Saved by the bike bell

25th May 2007 at 01:00
As journeys to work go, mine is not great. I ruled out public transport when I discovered it involved a walk, a train, a bus, a train and then another walk. It seemed rather excessive for a journey that covers little more than six miles.

By car, it can be a com-fortable 25 minutes; but with rush-hour traffic thrown into the equ-ation, that time can easily be trebled. Unless I leave my house at an obscenely early hour in the morning and then start my journey home while the pupils are still packing their bags, I have to face commuter hell.

Last week, my dislike of this part of the day reached breaking point when the car stereo ceased to pick up my preferred stations and was overrun by pirate radio DJs. What a choice: either the silent contemplation of the nose-picking drivers in the cars next to me, or someone shouting into my speakers and telling me I'm "mad for it".

So I decided to set myself free. I got home (eventually) and dug out my old bicycle. The following day, I glided past the queuing traffic and arrived at the school gates with the wind in my hair and a spring in my step. Not only did I feel unusually awake and enthusiastic during morning registration, but the benefits of cycling lasted throughout the day.

My spirits were lifted, my lessons were wackier and those breaktime biscuits felt more justified than ever. Six miles up and down hills, twice a day, is not for the faint-hearted, but contrary to common expectation, the ride gave more energy than it took and instead of my usual post-school sofa slump, I jumped about and painted a ceiling.

I'm a convert

Louisa Leaman is a London teacher

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