Sustainability is at the heart of ANT, and we strive to be as green as possible while we work to create new permanent woodlands across the Bristol-Avon catchment.

As part of this mission, we encourage our staff and volunteers to use more sustainable modes of transport while travelling to our sites and our office where possible, with many of our team opting to cycle instead of using a car.

Heather Mack, our Project Manager for Great Avon Wood, has been cycling both to our office and to site since she started the role earlier this year. As we come to the end of Cycle September, we caught up with Heather to find out more about why she cycles to work and what her experience has been like so far.

Why did you start cycling to work?

Living in Bristol I’ve made the decision to not own a car – I use a car club occasionally – but this means I cycle for nearly all of my journeys around the city. I have two jobs, one requires me to cycle 6.5 miles North – up a big hill, and the other requires me to cycle 7 miles South – also up a big hill.

I have always cycled to work, I like the fact it wakes me up in the morning, and if you’ve got a quiet route, like mine, it’s much more relaxing than driving!

What’s your experience been like?

I generally cycle slowly through the city so I don’t get too sweaty and don’t need to change when I arrive at the office. I’m loving cycling the Whitchurch way to our Great Avon Wood site near Pensford, I generally do get a bit hot and sweaty on that ride, as I push myself a little. My best time so far is 32 minutes for the 7 mile up hill ride! But as I’m going out there to do physical work I’m usually wearing sports gear, and it doesn’t matter if I’m already sweaty. I love the downhill ride back home so I can quickly get in the shower at the end of the day.

Would you recommend it?

I encourage anyone coming out to volunteer to consider cycling. In fact, one of the draws of this job was the fact I could easily cycle to my rural woodland creation site! I’m a very active person – but sometimes life is just too busy to fit in the exercise I’d like to do. I probably cycle nearly 10 miles a day between my various work locations and socialising, so it means I’m always getting some exercise.

I got my bike through a bike to work scheme, it’s a good bike, but it’s totally worth it, because now all of my travel is free. I get paid mileage for cycling when going out to site, so this covers some of the costs of items that wear out (or get lost) like lights, waterproofs and replacement parts. I have also recently bought myself some really good bluetooth headphones and often use my time on the bike to call family, listen to podcasts, or chill out with some music.

Any tips for people looking to cycle to work or volunteer?

My top tips for cycling to work is to find a route that is reasonably quiet and not stressful – and get good gear so you don’t need to worry about the rain.

Inspired to cycle to your next ANT volunteer day? You can find the cycle routes to all our sites on our new volunteer portal where you book your place, so opting for greener transport is even easier!