I think and work better, and I'm so much happier

MaryJane with her bicycle on the Isle of Man

Credit: MaryJane Watson

MaryJane Watson started cycling to work as part of a personal goal to lose weight. Now she loves it so much she rarely misses a day on the bike.

"I’ve been cycling to work since 2007, when I first started my weight loss mission.  At that time, I was 12 miles from my work placement and very unfit indeed.  I used to put my hybrid bike on the back of my car, drive to my mother-in-law's cottage, and then cycle the last four miles into work, repeating this journey on the way home.

"By 2008 I had lost five stone in weight by cycling and watching what I ate. My hubby and I now live in our mum's home since she passed away, and there has hardly been a day I have not cycled into work. I don't cycle if the wind gusts are more than 40mph or if there is ice but the rest of the time I go by bike. I often choose the longer way home along the coast just because I love it so much."

While cycling has helped MaryJane lose a substantial amount of weight, it has also had a much bigger impact on the rest of her life.

"Cycling makes me feel alive. I've already done a minor 'gym workout' by cycling in and then go home at the other end of the day.  My lungs have opened, I am oxygenated and alive. I think better, I work better and I'm so much happier.

"I’m lucky, as my work allows me to start at 7.30am and leave at 4.30pm, which means the roads are lovely and quiet. On the way home, it is less so, so I choose a longer coastal route to avoid having to sit in heavy traffic. It works for me because I can travel at a quiet time.

"Along this coastal route, I see the beautiful scenery of our rugged coastline, there is a Peregrine falcon who is out hunting most summer evenings as I cycle home.  He is hounded by the squawking Choughs and Jackdaws and a large black raven chasing him away from the rocks.

"Sometimes I've been lucky enough to see pods of dolphins hugging the bay for fish.  The sunrises and the sunsets at this time of year, in particular, are beautiful to see, I set off for work about 6.45am and the sun is currently pulling itself out of the sea as I cycle in. On the way back there are brilliant pinks and oranges.  I consider myself as very fortunate and lucky to live on this island.

MaryJane's bicycle has transformed her life; it's made her more confident in more ways than one and has given her a sense of freedom and independence that she previously didn't have. 

"Without my bicycle, I know, because I've been there before, that I would be fat, unfit and unhealthy. Cycling for me is freedom and total independence, I am in control of the time I have chosen to cycle, no one else is pulling on me to be here, or there.  Cycling has opened so many doors for me: the love of my environment and the world around me. My only regret is that I didn't discover it earlier in my life."

Find out more about our Active Travel programme on the Isle of Man