LIVERPOOL today had a ticket to ride as more than ten thousand cyclists rode through the city’s traffic-free streets.
TV host Davina McCall and Olympian Jess Varnish joined scores of families and amateur cyclists in the city’s first ever Sky Ride.
They enjoyed the 8km route from Sefton Park to the world–famous waterfront before the world’s top cyclists competed in the first stage of the Tour of Britain.
The Sky Ride is a national campaign between Sky and British Cycling encouraging thousands of people to take up cycling. More than 70 Sky Ride events have been held since 2009.
Davina, an ambassador of the project and keen cyclist herself, told the ECHO: “These routes are so easy that any one can do it, it doesn’t matter about your age or ability.
“You’ll see grannies on their bikes in their high-vis jackets, all having a really good time. Liverpool is on lock-down, there’s no traffic around and people are really, really enjoying it.
“The great thing about this that British Cycling and Sky don’t want anything from you, they don’t want to give you things. No-one has to raise money; it’s just about getting people sat on their bikes.”
Davina said she felt “traumatised” after first being introduced to cycling by her husband, Matthew.
But she told how she fell in love with the sport after completing a gruelling Sport Relief challenge.
The The Million Pound Drop Live host said: “My husband put me on a mountain bike and made me ride for two hours – I didn’t get on a bike again! But Sport Relief put me on a challenge a long time ago which involved a road bike and I began to love it.
“I go out cycling on my own often. I find real clarity when I am on my bike and the feeling of being at one with nature. But I also love going out with girl friends and just having a good old gossip. It’s a brilliant way of keeping fit and no-one recognises me when I’m clad in lycra and have all my cycling garb on.
“I was a bit frightened of cycling and I thought it was going to be really tough and that’s why these events are so great. It shows how easy and enjoyable it is to get on bike and start cycling. Anyone can do it.”
Speaking before she headed around the five-mile Liverpool course, Davina said she was looking forward to cycling past Liverpool’s iconic Three Graces.
She added: “It will be nice to be on a bike. Last time I was on the waterfront I was jogging and I tripped over. Two lovely ladies came to help me and said ‘Are you Davina? Aren’t you a bit too old for this?’ So it might be a bit safer on a bike!”
With her dad a professional rider, England’s Commonwealth Games medallist Jess Varnish was introduced to cycling at an early age.
The World Cup gold medallist, 23, told how events like Sky Ride were crucial in attracting the next generations of sports stars.
She told the ECHO: “After the success of London 2012 and Bradley [Wiggins] being such a household name, it’s really good to see how people have taken to the sport.
“You go out on the road and there’s so many more people cycling. It’s terrific and great for the sport.
“And it’s events like this is that are crucial in helping people start out cycling.”
It was estimated that more than 5,000 people took part in the Sky Ride, with families soaking up a huge festival atmosphere and a host of activities and entertainment throughout the day.
Visitors were able to see first hand the bikes used by Team Sky and the GB Cycling Team at The Hub in Sefton Park.