It?s not often you see a deflated, naked, life-size doll in the gutter. There?s only one possible explanation I will entertain and that is that the doll was tied to the back of a newly-wed couple?s car but broke loose and made a bid for freedom somewhere between Tring and Berkhamsted before popping and lying in a distressed state ? not to mention compromising position ? on the side of the road.

Had I stuck with Plan A and gone to the Willesden CC?s reliability trial in Ickenham I would have missed that particular sight.

I got up in plenty of time to get ready for the short drive and fully intended to ride the 60km event until I?d finished breakfast and peered through the blinds and saw it was raining.

This was not just light drizzle but full-on demoralising rain. It certainly wasn?t that I had any intention of skipping the day?s ride altogether, I just thought it better to gamble on the weather clearing up a bit. If it was still raining hard later on I?d bite the bullet and go out.

It was the right decision. By mid-morning the sky was bright, and although it was very breezy the conditions were not unpleasant.

The weather even had the good grace to wait until I?d reached my coffee stop before a brief downpour. And, as if I had the weather on some kind of remote control, as I stepped out of the café the clouds cleared and the rain stopped. If only every day was like that.

During the ride I took the time to consider the changes I have experienced in the first week of the challenge. Apparently it takes 21 days to form a habit, so I am a third of the way towards re-establishing proper cycling as part of my day-to-day routine. Already, though, I am seeing the benefits.

I felt quite strong on the second half of my ride today and was able to bowl along on the flat, although I am still not good on the hills. I suspect if I was put under any pressure and had to follow a strong pace I would be in trouble though, but it?s still only early days.

The first thing I have noticed is that I am sleeping better than I have done for a long while. Instead of taking a while to wind down, I am getting off to sleep as soon as I decide I want to and, crucially, sleeping through until my alarm goes off. Another benefit is I am waking feeling refreshed, rather than sluggish and slow.

My appetite has changed too and instead of eating larger amounts infrequently, often going a long time between meals, I have found myself eating little and often.

The problem with cycling is you never know what?s around the corner, and I have a feeling that week one was a gentle introduction to some pretty stiff challenges to come over the next three weeks.

THE LOWDOWN

Distance covered: 60km (37.3 miles)

Sad confession of the day: I rode 1.6km round the block to bring up the 60.

Weather: Brief downpour coincided happily with café stop.

Café stop: Warm scone and cappuccino in Tring. Café name forgotten. 8/10

No. of drivers using mobiles: 4 (perhaps they?re making the most of it before the penalties increase on Tuesday)

No. of lamp posts surrounded by flowers in tribute to lost loved ones: 5.

No. of 40th birthday banners on roundabouts: 2 (Happy Birthday Brian and Laura)

THE WEEK

Distance covered: 220km (136 miles). The equivalent of a long Tour stage done in a week.

Hours in the saddle: Approximately 9.5

TOMORROW: Don?t know. Coach Hannah is yet to supply the plan. I have no paper to obey. I feel lost.

How have the last seven days been for you? Let us know on the fitness page of our forum.

What is the 30 Day Challenge?