According to his instagram bio, Nils Amelinckx was a “Belgian bred Lake Districtian” who’s life was about “Freewheels, f-stops, full stops and #f*ckcancer". But through his lens, laughter and love of embracing every possible moment (preferably outdoors) as warmly as possible, he has become a global example of a life wonderfully lived. The fact that his life was cut far too short by bowel cancer is a tragedy, particularly to his wife Laura, the two ‘Linckx kittens’ Lotte and Leo and his close family. But his honesty, determination and ability to still spread joy and inspiration in the face of so many layers of physical and emotional agony was a Ctrl - Alt - Del on any previous definition of resilience. One I first learned about in this film, which left a packed 'bike night' at the Kendal mountain festival momentarily silent in awe at it’s rawness before an avalanche of applause announced Nil’s arrival as someone who would become truly significant to so many of us.
Nils will live on in the stories shared by family and friends on Wednesday. Or as an unseen but deeply felt element of extra warmth in the dawn sun or a helping hand in the back on darker days when we ride in his beloved lakes or Alps. However, he also made sure his spirit could also live on for others who've yet to know him through Rider Resilience.
An unerring ability to connect straight into your heart wasn’t just personal and photographic, Nils could also do it with words and somehow his description of Rider Resilience has even more power now:
"RIDER RESILIENCE is a registered not-for-profit community interest company powered by stories of bike derived resilience and the strength of the bicycle community to encourage anyone in the face of adversity to get out and ride a bike as much as possible throughout their period of hardship.
"By promoting the use of any bicycle, including adaptive bikes, our movement pulls together cyclists to support each other, paying forward the joy derived from riding and in turn helping people to regain both their mental and physical resilience more quickly.
"We believe that #BikesAreMedicine, allowing us to bounce back quicker, whatever hardship we may come to face.
"RIDER RESILIENCE revolves around two main axles:
"Our long term aim is to become a global collective, focused on strong rider affiliation and a powerful sense of community belonging.
"Rider Resilience will be a resource from which strength, inspiration and funding can be drawn, allowing anyone to #RideItOut, whatever life may throw in their way."
It’s already a great resource of inspiring stories from Paralympic Gold Medallist and World Champion, Steve Bate, MS defier, Andy McKenna and storm injury survivor, Ash Griffiths, but the intention is to grow the library even further. There are also stunning images – many by Nils himself – and excellent merch to help grow the ability of Rider Resilience to prove that #bikesaremedicine for a huge range of symptoms. We’re not just talking about the emotional effect of endorphins, adrenalin, the mindfulness of all your attention being swallowed by the trail or the cameraderie and support that comes from shared experiences.
My wife – who works in cancer research – is constantly talking about the repeated findings that prove the strength and health gained through exercise would be labelled a ‘wonder drug’ if they could be put in a pill. And if you can combine those clear physical gains while doing silly stuff that floods your emotions with the 'happy drug’ serotonin, then sadness and sickness will have a harder time taking you down.
But as many awesome people I’ve said goodbye to far too soon prove, none of us know how long we’ve got to live the lives we’ve been lucky enough to be gifted. So I’ll leave the final words to Nils himself:
“If I wasn’t going to be able to add days to my life, I wanted to make sure I would add life to my days”
Amen to that Mr Amelinckx.