Cycling is one of the most accessible sports on the planet, but it can also be one of the most brutal, from amateurs testing themselves to the limit in a sportive to professionals competing in the toughest races in the world.

It's also a sport which gives anyone who takes to two wheels an enormous sense of freedom. Leaving the stresses of daily life and pedaling away without a care in the world, whether it's in your local lanes or high in the mountains miles from civilisation. There's little that can beat the beautiful simplicity of a bike ride.

Eddy Merckx came unstuck on the climb of Pra Loup and it returns to the race for the third time this year

It's a sport which inspires - and the great and good of cycling have produced no shortage of quotes over the years which sum up the beauty and joy, freedom and escapism, pain and suffering, that are part and parcel of life on two wheels.

Need some inspiration to get out on the bike? Words of wisdom on how to push yourself to the next level? Or just want a shortcut into the minds of some of the greatest riders in the history of cycling? Look no further...

“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride" - Eddy Merckx

“Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades" - Eddy Merckx

"Ride lots" was Eddy Merckx's opinion on how to become a better cyclist. It might not be that simple but hours in the saddle definitely make a difference

“When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting, that’s when it starts. That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there" - Chris McCormack

“When my legs hurt, I say: “Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!" - Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt, attack, climb, breakaway, suffer, standing, climbing

“It never gets easier, you just get faster" - Greg LeMond

“You can’t get good by staying home. If you want to get fast, you have to go where the fast guys are" - Steve Larsen

Mikel Landa, attack. climb, Astana, Giro d'Italia, pic: Sirotti Pro cyclists take body weight seriously. Very seriously. (Pic: Sirotti)

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike" - John F Kennedy

“Cyclists see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to" - Dr K.K. Doty

Strava, mountains, climbing, Alps, Etape du Tour, training (Pic: Antton Miettinen)

“A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke" - Scott Stoll

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring" - Desmond Tutu

British climbs are shorter than their European counterparts, so you have to use your imagination to make the most of your time in the hills (Pic: Anothony Pease) The Monster Sportive, pic: Anthony Pease, climb, steep, wet, gear, threshold

“The race is won by the rider who can suffer the most" - Eddy Merckx

“Cycling isn’t a game, it's a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling" - Jean de Gribaldy

He who suffers most, will win (pic: VeloPress)

“It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport" - Scott Martin

“When it’s hurting you, that’s when you can make a difference" - Eddy Merckx

Fabio Aru bounced back on stage 19, putting himself in the hurt locker to win the stage and claw back time overall (pic: Sirotti)

 “If you go (with a break), you can either win or not win. If you don’t go for it, you definitely won’t win" - Jens Voigt

“As long as I breathe, I attack" - Bernard Hinault

Strava, mountains, climbing, Alps, Etape du Tour, training (Pic: Antton Miettinen)

“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it" - Doug Bradbury

“You can say that climbers suffer the same as the other riders, but they suffer in a different way. You feel the pain, but you’re glad to be there" - Richard Virenque

Rafal Majka turns himself inside out (pic: Sirotti) Rafal Majka, Tour de France 2014, stage 14, featured, pic: ©Sirotti

“To me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world" - Mark Cavendish

"I don't ride a bike to add days to my life. I ride a bike to add life to my days" - Unknown

Mark Cavendish

“Ride a bike. Ride a bike. Ride a bike" - Fausto Coppi, on how to improve

“Good morale in cycling comes from good legs" Sean Yates

Strava climb (Pic: Antton Miettinen)

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking" - Arthur Conan Doyle

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them" - Ernest Hemingway

Training, summer, hill, mountain, pic: Media-24, Varying your training routes can keep you switched on mentally and give you added motivation (pic: Media-24)

“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels" - Heinz Stucke

“I inherited that calm from my father, who was a farmer. You sow, you wait for good or bad weather, you harvest, but working is something you always need to do" - Miguel Indurain

A recovery ride can never be too easy (Pic: Tim de Waele)

“You either love spinning the pedals and watching scenery whiz by, or you don’t. And if you love it, not much can sour you on the idea of riding your bike." Keith Mills

“In Mendrisio I felt it - the exhilaration of what the bike has to offer. It's a simple machine that conjures a vast mix of emotions. It can evoke the senses and raise the spirits of people who watch. For those who ride it can seem like the perfect vehicle for transport. For those who race, there's no better sensation than being on top of your gear making mountains feel like flat roads. Cycling throws up plenty of obstacles, unknown territory, high speed split-second considerations. Where to next? What's around the next corner? Who cares? You're flyin'!" Cadel Evans on winning the World Championships