During the first lockdown, after a period of hesitation, I made a conscious decision to get on the road on two wheels. A report by Forbes shows that, since the pandemic, there has been a bike boom with over a billion pounds worth of additional bicycles sold in the UK; that is a 63% sales increase during lockdown. The Cycle to work scheme allowed me to significantly save on a decent road bike after a lot of research and advice from cyclist enthusiasts. This was the best decision that I have made in years. After all, I had to get active mentally and physically because I was spending anything from 10 to 12 hours a day working online without much activity on most days. This was a life-changing decision because of the health benefits, and since then, I have not looked back.
Not only do you get fit physically, but mentally you also feel good when you have clocked up 10, 15 or 20 miles. On the odd occasions when I don’t cycle into work, I feel overwhelmed by a sense of guilt. These days, there are more and more people on the road on bikes and the roads are becoming more cycle-friendly. Drivers are more accommodating of cyclists. As a result of becoming a cyclist myself when I am driving, I am more conscious of cyclists, and I give them the due care and attention that I would expect when I am cycling myself.
I am enjoying my newfound hobby; on an average week, I clock up about 100 miles. My cycling week usually consists of a long ride on Sunday mornings, followed by another one midweek after work in addition to my weekly commute. I have even signed up for a charity ride from London to Brighton to test my fitness levels in early September. No doubt it will require high-intensity training during the summer holidays.
On the subject of goal setting, I am a firm believer that if you put your mind to something, and you set yourself a goal; regardless of how aspirational it is, you will achieve it. In the famous Netflix documentary, The Last Dance, Michael Jordan famously states, “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.” When I became the headteacher of The Cumberland School in 2019, I made a pledge to turn the school around. When I spoke to staff in my inaugural address on my first day, I said, “Together, we will make this school the best performing school in Newham.” Fast forward two years, the school is flying, and so much has changed for the better. It’s a shame that we currently do not have results to validate our extraordinary rise because of the pandemic, but it will only be a matter of time.
After the restrictions were eased, we decided to open our doors to prospective parents and give them a tour of the school. Whenever I did one of these tours, the first thing that I would often say to them was, “Where would you like to go? Which subjects do you want to see? I want you to tell me where you would like me to take you so that you don’t think this is staged. What you see is what you get; what you will see in the tour is how our school is every day.” We have conducted over a hundred tours, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback has been nothing short of breath-taking. When we asked for their overall impression of what they saw; below is a snapshot of some of the feedback.
“School is very nice and disciplined.”
“Friendly and welcoming school.”
“Very impressed with the school.”
“I really enjoyed the tour.”
“The school was very welcoming, and the students were very focused on their learning.”
“The students were really motivated, and they listened to the teachers.”
“This school is outstanding.”
Back to the subject of being on the road, if you want to get fit, you hate sitting in traffic jams after a long hard day at work, and you want to make a significant saving on a quality bike, sign up and get on the road!