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10 top cycling tips, from Davina McCall

Davina McCall on bike - Davina McCall's top 10 cycling tips - exercise - diet & wellbeing -

Thinking of taking up cycling but afraid of jumping back on the saddle? Fret not! As part of Sky Ride’s new campaign to encourage people to take to cycling, we’ve got some insights from Davina McCall, who proves that it’s never too late to get back on your bike. Having recently cycled, swum and run from Edinburgh to London in seven days in aid of Sport Relief, she's keen to share what she learned along the way...

Give it a go

'There really is no need to dread getting back in the saddle if you haven’t cycled for a few years and feel unfit. I learnt the basics when I was a child, but didn’t get back on a bike properly again until recently (in my 40s!) and now I’m hooked! Why not get friends and family involved? It’s better cycling with a buddy - so head down to the park with a picnic and it’ll feel more like fun than hard work.'

Cycling essentials

'The kit is the best bit! All you really need is a T-shirt, shorts and trainers to get started, but my go-to cycle wear is usually a lightweight high-vis T-shirt, padded shorts and my helmet – plus a high-vis waterproof jacket for this British weather. It’s personal preference and although you may feel a little ‘all the gear, no idea’, it’s worth it and makes the journey way more comfy.'


'The one thing you don’t want to do when you head out on your bike is pull a muscle and prevent yourself from doing anything whatsoever for weeks to come. I’ve been injured before and it’s miserable. Stretch properly before you set off; try just five to 10 minutes to make sure you’re good to go. Cool down and stretch out afterwards too to help avoid aching for the next few days.'

Get the right bike and be comfortable with your position

'It sounds silly but it’s so important: the right bike will be the one that feels great to cycle – not the one that looks the nicest! You want to be as comfortable as possible, especially for long distances. Do this by making sure your bike is the right size for you and that your seat is raised/lowered to a comfortable height. Don’t just jump on and go. We’re all different; make sure your bike is tailored to you. It’ll help prevent injuries too. Get advice from an experienced cyclist friend, or get fitted at a cycling shop.'

Give your bike some TLC

'We all feel guilty about that old rusty bike sat unloved and unusable in the shed. Don’t let your bike go down the same rickety road. Keep your tyres pumped up, check your brakes and make sure your chain is well oiled. If you don’t have the equipment at home, bike shops will do a basic service cheaply. Give your bike a bit of attention every now and then, and it will look after you in return.'

Know your Highway Code

'I’m a bit of a teacher’s pet and a big one for obeying the traffic laws. Avoid being that guy who jumps the red light or strays up onto the pavement. Not only is it illegal it's bloody frustrating for the rest of us and gives us cyclists a bad name.' Read the Highway Code rules for cyclists.

Plan your route

'The last thing you want to do is get lost and cycle miles further than you intended, particularly if you’re new to cycling! So although it sounds obvious - plan your route before you leave. If you know where you’re going you can avoid dangerous roads or areas of majorly heavy traffic – traffic jams are boring and weaving between cars could get a bit hairy. The more effort you put in to planning your ride, the more you’re likely to enjoy it. If you’re cycling to work or to a friend’s it’ll also help you get there on time too.'

Hydrate and snack

'It’s always worth keeping a bottle of water with you however far you’re cycling. It’s really important to keep hydrated, particularly on hot days or on a long cycle. Take provisions with you, or meet friends at a park for a picnic halfway through your ride. Otherwise, make sure you’ve eaten well before heading out; you need enough energy for the ride you’re about to go on. I usually take a couple of cereal bars and a banana out with me – along with a sarnie for the longer rides.'

Start simple

'Cycling can be daunting, particularly on some of Britain’s roads. Start simple; get confident with your bike and with your surroundings before pushing yourself too hard. I’m an ambassador for Sky Ride, a national campaign between Sky and British Cycling encouraging thousands of people of all ages and abilities to get on a bike and discover the benefits cycling can offer. The campaign’s Big Bike Events are a great way to ride your bike safely on traffic-free streets in a major city or town. Best of all - it’s free and the whole family can get involved!
'I’ll be up at Sky Ride Liverpool on September 7 so come and join me if you’re in the area. If not, there’re plenty of other Big Bike Events or why not try a Sky Ride Local - a guided ride which will give you a chance to explore the local area led by British Cycling trained ride leader. Find a ride near you at– it’s a great starting point for you, your friends or your family.'

Feeling brave?

'Once you’ve been out a few time and got more confident on your bike then challenge yourself – it’s fun! Develop a cycle plan and try to incorporate some great hills – they’ll help improve your fitness levels and give you a buzz on the way down!'
Davina McCall is an ambassador for Sky Ride, a national campaign from Sky and British Cycling encouraging thousands of people of all ages and abilities to get on a bike and discover the benefits cycling can offer. Find a ride near you at

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