Jack Thompson has suffered. Long before he made a name for himself pedaling absurdly long distances in the world’s most far flung locales, he suffered through depression, a rehab stint and an existential crisis that informs his views on riding and mental health to this day. He joins the Velocio Ambassador crew as a role model for those looking for more in their day-to-day experience.
You've made a name for yourself riding amazing long rides around the world. How did you come to be Jack the Ultracyclist?
I remember sitting in the back of my mate’s car heading for dinner one night and as a laugh I decided to setup an account ‘Jack Cycles Far’ to document the long stuff I did on the bike. Over the course of about two years the account got some traction and during this time I converted from a full-time office worker to a full-time ultra-bike rider. Early in 2019 I decided that ‘Jack Cycles Far’ was a bit ‘kiddy’ and so we went through a re-branding process, the resultant which was ‘Jack Ultracyclist.’
What are the rides you're most happy with from the last year? What's on your plate for 2020 that you're excited about / want to share with folks?
The two major goals I completed in 2019 were:
The Grand Tours Everestings Project – 3 Everestings in 3 Countries in 3 Days (Italy, France, Spain)
GP-1200 – Girona to Portugal. 1,200km and 12,000m elevation in 56hrs. The purpose for this ride was to build awareness for World Mental Health and the film we documented should be ready for release soon.
I’m super stoked on both of these rides. Each were challenging in their own way. Moving into 2020 we have five major goals, all of which will be documented in the form of films. Without giving too much away, the first will take place in Europe, the second in the USA, the third will be back in Europe and based around the TDF and the fourth and fifth will both be in Bhutan. More on these shortly.
How do you work past your limits in challenges on the bike (and off the bike)?
Admittedly I have and still do suffer from depression. I had a real low point in 2010 where I ended up in rehab with a drug addiction and just wasn’t enjoying life. Whenever I set myself a challenge on the bike and things get tough, I look back to 2010 and how difficult a period this was in my life. Nothing I’ve experienced compares to what I went through back then and so I channel my energy in overcoming obstacles by comparing them to what I’ve been able to overcome in the past.
More recently, I’ve been vocal in sharing the message that ‘Its ok not to be ok,’ and in doing so, I’m looking to remove the stigma attached to Mental Health and mental health disorders, especially in men. When the going gets tough, I channel my obsessive personality to push through with the intention of spreading that message in the hope that I can help others through difficult times.
What compelled you to partner with Velocio? What speaks to you about the brand?
For me, Velocio is more than just a technical bike apparel brand. The people at Velocio are real people and in addition to producing super high-quality garments, they too have a goal of bettering our planet. None of Velocio’s products are based on products from another brand, they are all developed from zero, and look to solve a problem common to pre-existing cycling apparel. In addition to this, Velocio’s jerseys are produced with recycled materials and their bib short range is following this trend. Velocio gives back 1% of its revenue to environmental causes and each year produce a limited-edition jersey ‘The Unity Jersey,’ with proceeds going towards a given cause. In 2019 the cause was importantly ‘Mental Illness’ with proceeds being directed towards The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.) In a nutshell, Velocio is more than just a cycling brand, they foster a community and I love that!