Lesson Plan: Bike to School Every Day
Today we are featuring Jim Silcott, principal extraordinaire and National Bike Challenge rider. Silcott has been an educator for 35 years and is now in his 26th year as principal of Trinity Catholic Elementary school in Columbus, Ohio. He set the impressive goal of riding to school every day no matter what the weather, no matter what he has on his daily schedule and no matter what time he may end his work day. Rain or snow, early arrival or late departure, he is ready to ride and he is recording his miles in the National Bike Challenge for all of us to cheer him on.
We asked Silcott to tell us a more about setting the goal for himself and how the National Bike Challenge is helping him achieve it.
I have been commuting to school by bike (10 miles roundtrip or 18 miles if I take the long way home!) for the last three years, but in years past I have avoided riding if I had to work late or if it was a rainy or snowy day.
This summer my daughter and my grandson, who live in Australia, came home for a month to live with me and I basically gave her my car for her use. As a principal I work in the summer so riding to school wasn’t a problem, but I found it just as easy to ride to the grocery store and to meetings outside of school, even on nights out to the theater or a baseball game!
So, when school officially began on August 20, I decided that, it would be a great goal to try and ride each of the 178 student days to school this year in addition to my other rides. As a 57 year old man I want to encourage my students as well as my teachers that you can accomplish goals at any age!
Bicycling has had a profound effect on my life, especially in the last four years, as I have gone from a recreational, infrequent rider to a daily bicyclist. For one, the morning ride into school and the evening ride home are great opportunities to clear my head, calm my soul and put everything into perspective about what is important in life. I smile the whole way!
I am also in the best shape of my adult life, having lost almost 80 pounds.
All of my students know that I ride my bike. They are especially excited if they see me on the road while they are driving in their car with their parents. In the afternoon, the students who are in the After School Program know that “Mr. Silcott is heading home” when I roll up the legs on my pants, put on my reflective vest and rainbow colored helmet. More students are now riding to school as well and both students and parents ask me about bicycling, equipment and safe routes around Columbus.
I love the National Bike Challenge as well as the League of American Bicyclists because, as a mostly solitary commuter, I feel that I am in a great sport/hobby/lifestyle with tens of thousands of people around the country and, indeed, the world! In the Challenge, seeing other people racking up points and miles, seeing how excited people are when they win a prize and reading their inspiring stories about what riding does for them gives me the inspiration to get on my bicycle every day!
Thank you, Jim, for teaching our young generation (and their parents) the importance of health, dedication, and perseverance. You truly are a roll model for everyone! To see Jim’s Diamond Level progress in the National Bike Challenge, click here. Not part of the National Bike Challenge, yet? There’s still a few weeks left! Join the Challenge community here.