Cycling Celebrities: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Why did you take up cycling? Whether it was the desire to lose a few pounds and keep that waistline in check, save some money on the daily commute or simply enjoy the freedom that cycling brings, everyone has their own reasons for getting out on the bike. Celebrities are no different. However, as we’re about to show, celebrities arguably have far more contrasting motivations for cycling than the average Joe. While many are enjoying cycling recreationally or promoting the benefits that cycling has to offer, others, often with honourable intentions, haven’t quite done it justice.

The Good:

Nevertheless, there are a number of celebrities who take cycling far more seriously than others. As a method of training, several Formula 1 stars utilise cycling to help them maintain fitness. Most notably, Jenson Button is an avid cyclist who also takes part in competitive triathlons in the elite category.


  • Jenson Button:

Cycling forms an integral part of Jenson Button’s training regime. Button uses the 12 kilometre Madonna Climb near the town of Menton on the Italian border to test his fitness, the same climb used by Lance Armstrong to benchmark his own climbing form.

In a recent interview Button concedes, “It hurts like hell… but it’s the buzz. It’s nice. It means you’re doing something, it means you’re alive”. He continues to conclude “It is great out there on the bike. I love cycling in the mountains. You feel the wind, you are working hard, outdoors, the views are fantastic and it is doing you good”. Button clearly takes pleasure in his cycling, rather than merely using it as a training aid.

Button’s fitness coach, Mikey Collier, has also worked with Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso who both have a genuine interest in cycling.

  • Mark Webber:

Mark Webber broke his leg during a charity ride in Australia, 2008, when he made a head-on collision with a car. However, this hasn’t stopped him, and he now provides his support to a leisurely sportive in the UK which raises money for several charities.

  • Fernando Alonso:

Fernando Alonso suggested in 2009 that he has considered creating a new cycling team, with ambitions to sign his fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador and proceed to win the Tour de France. Whether Alonso’s dream will ever come to fruition remains to be seen. However, Alonso might be able to sign Contador on the cheap if he is eventually found guilty of doping!

In terms of actors, several names spring to mind as being regularly associated with the more serious side of cycling. Matt Damon and Robin Williams for instance are both enthusiastic cyclists.

  • Matt Damon:

Immortalised in Team America: World Police, Matt Damon is a regular cyclist. He’s completed the 68-mile Cape Argus Cycle Tour in South Africa on a tandem bike with his brother Kyle Damon.

Moreover, continuing Damon’s association with cycling, it was recently confirmed that Matt Damon is due to portray Lance Armstrong in an adaptation of his biography “It’s Not About The Bike”. Already in the pipeline for some six years, it remains debatable whether this film will ever make it to a screen near you. However, Damon will also narrate a new documentary about Armstrong, which appears to be progressing well.

  • Robin Williams:

Staying on the Lance Armstrong theme, Robin Williams is a devoted cyclist and a friend of Lance. However, Williams also has an addiction, and no, it’s not Clenbuterol or EPO. Williams is a bike collector. On last count, Williams had around 60 bikes stored in his garage. Where does he find time to ride them all?

When questioned about his huge collection of bikes, Williams said:

“That sounds a lot, but they need less space than a car. When I’m riding my bicycle I feel like a Buddhist who is happy just to enjoy his mundane existence”.

At least he’ll have a bike for any occasion.

  • Lord Sugar:

Lord Sugar, a British entrepreneur, television personality and political advisor is well-known for his love of cycling.

After suffering several groin injuries, Sugar’s passion for tennis transformed into a love for cycling. To stay in shape, Sugar now manages a 50-mile loop around the Essex countryside, twice a week. It’s apparent that road cycling has helped him considerably with the issue of weight as he estimates he has lost about 3 stone (19kg~) since he began cycling. Cue the inevitable before and after pictures:

Sugar currently rides a Pinarello ‘Prince of Spain’, named after Alejandro Valverde, the Spanish cyclist who last rode for Caisse d’Epargne before his suspension for blood doping commenced earlier this year.

Sugar’s bike is an expensive bit of kit. While the carbon frame alone is approximately £3000, taken together with the Campagnolo Record gruppo and Zipp wheelset means that Sugar is unlikely to have had much change from £7000, especially with the numerous accessories (not that he’s particularly concerned given his estimated £730 million net worth!).

Lord Sugar is perhaps best known in the UK for his starring role on The Apprentice, a show based on the equally popular American television show, hosted by Donald Trump, which shares the same name. Remaining on the topic at hand, Trump’s ex-wife Marla Maples has become a keen cyclist in recent years and is often spotted on the roads of The Pacific Coast Highway.

Moving swiftly on, there are even politicians who dabble in cycling…

  • Barack Obama:

There are perhaps no more influential politicians than Barack Obama. Although not an avid cyclist, he has been known to enjoy leisurely rides along the shores of Lake Michigan with his family.

