My god, I’m unfit. Sunday’s brilliant blue skies heralded my first outing of the new year and I have to admit that I struggled pretty much every mile of my 90-minute epic.

The good news is that I don’t seem to be the only one with absolutely no form whatsoever. Amazingly there were a few other gasping souls managing to ride uphill ever so slightly slower than me, and that’s no good thing.

I’m never in great shape after Christmas but this year things seem to be particularly bad. It’s a combination of the traditional festive feasting and the prolonged bike-free period caused by December’s big freeze.

Excuses aside, it really was just too cold for me and many other elderly riders to get out.

Now my extended hibernation is over and if I build up some steady miles while shedding a few pounds I should be able to gradually restore some semblance of fitness.

This issue we have the five best ways to lose weight fast. With a few changes to the structure and content of your diet you could lose that excess weight in no time.

I’m giving it a go, I need all the help I can get!

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly