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My TI-Raleigh, My Mental Health & My SBDU Bikes

Hello, remember me? You might have noticed that I’ve not been around for a while. Maybe my absence went completely unnoticed? Thankfully though, from what I’ve read and witnessed over the last few weeks, I’ve seen that some people did notice, and those people may have helped to start pulling me out of my rut.

In 2022, something happened, something that I still can’t really explain to people. Only a few have actually understood because of their own similar personal experiences. Back in October 2022, my brain just seemed to give up, I couldn’t handle the simplest of things without fear of a huge negative reaction in my head. At work, my brain would hear words from people, but those words didn’t get processed. Things weren’t happening, I couldn’t settle, tasks weren’t being completed and plans weren’t being fulfilled, I didn’t know what was wrong. I was hugely irritable and prone to explode at the stupidest little problem. My mood was rock bottom, often spending entire days deciding what to do then getting to the end of the day with nothing done at all.

So I dragged myself to see a GP for the first time in 30 years. After consultations, phone calls and assessments, the verdict was in, Moderate to Severe Depression and Anxiety!

I’m now living in an entirely new world, with everything pivoting around Mental Health, including PHQ9 and GAD7 assessments and some catastrophising thrown in too!

Two months off work followed, and eventually I left altogether in early 2023. And that is where we are today.

Why did it all go wrong


As the proverb goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!” All work and no play is also a sign that your work/life balance is wrong. For several years, since the start of Covid, I ploughed all my energy into work. As a bike recycling charity, we were classed as an essential service – and demand was high. This led to all sorts of pressures; at the start, there was always a constant thought about how long we could go on for. There were fewer donations and the global bike parts pipeline broke down with basic parts becoming impossible to source. I was the main driving force during this period – it was draining, with long hours and constant decision making eventually leading to chronic burnout.

Online Trolls

Normally online trolls can be silenced with a single sentence. The reason they can be silenced quickly is that they have nothing more about them other than the stupid initial comments they make. They find it difficult to expand on their own stupidity, and normally when they are challenged they retreat back under the rock they crawled out from.

I’ve accepted for years that I’ve put myself out there, on the internet, as an expert in my field. When you do that, you become a target. The visibility you create attracts negativity and challenges. For whatever reason, jealousy or whatever, some folk just like to have a pop and to bring you down.

Normally, the positivity I receive vastly out ways the negatives.

However, when your mental health is affected, when your mood is so low, and you cannot deal with things as you normally would, the small and insignificant things become the biggest problems. Your brain sees everything in a different way and it’s very hard to keep your perspective. Small but prolonged troll attacks from the end of 2020 built up in a poorly brain that wasn’t in the best place to deal with them .

The Outcome

I stopped engaging with anything other than work. My SBDU Facebook page ground to a halt and I stopped all interaction with Retrobike (best decision ever!) I let hundreds of my SBDU emails go unanswered and couldn’t even face seeing my own bikes. Everything I was working on with my bikes stopped. I’m well known for my precision and attention to detail. My workbench and work area is always kept ordered. But here is how it looked in October 2022 at the height of my problem, a year after my last blog post. When I see this picture, it really shows me how low I got.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Mental Health Effect

Compared to the norm – the image below was probably taken approx 2019, one of my busiest blogging periods, but still maintaining a really clean and organised workbench.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Workshop Workbench

The Last Bike I Bought

October 22nd 2021 was the date of my last post, approx 500 days ago. It was a few words about SB95, a beautiful early and different Reynolds 531 SBDU frame with Nervex Pro lugs. So what, you might ask, happened to 2022? Where did that year go? Apart from being almost non existent on social media for 16 months, I did buy one bike in March 2022, but had no motivation to blog about it, even though it is an absolute gem of an SBDU bike. The desire to put my fingers on the keyboard just wasn’t present. I bought it, brought it home for these pictures and then took it to work. And for almost a year, it stood next to the shop counter. I’ve not bought a bike since.

