This month, we’re focusing on building resilience.  Numerous scientific studies link exercise with improved mental wellbeing, and with one in four of us likely to experience a mental health problem (according to the charity, Mind), focusing on our physical health is a great place to start. 

Bob Dixon, Director EMEA Sales, Cunard, shares his personal experience with cycling, his top tips for commuting and how he uses the Love to Ride app to log his bike miles, support his goals and track his carbon savings. 

 “2022 was a difficult year for me.  

In addition to the organised chaos of a travel industry emerging from hibernation and a return to service involving ever-evolving and complex health protocols, I had the additional challenge of arranging funerals for both my parents within six months of each other, in a foreign language and during a pandemic.  To say I lost focus on my wellbeing would be an understatement. 

When the dust settled, I knew I had to make a lifestyle change.   

Even getting up from the sofa was becoming more of an effort than it should be for someone of my age.  I have been in Carnival House, since we moved in there in 2009 yet I had always driven to work, despite it only being 7 miles from where I live in Hamble.  There was always an excuse – ‘It’s dangerous, there are no cycle paths’, ‘It’s a pfaff changing in the office’, ‘What if I get a puncture en route?’  I recalled a wise snippet gleaned from one of the many training courses I have attended during my time with CUK:  “Problems are things you only see when you lose sight of your goals!”   

The time for change had arrived.   

I dusted off my 17 year old mountain bike, donned the lycra and made a commitment to cycle to work. 

Happily, 2022 was a fantastic summer and my task was made easier by the fact every day was sunny.  The autumn too was benign and even the winter was largely cold but dry.  On those occasions I was caught in the rain, I realised I am not made of sugar and don’t dissolve.   

I fell into a routine, cycling in Tues, Weds and Thurs and sometimes even 4 or 5 days per week.  We are fortunate to have extensive locker room and shower facilities.  The imagined pfaff of changing at work soon morphed into a pleasure; the hot water of the office shower, a reward after a chilly ride in.   

I bought an e-bike

As a treat to self for a horrible year, I bought an e-bike.  Now that is game-changer!  During the sweet spot of rush hour you are the fastest thing on wheels in the whole of Southampton, (even quicker than the Deliveroo riders.)  When you hit the ‘Turbo’ button it’s a ‘buckle-your-seatbelt-and-clench-your-buttocks’ sensation as you go over the Itchen Bridge like a jet off an aircraft carrier.  (Incidentally, did you know Cunard’s Campania was converted into the Royal Navy’s first aircraft carrier?)  The commute is now actually fun! 

 So nearly a year in, how does it feel?   

There are few better ways to start the day than knowing you’ve taken 40 mins of exercise, beaten the traffic, saved money on fuel/bridge tolls/public transport, done your little bit for the environment, had a hot shower and it’s not yet 9am!  Without question, on the days I ride into work, I feel fitter and healthier.  My sense of wellbeing and resilience is far deeper than this time a year ago.  You also get into an easy routine of restocking your locker with freshly ironed clothes, shower gel and deodorant.  

 How I use Love to Ride 

I signed up to Love to Ride and I log every commute and leisure ride. At the time of writing, I see I have completed 52 transport trips and saved the Southampton air 460 lbs of CO2 emissions.  Moreover, that’s 52 occasions I have been able to offer my car parking space in the undercroft to colleagues, saving someone £260 in parking expenses.  Not life changing but during a cost-of-living crisis, every little helps.   

 What’s Love to Ride? 

With Love to Ride, you can track your bike miles, see your carbon savings and find help and support to ride more often. They also do regular challenges, where you can win cash prizes just for riding your bike. Southampton City Council are encouraging this initiative as part of their aim to evolve Southampton into a congestion-free, clean air city.  The more people who choose to cycle to work, the quicker they will expand their cycle-friendly infrastructure. Sign up here. 

  My top tips on cycling to work: 

  • Download the Komoot app and find a route from your home to Carnival House which avoids main roads. 
  • Be as colourful as possible – bright colours and lights like a Christmas tree.  Other road users need every chance to see you in their rear view mirrors. 
  • Be a responsible road-user.  Motorists hate cyclists always claiming to be the vulnerable party and then treating red lights as if they are purely voluntary. 
  • Always keep a spare shirt, socks, pants in your changing room locker because one day you WILL forget. 
  • Have two towels in your locker.  One to dry yourself and one to stand on as the shower room floors are damp. 
  • At home, keep your Laminex with your cycle helmet.  That way you won’t forget it.  
  • Even though we can keep bicycles in the undercroft, attempts have been made by the ungodly to steal them so always lock your bicycle to one of the stands. 
  • I defy anyone who has a cycle helmet with built-in visor to put it on without the theme tune from Top Gun going through your head! 

 Final thoughts

  1. You know you’ve cracked it when on a Sunday evening you’re actually looking forward to the commute into work on Monday morning.
  2. Irrespective of whether you’re cycling from home to work or vice-versa, you always arrive in a better mood than when you set off!”

Thanks for sharing, Bob! 

 Fancy commuting by bike? Sign up to Love to Ride 

We’re encouraging as many colleagues as possible to sign up and trial commuting to work by bicycle, even if it’s once! In addition to the obvious health and money-saving benefits, reducing our carbon footprint is high on our sustainability agenda. 

It’s important that you notify Facilities in advance (by emailing the Carnival House inbox) so they can provide information about accessing the undercroft, showers, lockers and access rights. 

 Want to buy a new bike? 

We have a fantastic cycle to work scheme which is a very tax efficient way of purchasing a bicycle. Find out more here

For more tips on building resilience and having a #GoodDayAtCUK, click here. 

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