Zoe Ball begins her 300-mile Sport Relief cycling challenge

Zoe Ball is heading for Brighton. Image: BBC Sport Relief

BBC Radio 2 DJ Zoe Ball started her 300-mile-long cycle challenge for Sport Relief in Blackpool this morning.

The presenter wants to raise awareness of mental health issues following the death of her boyfriend Billy Yates, who took his own life last May after a battle with depression.

She told the BBC: “I’m going to visit projects helping people living with mental health illnesses – that can be anything from self-harm to depression. One in four people is living with mental illness. That’s a lot of people struggling.”

The Sport Relief challenge across five days takes the DJ from her birthplace of Blackpool to Brighton, where she now lives, via Birmingham and Oxford.

The aim for the first day is to complete 70 miles, cycling from Blackpool to Widnes.

Route Map via BBC Sport Relief

“I’ve had a go on a BMX but road bikes is a whole new thing. I’ve had an angry driver, I’ve had two slow-motion falls,” she added.

The Sports Relief charity brings together celebrities and sportspeople to raise money for projects in the UK and the world’s poorest countries.

The challenge will feature in a BBC One documentary to be shown during Sport Relief week, running from March 17-23.

Zoe Ball at the half-way point via BBC Sport Relief