Commuting to work by car is enough of a pain when your journey involves a 140-mile round trip.

So imagine how Simon Mansfield felt the day he decided to get from his home near Cardigan to his desk in Port Talbot and back again – by bike.

It saw him set out before 4am and not get home until almost 9pm after putting in a full shift in the office.

As it happens Simon felt pretty good despite his nine hours in the saddle, most of it with a headwind and driving rain to contend with.

This time last year, Simon – IT programme manager based at ABMU’s headquarters in Baglan Energy Park – could not have imagined completing the journey.

But after he signed up for Cycle for Health, a Government-supported initiative that allows ABMU staff to buy a bike and spread the cost out of their salary over 12 months, he’s fitter than ever.

Simon said:

“The commute usually takes me around 90 minutes each way, so I spend about three hours a day in the car.

“I joined Cycle for Health so I could get out there and get fitter.

“A lot of people think the scheme is just so you can cycle to work. It’s not – but colleagues were still asking me when I was going to cycle in.

“Then one day I thought – you know what? I think it’s possible to do it.”

Until a year ago Simon had done very little cycling. Since then he has completed the 109-mile Tour of Pembrokeshire and the Merlin Ride (105 miles), while this weekend he is taking part in the 100-mile Prudential RideLondon event.

But his bicycle commute was his longest ride yet.

He set out from Cardigan at 3.50am, travelling via Carmarthen, Pembrey, Burry Port, Loughor, Penllergaer and Skewen before arriving at Baglan at 8.20am. On the return trip he left work at 4.20pm and arrived home at 8.45pm.

Simon added:

“It rained all the way in, with a headwind – but I also got rain and a headwind on the way back.

“Despite that, and the fact it was the furthest I had ever ridden by a considerable margin, it went a lot better than I had expected. I thought I would be tired and aching but I was fine.

“I was very keen to try it because I believe in the Cycle for Health scheme, which has had a huge benefit on my fitness.

“While I won’t be doing it on a regular basis I wouldn’t mind trying again in better weather to see what time I can manage.”