SB1948 1978 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753
SB1948 1978 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Eggshell Black Special Order
SB1948 1978 SBDU Ilkeston Reynolds 753 Eggshell Black Special Order

SB1948 is an early 1978 61 cm Reynolds 753 special order that I bought from the original owner. It retains all the original components apart from the pedals. It’s a unique bike with special request paint and gearing that suited that original owner.

It is still as I bought it almost one year ago. I’ll do a slightly late ‘New Arrival’ post in the next few days.

Where Am I At Now

My SBDU Collection

I’m going to slowly have a fresh start. That means I’m going to move some frames on, not all, but some. I’ve purposely collected different examples of Reynolds tubing and SBDU frame features in order to push my blog research. Many of these frames have served their purpose well; I’ve got my images and measurements and the frames are now just hanging up.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Collection Waiting in the Workshop Hanging

I’m going to do this slowly and at my own pace, carefully picking the frames that are going. I have some duplicates and some that I will never get around to working on.

Some have already gone, SB8851, SBW9262 and TI40-192

My TI-Raleigh Bikes Sold

I’m going to hang onto my favourites, and also those that have significant historical SBDU provenance. This is a massive shift for me, and it has all been brought on by a need to do things differently.

My Workspace

Not having the pressure and stress of work has given me time to focus on myself – I’ve had the ‘me time’ recently that was missing from the heavily work biased work/life balance I used to have. My workspace is starting to look much better and has instantly been easier to work in.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Workspace February 2023

I take after my dad, he loved buying new tools, and I have always had that same urge. I think I can easily put any professionally equipped workshop to shame. And it’s not a case of ‘all the gear and no idea’ – one option I have is to turn my tools and mechanical knowledge and experience into work.

My TI-Raleigh SBDU Workspace and Tools February 2023

Where’s My Head At Now

I’m nowhere near 100%, you can’t quickly recover from the place I was at. I have to be very careful everyday and not overload myself because I know I can sink quickly.

Karen has been amazing and she has allowed me to do what I need to do to get myself together. Leaving work was a huge decision and she fully supported me during that time.

I’m going to continue to keep a low profile on social media, with respect to getting involved in threads, but I’ve started to open up again to answer messages. I’ve actually just spent an evening giving SBDU advice and info which is something I’ve avoided for a good while. I’m also going to eventually get SB1948 blogged.

Above all, I’m more positive, which is good!


  1. Hi Neil. You cannot believe how pleased I am to see you are back. I have been searching over the past few months and was genuinely worried. Stay strong. Andy.

  2. Hi Niel
    I did wonder where you had gone as you didnt answer my emails , the same thing happened to me in 2010 ,severe clinical depression, one minute youre ok , then everything becomes difficult , its a slow process getting back to normal. Dont rush back as soon as you feel slightly better as it needs to be a slow recovery, better in the long run . Its taken me years to get better & sorry to say but you recover a slightly different person too ..

    Regards Cam

  3. Hi Neil
    Thanks for being so honest.
    Going through similar stuff myself for the last 8 weeks.
    Take your time with whatever you decide and as far as I’m concerned the passion and attention to detail you have for these works of art is truly inspiring.
    Mind yourself.

  4. Sorry to here about your illness, but glad you are on the up. Very brave of you to post info on your private life, could well be a sign of strength. Best wishes for your future.

  5. Hello Neil, sorry to hear about your mental health issues, I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Sending best wishes.

  6. Hello Neil,
    It’s great to hear from you again. I was wondering what had happened to you. We have all missed you and everything you have done for the SBDU enthusiasts . Hopefully you’ll be back to full health soon. Kind regards.
    Mark Kennedy.

  7. I definitely noticed your absence. Glad you’ve been able to face what was vexing you. Go at your own pace and get well.

  8. Very glad to see you’re back Neil.
    Ignore the nay-sayers, remember,
    “nil illegitimis in desperandum carborundum”.
    Keep up the good work, at any pace that suits you.
    Because you’re worth it.

