Last year, physiotherapist and triathlete Craig Boggon rode a cargo bike over 500 miles from London to COP26 in Glasgow to showcase what bicycles can do and to encourage everyone he met to make small changes to their daily activities that are mindful of the environement. Here we talk to Craig about the power of cycling.
Hey Craig, tell everybody where you’re based and what you do!
I’m Craig Boggon and I live and work in Newcastle upon Tyne (although I’m originally from Gloucester) with my amazing partner Ines and our rescue dog Luna.
I qualified as a Physiotherapist in Huddersfield and now I’m working/re-training on a Master’s course to be an Advanced Paediatric Critical Care Practitioner (APCCP), a mouthful I know! When I went to my first university interview, I remember having a narrow view of what a Physiotherapist was and have enjoyed learning since about the plethora of medical roles in an exhilarating environment, it is a really amazing development to be part of future roles in the NHS.
Our NHS Trust was the first UK institute to declare a climate emergency in 2019, and since then has created roles on a volunteer basis for Green Champions and provided further training for Ambassadors to encourage sustainability ‘bottom-up’ through teams.
As part of the Trust’s plan to be Net Zero they work with local courier services that use electric cargo bikes to transport samples between labs as well as home pharmaceutical deliveries. Seeing ZMove I became fascinated and wondered why there aren’t more cargo bikes in cities. So, I wanted to showcase to families and businesses what cargo bikes can do, and decided to cycle from London to COP 26 in Glasgow – over 500miles!
I linked with charities Possible and Do Nation who promote ideas of car-free cities and bikes as a mode of change for society, physical and mental well-being. We wanted to engage with everyone on the ride to encourage their social networks to pledge and make small changes to their daily activities, such as leaving their car at home and riding their bike.
How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?
I always enjoyed being outdoors, particularly as a youngster. I remember at points in a football match one day getting very muddy to the point of not actually being in goal much (I was the keeper!). But the appreciation of the outdoors came at secondary school with my Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards. We had excellent teachers who helped us explore the Wye Valley, Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia. Then, at uni, I got into a little Fell Running and Triathlon around the Peaks and Dales.
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
So many to choose but thinking about the environmental impact, it has to be one of my earlier adventures with a friend when we finished our A-Levels. After an action-packed summer we loaded our rucksacks, got the train up to Scotland and onto Milngavie to start the West Highland Way, Ben Nevis and then part of The Great Glen Way before sickness postponed part of the trip.
It was an amazing trip packed full of midges and only two days of misty rain, pretty well unheard of for Scotland!
How do you find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities such as work and family?
Very tough, some things can easily be dropped off and picked up again others are more pertinent and require more attention. It’s about communication with the people around you and definitely Ines is very understanding and knows when I need to go for a run to clear my head – the dog has become a good excuse for this!
Is there anyone who has inspired your love of the outdoors?
It’s not really been any one person but the people I have been lucky enough to meet along the way and have enjoyed the outdoors with. We learn a lot from one another when out on any adventure big or small, connecting with each other and nature.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
100% – as mentioned previously a long run or cycle in the outdoors clears the head.
It’s really interesting to see the development of green social prescribing within medicine, which links to nature-based interventions and activities, such as local walking for health schemes, community gardening and food-growing projects.
What is it about triathlon that you love?
I enjoy that it covers three sports (Swim, Bike and Run) that you can dip in and out if you become injured. You can take it at any speed to make it as challenging as you want and the people/support are fantastic. It is relatively new and still developing, there is a lot of waste and it has a large impact on the environment, which I’m trying to highlight and improve with the NGB.
When did you discover FINDRA?
I won a pair of merino socks in a duathlon in New Zealand and found them really warm and comfortable, useful in all weathers. When looking for another pair I stumbled on FINDRA and loved the colours and the sustainability, so I bought some as well as other items 😊
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
At my second multi-sport event – and first duathlon – and having never cycled the course before I was advised by a fellow competitor: “There’s a big hill and you have to do it twice, don’t be afraid to stick it in the granny wheel, you’ll need it.” I took his advice and was thankful for it.
What motivational message would you share to inspire others to get outdoors more?
Prevention is better than cure: cycling has been shown numerous times over to benefit people, cities and wider eco-system with better physical, mental and social health.
Cycling is a great tool to fight climate change but it and the benefits were not discussed at COP26. However other sources of inspiration to me include the parallel journeys made to COP26, some by work colleagues as part of #RideForTheirLives carrying a Health Climate Prescription letter from the World Health Organisation, with over 45 million health care workers signatures supporting the prescription. It was cycled from Geneva, Switzerland too!
Also, there was a young cyclist Jessie working with local communities and people power to showcase what can be done. Finally, on the weekend of the 6th of November Pedal on Parliament orchestrated a mass gathering across ages with multiple other agencies to again highlight why cycling can combat climate change.
‘How to Save our Planet’ by Prof. Mark Maslin and ‘From A to B’ by Dave Walker.
Recently I have read a lot about climate, societal and ecological health. We have the answers to the Climate Crisis as seen in ‘How to Save our Planet‘ (Prof. Mark Maslin). Leaders need to be responsible and brave enough to make the hard decisions.
But a recent favourite is ‘From A to B‘ by Dave Walker: it’s nice and easy to read with clear messages.
Well my partner said I make a better Spanish tortilla than her but it’s even better when you use your own home grown tatties with a friend’s own home grown eggs!
Or home grown and made jams are exceptional and complement any morning porridge!
I’m Alive by Disturbed
For motivational music I like a variety of genres but tend to lean toward metal/rock and enjoy listening to I’m Alive on Disturbed’s Ten Thousand Fists album. It has powerful lyrics and is brilliant music.