Gary Dawes, 53, is an IT specialist for health services in County Durham.
Here he tells us how he has always enjoyed cycling and how five years ago he took up riding his bike to work to try and lose weight. Now as well as cycling to work he runs regular led bike rides along the Sea to Sea (C2C) for people who want to improve their health.
“I started commuting regularly by bike about five years ago because my daughter was getting married and I needed to lose weight to get in the suit. That was that. I lost 2.5 stone and I use the bike to get about all the time now.
“My commute now is about 18 miles each way, and 11 miles of it are on the National Cycle Network from Consett to Washington (National Route 7) – part of the long-distance Sea to Sea route. I was doing the ride three or four times a week in summer.
“I enjoy cycling and this is one of the few times I get to do a decent bike ride. It saves me fuel and allows me to indulge a bit more. But it’s more than that. I’m generally a lot less wound up when I’ve been on the bike than if I’ve been in the car. My work is 95% desk-bound and sometimes I travel quite large distances in the car. A lot of the work I do can be quite stressful and cycling helps me switch off.
“ I lost 2.5 stone and I use the bike to get about all the time now. ”
“It’s especially great being on the National Cycle Network as you’re not worrying about cars. It’s good to get away from everything and enjoy the tranquillity on that traffic-free space. A couple of weeks ago two deer ran out in front of me across the path. I’ve surprised pheasants that fly out from the hedges and regularly see weasels or stoats cross the track.
“It’s about one hour and 10 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes in the car, (although if I drive in rush hour it takes longer). I see the extra time on the bike as investing in me.”