Showing off in front of the kids almost leads to disaster, with training for the London-to-Paris bike ride hardly begun

I have had a bit of a poor start to training for the London-to-Paris bike ride that takes place at the end of September. A couple of months ago I took my children cycling through a forest near my home. All was going well until I decided I would show (off) my prowess at ditch jumping. Result: wheel in ditch; rider over handlebars; ego destroyed; fracture to bone in neck. At least I was wearing a helmet, which probably prevented very serious damage. So I've had to take it slowly since then.

Before that I had managed a few rides. I started with a short (10 miles or so) loop around the picturesque Essex countryside. Yes, it does exist – up in the north-east corner. I built that up to around 20 miles over the course of a few weeks, but made sure I didn't go too far. I want to be willing to get on a bike again!

I also did a couple of consecutive days one weekend, which reminded me that it takes a while for the body to adjust to the recovery process - but it is normal for that to happen and after a few miles I was feeling much better. Our MD, who is joining our team for the ride to Paris, put in a couple of rides this last weekend and seemed to be walking normally on Monday morning – and, with all respect to him, he is not the fit young thing he may once have been!

I now have the all clear to get back to training, so I put in a ride this weekend for the first time for a while. It went pretty well until I lost concentration, clipped a kerb and practiced an emergency stop with the assistance of my hands and elbows. All superficial but beginning to believe I should try fixing stabilisers and a “keep clear” sign!

That reminds me that there are a few ideas for those who have not done much cycling which may be of help:

Glasses are a good idea

They are not just a fashion accessory but also keep out dust and flies, as well as preventing your eyes from watering at high speed. (Not that I'd try that, of course.) Most bike shops supply a product with interchangeable lenses for different weather conditions.

Cycle in the smooth bits of the road

Not only does an uneven surface lose you momentum, there is a part of your anatomy that will appreciate missing out on the bumps! Smooth tyres are also a major benefit, because surface friction does slow you down considerably.

Always take fluids with you

The electrolyte-type drinks especially will help you maintain your momentum. You can also get some energy-type bars that will help you keep going. It's so embarrassing when you take a tumble because you lose concentration.

Always wear a helmet

I know some diehards will object to this, but it's saved me from serious damage on a few occasions.

Cycle shorts make a real difference

I once declared that I would never wear them. I won't go out without them now!

Knowing that a colleague was competing in the London Triathlon last weekend, I also spent time this weekend reminiscing about my first ever London Triathlon in 1984. It was all a bit different then. We used to change clothes in a big tent in between the swim and bike legs, although there were a few participants who bypassed that and indulged (?) the crowd in a “flash and dash” show. There was one particular young lady… And as for the quality of the water in the Docks: it doesn't bear thinking about! My colleague put in a fantastic performance, going under three hours as a first-timer over the Olympic distance. Inspiration to get more into the training!

If you wish to take part in the Build Moore London to Paris cycle ride on 25-28 September, go to