Tim Campbell, a Mathematics Learning Specialist at Antonio Park Primary School in Victoria, shares some of the reasons why he’s been riding his bike to work for the past 15 years, and tips on how to find the best bike paths to avoid riding alongside cars.
I have been riding my bike to work for 15 years. The relatively relaxing trip along the Mullum Trail from Ringwood to Mitcham has been a welcome change from my previous commute, which included an adrenaline-filled negotiation through cars, trams and traffic lights on High Street between Fitzroy and Preston. Being active and getting the blood flowing early in the morning is a terrific way to begin the day and there’s plenty of research out there that says physical activity increases all the brain chemicals that are linked with feeling happy. However, it was never the neuroscience that contributed to my decision to ride to work.
What started out as a largely environmental and financial decision, has become a really important part of my day. And, weirdly, it’s the time to myself that I find the most beneficial in terms of wellbeing and mental health. My wife and I deliberately sought to find a home between five and 10 kilometres from work, thus ensuring a manageable journey. Spending a solid 20 minutes turning the pedals, nodding to walkers, runners and riders travelling in the opposite direction and being out on the bike trail surrounded by bushland is such a fulfilling experience.
I’ve found exercising at the end of the working day, as opposed to sitting still in 5 o’clock traffic, helps to maintain that separation between home and school, and allows me to process the stresses from the day. Obviously last year was an anomaly, but in 2019 I rode to work all but three days and established a routine, which I’ve always found has been vital for riding to work.
My students often joke that I sleep at school because my office has a full clothes rack and no less than seven shoeboxes. I learnt early on you can’t wear a shirt that’s been jammed in a backpack. When my wife dropped my shirts at the office, the office staff interrupted lunchtime to announce to the entire school ‘Tim Campbell, you’re laundry is ready’, so it’s nice that it’s not just my wellbeing that’s benefiting from my cycling.
If you’re thinking about riding to work, mapmyride™ is a great app to find bike paths and avoid cars. Melbourne mornings can be beautiful, particularly through the cooler months and having the right gear means winter is no deterrent. Tights are a must; as is a warm, bright-coloured top that breathes. Front and back lights ensure that drivers can see me from a distance and arriving with plenty of time to freshen up means I’m ready for the day, mentally and physically.
How do you care for your own health and wellbeing? Do you have any fitness tips that you’d like to share with your colleagues in education? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.