Pearson believes in the health benefits cycling has to offer. (You might have heard us mention it before.) The physical benefits are reasonably self-evident. You ride, get tired, go riding again and your performance gradually improves. In the words of the great Greg LeMond: “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”


But the difference cycling can make to your mental wellbeing is something we believe to be equally important, if not more so. It’s why last year we collaborated with two leading mental-health charities, the Mental Health Foundation and Action for Happiness. 

We’ve written here before about how cycling makes you feel; we’ve probed the science, too, the ‘neurotransmitters’ that make you feel good after exercise, the release of serotonin into your nervous system. We’ve also discussed the benefits of group riding, the esprit de corps enjoyed by a sense of shared endeavour.


It’s why we held group rides, such as Inside Out, our seasonally based series of gravel events. There is evidence to suggest that undertaking physical activity in the company of others lowers cortisol levels (and in turn blood pressure) and releases oxytocin and dopamine, those feel-good hormones. It’s also why, in April this year, we’re holding the inaugural Pearson Steeplechase, a charity cycling event navigating a series of checkpoints (church steeples) across the Surrey countryside. 

Only this time, there’s more at stake. As part of Pearson’s ongoing commitment to improving mental health through cycling, we’re delighted to announce our new charity partner for the event will be Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The charity first established a helpline on Merseyside, in 1997, to address some very sobering statistics; every week in Britain, approximately 125 people take their own lives. Of these, more than three quarters are men and suicide remains the biggest single killer of men under the age of 45. 

The causes that lead someone to suicide are complex; depression, loneliness, anxiety or financial problems to name a few. Last year in Britain, 5,583 people died by suicide. CALM, whose helpline went nationwide in 2006, estimates that in each case, around 135 other family members and friends were directly affected. Which means that, in 2022 alone, the lives of three quarters of a million people were touched by suicide. And their bereavement is just the beginning.


At Pearson, we sometimes like to think of cycling as a kind of mental-health vaccine; in truth there is no such thing. What cycling can do is offer company and perhaps a bit of purpose. Of the numerous CALM Clubs run by the charity – for football, running, art and even curry – cycling clubs were among the first to launch. We don’t claim to be experts (we’ll leave that to CALM) but our experiences with customers down the years, not least during the recent pandemic, has taught us the value of looking out for others, the simple act of asking if somebody is OK, of checking how they’re doing. 

The cost of living crisis has only served to exacerbate the problem. And CALM, for all its success, is seeing its already strained services put under yet more pressure. In December last year, despite a team of 30 dedicated telephone counsellors, some callers to its helpline were waiting as long as 45 minutes.


Which is where you can help. Join the Steeplechase, raise money and you just might, genuinely, be riding your bike to save a life. For example, just £8 will fund a potentially life-saving helpline call; £152 equates to 100 WhatsApp conversations, while £600 will provide support for 100 families bereaved by suicide. And because there is no quick-fix, throughout the year Pearson and CALM will be hosting events at our Richmond store, all designed to raise awareness and, crucially, more money. In the meantime, saddle up for the Pearson Steeplechase and start making a difference.


More information:; 0800 58 58 58, calls to which are free.


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