Cycling brings Paisley man Jon Jewitt freedom and happiness. He believes this helped get him through the major health scare he experienced in his early 50s and back into the saddle just months later.
Jon Jewitt cycles past artist Hector Dyer’s installation 'It Is A Long Lane That Has No Turning' on National Cycle Network Route 7 in Paisley. Credit: Michael Kelly
Give It A Go is a new campaign from Sustrans Scotland supported by funding from the Scottish Government.
It aims to promote the benefits of everyday walking and cycling to those aged 50-69.
Jon, an architect who's married with two adult children, heard about our campaign through his role as a Sustrans volunteer.
In this blog, he shares his experience as a 59-year-old keen to tell others about the joy that cycling brings him.
A Sustrans volunteer, Jon was keen to share his story in response to our Give it a Go campaign. Credit: Michael Kelly
Active life halted by chance diagnosis
“I have always been a keen road cyclist and moved to Paisley in 1998, where I saw a National Cycle Network sign at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and jumped down the rabbit hole to explore Renfrewshire and beyond.
“Three years ago, a chance discovery during an insurance medical revealed I had a serious heart condition with no symptoms.
“At the time I was cycling 100 miles a week, rock climbing, hillwalking, coaching rugby, kayaking and generally keeping active.
“I was told that without this chance diagnosis I would have died within three months without major surgery.
“I was told there was a 25% chance I might not make it.
“I had my 10-hour operation at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow.
“I cannot praise the NHS staff who looked after me enough – they were incredible and this was right in the middle of the pandemic.”
A major health scare brought Jon's active lifestyle to a sudden halt. Credit: Michael Kelly
Ditching the car by cycling to work
“I like to think that I looked after myself before my operation but realise now that I took my health for granted, and now I do not.
“Three years on from the surgery, I now use my Brompton to cycle to Paisley Gilmour Street Station, train to Glasgow and cycle to my office three times a week.
“I estimate I save 5kgs of carbon dioxide each return journey by not using the car to get to work.
“I then cycle to meetings within a ten mile radius of my office, although as a result, I am considered the eccentric architect and might as well arrive on a spaceship, given the looks I receive.
“But it doesn’t matter - I simply love to cycle.
“I’d recommend people try it and see what an amazing portal it is to happiness, joy and the benefits associated with the outdoors, on their doorstep.”
Now back on his bike, Jon is keen to do what he can to maintain his physical health. Credit: Michael Kelly
Jon is delighted to be back exploring his local area by bike. Credit: Michael Kelly
Our new campaign aims to make it easier for people aged 50-69 living in Scotland to leave the car at home and make walking and cycling part of the everyday routine. Are you ready to Give it a Go?