Riding a bike, you never forget how. No matter how long it’s been since you last had a ride on a bicycle, you always remember from the off how to do it again. But there is one thing that is not like before, especially if you stop.

I’m not talking about balance or anything, I’m talking about fitness. I haven’t properly ridden my bike since July last year (6 months – I know, it’s bad). Even though I weigh less than I did then, I’m not as fit and I could tell last night.

My present this year of the wife and kids was a new Turbo Trainer. I sold my wheel-on Tacx Flow Smart Trainer and I got a direct-drive Wahoo Kickr Core.

Now my office is clear of all Xmas presents for the little ones in my life, I eventually got to hook up my bike and the trainer and I went for a ride on Zwift. When I was getting my bib-shorts on, I was thinking to myself I’ll go for around an hour, just as I normally would.

I initially rode for just short of 10 minutes to warm up the trainer before performing a spin-down on it in order to have it configured. During this time it was weird. As the trainer had never done a spin-down previously (this was to be it’s first) the power reading in Zwift was up and down like a yoyo. But I carried on so I knew the trainer was warm before it got configured.

Following the spin-down, I set off again on Zwift. I chose the Jungle Circuit, I had just unlocked it when I was last on Zwift, as I reached Level 10. The circuit itself is just shy of 5 miles, with the lead in, it’s a little more than 8.5 miles in total (for one lap). Feeling I can achieve this comfortably I set off pedalling along with my virtual avatar.

It wasn’t long, about 10 minutes in I was struggling. I found I was already having to push myself to keep going. I wasn’t in any big gear either – I was finding out how unfit and how unused to the bike I have become since Summer.

After 15 minutes I started with cramp in my toes. Not a good sign, I’ve had that before last year and found my shoes were too tight. My shoes now, however, cannot be any looser without me losing them. Wifey came to check on me a couple of minutes later and told me to power through it. If you’ve ever got cramp in your toes while pedalling on a bike, you might know that isn’t easy. Cramp hurts, especially while your legs are circling round at 60-70 RPM.

I eventually good it quits after 21 minutes as my toes were just getting worse and worse. I covered 4.59 miles in that time. It was certainly a shock to see just how unfit I have become. It was even more of a shock with me thinking I could just pick up from where I left off.

As for my toes, I’m going to try my other cycling socks, see if that makes a difference. Failing that, I may be looking at getting some wider fitting shoes. But I will keep going on the bike, for now, doing what I can for as long as I can. It’s the only way I’ll build my fitness back up again.