Taking up the Cycle September challenge

Christina at the end of her first Cycle September ride
Cycle September sees individuals, workplaces and countries competing to earn the points by riding and encouraging others to do the same. Communications Officer, Christina Bengston is using the initiative to increase her own cycling by riding to work every day in September.

Am I a cyclist?

I've never considered myself to be a 'cyclist' despite regularly cycling to university and then to several previous workplaces. The term 'cyclist' is surely reserved for people with all the gear, people who cycle much faster and people who know the difference between a cassette and a derailleur, isn't it?

After joining Cycling UK I realised that no, riding a bike means I am a cyclist. There are no rules for who can and should cycle. Cycling is for everyone, even people like me who wear ridiculous waterproof shoes no matter how much others may laugh. 

Christina and her waterproof overshoes

Considering the challenge

I started working at Cycling UK in February and I had every intention of cycling the seven miles to and from work each day. In reality, that hasn't really happened. 

Like so many others, I've been put off by a variety of factors; waking up late, being too tired to cycle, the weather, flat tyres and having things to do after work to name a few. I have become adept at finding reasons not to cycle. 

So, as Cycle September approached I realised this was my chance to turn a corner. I was going to take on this challenge and see if I could cycle every day.

My journey

There's a few ways for me to get to work and on my trustee hybrid bike I can take advantage of all of them. 

During the first week of Cycle September I have cycled along the road and on the River Wey towpath. I've found both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Map your own cycle route to work using our journey planner.

The first barrier - "Ah, I've woken up too late!"

No matter how good our intentions, many of us struggle to wake up in the morning. 

According to a recent survey (Chemist 4 U, 2018) the average person in the UK gets less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. It also showed that only 16% of people feel like they get enough sleep every night.

So it seems I am not alone. Unfortunately waking up late for me means that I might not make it to work on time and so in the past I've opted to jump in the car. This month though that's not an option so how can I avoid waking up late? I spoke to The Sleep Council to get some advice.

Sleep hygiene

Lisa Artis, Sleep advisor for The Sleep Council explained to me that “Good sleep hygiene is about practising a variety of healthy lifestyle and sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Small changes can have a huge impact on your sleep quality and quantity."

The importance of getting a good nights sleep for our health and wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated

Lisa Artis, The Sleep Council

“The importance of getting a good nights sleep for our health and wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated. Poor sleep can have detrimental effects on our concentration, motivation and stress levels.

“Increasing exercise levels and time spent outdoors by cycling to work for example, can certainly improve the quality of some people’s sleep but it’s important to put in place a variety of sleep hygiene tools.”

Get tips for getting a healthy nights sleep from The Sleep Council

Cycle September

Cycle September run by Love to ride challenges individuals and their workplaces to compete against each other in a worldwide event to raise the profile of cycling and help get more people on bikes. 

You can ride anywhere, anytime and encourage others to do the same to earn points. The more points you earn, the further you climb the leaderboards and the better your chances are of winning prizes.

Sign up to Cycle September

Plan your cycle route

Journey planner

Advice on sleep hygiene

The Sleep Council website

Practical tips for sleeping better