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Ride for Pain

By Noigroup HQ NOI Notes Archive 29 Jan 2015

Ride For Pain NOInoteThe Tour Down Under has just wrapped up in Adelaide – there were so many cyclists in town, streets filled with lycra (I still don’t get lycra) and pelotons everywhere. You even felt fit just walking around town.

There is another cycle ride that hits Adelaide though, growing slowly in stature and importance since the inaugural event in 2012 – the Ride for Pain. Held for the third time in November last year, the aim of the ride is to raise community awareness of chronic pain. Over 500 riders – from some of Australia’s best, to weekend warriors – take a craftily constructed route through the hills of Adelaide.

I went to last year’s Ride for Pain and had a chat to some of the cyclists before they left, during the ride and after they had reached the finish line. I wanted to know what they thought about pain and some of the things they did about it while riding. While the topic is serious, the ride is meant to be fun- a celebration of riding where just getting to the finish line is the ultimate achievement for most. We had some fun collating a number of the interviews into the light-hearted video below.




There are some key messages here to start the year off on noijam. All of these cyclists do extraordinary things. They all get pain at some stage – even the champions. But the pain is fleeting, temporary and is well understood. For many of the riders it is considered ‘earned’ and for some it is even celebrated – a sign that they are pushing themselves to their limits and maybe even a little beyond. There were many mental processes being employed by the riders to help – a lot of them involving context and meaning.

Cyclists are not the only group who have rides for pain. We all have them – think here for a moment of some activity associated with pain and consider it a “ride.” No matter what, any such “ride” presents opportunities to consider pain in some of its many contexts- in healthy and fit individuals undertaking an activity they love, in the presence of tissue damage from scrapes and scratches to sprained and strained tissues, and with varying degrees of knowledge about what might be going on in a body. This should then lead us to thinking about the power of context and meaning, the importance of the inseparable, intertwined and overlapping domains of biology, psychology and sociology and the emergent nature of the diverse human experience called pain.

I’d like to hear from you – what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from the video, and more, what are your thoughts about the role of context and meaning in relation to pain? Share your thoughts in the comments below

-David Butler


PS: Since observing my tight T-shirt in the video I have now decided to become a cyclist and I have set a goal to ride in the next “Ride for Pain” – see you at the top of the mountain.



There’s so much going on at NOI in 2015 – ep3 is shaping up to be another blockbuster three day event and spaces are filling fast, the worldwide faculty are running courses in England, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Greece, India, Canada, the United States and Australia, The Explain Pain Handbook: Protectometer is days away from delivery and our new website is about to go live. Don’t miss a thing – follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you can follow us here on noijam and join us at noigroup.  


  1. I immediately noticed the tight shirt but need time to reflect on the content……… of the article that is and not the shirt………. Some beautiful stuff within……..the shirt that is and not the article ……..However the article is beautiful too…….😉😉😉
    DB London

  2. Nice video. Chirpy, entertaining and full of insight into differing reactions to expected ‘temporary’ pain and even ‘recovery’ pain. Some deny, some enjoy, and some maybe even lie ! It’s a reasonable demographic all round. The different responses perhaps help to realise the difficulties in trying to tie down a standard appreciation of any pain event…..but, maybe I wouldn’t jump the chasm and start calling it all ’emergent’. Any added visibility for the chronic pain ‘epidemic’ is also always welcome.

    However, perhaps one thing that might concern is the willingness to draw broader spectrum conclusions from an isolated event, an event which most chronic pain patients might already have set their mindsets to ‘zero’ on. In other words, it’s only relevant if the chronic patient can imagine themselves partaking in the event……if their condition disallows their participation, then, by pure instinct, they will blank any association with any outcoming observations. Take, for instance, a chronic pain patient watching the Paralympics on TV. They instinctively know that they could never emulate the feats of the ‘enabled’ disabled athletes on show, and, as research has shown, they tend to switch off. It might seem that the only reassurance emanating from the paralympics is a reassurance for the able-bodied that , if the disabled try hard enough, they may well deserve to be treated as equals. It has a ‘eugenics’ undertone. Of course there are many good sides to sports for the disabled being given token peer equality, but those who feel excluded from the possibility of such exertions will always feel they are being mis-represented.

    I wouldn’t like to paint a picture of the chronic pain mindset being impenetrable, but I would say that it is more likely to be breached by accepting the restrictive parameters as understood by the patient. Those subjective parameters, which the chronic patient is familiar with in an undeniable way, are unlikely to be affected by neuro-nudge posi-talk, and perhaps much more likely to only be affected by ‘reality-check’ understanding. Pain and the power of suggestion will never sit easy together in the same equation.

    Otherwise, great vid !

    1. davidbutler0noi

      Hi Gerry,
      Thanks – Implicit in the clip is that a personal, professional and public reevaluation of “everyday” pain would be advantageous for a deeper understanding of chronic pain.


      1. Agreed. Both need continuing reevaluation until we settle on some generally accepted overview. The video captures well the essence of ‘voluntary pain’, and should be complimented for that. How that resonates with the mindset accompanying ‘involuntary chronic pain’ is something I’d have a lot to comment on, but I won’t persist in light of the good work. Feet on the ground always out-argues thoughts in the sky !


  3. David, Perhaps context is far more important than previously given credit for. Without exception, the people you interviewed anticipated a context that both rewarded them and allowed them to recover. That’s huge. Don’t we all have stories about how context altered our behavior? I know that I do.

    Context is one of the major reasons I tie my tie carefully before seeing any patients.

