Q&A about cycling with Davina McCall
In August 2014, Mumsnetters put their questions to Davina McCall in a Q&A about cycling, sponsored by Sky. She answered your questions about getting started, staying motivated and encouraging children to cycle.
Davina is supporting Sky Ride - a national campaign between Sky and British Cycling encouraging thousands people of all ages and abilities to get on a bike and discover the benefits cycling can offer.
Davina attended Sky Ride Liverpool on 7 September, one of the many Sky Ride Big Bike events taking place across the UK. It's not too late to have a go yourself – you can register for the remaining big bike events in Coventry on 21 September or Bradford on 28 September, or a Sky Ride Local guided ride which take place every Sunday across the UK. Click here to find a ride near you.
- WIN! One lucky Mumsnetter and their family will win a set of bikes worth up to £1,500. Jump to the competition.
Q. Selloveday: What would be your number one tip when starting to cycle?
A. Davina McCall: Well, the first thing is to make sure your bike is geared towards you. Get the guys in the shop to adjust everything to your measurements, it makes a much bigger difference than you think. Secondly, go with friends or family and enjoy it! If you want to take it more seriously later on you can but, first and foremost, cycling is a great way to get out and about, and it's lots of fun.
Sky Ride is a good place to get started. It's free and a great way to get you and your family into cycling. There are lots of ways to get involved outside of the main Sky Ride big bike events, which give people the chance to cycle on traffic-free streets for one day. There are local guided rides taking place every weekend or you can organise your own rides with Ride Social. It's really easy to create your own rides, find others to ride with, or join rides near you. Find out more here.
Q. Luijo: Do you think you will continue to cycle after the Sky Ride event? What do you think is the best way for women to take up cycling, especially when a lot of the cycle shops and clubs are a quite male-dominated?
A. Davina McCall: Absolutely! Years ago you'd have struggled to get me on my bike, but I love it now and can't imagine life without it. I think if you look at commuters in big cities, you're starting to see just as many women cycling as men, which is great. As far as the cycling shops go, I've always found the people in them really helpful, and there certainly isn't any sort of 'old boys club' vibe going on. I feel like cyclists are in a club of their own, all together, and it's great!
You can also check out British Cycling's Breeze programme which is the biggest initiative ever to get more women into riding bikes for fun. Amazing Breeze champions are trained to organise friendly, social bike rides up and down the country and inspire local women to get involved. Rides go at a speed that suits everyone, and they often start or finish at a cafe so everyone can have a drink and a chat. Find out more here.
Q. Dessallara: What's the best way for an adult to learn how to ride a bike?
A. Davina McCall: I think for an adult to get into cycling it's always good to seek out a close friend to help. Go to a park or somewhere quiet and a few sessions trying and trying should do the trick.
Q. recipequeen: What is your favourite/most effective pre-cycling breakfast?
A. Davina McCall: I have to admit that some of the meals I've been fed before some of the more challenging cycles I've done would never rank in a favourites list. If we're talking about going out with the family, then I think it's all about building up energy for the day and then not going out too soon after you've eaten. Porridge, eggs, bacon and even cereal are all a pretty good starting point.
Q. gamerwidow: How do you think it's best to get children used to cycling? On the pavement to get used to roads, or in the local park where there's more space?
A. Davina McCall: I think it's a gradual thing really. The first job is get them used to the bike itself. You tend to do that in the safest place possible so, definitely, the more space, the better. As they get more confident riding then, sure, it's important they get used to the roads so you go out with them, supervise them and help them feel comfortable with that and the Highway Code and so on. Sky Ride Locals are actually a really good way of doing this too.
Q. SarahSnail: What's the best way to get the whole family into bike riding? I have seen the cart-type things for children and was wondering how entertained they would be after a few miles of cycling.
A. Davina McCall: I think the earlier you can get your kids cycling themselves, the better. Get them on the stabilisers and they're away. I think it's all about implementing it into your routine as well. So, instead of walking down to the park, cycle down. If they can, and it's safe, maybe they can start cycling to school. It can make some of the more mundane day-to-day journeys much more enjoyable.
If you find your kids really getting into it then they can also look at British Cycling's Go Ride programme, which is a great way to get them into a whole range of cycling sports. There's more info here.
Q. custardcream1000: I really want to help my children become competent cyclists, but my six-year-old is terrified at the thought of cycling without stabilisers. What approach would you suggest?
A. Davina McCall: It's tough because every child is different. However, I think all of us were scared to come off stabilisers and the only way I know that people have gotten over that is to keep trying. When they have that moment of being able to do it all by themselves they'll be over the moon!
Q. Ktandspen: How do you think we can get more children in urban areas learning to cycle?
A. Davina McCall: I think we need to push councils and governments to pump money into improving cycling routes, but also there are cycling clubs all over the place that kids can join to start getting into cycling. The options are out there and hopefully there are only going to be more options as time goes by.
Q. Telsa: Have you ever used one of those Dutch or Danish bikes with children carriers on them, like the Bakfiets or Christiania? Do you think they are good for urban family cycling?
A. Davina McCall: I think bikes with children's carriers on them are great for kids who are still yet to learn cycling, and it can be a great way to get them wanting to learn quicker so that they can do it by themselves.