  9. Firstly….great to hear from you again Neil and that you feel able to connect with those who enjoy what you offer to bike building and collecting.
    Secondly….your timing is incredible in offering your explanation of events within your personal life. I see the similarities in my day to day existence, Thankyou for sharing.

  10. Gday Neil
    Thank you for your post and on whats been going on
    I too have burnt out. it takes time to collect one’s thoughts and do the right thing by our health
    knowledge is power as my psych told me and time does heal
    One day at a time and best wishes to you and your family
    Cheers Roger Melbourne Australia

  11. I am glad you have returned to the fold Neil. I am wishing you a speedy recovery ❤️‍🩹. Tailwinds!
    Stephen Bryne
    Ventura, Calif. USA

  12. Glad you are back. You have always been quite kind with your knowledge. It takes time to heal. Wishing you the best

  13. Hi Neil, I know we don’t really know each other properly, but we have messaged and we met at l’eroica. I certainly value you and your work. My advise is take your time, deal with what you can when you can. If you can face it find a club / pub and chat about stuff. Blokes need to talk face to face more. T

  14. Hi Neil, I am extremely impressed by your openess. Your absence was for sure noticed and I am glad that your back.

    All the best from Munich

  15. Hi Neil 😊
    Thanks for sharing your personal, honest appraisal, that in itself is courageous and deserves applause 👏👏 and is a big step towards recovery

    Really pleased to hear you are ‘back in the bunch’ and riding in the slipstream of your closest family and friends 👍
    We all need our ‘domestiques’ ❤️

    Quality men like yourself (and Cavendish for example) will always have something positive to offer our love of cycling and steel bikes especially after a required short lay-off, pace it just right Neil 😊

    Look forward to any future blogs and/or ‘Steel Art’ (as I tell my Mrs 🤷‍♂️)

    Kind Regards

    Mark Richard Cafferky

  16. Happy to see you back Neil. Take it easy, step by step, no pressure and one thing at a time.
    Best wishes from The Hague NL

  17. Glad you’re on the mend. You and your blog have definitely been missed. Hopefully there’s a full recovery ahead of you. Kenn

  18. Good you are back and focused on the positives. And a superb and strong idea to get some of those frames back into the community and being ridden: GoD and all those involved in their design and manufacture would be proud of you.

  19. Hi Neil, I was really deeply touched by your story. Hope you can overcome this and wish you a lot of strength.

  20. Hi Neil, I was really deeply touched by your story. Hope you can overcome this and wish you a lot of strength.

  21. Hi Neil, I did wonder were you going through some difficulties following that despicable behaviour online given that you had gone quiet. Having gone through something similar myself I’m glad to see you back posting again and talking openly about it. Rest assured there are lots of people who appreciate you and the incredible passion you have shown over the last decade. Best of luck with working your way through this.

  22. Neil – I always read your posts avidly – Your tenacious attention to the facts tells me your are resourceful and dogged. I’m sure that this is a bump in the road and the afore mentioned qualities will see you through. Be sure the ‘interesting bike community’, on whatever site you contribute to, will have even more respect and gratitude for your valued input.

  23. Wishing you all the best – mine is what we used to be ‘allowed’ to call Aspergers and a (autistic) blow out at 60 followed buy good councelling and great treatment at work until 65 and retirement. That was 5 years ago now and though I have come close have not blown out again. When it seems close I refer to it as ‘leaking’ (like a tyre puncture patch) and find displacement activity – mostly revolving around the bike – is the best therapy.

  24. So glad to see you back and on the mend. Keep it up and when you are feeling ready I have a frame dated 1975 and built as a spare for the race team that may be worthy of discussion.

  25. Hi Neil, I wish you well in your continued recovery. The SBDU community has not been the sme without your input over recent times your blogs and comments have been missed by many enthusiasts. I look forward to you making a come back. We are all behind you.

  26. Hi. Thank you for sharing. I can relate. I struggled with mental and physical health during long covid. Mental health now much improved, but I can’t ride hard any more. That gives me an excuse to stick to classic bikes!
    Thanks for your blog posts. I only found them more recently. I have found them very useful

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