My name is Antoine. I am the leader of a fabulous Aptonia Triathlon project at Decathlon. I’m really lucky. Lucky to live with passion, lucky to do sport, lucky to have found balance in my life.
One day when I was out mountain biking, I met Erika and Serge, two psychiatric nurses who told me about the isolation felt by schizophrenia sufferers. I’m really passionate about sport, it provides all the balance in my life. This balance is much harder to find for people suffering from schizophrenia. This illness often isolates them. Their treatment sometimes knocks them out.
When they asked me to work with our Foundation to support a project to treat schizophrenia sufferers through cycling, it was a resounding YES from me!
So together we designed a new therapeutic approach that we chose to call “heal through cycling!” for the Les Z’entonnoirs association. This association works to rehabilitate people suffering from mental health disorders.
Our project consists in organising weekly cycling sessions for patients and nurses. Our ambition was to start the “Paris Roubaix amateurs”. An awesome adventure of 190 kilometres that helped the beneficiaries to surpass themselves and break out of their isolation.
Cycling has many benefits and is used in therapy in a number of ways. For instance, cycling as a mode of transport prevents social isolation, especially for outpatients. Then mountain biking is a way to burn off energy, train with a group each week and work towards a goal, which for us was the Paris Roubaix bike race. There is also indoor cycling for inpatients, which prevents the weight gain that anti-psychotic medication can cause.
Alongside forty or so beneficiaries from the Roubaix region, alongside Erika, Serge and their colleague, alongside Jean Pierre and the foundation, I had a rewarding time!
We were so proud to see the level of absenteeism from weekly consultations go down thanks to the bikes provided!
It was also such a joy to see more and more people interested in the cycling workshops!
It was so moving when we all reached the Roubaix velodrome. Even Tom Boonen can’t have had such an amazing feeling!
In short, it feels good just to see people smiling!
Don’t forget, we all have a touch of madness within us, to a greater or lesser extent.
To “get back in the saddle”, nothing beats sport and cycling as a therapy tool.
Story told by Decathlon teammate Antoine Nys.