigsby
Graeme, get well soon. I don't normally do heroes, but you are my hero. I love your maverick style and individual approach to cycling. Please come back and show 'em how to do it once more!
Richard Grigsby, Avon Valley Cyclery
From: Ian Curphey
I doubt if you will remember me, but we sat together at the Vets. Lunch during Isle of Man Week some years ago, when, despite your racing successes, we yarned about the more mundane aspects of the bike, like wandering around the Highlands touring. Great Week for Scotland that, as you won the mountain TT and Robert Miller won the Road race. We also met when you came to the Deeside Thistle Cycling Club to give us a talk on motivation.
If my memory serves me right, you said something about "If you aim for the stars you might land on the moon", a bit of advice I have never forgotten, as it tends to put the inevitable feelings of failure we all experience from time to time in perspective.
Having gone through the mental mill a bit myself, I realise that there isn't much anyone else can say that makes much difference to how you feel. Comments from others, no matter how well meant, are out with what you have experienced.
I just hope that you will get back into living the valuable life that you have lead, and bear in mind that you are, and always will be a special sort of cyclist, in that you not only inspired cyclists (who are all a bit buggered in the head anyway!) but you inspired thousands of people who have nothing to do with cycling. You showed what can be achieved by grit and determination, matched with independent thinking and a good dollop of imagination.
Finally, (and I hate to confess this) I think I speak for thousand of other selfish Obree fans, when I say "What about us?" Just because you gave us so much, doesn't mean to say we don't want more.
Get well soon, old son. You owe us a book. And remember, as Lance Armstrong said "It's Not About the Bike"
Your fans are Graeme Obree fans, not simple fans of Graeme Obree's great achievements against the clock.
My regards to you and yours.
From: Greg Wilson
I hope you get to feeling better soon. I have also suffered from bipolar disorder for the last 8 years. I know exactly what you are going through. My life has been nothing short of a living hell. I have been a cyclist for 16 years now and it is probably the only thing that has kept me alive. I have also tried to kill myself but I was fortunate to have survived. I have been to France three times to watch the Tour and have ridden all the famous climbs in the race. On Friday, I will roll over 71,000 miles ridden for my career and anticipate hitting 100,000 miles in 4 years now.
Good luck and nothing but the best for you man.
From: Christopher Smith
Graeme - as an ageing novice to the sport, I wanted to express my gratitude to you for the inspiration you have given me. I remember the TV documentary about yourself and your innovations, both mechanical and human. You must be one of the few athletes to have had rules made up especially to stop you winning!
I was gutted when I read the news. I can't even start to imagine how you must feel.
Hang in there Graeme!
My thoughts are with you and your family in these difficult times.
From: Paul Watt
I was shocked by the news of Graeme Obree's illness and hope he battles his way back to a full recovery. He is of my generation and definitely a local hero here in Scotland. All the cyclists I know were and are inspired by his tenacity, unconventional attitude and of course his bags of natural talent. I wish him all the very best for the future.
I have been where you are. You don't have to have good results to be a good person. So, chin up, smile at the warm sun and good tailwinds. Most importantly, just enjoy the ride!!
From: Andrew J Murdock"
As someone who suffers from Bipolar Disorder himself, I understand the debilitating nature of the disease. My thoughts go out to you and your family in this difficult time. It is possible to manage the disease rather than be cured, and the help of a good psychiatrist and psychologist will be invaluable in unravelling the stresses of life.
I can only hope that you are able to gain control of life again, it is worth reading (and getting fmaily and close friends to read) "An unquiet mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison - she gives a unique insight into the disease through her life story, from a unique perspective of being one of the most respected authorities on Bipolar.
I truly hope you make a return to cycling and a semblance of normality soon
From: Amanda Le Verdier
Sending you some energy to help you recover. Thoughts go out to you and your family during this tough time.
Amanda and Paul Le Verdier,
From: Alistair Bell
Hang in there Graeme.
I'm a mere weekend cyclist I had ME for 8 years & I got a great lift from your success. Words fail me.
All the Best,
From: Paddy Doran
Get well soon and hope you Anne and family are very happy in the future.
From an Irish Fan
From: Alexander Vogt
I just want to express that I was shocked when I read what happened to you. for myself I must admit that I had a damned bad time too. One who is not struck by the disease cant really how hard it is. I hope very much that you will get out of this hell very soon.
With many kind regards.
From: Tom Paterson
Best Wishes from Houston, Texas.
I've only seen you ride on video tape. Inspiring, to put it mildly but succinctly. I hope these messages are some return on what you've given to the cycling world. Thank you, Mr. Obree.
Tom Paterson, Houston, Texas USA
From: PDM Sports
The man who rocked the cycling establishment by Determination, Creativity, and a large amount of Natural talent, even when faced with a "clique" mentality in the cycling world, history clearly shows how right you were.
And then after that they (the cycling world ) decides to change the rules to suit, yet still you came back and blew them away with unconventional thinking, and foresight.
In short, any man who can rock the world of cycling on that level, Twice, can overcome anything.
I hope you recover Graeme, and Rock that Boat again!
From: Alfonso Ugalde
I wish you full recovery and I wish to see you racing very soon, you are unique and a very special man for cycling.
My best wishes from Bolivia-South America.
Alfonso Ugalde V., Cyclist
From: Mark Dawes
You are still an inspiration to many people. Breaking the hour record and your other cycling achievements are there for everyone to see. You are a winner. You are a fighter. You are a champion. Be strong. Don't give in.
From: Terence Gilbert
I would like to wish Graeme Obree all the best for a full recovery. I was quite shocked when I read your article about Graeme Obree.
I remember meeting him at a track event in Pretoria, South Africa quite a few years ago. He took part in an exhibition pursuit against our province's senior team pursuit squad. He was absolutely amazing to watch as he not only caught and passed the four-man team but he smashed the all-comers track record too. I had never seen anyone ride a track pursuit at such a high speed before. He really impressed me and I still have his promotional picture that he autographed for me that night.
Prayers and good wishes to Graeme Obree and his family.
I was really shocked to read the report in Cycling Magazine.
I wish you, your wife, and your family, all the best for the future.
From: Gordon Moore
I was saddened to hear of your illness. I hope that you can over come this and return to a more normal life.
Having raced in a number of events in which you took part in, I always admired your ability and personality.
I will always remember the Velo Sportiv Xmas 10 at Ormiston in 1990, where as usual you won. You donated back one of your prizes, a bike computer. The computer is still going strong, reminding me of that day. I hope you too can carry on as strongly.
Gordon Moore, ex Edinburgh Road Club and Peebles CC
The last month's letters