    1. davidbutler0noi

      I couldn’t agree more Barrett. And knowledge probably provides the greatest context of all. You still wearing a tie?


      1. Yes David, I still wear a tie. The man with quadriplegia for whom I acted as a personal attendant through college wouldn’t allow me to leave until his was tied perfectly. I tell my patients that they think, “Well, he knows how to tie a tie. Maybe he’ll know how to help me.” They nod, knowing that, both consciously and unconsciously they noted several things about me before we begin. They’re ready for instruction and care in the midst of this. The tie and my manner open the door. I’m sure you do the same.

  4. It just goes to show that the experience of pain is very individual and personal , often unwelcome, sometimes desirable and sometimes private. As clinicians all we have to do is believe honour and respect that which the patient is trying to convey to us.
    London ⛄️⛄️⛄️❄️❄️❄️☔️☔️☔️⚡️⚡️⚡️☁️☁️☁️

  5. davidbutler0noi



  6. Context etc………imagine the young lady, with huge Psychosocial challenges in her life experiencing acute pain in the leg particularly aggravated by running. Her release from her worries and the place where she downloads ( Her words) is whilst running……..!!!!!!
    Doing well with treatment, almost done and whilst away on two weeks holiday in the Bahamas jogged daily on the beach, pain free and feeling the event was now history. Her first day out jogging back home on the streets of London disaster, never had such pain when running…….It has to be the mechanics of running on pavements rather than sand don’t you think? …………😉😉😉
    DB London

  7. One of our noinote subscribers sent us a comment via feedback. We liked it so much we wanted to post it here, so we checked with Nick and he was happy for us to share it:

    “I ride. I get Lycra. My sensory cortex loves Lycra as my buttocks nestle into the chamois. No undies, no rubbing, no extraordinary chaffing, no pain bending over in the shower. My chest sensory cortex loves riding tops – no chaffing of the moobs by fluttery shirts. And pockets, lovely pockets to put things in (tools, phone, tubes, bars, goos and money). Non cycling car driving yob’s sensory/visual cortex convulse with ever increasing paroxysms when confronted by a bike and a bit of lycra.”
    Perth, Australia

    1. davidbutler0noi

      I love it Nick! For a while, I wasn’t sure what genre you were writing for! I might even give it a go when my tummy shrinks a little.


  8. Strangely, the winner of the Tour De France is probably out testing his new Ferrari as we deliberate on just how big a capital O is required in ‘Lycra Obsession’, to convey all the self-admirable attributes of raw physicality on display. Why am I reminded of late 19th century sports attire fashions, hand in hand with a growing Eugenics culture, and just preceding the advent of our favorite neo-fascist cultures. I am also reminded of Egyptian Pharoahs ‘engaging’ with larger than life statues of themselves, as their empires fell into abject anarchy all around them ! Must fetch my Lycra and cycle post haste to the vomitorium.

    It’s one thing enjoying the sensation of Lycra next to skin, quite another to assume some superiority over motorists as a result of the wonders of those sensations. Some sensitivities and observations are best left locked away in the private fantasies that created them, never to be put on public display. Please show some regard for the sensitivities of others….and I say that as a motorist, as a cyclist, as a sleeper, as a walker, and as a human being with physical vulnerabilities that Lycra simply doesn’t address.
    Perhaps we can now expect our therapists to don their Lycra in an attempt to inspire more positive outcomes for their chronically ill patients ? I’m concerned. Really concerned !

    It had to be said ! Otherwise it gets under the radar.

    1. Hey Gerry
      I think Nick’s observations were made with tongue planted very firmly in cheek – links to eugenics or suggestions of superiority might be missing the self-deprecating humour?
      I don’t cycle, but I’ve seen all shapes and sizes in lycra on the roads here, enough that I have been awestruck by the material’s seemingly endless capacity to stretch and contain. Perhaps it is a sad reflection on society that limits choice of attire.
      As to the clinic, to don lycra would lead to a loss of credibility proportional to the incredulity and laughter it would create in any patients I saw, but then it has been said that laughter is rather healthy.

      PS: Nick is also someone on a quest, starting with friends and family, to convince them to “see cyclists as *people*, dad’s, brothers son’s uncles, mum’s, sisters ,daughters, aunt’s etc, not just a noun ‘cyclist'”

  9. Sorry. I just didn’t see much self-deprecating humour in ‘Non cycling car driving yobs’ ! The challenge in the comments were implicit, even though I don’t see myself as part of that generalised negatively stereotyped grouping. Just thought I’d respond in kind. It took the gloss off the topic, a bit.


    1. Ohh Gerry
      Lycra is not an Elitist product – it keeps me comfortable on a ride, your undies up during the day, compression stockings on in hospitals, bathers on at the Olympics, leotards on ballerinas, leg warmers on Olivia Newton John, boob tubes up in the ’70s and will not cause WW III nor the destruction of democracy (it was invented in 1956 – no world wars since then. Similar statistics to the presence of the Golden Arches of International Maturity {i.e. McDonalds} world wide). One ride – 1000 cars past me – ONE yobbo – lycra hating yobboism is glossless. I often get abused on a ride when the car is traveling in the other direction – I don’t get it.


      (On behalf of Nick, above)

  10. It’s just ‘satire’ ! The objective of satire is to further exaggerate an already obviously loaded comment, in an attempt to expose the perceived original error of judgement. I failed, by virtue of a mediocre attempt, and I accept that outcome. I guess it’s only fair that the satire is redirected towards my feeble efforts. Balance restored !


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