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10, has been a long, drawn out surprise. Or, rather, a series of ongoing surprises.

It all started a little shy of four years ago. Inspired by Rapha’s now illustrious Festive 500 and how many kilometres I was able to cover in such a short space of time, I picked the entirely arbitrary, if not ambitious, target of 10,000km and decided to chip away at it over the course of the following year. 

I recorded my rides and experiences first via a blog and then via Instagram. Surprisingly, people were interested. 

More surprisingly, people wanted to get involved. 

And so I set-up 10, – a disparate collective of cyclists some of whom knew one another, but many, many more of whom had never met. In most cases, this is still true, but what connects us is a like-minded approach to spending time in the saddle.

Those of us that could cross paths did and, happily, we, have made fast friends. 

It’s difficult not to. 

Perhaps it’s the hours spent on quiet roads and away from the familiarity of the everyday. It creates the space we need to let not just new experiences, but new people in. 

Or maybe it’s the physical action of turning the pedals Our minds elsewhere, it allows small, penetrable cracks to appear in the walls of various heights and thicknesses that we build around ourselves and we let our guard down, if only for a while. 

It might just be that finding yourself amongst a new group of people provides the chance to start ever so slightly anew and be unencumbered by lives lived out of the saddle and away from the roads. 

Whatever it is, when we ride together it continually brings forth funny, interesting, thought-provoking conversations that are often candid and come from a place of openness.

It’s that openness that’s shone a light on the greatest unexpected by-product of The Collective: how many of us, at one moment in time or another, suffer at the hands of mental health issues. The stories, like the effects, are varied, but what’s become clear is that it’s not uncommon and the impact crosses social spheres, occupations, geographical borders and age groups. 

And, whilst attitudes continue to change for the better, it’s still stigmatised. 

That in turn means those that suffer do so silently and those that care are all too often naïve of what their friends or loved ones are going through. 

In the hope of helping to raise awareness of, and change attitudes towards, mental health issues, 10, will now be donating all of its profits from product sales (i.e. any money taken beyond the cost of producing the product) to mental health charity, Rethink. 

We’re not a support group. 

I – and we – certainly aren’t professionals and won’t be trying to act as such. We’ll be continuing to focus on going far, not going fast; riding our bikes for the joy of the journey and the people it introduces; providing a space and a community where people feel comfortable and can enjoy themselves.

And I hope that does some good. 

— Richard

You can read more about Rethink and their work here. You can also support them by purchasing a pair of The Collective socks here.