SIR Chris Hoy might be a knight of the realm, a triple Olympic gold medallist and the nation's favourite cyclist, but he was once a 14-year-old BMX biker whizzing around the streets and parks of Scotland.

He will be back on the streets on Sunday, this time in Glasgow, as Scotland's first Skyride pedals off in style.

Skyride Glasgow is one of a series of five events taking place across the UK, with the aim of encouraging people to get back on their bikes and enjoy the benefits of a fitter, healthier lifestyle.

Skyride is running in conjunction with another 100 local and guided rides, led by fully trained coaches from British Cycling, in and around the city.

Sir Chris says: "Most people have a bike tucked away in the garage or the shed and an event like this is just about getting it out again and making the most of it.

"It is also a great family day out - and it does not matter if you are an experienced rider or not because everyone can take part.

"And it is a fantastic way of seeing Glasgow without the roads chockablock with traffic."

He believes mass participation events like Skyride play a huge part in encouraging young people to take up the sport.

"The key is getting children interested at an early age," adds Sir Chris. "Confidence is a big thing and the more confident you become, the more likely you are to keep going.

"Cycling is not just about winning gold medals - it is a healthy, fun way to exercise and I am really pleased and excited to be involved with Skyride."

Over the past decade, running events such as half-marathons, 10k road races and 5k fun runs have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity, but mass participation cycles have been slower to catch on.

That balance is gradually being redressed, according to Colin Bark, race secretary of Nightingale, one of Scotland's oldest cycling clubs.

"People are much more aware of cycling in general, thanks mainly to the success of the British track squad at the Olympics, and to people like Sir Chris, who is a fantastic ambassador for the sport," says Colin.

"There are many more mass participation events around now than there were a few years ago and developments like the new velodrome being built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will change the face of the sport in Scotland." TOP TIPS FROM SIR CHRIS As a competitive cyclist, I often have to cycle very close to other riders. However, when you are riding on the road or with other people it is always a good idea to try to keep a distance (of about seven yards/metres). Then if something goes wrong, to you or another cyclist, you have time to react. It is a good idea to invest in a proper cycling helmet. This need not be expensive, but is an essential piece of kit. Go to a proper cycling store and the staff will help you find the perfect fit. Remember to always keep your chain well oiled. This is really important as it makes for safer and easier riding. It will also ensure your bike has a longer life - go and check some of the oils on sale. Ensure your saddle is at the correct position because this can have a huge impact on the comfort of your cycle. Find a good pair of cycling shorts, ideally with padded lining, that will ensure you cycle in comfort.

Nightingale Cycling Club, which meets in Torrance, on the north side of the city, has been on the go for around 80 years, and it recently celebrated having 100 members - a first in the organisation's long history.

"Membership is thriving - we are an inclusive club, open to men and women, and our members range from the teens to over 90," says Colin, 35, who has been cycling for around 20 years.

Nightingale organises one of the biggest races in Scotland, the Sam Robinson Memorial, which is part of the Scottish Power Renewables Super6 Series.

"I think people realise there are huge benefits to cycling," adds Colin. "It is healthy, keeps you fit, and is a great way to see Scotland's beautiful scenery."

Successful members at Nightingale include Sarah Gleave, who took the bronze medal in the Scottish Women's Road Race Championships in her first competitive season, and 16-year-old Greg Brown, who is competing this weekend in the British Youth Track Championships.

Greg is on the British Olympic development programme, being tracked through the same system used to create champions such as Sir Chris, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins.

"Greg is doing really well - he has been spending his summer holidays riding international events all over Europe with the help of Scottish Cycling and we are hopeful he will make it to represent Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow." SKYRIDE GLASGOW takes place on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. The route will include Lancefield Quay, Broomielaw and Clyde Street, the riverside and the SECC and Clyde Auditorium. There will be designated 'hub points' around the route to allow people to join at a number of different places.

Look out for: Skyride Street Zone: Professional BMX and Mountain Bike riders will perform tricks, with the chance for people to take a course in stunt riding. Skyride Style Zone: Participants can get a free bike make-over using the most up to-date designs and accessories. Skyride Photo Point: Smile and download your free memento of the day at Skyride Active Zone: This area will provide tips on health and wellbeing from British Cycling and Bike4Life, which is part of the Department of Health's 'Change4Life' campaign to tackle obesity in the UK. Skyride Active Zone - Cycle Sprint Challenge: There will be an opportunity to try cycle sprinting on Watt bikes, which are used to measure power, and compete against friends and family, as well as beat celebrity sprint times. Skyride Family: Fun, safe area for children and families. Children can learn new skills with free Go-Ride sessions from British Cycling professionals. Skyride Glasgow is free.

To see the full route, for further information and to register to take part, see the website: