General training guidelines: top tips to help you to get on your bike

1. Before commencing your ride it is a good idea to do stretching exercises in order to loosen up the muscles. Start cycling slowly and gently as this is one of the best ways to warm up. Warm down exercises after cycling are equally important.

2. If you have not cycled for some time, begin slowly.

3. It is crucial to find stretches of hilly terrain in order to experience the difficulties of cycling uphill and changing gear.

4. As you get nearer the date of departure plan a number of longer rides - say three or four hours per week - and at least a three-hour ride during the weekend.

5. If your challenge is an "off-road" challenge then ensure your itinerary includes "off road" cycling. The importance of cycling on "off road" paths cannot be over-emphasized.Cycling "off road" is very different to normal riding on a tarmac surface. Particularly the use of gears and when cycling downhill where the weight of the body should be on the pedals rather than the seat.

6. Please make sure that your saddle is at the right height. This means that when you are sitting your toes barely touch the ground. Your feet are not required as brakes.If the seat is too low not only will your work rate increase considerably, but you will also tire much faster and potentially cause knee problems.

7. Learn to use your gears properly. You should not be in too low a gear on flat or slightly rising terrain otherwise your pedaling rate is too frequent and you will be expending unnecessary energy.

8. Change gear while the pedaling is still relatively easy as you go up the hill. It is difficult to change gear when you are pushing hard up a steep hill because the gears are too taut and the chain may therefore come off.

9. On your cycling training routines do not forget to take water, a small medical kit, repair kit and helmet with you at all times. Also pack food, for example, nuts, fruit, sandwiches etc.

10. If your bike has a water bottle carrier it would be very useful to practice taking the bottle out of a carrier while cycling so that you can have a drink without stopping.

11. Although this may sound a bit daunting it is not a race and there are no prizes for the winner. and it is important that you have an emergency contact should you feel the challenge is beyond you, this is where a well charged mobile phone can be used to "Phone a Friend"!!!