About this story

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Somewhere in Southern India

In 2003, two years after we were married, my wife Nicky and I cycled 2000 kms around southern India on a tandem. It was joyous journey.

Eleven years later we were planning for a summer of tandem cycling with our two young daughters when Nicky was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died.

She was 47, an actress, fit, strong and beautiful. During Nicky’s short illness and the immediate aftermath of her death I wrote about what was happening and published it to Facebook.Nicky I did this partly to keep friends and family informed of the hideous quick progress of Nick’s illness, and partly because it became a therapy. I have published those posts here as they were dated on Facebook. These posts received many very helpful comments which you can still see there.

The death of  partner, particularly one as loved as Nicky was, brings with it an immense sense of loss. One mourns the person, but one also mourns the loss of the future. Nicky and I were starting a business together, we looked forward to seeing our children grow up, to a delightful future growing old together (dis)gracefully. At the moment of her death all that was stolen from me. I, and my children were robbed by the cruel malicious motherfucker in her brain.

Nicky in Hospital with Simon

Nicky in Hospital with Simon

In the depths of my grief  I made a decision to go ahead with our plans to cycle the girls across France, not on two tandems, but on a bicycle made for three. This is the story of that journey, a rolling recovery from the theft of all hope of future happiness. It’s a new shaped family adventure, it’s  blog of personal record and reflection and it’s an exploration of grief with the bicycle and the journey as a metaphor and motif for all those, particularly men, experiencing grief.

20 comments

  1. Hi Simon, good luck on your travels. Am sure Pearl would love to see Betsys adventures over the summer (as would I!). Love to you all xx

  2. In the face of that awful loss, which nothing can erase, this trip is act of positivity, a creative and practical adventure for the three of you. It’s a great idea, with a new bike for three. My thoughts and best wishes – and hopes that the girls to squat and pee.
    xx

  3. Dear Simon: I am so incredibly sorry. I never met Nicky, but I can plainly see that she was really, really special.

    I wish you and your girls all the very best Simon. You must take it step by step. Take it very slowly and carefully. It takes time.

    Best etc.
    Philip

  4. Just read your inspiring article in the CTC magazine, Simon. I had tears in my eyes as I read through the powerful experience you shared with your daughters. Very impressed that you undertook this trip with two youngsters under any circumstances but, clearly, it was so much more so on your own.

    Best wishes,
    Nick

  5. Hi Simon
    (Forgive the familiarity from a complete stranger, but I felt I simply couldn’t use the “Mr”). I’d just like to say I found your article in “Cycle” to have been an absolute joy and inspiration to read and a wonderful homage to such a super person as Nicky.
    I can only extend my thanks and kindest wishes to Tilly, Betsy and yourself.
    Yours
    Andy

    1. Thank you for this. How nice to have your thoughts. We are all still rolling along. We’ve just returned from a three day trip along the veloroute from Dieppe to Neufchatel. It was a hoot. I will write a bit more about it in a while. The bike is truly our salvation….

  6. Dear Simon and girls,
    I have just read your article in Cycle magazine. My husband died in March 2013 from a brain tumour, so your experience resonated with my own. We cycled together for 37 years, I knew I needed to keep cycling, it seemed to be the thing that helped the most. I joined the CTC and started riding every week with the local mid-week group. It has been for me a life-line. I’m hugely impressed with your French trip together. Well done to you all and best wishes for the future.

    Priscilla

  7. Simon

    Read your article in the CTC magazine last week. Thanks for having the courage to write such an intimate and deeply touching account. For reasons that I can’t explain, I just wanted you to know that you had this complete stranger in tears on my commute into Leeds on Friday.

    Wishing you and your girls all the best.

    1. Thankyou for getting in touch and for your thoughts. We are all on the mend, and still riding the bike!

      Simon

  8. Hi, I read your cycle article and commend your courage,insight and honesty. My husband was killed riding his bicycle and can resonate with some of the trauma you so clearly describe. I still ride my bike,in part an act of defiance in part to remain connected to an activity which bought him and I great times. CS Lewis wrote in ” A Grief Observed” regarding the death of his wife and likening it to the loss of a leg ” I may never be a bi-pod again but I will walk ” he was right, you will walk, cycle and do all of the things you’ve always done again but they will be different an uninvited different. Thank you for your openness and keep spinning those wheels.

    1. Thank-you. Thank-you. I hope that you are as ok as you can be. Grief sucks. I guess a part of our recovery has been trying to imagine how she might want us to be. I like your defiance. He would too. I am sure. Yes it’s not the future we planned. But,after 15 months I accept that there can be an alternative future. And that happiness like sadness is temporary. I try to embrace and cherish it while it’s there. Go well yourself. Sx

  9. I read your article in Cycle last night – what an incredibly moving piece about parenthood, children and the power of bicycles. I’ll think of your family when we head to France this summer, put our toddler in his little trailer and tow him along behind, and I’ll keep an eye out for you and your girls on your fabulous bike.

    1. Thanks Kat
      How nice of you to write. We too did miles and miles with the trailer. At one point we had a trailer behind a tag along behind
      A tandem. That got some attention. Cycling is brilliant for families. I Totally recommend a tandem when they are little-ish, under 11. It makes the whole thing less stressful, more together, safer, and loads more fun. We love it.

  10. Thank you for such a beautiful article in CTC and for this wonderful blog.
    I too have found solace in cycling, rowing, nature and especially music…. (I was bereaved as a little girl when my mum died. )
    You have and are giving your children such an empowering gift.
    I am so glad to see that you have met someone and wish you very well with your work as a celebrant. One of my dearest friends is a celebrant here in Devon.
    With warm wishes, Jenny

  11. i am sure this happens a lot but a youtube video just brought nicky on my screen in an advert and it made me think of you and wonder how you and your beautiful girls are doing. a quick google search later i find this and details of your amazing journey (literally and emotionally). i know you will have had many similar messages but again after only working with nicky a few times her vibrancy and beautiful spirit still stays in my memory. i just wanted you to know that. sending love from the north (i used to be at pier in brighton but am now in yorkshire), janex

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