When I first started cycling to work, I would arrive home in the evening and have a cup of tea and a bowl of muesli followed by a slice of toast and marmite.

Then another slice of toast and another cup of tea. And then I would eat whatever the boys hadn’t finished for their tea, even if it had ketchup on it. I’d grab a couple of chocolate biscuits, scavenge in the fridge and root around in the cake tin.

And then I’d curl up on the floor in front of the fire and fall asleep.

In the ten years since we first moved to Oxfordshire, I had tried lots of different ways of getting from our village to Oxford that didn’t involve a car. This involved various combinations of bikes and buses and trains and stations in our area. If everything ran smoothly, it worked out at about an hour, door to door.

But in those days, the trains were horrendously unreliable and while the service might be on time, it might equally well be five minutes late, or 40 minutes late, or cancelled altogether. I hated that stress of not knowing when/if I could get to work. Why not drive? Well, this was also stressful, as anyone who commutes along the A40 will testify. Plus I hate driving as an activity, and in any case, leaving home at the same time, it still averaged around an hour door to door.

Time passed, our family grew – three small boys – and we endured the sleep deprivation and exhaustion that goes with the territory – and came through the other side.

With new found energy levels, I made a new year’s resolution and upgraded my bike. Using the wonderful Bike-to-Work scheme, I acquired a cyclo-cross – looks like a racer with drop handle bars, but has thicker wheels to cope with the Oxfordshire potholes. Ideal for commuting, said the reviews. I named it The Woolly Pig (long story) and started cycling to work….

Almost immediately, I started sleeping much better. It’s not rocket science – exercise and fresh air just seem to have that effect. Rather surprisingly, I didn’t lose or gain weight (despite eating like a Woolly Pig) – it just seemed to rearrange itself – my legs got bigger, my waist got trimmer.

Stress levels dropped, partly because of the exercise, but also because I was in control of my commute. I could leave when I wanted, control when I arrived. Apart from the very occasional puncture, my travel time was entirely predictable, with the journey taking a little over an hour, door to door. It’s not always wonderful and bad weather will send me scuttling back to the train, but on an early spring morning listening to bird song on a quiet Oxfordshire road, it can be the perfect way to start the day.

And now, one year on, I can cycle to and from work, make do with a slice of toast when I get home, and stay awake until bedtime.