I’VE got a new bike. And not just any bike, but a fancy pants Landrover hybrid no less.
Actually I’ve only got it on loan because I’ve been persuaded to take part in the Great Notts Bike Ride in July, raising money for four charities.
But I decided if I was going to tackle this event properly I needed a mean machine to help me.
And I knew just the man to talk to.
Trevor Halstead, owner of Church Street Cycles in Gainsborough and leisure ride leader with Gainsborough Aegir Cycling Club, lives and breathes bikes.
This is a man who once got straight back on his bike after breaking his leg (although he didn’t know at the time).
And who, a week after I puff and pant my way round the Notts countryside, will be aiming to clock up around 330 miles on a 24-hour timed bike marathon around Merseyside.
I haven’t done any serious cycling since I biked to secondary school every day with a friend, so Trevor suggested a refresher was needed.
He signed me up with his work colleague Dan Nicholson, a fully qualified cycle instructor, who spent a morning teaching me about the bike and how to ride it safely.
Trevor, 53, who has been riding since he was 18, said: “After Dan had qualified I did the course with him and he showed me things I wasn’t doing right, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”
“I don’t like to see bad riding because that’s what gives cyclists a bad name. Cycling is as safe as any other mode of transport if done correctly.”
Dan, 26, started by checking my helmet was fitted properly and that my clothing wasn’t going to get in the way - bike clips came in useful.
Then he showed me how to check the bike using the M method.
“As you look at the bike think of a letter M and that’s the shape you follow, starting at the front tyre, moving up to the handlebars, down to the pedals, up again to the saddle and down the back tyre,” he said.
I’ve always just jumped on a bike and pedalled off so I was surprised to find there was a right way to do it. Dan explained that while getting on the bike I should keep the brake on and always start off on the right pedal.
“This is so that you’re not leaning into the traffic. And you should always look behind you to check the traffic before setting off,” said Dan, who has been an instructor for five years.
I wobbled a bit doing the manoevrability test, riding between cones, but I was fine with signalling.
Dan decided I was safe enough to be let loose in Gainsborough town centre and, after practising a right turn at a quiet junction, we headed for the busy Tesco junction.
Dan said that cyclists normally ride in the secondary position on the road, keeping fairly close to the kerb without riding in the gutter.
“When we move into the primary position we dominate the road, such as moving across to the centre when turning right.”
I was a bit nervous riding in traffic but Dan said I clocked a respectable 13mph on the way back to Trevor’s shop.
I reckon I’m off to a good start.