The first time I wore Lycra was a chastening experience. I stretched it onto my less-than-chiselled naked torso and then stood in the hallway awaiting inspection by my wife. After a few expletives, the worst was over and I departed as she cleaned up after inadvertently wetting herself through hysterical laughter. I mounted my steed and subsequently fell off onto my side in the driveway after forgetting that my feet were trapped in the pedals.

Fast forward a few years and I now class myself as a ‘cyclist’, much as your average Sunday League player classes himself as a ‘footballer’. I have all the gear and some smidgeon of an idea and occasionally brave the elements attired in Halfords finest Gore-Tex as I style it out at 3mph down the local hills.

Having purchased new bikes for both road and mountain biking disciplines (whilst being economical with the truth about cost), the expenditure forces me to use the assets as a means of justifying the outlay. I am sometimes just as happy to sit and look at the bikes, admiring the lines and symmetry. If any man looked at women the way I look at my bikes, they would no doubt be named and shamed in the local rag and end up on some type of register.

Despite being a cycling convert, as I age and responsibility mounts, my bottle drops. I will not road ride if it is too busy, the roads are wet or if icy. To counteract this cowardice, I started, a few times a year, to go to the UK’s premier mountain biking venue: Bike Park Wales, near Merthyr Tydfil. It is an adrenalin fuelled day or two, in the company of those 20 years younger, that leaves me unable to move for a week, usually due to mistiming a jump and jarring my back for the millionth time.

Not coming a cropper on the first run of the day gives me some semblance of invincibility. Seeing others having wipe outs can chasten. The last two accidents I witnessed were a man who landed after a 30-foot jump on his leg which snapped in half the wrong way, followed by another who snapped both wrists at the same time. Fascinatingly, both said the same thing as they lay stricken in the mud and dirt as concerned fellow bikers attempted to stop other riders from landing on their heads: ‘What’s going to happen to my bike?’ was their only concern. With half decent downhill bikes costing north of £3,000 I could emphasise.

So, Wales. Despite the surroundings now being familiar, certain constants still surprise. No matter what time of the year one visits, it always rains. Second to that, everyone, and I mean everyone calls everyone else ‘Bud’, or ‘But’. I’m still unsure which and don’t have the heart to ask. The Welsh like to chat anywhere and, in that bastion of silence, the men’s urinal in England, no one talks. You are there to do a job and get out, much like the SAS in Iraq but on a smaller and less important scale. In Wales however, they love to chat over a urinal. The last three times I have been I have had long conversations about the weather, But/Bud, and each time the converser has offered his hand for a handshake. Well, its rude not to…

The accommodation is cheap, despite curious looks in the Travelodge when I asked for an upgrade to the penthouse suite. The biking is thrilling, fast and edgy with the monkey on my back being my mantra ‘Don’t break anything, you have work on Monday’.

Sadly, putting my body through this abuse may be coming to an end. The pain is too much and I need to find a new pastime that is thrilling, edgy and keeps me fit. I may buy an Argos exercise bike and place it on an uneven surface in the kitchen as my kids throw mud and water at me. I won’t break any bones and can nibble my way through a family pack of Doritos as I get some much-needed post-Christmas exercise in, Bud.