Having hit a half century a few weeks back and now being accustomed never-ending aches, including a bad back that, thanks to health service inefficiency, will never be tippetty-top again, it's easy to become resigned to your fate.

But bluster on we must, and after many years respite, I recently decided to ease myself back into the ‘charity cycle’ and signed up for the RideLondon 100 some months ago, in what is the cycling equivalent of the London marathon.

Now, as with all these events it’s not a case of jumping on your bike and hey presto! No, the issue is more logistics and planning. What time's the Sunday train into London? Do I need tubes, suncream, snack bars? Will the train allow bikes? What will the weather be like and should I take out private medical insurance…?

I bolted off like Lance Armstrong, minus the performance enhancers, with the sound of the cheering crowds egging me on as the wind wafted through my bald patch. Three miles in and I was regretting that early showboating as a gentleman on a fold up bicycle pootled past me - I wondered why I had overestimated my current state of fitness.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Brett Ellis was egged on by the crowd while cycling in the RideLondonBrett Ellis was egged on by the crowd while cycling in the RideLondon (Image: Brett Ellis)

After witnessing a broken leg, a paraplegic chap who had tumbled from his bike on a speed ramp, a heart attack and a broken nose, I negotiated my way around Essex as just when the wall was about to be hit, the crowd urged me on whilst they sat and supped on a spritzer at the end of their driveways in the midday sun.

Eventually, much to my shame, after around 40 miles, I had a decision to make: go left to attempt the 100 miler, or right to do the 60.

Much to my irritation, I found my body veering right and I finally stopped for a break 45 miles in, with the satisfaction that I was 75% through my ride as opposed to not even halfway if I had gone left.

Without sounding over dramatic, it was one of the highlights of my life as I rode in the centre of the road across Tower Bridge with legions of bike fans cheering and whooping, as I reached the finish line in a pedestrian time of four hours and 11 minutes.

After collecting my medal, I then gleefully bought a skinny latte, sat on the ground near the finish, and felt a glow of self-fulfilment as I thought ‘never again’. Two minutes later however, I found myself googling ‘ride 2024 entries’ and I plan to put myself back in the hat for an overdue attempt on the 100-miler next year…

  • Brett Ellis is a school teacher