Marking one year since former professional rider Jonathan Cantwell’s death, a one-of-a-kind SwiftCarbon Ultravox is to be auctioned with proceeds going towards mental health support and awareness initiatives; with the bike on display at this week’s Rouleur Classic LDN, the world’s finest cycling exhibition, held in London from 31st October to 2nd November.
The story of this one-of-a-kind bike began in April 2012, with SwiftCarbon set to enter a new era, a step up to the next level in the company’s development. Founder Mark Blewett had just launched the Ultravox, which received rave reviews from the media, and the next step was to prove the bikes were ready to race at the highest level.
Blewett happened to be in touch with Australian sprinter Jonathan Cantwell, riding for Saxo Bank at the time, and the two hit it off. In one of their many conversations about bikes, racing and life, Blewett suggested he try out the Ultravox. “He fell in love with it” recalls Blewett.
The following chain of events happened at the pace at which Cantwell had led his life as a dyed in the wool sprinter – at 100mph. With Cantwell’s contract expiring, and with two small children, he was engineering his next move – taking a gig closer to home, and sowing the seeds for a life after pro cycling. Neil Gardiner, head of marketing at SwiftCarbon says, “He catalysed a sponsorship deal between SwiftCarbon and his new team Drapac Professional Cycling. He opened SwiftCarbon Australia. He set up a brand concept store in St Kilda, Melbourne. And, still racing at the highest level, he was also running a business.”
But the final years of Cantwell’s pro career ended prematurely. In a perfect storm of well-publicised, life changing events, combined with the challenge of readjusting to a more sedentary life after a successful pro career, the downward spiral had begun.
If there was ever a silver lining to the terrible loss of a such a bright soul, it’s that his passing has added momentum to a shifting collective consciousness. Attitudes towards mental illness are now more of inclusiveness and frankness, and we are shedding the damning and alienating stigma. We are finally talking about it.
In this continuing spirit, the team at SwiftCarbon wanted to honour Cantwell’s life, painting a special, one-of-a-kind Ultravox, his favourite. The proceeds of the sale of the bike will be given to various causes related to those supporting mental health. Gardiner adds, “With a matter so close to our hearts, there was much debate about the frame’s design. In the end, the sentiment of openness and honesty prevailed. We wanted to continue to raise awareness of this important issue and to maintain the energy of the movement, to encourage dialogue, and for everyone to watch out for one another.”
Emblazoned large on the top tube is ‘IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK’ – a phrase that’s gained worldwide momentum, giving comfort and empowering those suffering from depression. The bike is painted in pure white, signifying peace; decaled in green for hope, and the initials JC sit alongside SwiftCarbon’s motto Always Racing on the seat tube.
The Ultravox frame is built with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels. The online auction for the bike begins 8:01pm GMT on 31st October and ends at 8:01pm GMT on 21st November. Proceeds will be donated to Lifeline in Australia, Samaritans in the UK, Australian social enterprise PUKA Up, and finally a charity of choice for the eventual highest bidder.