Christine is encouraging us all to wear a helmet whilst riding

Christine is encouraging us all to wear a helmet whilst riding

Tell us about what you’re doing with Barclays. 

I’ve been using the Barclays bikes since they were introduced in London really. I was a keen cyclist back home where the roads were still busy but obviously not as busy as London – I got a little bit scared when I first got here but the Barclays bikes have really encouraged me to get back on mine again. I do stick to the parks to be fair instead of the roads; I’m still not quite that brave, or I use the Barclays Cycle Superhighways. 

I, along with Barclays, want to encourage people to consider wearing a helmet when cycling. I feel much safer wearing a helmet when cycling and would never get on a bike without one. There are reasons why people don’t wear them, cost being one of them, and Barclays are trying to ease the financial burden by offering 50% off helmets now, which goes right the way through till mid-December. You can get a helmet for as little as £15 which is a great saving.  Once you get on a bike put a helmet on, it just goes hand-in-hand. It can save you; it’s as simple as that.

It’s important we stay safe on our bikes, so what advice do you have for that?

I remember doing my cycling sufficiency test when I was about 10-years-old, there are so many basic things that you need to remember. I do cycle quite a bit around the park, because just being in any big city is quite scary. You’ve got to wear your high-vis, use your common sense, make sure that they driver can see you can make sure that you are fully aware of what’s going on as well and actually having a knowledge of the road and the cycle lanes too. Knowing in advance where you’re going as most certainly helped me as a bit of a tourist in a new city. I try to be a little more prepared than I normally would be.

What are the benefits of cycling?

Going back to when I first came to London, I get to see the place in a very different way. From my point I really enjoyed that. It’s an economical way of trying to get around as well. And a lot of the time, if you’re in Central London, it’s a quicker way to get around. I really enjoy cycling, it helps to clear my head.

How often do you cycle?

It depends on the weather most of the time now; I like to enjoy my leisurely cycles without getting too wet. We like to get out most Sundays if we do it, and then all of the bits in between. Most I definitely enjoy my weekend cycle.

Have you got any favourite spots to cycle?

I live quite close to Hyde Park so I like to cycle there, as well as Richmond Park. There is lots of space and it’s a beautiful spot really. I’m speaking as a tourist here, so maybe if you live in London it’s a little different, but I like it there.

Are there any spots back home in Ireland that you could recommend for cycling?

I’m from about 30 minutes outside of Belfast, on the east coast of Northern Ireland which is around the Arch Peninsula and it’s just beautiful. You’re blessed with having the water, the mountains it’s just beautiful. Scrabble Tower will give your legs a proper workout as well, it’s lovely. I and my sister do that quite often too. It’s just a lovely area.

We can’t imagine you looking anything short of beautiful, so what are your beauty tips for looking good whilst cycling?

I have completely mastered the art of avoiding helmet hair, well not quite mastered but, you do your best. It is something that you think about especially if you’re ending up somewhere that you need to be ready for. My hair naturally curly/frizzy so I’ve mastered it now so I can sort the fringe out and use the helmet to keep the rest of the hair in place, so it can be a benefit.

How else do you like to stay in shape, other than going on your bike?

Well the cycling is brilliant, I think it’s a great way to stay in shape and then all of the basics really. I try to do running and walking too. People forget because it’s such a simple thing to do but if you have 10-15 minutes to yourself then go for a little walk it can help to clear your head. When I go for a walk I can put the whole world right. Exercise is as good for the mind as it is the body sometimes.

What have you got coming up then?

Believe it or not we’ve just had our first official Dancing on Ice meeting, which scares me because surely not a whole year of my life has passed me by?! I can’t wait to have a little bit of a hint of who is going to be hitting the rink this year.

Finally then, who would you like to see on the ice rink?

I love my funny men, I like my comedians. Can you imagine someone like Peter Kay, I think they’d be brilliant. I would love a proper comedian in the mix, because I can’t think of any who would be good at ice skating, I’m guessing there would be a lot of laughs to be had.

Christine Bleakley is the Barclays cycling ambassador. To encourage even more people to get on the road and feel safe doing so Barclays, sponsors of Barclays Cycle Hire and Barclays Cycle Superhighways, has teamed up with cycling retailer, Velorution, to offer a 50 per cent discount on a wide selection of helmets. To redeem the Barclays 50 per cent discount helmet offer, visit or in store at Velorution, 88 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 7NS between 15 October 2012 and 15 December 2012. 

Femalefirst Taryn Davies

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