Southampton businesses pedal their way to health

A three-week Cycle Challenge has seen organisations across the city clock up over 64,600 miles – a distance equivalent to cycling round the world over two and a half times.

The Southampton Cycle Challenge saw 1,083 people from 46 organisations getting on their bikes between 14 June and 4 July, including 130 budding cyclists who got back in the saddle after more than a year.

The winning teams were those that got the highest percentage of staff to cycle for ten minutes or more over the challenge period. The top teams were:

National Oceanography Centre (Corporate Category)
IKEA (Very Large)
Logistics Department, IKEA (Large)
The Polygon School, Southampton City Council (Medium)
GeoData Institute (Small)
Administration Department, International Sailing Federation (Very Small)

The aim of the challenge was to encourage people to take to their bikes and discover the joys and benefits of cycling.  Incentives, prizes and various cycling events helped encourage people to take part, with prizes donated by Hargroves Cycles, IKEA, The Hub Cycleworks, Fitness First and RideRide.

Colleen Pennal, from Carnival, took to a bike for the first time in 13 years at one of the ‘cycling taster’ sessions run during the challenge: “I loved it! I just bought a bike for my daughter and it would be great to go cycling with her. I might cycle to work too, as I can buy a new bike through the Bike to Work scheme.”

Bruce Dupée works for the National Oceanography Centre, which won first prize in the largest size category of the challenge. He used the challenge as part of his recovery plan after an operation: “I just had major hip replacement surgery so I use the bike to recover strength in my legs and keep the weight down.”

The challenge coordinator Thea Bjaaland, who works for CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation, said: “When people get back on a bike and they experience what it’s actually like to cycle, they realise it isn’t hard or scary but it’s actually fun and easy. It’s very encouraging that so many people in Southampton have been inspired to cycle for the challenge. Cycling has great health and cost benefits for the individual, and helps to reduce congestion and pollution for all of us.”

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