Q. CrewElla: How have you encouraged your children in a love of sports? What are their favourites?
A. Davina McCall: If they develop an interest in it then we encourage it. Sure, we try to give them the opportunity to try as much as possible. My boy is really into his football and the girls love their horse-riding. We try to give them the opportunity to try all sports by themselves and we all try out different things as a group as well. The more you try, the closer you'll get to finding your family's 'thing', both together and as individuals.
Q. littleduck: Where is your favourite place for a family bike ride?
A. Davina McCall: Well I live down in Kent so that's where I like to go, but the British countryside up and down the country is so beautiful so get out there. If you like seeing the sights and getting out in to the city, then do get yourself along to one of the Sky Rides. They're fun, safe and free.
Q. Pennwood: What motivates you when the going gets tough?
A. Davina McCall: I think people have this amazing ability to keep going and keep pressing on. I remember in my challenge, getting to the end and telling myself "I did that" having thought it would be impossible from day one. We just have this amazing way of pushing ourselves to do amazing things and I firmly believe that ability is in each and every one of us. If I can do it then so can anyone!
Q. Tonkatol: After completing the Comic Relief Sport Challenge earlier this year, would you ever do something that was so gruelling and takes so much out of you again? If so, what drives you? Is it the determination not to be beaten, or the thought of the huge amount of money raised by your efforts?
A. Davina McCall: I think for the last challenge I really didn't want to let anyone down, but that in itself gave me the determination not to be beaten, so a bit of both I suppose. In the very near future I don't think I'll be pushing my body quite as far as that, but never say never, who knows what the future holds.
Q. Valsh: Do you avoid traffic, or are you quite confident about cycling in it?
A. Davina McCall: Traffic can be intimidating for anyone. If I'm with the family I try to avoid riding in lots of traffic, but if you're a commuter or cycling as a way to get around then it is inevitable. That's why it is so important to get skilled up on how to ride safely on the roads.
If you're looking to get into cycling on roads but you're worried about the traffic, get involved with Sky Ride Local. Sky Ride Local offers free rides every weekend with qualified Ride Leaders who take groups of people out on the roads to help build up their confidence. Rides are all free and are grouped in levels to suit everyone from beginners to experienced cyclists. Whichever you choose, you'll be riding on safe routes, and in good company. If you want more info visit here.
Q. VickyRsuperstar: Is Sky Ride doing anything to promote safer cycling in London?
A. Davina McCall: Riding in London can be a daunting task. Sky Ride is all about getting people on their bikes and doing so in city settings where they can build up their confidence about riding in traffic. It's great to see a commitment from city councils to improve cycling lanes and safety for cyclists around the country, and I think we all need to get behind a push for these measures to come in sooner rather than later. If you want to build your family's confidence on the roads, Sky Ride Local offer free, guided, family rides on routes around London. You can find out more here.
Q. moneysavingmum29: If you could cycle anywhere in the world with one person, who would you take, where would you go and why?
A. Davina McCall: I think the British countryside is actually hugely underrated. Getting out there on the country lanes and through villages and so on is an amazing way to see our great land, and you always see things you don't expect to. Especially when the weather's good, I don't think there's anywhere better. As far as who I'd go with, without a doubt it would be the family.
Q. Minnie43: Do you own an electric bike, and would you consider buying one?
A. Davina McCall: I don't at the moment, no. I'm a big fan of the exercise factor that comes from cycling, it's the big pull as far as I'm concerned so electric bikes aren't something I've really considered. I'm always keen to try out new gadgets and gizmos though.
Q. Pugaboo: Does your bike have a men's or women's crossbar, and does it really make any difference?
A. Davina McCall: I have a road bike which has a bar across the top but, to be fair, when you're starting out just jump on any old bike to start with, as long as you feel comfortable.
Q. Pinter: Tri-suit or separates? What do you think about on the bike?
A. Davina McCall: If it's a long ride I just think about keeping my legs going and continuing to go. Obviously I'm a lot more relaxed with family cycles though. I wear separates and I think it's all about trying different products and seeing which works best for you as we are all very different shapes and sizes at the end of the day.
Q. SierpinskiNumber: If you have a well-earned biscuity snack after a long bike ride, what biscuit would you choose? I like a rich tea biscuit with a big glass of water and a cup of English tea.
A. Davina McCall: Mmm sounds good! I go for a good sugar-free biccy. In fact, I think I want one right now.
Fancy winning bikes for you and your family? Sky is giving away a set of bikes worth up to £1,500 to one lucky Mumsnetter.
Sky says: "Cycling in the UK is more popular than ever with a million more Brits now cycling regularly as a result of Sky's partnership with British Cycling, and as excitement reached fever pitch this summer with the Tour de France visiting the UK, there has never been a better time to be inspired to get on a bike."
For your chance to win, simpy answer the question below.
WIN! One lucky Mumsnetter will win bikes for them and their family, worth up to £1,500.
Competition closing date: 15 October 2014
Additional terms and conditions
1. Total cost of the bikes cannot exceed £1,500, but there are no restrictions on the number of bikes or where the bikes can be purchased from.
Last updated: 12 months ago