Cycling enthusiasts had hoped that Obama would actively advocate cycling for recreation and transportation. Before his election, Obama promised he would provide additional funding for cycling projects. This promise has certainly been fulfilled as the Obama administration made the decision to more than double spending on cycling and walking initiatives in 2009. This appears to have had a real impact as bicycling trips saw an increase from 1.7 billion to 4 billion in the 2009 period. A step in the right direction?

The BBC’s Radio 1 Sport Relief Cycle was an excellent way for several celebrities to raise a substantial amount of money for a worthy cause while also promoting cycling itself.

  • BBC Radio 1 Sport Relief Cycle:

With the aim of raising £1 million for charity by cycling the length of Britain, seven celebrities from the UK took on quite a challenge. The first 24 hours of the route alone comprised a total of 29,000ft of ascent – the equivalent of Mount Everest. The celebrities took turns to cycle the route, while the rest travelled nearby in a tour style bus.

The celebrities would eventually successfully complete the journey after 82 hours of cycling through night and day, scaling 1000ft peaks, batting icy blizzards and freezing temperatures. In total, they were able to raise £1,337,099.

And finally, even scientists and philosophers can reap the rewards of cycling.

  • Albert Einstein:

Albert Einstein once said,

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

I must remember that next time I get the bike out, must be why I keep falling off.

Anyway, early in his schooling at Munich University in Germany, Einstein would often take bicycle tours with fellow scientists to contemplate the world at large. It is thought he had several ‘Eureka!’ moments while out cycling. Have you ever had an epiphany while cycling that you’d like to share?

The Bad

Alongside those celebrities who are really enjoying cycling for all the right reasons, there are several more who haven’t quite got the right idea just yet.

For instance, many cycling celebrities of the female variety haven’t quite realised that cyclist demands a certain type of clothing…

  • Kylie Minogue:

Considering the picture on the right, Kylie perhaps hasn’t chosen the best cycling apparel! The stiletto heels certainly won’t help matters but we’d be more concerned with the skirt which is inevitably going to be susceptible to strong gusts of wind. Perhaps a new ventilation technology?

  • Kelly Brook:

Alongside Sir Chris Hoy and Boris Johnson, Kelly Brook attempted to promote the London Sky Ride earlier this year. The ride featured an estimated 85,000 cyclists and was designed to coincide with other cycling initiatives such as the Barclay’s Cycle Hire.

However, with tight-fitting jeans and high heels, Kelly Brook wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion and was even reluctant to wear a helmet, undoubtedly in order to protect her hair from disruption. Ending the sarcasm, at least she’s showing some support for the cause.

Speaking of Boris…

  • Boris Johnson:


In our recent blog on road rage, we briefly covered the topic of Boris’ new Cycle Hire schemes and the Cycle Super Highways and criticised the ‘Smurf lanes’ on several fronts. The most remarkable thing about Boris Johnson’s “Cycling Revolution” is that there doesn’t appear to have been one. Despite millions of pounds of investment, reams of publicity and a high-profile cycling mayor, the amount of journeys taken by bike remains fairly low. As we originally concluded, the initiatives are something of a compromise between the needs of cyclists and the needs of motorists and haven’t really satisfied either side.

One blogger has suggested:

“Boris’s new bike hire scheme is proving popular but it’s on a frustratingly small scale with fewer than a third of the number of bikes as the Paris Vélib’ scheme covering less than half of the area”.

He continues to point out that “while lots of Londoners are using the new bikes, multiple software faults and delays to open registration mean that many more have chosen to keep away for now”.

The Cycle Hire scheme is due to open for anyone to use in the coming months so we’ll see if they prove to be more popular then!

Some of the stars of the NFL have taken to cycling, although apparently they’ve been reluctant to invest in additional equipment.

  • Anthony Toribio:

The popularity of cycling to NFL training camp has taken on a funny face as the Green Bay Packers rode by a crowd towards training camp on children’s bikes. That would test the best engineering in the world.The former president of the United States has been regular cyclist since 2004.

  • George Bush:

“You never escape the presidency; it travels with you everywhere you go. And there’s not a moment where you don’t think about being president. Unless you’re riding mountain bikes as hard as you possibly can, trying to forget for the moment”.

This quote clearly shows how easily distracted George Bush was, but all the same, nice to see him getting out and about! However, he was taught a painful lesson in bike safety at the G8 summit in Scotland when he crashed into a police officer who was there to protect him. George Bush – 1 : Police officer – 0.

The Ugly

  • Jeremy Clarkson:

Jeremy Clarkson, a British television presenter and car fanatic is well known for his controversial views and his outspoken nature. Clarkson’s view on cyclists is something along the lines of this outburst; “Trespassers in the motorcars domain, they do not pay road tax and therefore have no right to be on the road, some of them even believe they are going fast enough to not be an obstruction. Run them down to prove them wrong”.

However, Clarkson is something of a hypocrite as he’s been regularly spotted cycling with his wife at the weekends.

Seen any celeb’s out and about in your town? Let us know if anyone has caught your eye and if you send us a picture we’ll share it with everyone.


(Image source: Velo Steve)




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