Cycling presenter Ned Boulting is riding the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia on May 11.

Here he shares the vital lessons he has learned about happy carriage on two wheels:

l Never leave home without at least one spare inner tube. It's something a lot of people don't think about when they first take up cycling. Find out how to change a tyre too. Embarrassingly, it took me two years to learn but being able to do it is so liberating.

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l Climbing is what it is all about. Hills are often ­off-putting to new cyclists but as long as you've got the right gears, a bit of grit and a level-headed approach you can get up anything. It doesn't matter how long it takes, just find your own rhythm. There is nothing more pleasurable than looking back over your shoulder and seeing how far you've come. These days if there isn't a hill or two involved I'm not interested.

l Eat before you feel hungry. Otherwise you end up with a horrible empty feeling and it doesn't matter how many energy bars or bananas you pack down. It's the same as drinking plenty of water. Always try to stay ahead of the curve because playing catch-up doesn't work.

l Ignore the urban myths and rumour-mongers. People will talk with terrible fear and awe about certain points in a sport that they dread, but don't let them spook you. Yes, it will be hard and likely push you to your limits, but it will be a surmountable obstacle you can overcome. Cyclists are a funny bunch and like to scare each other.

l Take a look at the course profile beforehand. It's good to be prepared, for example, if there is a big climb before the end.

l Don't ride with Chris Boardman. Even though more than a decade has elapsed since he was a professional cyclist, his DNA and physiology haven't realised he isn't an athlete any more. He can hurt you just by looking at you. As I have discovered to my peril.

Entries for the Etape Caledonia sold out within seven hours but places are still available for the Etape Double, which includes the Perthshire event and the 78-mile Etape Pennines on July 20, for £108. Visit